Grass-fed Cattle May Reduce Mad Cow Risk

Sharon’s Note: Want to reduce your risk of contracting Mad Cow Disease or Prion Disease? Eat grass-fed meat. Oh. Wait. You’re not worried about Mad Cow Disease, and are possibly even scoffing I’ve gone round the bend on this one. Think again.

Unfortunately, this article will be of no interest to the majority. Mad Cow Disease will have to hit, and hit hard on Ameircan soil, before people wake up to the idea that when you pervert how God intended creatures eat, disease will result. Cows are ruminants, made by the good Lord to digest grass. Feed a cow blood and body parts from other animals, and you get Mad Cow Disease.

Feeds routinely and LEGALLY contain blood and body parts from poultry – a cheap filler used by feed companies to add protein while controlling costs, therefore, plumping profit. I’m not against anyone making money. I am against people and animals paying the price with their lives. Eat Grass Fed meat and you’ll never have to think about Mad Cow or Prion Disease again. (Photo: Ericson Photography c2006) – Sharon

Grass-fed cattle may reduce mad cow risk
By M.J. Ellington
DAILY Staff Writer � (334) 262-1104
Source: The Decatur Daily

MONTGOMERY — The U.S. government could reduce the chance that meat from a mad-cow-infected animal would end up on your dinner table if it encouraged more grass-fed cattle farms and in-state slaughterhouses, some advocates say.

That’s because they say there would be no chance of animal waste products added to feed or cows in contact with other ill cows.

Advocates critical of mass feedlots and slaughterhouses typical in today’s beef processing charge that the government is more interested in protecting the nation’s beef suppliers and minimizing financial impact from another mad-cow announcement than in guarding consumer health.

The issue of the American way of growing cattle surfaced again June 24 after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that a cow slaughtered in November tested positive for mad cow disease.

State reaction

In Alabama, officials at the state’s largest “Eat More Beef” organization disagree that the nation’s beef supply is unsafe and doubt the demise of the country’s system of cattle fattening and slaughter. But the executive vice president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association said his organization and Auburn University have been at work on plans to encourage more grass-fed cattle farming.

ACA Executive Vice President Bill Powell endorses the idea of grass-fed cattle farms and Alabama slaughterhouses for at least a portion of the state’s cattle producers.

Powell was a food scientist at Auburn University in the 1970s and earned a doctorate in meat sciences there. Powell said Auburn, in cooperation with ACA and cattle growers, sees the logic of developing a network of small, inspected slaughterhouses in this part of the country.

“The Southeast is basically without a slaughtering plant,” Powell said. Some small slaughter operations in the state process sausage and specialty meats.

Routine processing

But Powell said for routine cattle processing, an Alabama farmer’s only recourse now is to truck them to large feedlots and slaughterhouses owned by four or five companies in the Midwest.

About 85 percent of Alabama’s cattle leave the farms where they spend their first eight months and travel west.

Alabama farmers sell their cows at the big markets before they gain much of the weight that determines their price at slaughter, Powell said.

He sees advantages to in-state or in-region slaughtering plants.

“Farmers could keep cows to maturity if they desire and sell them for a higher price without the cost of transporting them to the Midwest,” said Powell.

He envisions a program where several farmers might pool their herds and transfer them from pasture to pasture depending on the type of grasses they need at different times. He estimates about 10 percent of Alabama cattle farmers would choose such methods.

Competitive cost

Powell said if farmers sell their cows for higher prices nearby without long-distance transportation costs, then the grass-fed beef that now sells as specialty meat for a higher price may be more competitive.

The Auburn program will first determine locations of the small slaughtering businesses already in the state and which ones are appropriate for cattle slaughter. Powell said places to process the beef are important to the program.

But he said a successful effort will include ways to market the leaner beef that results from active cows that walk their way through their dinner and eat grasses that are less fattening than cattle feeds.

In a telephone conference call sponsored by the Food and Society Policy Fellows Program, a rancher with a doctorate and a food policy analyst talked about mad cow and pushed their concept for safe beef.

Advocates from the SPFP program at Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute in Columbia, Mo., say that if the country encouraged a growing system similar to the one Powell hopes Alabama will put in place, it would lessen the risk of a mad cow nightmare.

Wylie Harris, a Saint Jo, Texas, rancher who holds a Ph.D. in range land ecology management, is an advocate for farmers with annual cattle sales of $10,000 or less.

“A calf that has eaten grass its whole life is not in danger of getting mad cow,” Harris said.

A Food Systems Analyst for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Alameda, Josh Miner, wants the USDA to do more disease testing and prohibit animal byproducts and waste in animal feed.

Contamination risk

While animal matter is no longer allowed in feed for cows in the United States, Miner said it is still allowed for other animals, including sheep, and may be a source of contamination that could be passed to humans.

Powell does not believe large feed lots pose a great risk for mad cow.

“They get better health management because they have to,” Powell said.

He does believe the latest case will result in expanded USDA testing for the country’s cattle.

“A bigger concern to me is agri-terrorism, especially in processing plants where you have up to 2 million chickens,” Powell said.

Grass-fed beef project

Walter Prevatt, an Extension economist and professor of agricultural economics at Auburn University, said the grass-fed beef project got under way after surveys at grocery stores in three states showed that about 30 percent of consumers prefer grass-fed beef.

Prevatt said consumer reasons for the preference include:

  1. Taste. Prevatt said the leaner grass-fed cow has a slightly different taste and may require slightly different cooking methods.
  2. Vitamins. Grass fed animals have higher percentages of Omega 3 fatty acids believed to help protect against cancer.
  3. Environment. There is less concentrated waste on grass-fed farms, reducing environmental concerns about large amounts of animal waste.
  4. More humane. Animals roam more freely on grass-fed farms.
  5. No antibiotics. Cattle on mass feed lots get antibiotics to help reduce spread of disease among cows in close quarters. There is concern that human resistance to antibiotics may partly be a result.

Prevatt said while grass fed beef demand is a niche market right now, “consumers will vote with their dollars and determine whether it expands.

Another consideration, he said, is to make sure the state slaughter operations are in place to meet demand. Auburn should know the answer within about a year, Prevatt said.

Sharon’s Note – Other Articles with Information:

Mercola writes, Where’s the Real Beef

Jo Robison: Why Grass Fed Is Best

American Grass Fed Beef article: Sales Soar over Mad Cow Scare

Good article with MANY more URL links from the “National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, Mad Cow Disease

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