It's a passion for farmers to raise these animals with as much care as they would any animal.

Illinois Farm Families Blog

Oct 01 2013

Visiting a CAFO

It isn't what you think………..

When riding in the bus to Larson Farms that beautiful, early morning, I had two thoughts: Am I going to leave here afraid for these animals’ safety? Am I going to leave here with ill feelings toward the farmers I so wanted to learn from? You see, I LOVE ANIMALS, love them. And as most of you know, there are horror stories you hear about how awful life is for livestock on a factory farm. The first thing I need to tell you, this farm is NOT a factory farm; it is a family farm and is farmed by three generations of a family that are proud of what they do.

The second thing I need to tell you is that these people love what they do. They work hard day in and day out and they make their living producing good food that we can be proud to serve our families, just as they are proud to serve it to their own. 

The third thing I want you to know, the thing I am most happy to convey is, their animals are well cared for. They were content, well fed and they seemed to be quite at peace spending their days waiting for their next meal.

I was amazed at both the amount of work and the amount of technology that goes into farming on Larson Farms. Ultrasound is used over the ribeye portion of the animal to determine how much longer that specific cow should be fed. The ultrasound determines the amount of back fat and marbling and allows the farmer to both save money on feed, by knowing exactly how many more days they must be fed, and it also allows them to continue to maintain competitive pricing as well as determine the profitability of the animal. Science and technology never fail to amaze me.


I took so much away from that visit, but here are the top 5 points I would like to share:

  1. Larson Farms cattle generate approximately 4.3 million gallons of liquid manure, which is used to replace commercial fertilizer on their crops.

  2. The amount of hormones present in 2900 lbs. of beef is equal to that of ONE human birth control pill. That's about 1.4 nano grams per 3oz of beef. There is more hormone present in a baked potato

  3. If a cow is given any antibiotics, it changes the sale date of the cow. Larson Farms goes beyond the recommended wait time ensuring that the cattle are free from any residual medications.

  4. A finishing farm receives the cattle at about one year of age (or approximately 700 lbs) and they remain on the farm for approximately 160 days. 

  5. A CAFO is a Concentrated Animal Feed Operation, and that title is determined by the number of cattle. CAFO's are held to higher standards than Non-CAFO farms.

I encourage each of you to take the time to learn just where it is your food comes from. Learn how food gets from farm to table. Take the time to talk to a farmer, take the time to say THANK YOU.

Katie Grossart
Chicago, Illinois

Katie is one of the Illinois Farm Families 2013 Field Moms. Throughout the year she visits several Illinois farms to learn more about where food comes from. Following each tour, the Field Moms share their thoughts by blogging about what they experience on these farms, including five things they found most interesting. Want to learn more? Read Our Story: Chicago moms meet farmers.

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