I believe the opening section of the article is an amazing representation of what is happening in livestock agriculture (and probably crop too) right now and you should probably read it and re-read it several times so it sinks in. But, the basic premise is that at one time our farms were filled with "truly functional family cows" raised by this generations fathers and grandfathers. Once the sons and grandsons returned from educational institutions they bring with them new "knowledge" about creating the perfect herd from a commercial standpoint. Oh, and they learn this knowledge from Universities that are funded by large corporations with greed behind their motives.
So, the son our daughter takes over and starts to implement change using the latest breeding techniques in animal sciences. They create calves that wean bigger and finish bigger and that produce more milk, but they also find that despite all of the vaccinations their cattle keep getting sick and dying for no apparent reason. With all of the inputs, work, burnout, and animal loss their farm becomes increasingly unsustainable...
I think this quote from Mr. Fry sums up best where we are right now as an agirculutral industry (maybe it is a bad thing to be considered an industry) and culture:
As it is, cattle—animals that in their natural state could normally stay fat and healthy on green grass and good hay, and nourish families with wholesome and healthy meat and milk as God intended —have been steadily transformed into what has become a starch-dependent, mongrelized production machine that produces food that tastes like cardboard and causes heart disease and numerous other health problems.
At one time farmers and ranchers never or rarely had to give any sort of treatment to calves while still nursing ... not so today. At one time twice yearly worming wasn't even on the radar ... not so today. At one time cattlemen breed for sick-free cattle who could produce instead of super producing cattle who rarely weren't sick. In the words of Mr. Fry, "My friends, this should not be."
The rest of the article goes on to tell more about the faulty system that we are operating under in today's livestock world. I think this is a must read article for any farmer who believes that their farm should and can be sustainable.
In the article Mr. Fry mentions that there were 8-10 breeds of cattle that were adapted to various environments across our country. I think he raises Devons, so I assume that would be on the list, but I wonder what else. Maybe he mentions on his site or maybe some of you have some guesses? Let us know what you think.
In the meantime, check out the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy to learn more about our heritage breeds that are in danger and consider a breeding program that takes advantage of the genetics that our forefathers perfected over years and years ... not just the ideas of 50 years and research funded by animal medicine companies.
**As you may have noticed from the picture above I suggest Dexter cattle. They may not work for everyone, but the do fit the definition of a dual purpose home cow!**