General Manager, Nolan Stone, gave us a wonderful tour of this amazing feedlot. There were about 97,000 head of cattle there the day we filmed.
What impressed me the most about visiting this feedlot was the health and contentedness of the cattle. There was hardly any mooing, and they seemed comfortable just walking around and hanging out with their friends. They are constantly looked after by experienced workers on horseback.
Also, with so many cattle in one place, I was surprised with how clean everything was and that there was no odor. It was also amazing to see how all of the cattle were expertly organized in separate pens depending on their ages, breeds, genders, and origins. The system is brilliantly organized! Nolan Stone happily took a lot of time to give us the tour and explain all of the details.
Even the feed and hay looked impeccably clean, and the cattle were obviously very well cared for. Of course it’s such a contrast to seeing cattle in a pasture on a smaller farm, but all of these cattle have lived their lives on vast ranches and are now here for about 160 days to be “finished” (gain weight prior to harvesting).
And of course the feedlot horses were absolutely irresistible, as you can see!
This “state-of-the-art” slaughterhouse processes about 6,000 head of cattle a day!
We were honored to be able to visit the JBS Swift Beef Plant in Greeley, Colorado, today. JBS is the one largest beef producers in the world! They typically process 400 head of cattle an hour.
While we were there, we saw a steady flow of cattle leaving the large holding pen and then going through the outside serpentine chute designed by Temple Grandin. They were heading for the kill floor inside.
The effort of JBS to oversee humane handling and animal safety is quite obvious. Signs like these remind workers to be cognizant of animal welfare and food safety.
The enormity of this meat cooler is even understated in a photograph. It was impeccably clean and precisely organized according to carcass origin, type and proposed market. Mark Gustafson, Vice President of International Sales, took much time out of his day to teach us all about the operations of the plant.
With about 3,000 employees, the plant stays remarkably clean and sanitary. There is a 24/7 maintenance program for food safety.
We visited Dr. Temple Grandin at Colorado State.
It is obvious in visiting the Animal Sciences Building at Colorado State University that we are much indebted to Dr. Grandin’s lifetime work for the humane treatment of farm animals at the time of slaughter.
Watching Dr. Temple Grandin teach at Colorado State about humane slaughter techniques yesterday helped us to better understand how animals should be stunned during processing. The stunning is required by the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and is enforced by the USDA. The day we were there was the day of the Final Exam. It was interesting to watch Dr. Grandin craft the exam questions on the chalk board.
As a teacher and also as a consultant for slaughter plants, Dr. Grandin stresses “Zero Tolerance” for inflicting any pain on an animal during the slaughter process.
It was an honor to talk with Dr. Grandin about her teaching and her ongoing concern about the humane violations in small-scale slaughter plants.
The calves in this cow-calf herd stay happily with their mothers until they are appropriately weaned.
Today we got to meet with Dr. Jason Ahola, Associate Professor of Beef Production Systems in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He also conducts applied beef cattle research.
Dr. Ahola explained how it’s possible for local and commercial farmers to work together towards both sustainability and the humane treatment of animals. Industrial agriculture and small-scale local farming may not be as polarized as people have tended to believe.
We were very happy to see, first-hand, how humanely the cattle can be treated at a commercial cow-calf operation. It’s important to understand that just because a farm animal is raised on small-scale farm, it doesn’t mean that the animal is treated humanely. Dr. Ahola has a profound love and respect for cattle, and works hard to educate his students about how to best care for them.
Cattle were lining up to be artificially inseminated.
Today we filmed the artificial insemination of cattle at the Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. The cattle were directed into individual compartments via a serpentine corral designed by Temple Grandin. The high sides and curves help the cattle to stay calm. The team from the University was very professional and gentle with the animals.