002 – Animal Welfare vs Animal Rights

002 – Animal Welfare vs Animal Rights

“The Farmer & The City Girl Podcast Episode 002 – Animal Welfare vs Animal Rights”

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In this candid conversation, we share our thoughts and opinions on the difference between animal “welfare” and “rights” and how their perception varies.

What the terms “free range” and “hormone free” mean. If “antibiotic free” is really just a marketing ploy and how some slaughterhouses operate.

Then we discuss our love of weird cheeses.

FEEDBACK REQUESTED: we want to know what your the most frustrated in as a farmer? How do you handle angry consumers who are riddled with misconceptions?

What are you doing to bring awareness about your from to the general public?

Comment below – let us know!

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Some Responses:


  1. Cows, when they are let out in the spring on pasture, they all act nuts. Cows are silly. they also run through the barn when they get fresh bedding. I milked yesterday and my second group was completely stupid. Running through the barn and being general jerks in the parlor. I got hammered by older cows not the newbie heifers. WTH???

    1. Hahaha! Thank you for the comment, and I agree, they do seem like they can be silly. And I think you should do some live streaming – it would be hilarious!

  2. I listened to this yesterday morning before we cut steers and it made me think about the arguments on banding vs cutting. This may be an old issue but I remember an episode of DIRTY JOBS that addressed the issue while Mike Rowe was visiting a sheep farm. It showed the difference in animal reaction of being cut and being banded; ad well as addressing the fact that banding isn’t always effective in young animals. So props to that farmer for utilizing a PR platform to his advantage.

    1. Oh yes! I remember that episode and very, very good point. Thank you for the comment!

  3. Antibiotics are fed to healthy livestock to promote growth, not just when they are sick. It makes me very mistrustful of this show that The Farmer did not clarify how and why antibiotics are used. You can not discuss whether this is a good practice or not if you are misleading the listener about the basics.

    1. Hello and thank you for the comment.
      As we stated several times, Rob is a grain farmer, these discussions are opinions and are based on real life experiences. It’s not a “wikipedia” style podcast.

      We appreciate you clarifying and will be sure to bring up the fact on the episode where we discuss antibiotics as a whole.

    2. Growth promotional levels of antibiotics are no longer allowed for use in livestock production. In addition the use of “Medically Important” drugs in livestock now require veterinary intervention and a paper trail.

      1. Thanks for clarifying Jim, I did not know this and I bet a lot of others didn’t either!

  4. Hi! I love this podcast. Full disclosure – I work as a soybean breeder. I’m on the agriculture side of the conversation.

    In regards to the animal rights podcast. Many of my acquaintances (yes of the mom variety) question me regarding “How was this meat raised? How do I know the animals were treated well?”

    I always answer with my Mom Theory.

    Not everyone knows a farmer but everyone knows a mom. Most moms (99.99%) just go about their day trying their level best do what they view as right for their families. The moms you see on tv or the news that hurt their kids are not representative of the average mom. They are the sensationalist 0.01% that make the news. Same with farmers. They are just going about their day doing their level best to what is right for their operation (grain, livestock, whatever). Those that you see on tv or the internet doing crazy things are the 0.001%. It helps bring it into perspective for some people!

    1. This is quite possibly the best response I’ve ever heard. That is the most perfect way to explain it. I think in this day and age more and more people are skeptical about what they read or see on commercials or ads or “click bait” style articles.
      I love the “oh that’s just the Kardashians of farming” answer lol

  5. Just a quick clarification on modern livestock slaughtering. Injection of animals with sedatives doesn’t occur. Some plants use carbon dioxide to put pigs to “sleep” others use electricity. In cattle a captive bolt gun is used to render the cow unconscious. None of those kill the animal, the blood letting is what kills them. Much care must be taken when stunning and killing the animals since any stress can have harmful effects on the meat quality.

    1. That’s a great point. “Why would a farmer want the animal to suffer? It ruins the meat so it’s literally in their best interest to sedate/kill it humanely”. I did read that they put them to sleep somewhere in the act or in an article. So maybe it’s an old practice?

  6. What’s up with veal?

    *note; I do not speak for all veal farmers, I am speaking from my experience working with veal in Canada

    *I am using my experience as well as information from the Ontario Veal website (listed below)

    *I will stay brief(ish), not because I think people are dumb, but because no one wants to read 1 of 5 essays that I could write on the topic…including my own mother.

    *****please please please if you are interested in veal as an option for your table, if you hate all veal farmers and their affiliates, or if you want to be able to speak intelligently about veal check out these excellent resources

    1. What is a veal calf?

    – the majority of the veal industry is a by-product of the dairy industry. Dairy farmers keep female calves because that is their replacement stock for their herd. The reason they do not keep bull calves is because you can’t milk them… (if you are you have a completely different job description that is not Dairy Farmer.) Therefore, most veal calves are Holstein Bulls, because most dairy farms milk Holsteins.

    2A . What is the difference between beef, and veal?

    – beef cow breeds have been bred and selected for meat traits, such as marbling and musculature

    – dairy cows have been bred over the years for milk production and longevity, not so much for their ability to produce meat

    So we have the dairy industry that is on average producing 50% bull calves that were selected for dairy traits, not beef traits.

    – beef cows are raised to a market weight of around 1200 to 1400 lbs OR 18-22 months of age

    – Veal calves (depending on how they are raised/fed) are raised to a market weight of 500lbs or 5 months of age if on a milk fed diet, and 700lbs or around 7months of age if on a grain fed diet (yes I will clarify the two in a minute!)

