scene. Bolts of sunshine setting into dark clouds on the vast
horizon of western Nebraska. Newborn black calves ó some
with faces splashed with white ó romped and played over
acres and acres of pasture land while their moms grazed and
kept watch on their babies.
I sat in
a ranch vehicle and watched my son-in-law maneuver his giant
red tractor through several gates to deliver huge
"rounds" of hay to these new moms and their little
ones. Late spring snow storms were brewing and Tom wanted to
be sure the herd was well-supplied with food.
"helped" by zooming over the bumpy landscape in a
fun little all-terrain vehicle to open and close gates. But
mostly I admired Tomís hard work caring for his land and
last load of hay was delivered, Tom hopped into the driverís
seat of the ATV.
are we doing now?" I yelled as we zoomed around and
through the herd of cows and calves.
looking to make sure everyone is healthy," he yelled
back. "If babies donít jump up or run away when we get
close, or arenít nursing, or have diarrhea Ö those are
signs that they may not be well."
should know. Besides raising beef cattle, he and his dad are
doctors of veterinary medicine. And when it comes to animal
welfare, they practice what they preach.
care about their animals," Tom says. "We know that
stress is no better for animals than it is for humans. A happy
cow is a productive cow. So we really strive to keep our
animals healthy and happy because if our animals are not
healthy and happy, they take it directly out of our
looks happy and healthy today. Rarely do these cattle get
sick. But if they do, they are separated from the herd to be
safety is a large part of our job when it comes to food
animals," he tells me. "If I have a sick cow and I
give her an antibiotic and she gets better, we know exactly
how long it takes for the body to metabolize that drug and
eliminate it completely from the body. So none of the meat
from the animal has antibiotic residues in it. If there are,
that is called adulteration and there are massive fines. Itís
a big deal."
the FDA has made it so that no antibiotics can be sold for use
in animals without a prescription," he continues.
"And in order to get a prescription you have to have a
valid relationship with a veterinarian ó someone who is
educated and trained in the workings of animals and food
sun setting and the clouds darkening, Tom jumped back into his
big red tractor and I zoomed ahead to open and close gates on
our way back to the house. Wonder whatís for dinner?