catImagine a cute, cuddly puppy. Pets are a great thing to have around your house. It’s always nice to have a companion who will love you, no matter what. What kinds of pets have you had? Cats, dogs, hamsters or maybe a fish? A common misconception for livestock producers is that their animals, such as cattle or pigs, are treated as pets. This is far from true. By no means am I saying that livestock are treated cruel, but they are treated with respect as they are being raised.

cowFarmers and ranchers who raise livestock have one goal:  to raise healthy animals to be sold for consumers to eat. Do not be mistaken, they treat them very well in order to keep them comfortable and healthy year-round, but they would not normally give their cow name or put a collar on a pig. Livestock producers do care about their animals, just not in that loving, go fetch kind of way. Even though you may hear the horror stories in the news and on your television at home, I would like to paint a good picture in your head.

Being from a farm, I can attest to the fact that farmers and ranchers are not the cruel people that some may have thought them to be. We are constantly monitoring our animals. We make sure that if a cow seems to be sick, we get them to the veterinarian and get the medicine that they need. In the winter they get bedding put down regularly in the barn so that they can be warm and protected from the different weather elements. In addition to a protective building, cattle are provided with enough water, especially through this past year’s drought. We also have trees for added protection when they are grazing in the pastures. Even with the pastures, we have set times twice a day when we feed our cattle corn. Times may be difficult for the farmer, but they do everything in the power to make sure that their livestock are well-provided for during any weather condition, including blizzards, storms and extreme heat.

rancher in blizzardJust because a farmer does not consider their cow or pig a pet like you would consider your dog, that definitely does not mean that they do not care or that they are not concerned about their well-being. The cows and pigs are being raised for you and me to put on our dinner tables at home. You definitely would not want to think about eating your dog, so we as farmers do not treat our animals that we are raising as pets, such as we would a dog. The livestock are a part of the farmer’s life. It is their job to raise the healthy animals to produce safe meat for consumers to eat.

So when you see a farmer, thank them. They are doing everything in their power to provide you with deliciously nutritious food that you can put on the dinner table for your family.

Katlyn PieperKatie Pieper
Illinois State University student

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