Temple Grandin's response
What should be the final and most impactful statement came from Temple Grandin who said, “I viewed the calf farm video and the euthanasia practices were terrible. Handling practices during unloading of the trailer were rough and stressful. Picking a calf up by the ears and the tail is stressful and cruel. The living conditions for the calves were filthy. It is obvious that both the management and the employees have no regard for animal welfare.”
Temple’s comment is enough for me to say, it’s time to hold E6 management’s feet to a very hot fire; put them on the witness stand and grill them about what happened and why. Trent Loos of Loos Tales made a call to Kirt Espenson, owner of the feed lot and asked him point blank if he was aware that his employee was using a hammer to euthanize calves. Espenson said he was not aware of it but claimed the MFA employee was also caught on tape using a hammer. You can listen to the tape here.
I’ll give Espenson credit for accepting responsibility, but no one should give him a pass for not knowing what was happening. To be blunt, it happened on his watch and he has to accept the consequences. It’s also a wake-up call for anyone in animal ag to check what’s happening in their backyard.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” is not an acceptable excuse. You absolutely must know. The process is in your hands and you must control it.
Bottom Line: It’s time that every trade association that touches animal agriculture and has an operating statement that promotes good animal handling practices to reiterate that statement to all its members in the strongest possible terms. Those organizations should then have the courage to ban for life any ranch, farm, feedlot, harvesting facility, etc. that violates that statement.
Those associations need to publicize the ban, too. My Amish friends call the practice ‘shunning’ and it’s a good thing to do in these cases.
Chuck Jolley is a free lance writer, based in Kansas City, who covers a wide range of ag industry topics for Vance Publishing..