Sunday, January 13, 2013

About Cruelty to Livestock

One of the biggest debates in the food industry is around the cruelty to livestock. Vegans, vegetarians, and animal rights activists, often condemn the livestock industry as being cruel. Livestock keepers, and those involved with livestock, often deny any cruelty. In a case of one extreme to the other with neither one willing to bend it is hard to see sense of it all.

I feel it would be better if the livestock industry were honest that some cruelty does exist and that there may be room for improvement. It should also be noted that a lot of the cruelty is related to keeping costs low and this is in fact being pushed by the consumer.

It should also be noted that most of the incidences of cruelty are not simply the result of a farmer wanting to cause pain and suffering simply for the sake of causing pain and suffering to the animal. While this sort of thing does occur on occasion it is rarely by the farmer, or owner, of the livestock, and is more often done by employees.

Since I keep sheep I have taken a part of an article on cruelty to livestock and reposted it here with a link to the whole article below.

"Sheep are one of the few livestock animals not commonly kept in a factory type setting, they usually are kept on pasture had have a fairly ideal life, although often cut short for lambs headed to slaughter.
Their lives are not without some cruelty, the worst of which is mulesing. Mulesing is common in Australia and done to Merino sheep. The lambs are hung upside down by their feet and a dinner sized chunk of their rump is cut off without painkillers or antiseptics.

Docking of a lamb's tail is not particularly cruel, in fact because of the social uses of a dog's tail, docking a dog's tail can be considered more cruel than dockinga lamb's tail with the note that docking lamb's tails is done to keep flies away from the dirty tail. Flies can cause fly strike and can kill a lamb. Mulesing is done for the same reason but takes off the rump of the lamb.

Pregnant Karakul ewes are reported to be kicked to induce abortions or early labor. Others are slaughtered right before lambing so their fetal lamb can be harvested for its pelt."

For the record I am not a vegetarian and I am not against the meat industry as a whole, but I strongly dislike some of the “factory farm” methods of keeping other livestock, such as chickens, swine, and dairy cattle.

Cruelty can be reduced and one way of reducing it is to spread awareness to the consumer so they demand better treatment of farm animals and become more knowledgeable about where the meat they buy comes from.

Please use the comments area to share your opinions on cruelty in the livestock industry and how we can improve things.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Great Way to Stay Safe when Riding Horses at Night

When you ride your horse in the evening you might think you are safe because you can see the headlights of oncoming vehicles. You might even wear a reflective vest, but it should be noted that a reflective vest is useless until vehicles are close too you, and at times drivers have been known to drive around at dusk without turning their headlights on at all. Reflective vests are not great on foggy days. 

The best way for you, as a rider, to be seen is to be lit up in some way. 

Carrying a flashlight is a good idea, but not always practical at all times. Instead if you are going to be riding in the evening you may want a light that can clip onto you, the saddle, or part of the bridle itself. These lights alert drivers more effectively than a reflective vest (which is still a good idea too) and are also good if your horse spooks and runs off in the dark, as it will be easier to see where your horse went. 

Nite Ize offers really cool products for dogs, light up toys, collars, and even lights you can put on the collar itself. These clip on lights are great for riders too as they can clip onto your saddle, reins, or bridle (but do not clip them too near to your horse's eyes).

Click on the image below to learn more and see other products...

These lights are ideal for people who go out for a ride in the evening because even if you start your ride when it is light it can get dark fast, or bad weather could change visibility, making you and your horse harder to see.

These lights are great for:
  • Riding in the Fog
  • Packing in the Mountains - as you might not reach your camp when you think you would
  • Riding in the Snow – in case the weather turns bad
  • Putting on your Dog's Collar – as when your dog tags along for your evening ride

Nite Ize has several different light up products that would work for any horse rider.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mysterious Hair Loss on Lamb's Ears

I seldom blog about health worries, I once had a lamb blow up to the size of a balloon with bloat, I was too scared to take a picture thinking that if she died it would be too sad to look at the picture (yes I was not born a farmer and my sheep are more like pets than livestock)... That lamb did live and in fact is Blackie sheep whom you may have read about.

I have an odd health worry now, but not one that is too serious, it is mostly just puzzling. 

As you recall I had 7 lambs born in October. It is now January. A week or so ago I noticed two lambs (different moms) had some hair loss on their ears, just about where their ears attach to their heads. No other lambs had any such problems. The only thing the two lambs had in common was that they were white and black;  I also have 3 other lambs that are all black, one white and brown, and another black and white (unaffected at that point).
I thought.. hmm, maybe they need a new mineral block, so got that, but nothing seemed to change. I do not know if the lambs even lick it.

Well a couple of days ago the other black and white lamb also is showing some signs of hair loss on the ears, and he is also showing small areas of hair thinning on the sides of his nose.

The other 4 lambs are fine and show no hair missing.  There is no hair loss on the ewes either..  They are all wool sheep x hair sheep.

The areas of hair loss are too even and symmetrical to be anything such as ringworm or mange. 

I have found nothing online except one post that suggested an allergy to food combined with sunlight.
I should add that it is winter here, temperatures have been below freezing, we have snow and the sheep are getting hay and grain (oats). 

If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them. My vet is not as familiar with sheep as he is with cattle and nobody else here has a clue. 

I have not been out with the camera (when it is cold the battery freezes too quick and I have just not thought about it), but I have used a picture of a different sheep and drawn in the places of hair loss.

Update - Below is a picture I took today, it's pretty hard to get a good picture of a goofy lamb with a crappy camera, but I gave it my best shot - note that the lamb's are not itching.  It actually seems like maybe the hair is growing back in, it's hard to tell.