    A new born baby Holstein calf weighs on average 80-100 lbs. It is important to remember that the bovine species reaches sexual maturity at a different point than humans! A cow can reach full sexual maturity at around 12 months of age (give or take). My points here is that though veal calves reach slaughter weight before beef cows, when they go to slaughter they are not babies. A 700lb bull calf is NOT A BABY, they aren’t even very cute at that age.

    2B. Why isn’t veal slaughtered at the same age as beef

    – It has to do with the type of meat that we are trying to produce. Holsteins produce a leaner meat (less marbling) and when raised longer they would be tougher, and less tasty then a beef product of the same age.

    – Veal is known for, marketed for, and chosen for the fact that it is lean, and very tender this meat is produced from an animal of a younger age

    – There is a dollar threshold to take into consideration. By that I mean that in order for the veal producer to make money they have to take into consideration the cost of production of that animal. Example: at 700 lbs the meat from the veal calf is more valuable than the grain fed to it and time put in to raising it. After that the calf’s average daily gain can decrease putting the farmer at a loss.

    2C. What are the different types of veal and how are they different?

    *note that I can speak most intelligently about grain fed veal because that is what I work with/raise

    Bob veal – Bob veal is what consumers are probably thinking of when they think of veal. This type of veal is slaughtered at less than 1 month of age. The meat is very white since the calf has been exclusively fed milk and has not begun eating grain and forages that are iron rich. It is my understanding that this type of veal has a much larger market holding in Europe. North American consumers aren’t a huge fan because the animal is young. As for housing I am not 100% sure if confinement is used however the meat would be naturally super tender just due to the fact that the animal is very young.

    Milk fed veal – veal calves are fed a diet of almost exclusively milk (they may be fed a little bit of grain for stomach development, but for the most part their diet is milk. They are not weaned before they go to slaughter. As a result of this the taste of milk fed veal is mild, tender, and sweet (it’s delicious!) The colour of the meat of milk fed veal is light pink. For this reason you may see milk fed veal marketed as rose veal.

    Grain fed veal- grain fed veal are fed milk for the first 8 weeks of their life. During their time on milk they have full access to grain that is formulate specially for young calves (its sweet and tasty to make them like it.) After 8 weeks the calves are weaned off of milk avg. 150-170lbs and transitioned to a grain diet. The grain is corn and a protein pellet and some producers also mix straw into the mix to help with digestion. Grain fed veal is still sweet and tender but tastes more like beef then milk fed. The colour of grain fed veal is darker pink but not as dark as beef.

    2D. How is veal fed differently then beef

    Note that there are many ways to feed beef cows but mostly they would be fed a variety of corn, forages (hay etc.), and protein (soy meal, distillers grains etc.) More forages as well as a longer life span equals darker (red meat).

    3. How is veal housed?

    Hutches – a calf hutch is used by both dairy and veal farmers. It provides the calf with safe outdoor housing, extremely good ventilation, and an environment where care can be individualized. Individual care is important for the young calf because they are very susceptible to disease so keeping them separate from other calves can really help to keep them healthy. The size of a calf hutch is 6ft long by 4ft wide, and 4.5ft high. THEY ARE NOT TINY BOXES. As the calf grows so does its housing, at weaning the calf is older, and has a stronger immune system, and is usually moved inside of a barn in a group pen setting.

    Stalls – stalls are sort of the equivalent of a calf hutch but indoors. They are primarily used in the veal industry. They are smaller than a calf hutch, HOWEVER the calf is removed from the stall at 4 weeks of age instead of at 8 week at weaning. The reason for using stalls is so that the veal farmer can individualize the care of each animal. This is a good thing. For example in the barn that I work in we have 4 rooms of calves, each room holds 80 animals. When I have a new room of calves I have 80 little babies. It is really important that I know how each calf is doing, how much they are or are not eating, and what their general appearance is. This is a lot easier to do when I look at the individual calf instead of a group of 5 or 10 calves. When the calf is over its really volatile age where all sorts of sickness’ and issues can happen, we remove the boxes so that the calves are in groups of 5. Like I said before, the size of housing grows with the size of the calf.

    Group Pens – it is proven that calves do better when they are housed in groups; this makes sense in that they are herd animals. Like I pointed out before group housing can be difficult with very young calves because they can become sick easily because they do not yet have a fully developed immune system. However it can be done but it takes a lot more time and attentiveness and it is not exactly always at the calve advantage. When moved from hutches or boxes to group pens the groups are usually smaller 5 – 10 calves. And then increases in size again as the calves grow to groups 0f 40+. Large groups are possible when the calves are older because the calves require less individual care.

    Size of pens – it works both in the producer, and the animals advantage to have proper spacing for calves. Calves in a crowded pen are more stressed, have less ability to move freely, and have to contend with larger pecking orders and competition to receive feed.

    – If there is too much space in a pen it is not at the disadvantage to the animal but to the producer, in that we want to have enough animals in a pen or barn to be able to justify costs of heating, ventilating, bedding the barn. Producers know what numbers are right for their cows and their facilities. Once again if pens are over crowded animals compete more for feed, therefore the animals gain weight slower, therefore it takes longer for them to reach market weight and this is all at the loss of the producer.

    – Basically it just plain old makes sense for veal producers to take good care of their animals.

    – Young Bob Veal don’t have a lot of meat on them and there isn’t really a market for them in North America

    – Healthy calves gain weight more efficiently so it makes sense for the producer to keep them healthy

    – Veal farmers adhere to vaccination protocols so that calves stay healthy without the need of medical intervention

    – Veal is delicious, lean and super tender!

    1. LOL, Thank you Hanna!!!
      I have been made aware that “veal huts” aren’t being used. This wont be the last mistake I make with this podcast. I really appropriate your response

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