When I hear the words beef cattle, I picture ranches in Texas. As part of the City Moms program, I had the opportunity to visit the Adam’s beef farm in Sandwich, IL. From this tour, I learned about cattle breeding and animal care.
First, the Adam’s beef cattle are crossed between two breeds, the Angus and Simmental. These two breeds produce the best calves in Alan's opinion. Angus are known for their carcass quality and Simmental for their superior milk production. The breeding season starts in late June. The Adam’s family uses two Angus bulls that are turned in with the cows for 60 days and pulled out in late August. The calves are born in early spring. In the spring, the mother cows and calves reap the benefits of the high quality pasture grass. The pasture is divided into nine areas. Every week the cattle are rotated between the pastures to control the grazing of the cow. The mothers and calves spend time grazing together on the pastures. The heifers, or first time mothers, are bred using artificial insemination with bulls that produce low birth weight calves. This is to prevent problems in the delivery of the calves. After 3 months, the Adam’s family begins the early weaning process. The mother cows train the calves in how to eat at the feed trough. The calves can then transition easily to the farm feed lots. When the calves are separated from their mother, they are in the pen right next to their mother. This is the lowest stress situation for mother and baby. The cows continue to graze in the pastures until late winter. Afterwards, they remain indoors until they have a calf and pasture is ready in early spring.
The Adam’s family, like the majority of farmers, provide compassionate animal care. They have taken classes and are Beef Quality Assurance Certified to administer vaccines to their animals. Alan Adams stated that their three injections of vaccinations inoculate their cattle from fifteen diseases. Many diseases, such as pinkeye, are rarely seen and antibiotic usage is greatly reduced thanks to the development of vaccines. When antibiotics are warranted, they are used as prescribed by the vet. On the Adam’s farm, calves are implanted with hormones at 3 months and at 6 or 7 months. The hormones influence the cow’s pituitary gland to increase the growth rate of lean beef production of fat, as opposed to fat production. Also, it helps the animal’s body use their feed the most efficiently. The Adam’s family emphasized that we consume foods that naturally produce these hormones in far greater quantities. Why would they consume their own beef that had the hormone plants if it was unsafe? There is no scientific evidence showing safety concerns with hormone implants.
Furthermore, just as farmers provide compassionate care and low stress environments to their animals, the meat packing plants provide a calm environment and humane death. One half of all plants in North America use equipment and the five key measure audit system (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point type audit) designed by Temple Grandin, a woman with autism and an expert on animal behavior. Many large plants are audited, using Grandin’s standards, by restaurant chains. Temple believes that providing a calm stress free environment at the meat packing plant is just as important as providing a quick, painless death. Animals have a greater fear level and lower pain threshold compared to people.
When I hear the words beef cattle, I now picture the Adam’s farm. I learned about cattle breeding and compassionate animal care. Thanks again to the family and the City Moms program for this informative and enjoyable opportunity.