Earth Day Opinion Editorial- Cattle: The Ultimate Recyclers


earth day cattleAs a cattleman, I know that when you take care of the land, it will take care of you.

Every day I learn first-hand how cattle are a positive influence on the Earth, and now in my professional capacity as the manager of Foster Feed Yard in Brawley, I witness this every day on the feed yard and my ranch.

I am the second generation employee in my family at Foster Feed Yard which is four generations deep into the roots of the cattle business.

Even though Earth Day is celebrated every year in April, my fellow cattlemen and I treat every day as Earth Day all year long on our ranches, because we care about the land, our livestock, and the impact that they have on the environment.

We want their impact to be a positive one, and we know that with proper management techniques that can easily be achieved.

Even before the formation of the first urban societies cattle feedings was an environmentally favorable practice.

It supplied high quality protein and valuable byproducts by utilizing commodities that humans are unable to consume.

Since prehistoric times cattle feeding has been an integral part of agriculture for precisely these reasons, and it helps to make agriculture more viable and productive.

The same holds true today as feed yards, like the one I manage, use hays, surplus crops and by-products such as bakery meal, rice bran, almond hulls, beet pulp and more to formulate balanced and healthy diets for cattle, recycling otherwise useless products into a source of beneficial nutrition for humans.

Many of these products would probably end up in landfills were it not for the cattle industry. Instead, they are transformed into high-quality beef and beef by-products.

Practically no part of a beef animal goes to waste. They yield not only beef and leather, but many items we employ on a daily basis, as well.

The list of by-products from cattle is nearly endless, but cosmetics, linoleum, asphalt, paper, soap, insulin, brake fluid, rubber and plastic are among many other beef by-products.

It is also worth noting that items made from leather are, in point of fact, more environmentally favorable, hence more sustainable, than their synthetic counterparts.

The manufacture of synthetic footwear, for example, produces chemical compounds that are environmentally hazardous, and the product itself often lacks the durability of the same item manufactured from real leather.

The manure produced by cattle is transformed into nitrogen-rich fertilizers, that revitalize our croplands and diminish our dependency on chemical fertilizers, and it enables us to produce more truly organic crops for human consumption.

Foster Feed Yard and many other feed yards are proud to participate in such recycling and have done so for many years.

Thus the cattle industry helps underpin the foundations of our urban society by recycling while at the same time producing high quality products essential for modern society and by creatively transforming products that might otherwise go to waste into useful food products.

There are few industries that can claim to be more environmentally beneficial and sustainable than the cattle industry, and ranchers like me know the importance of continuing our livelihoods with the natural passion we have in our hearts and the good that cattle can do for our environment and future generations.