I grew up on a 70-cow dairy farm in Northern Wisconsin. I loved my farm and we had a cow that was my favorite, mainly because I could milk her by hand. She was this big, gentle, white cow that I grew to love. I still remember the day my dad came in and told me he had sold my favorite cow. I actually cried that night. She apparently wasn’t milking well and we couldn’t afford to milk her at our farm anymore. This was probably exacerbated by the fact that my parent’s farm would eventually go out of business.
This experience has probably happened to every agvocate (especially farmers) at least once in their lifetime. I get a lot of questions like, “If you love animals so much, then why are you so quick to get rid of them” or “how are you fine with letting your favorite animal get slaughtered.” I guess the best answer is, I am not ok with it. Farmers don’t like sending their animals to the slaughterhouse, just like the next person. Farmers care for every animal like it was their favorite, which is why they spend thousands (sometimes millions) of dollars taking care of their animals. My dad didn’t like telling me my favorite cow was sold, in fact he probably dredded it.
When I was younger, I didn’t understand why we had to sell my favorite cow. I came to learn he sold that cow because he loved me and my family. He knew my favorite cow was hurting his family’s chance of having a better life. He knew that if he didn’t sell that cow, it would bring his family closer to losing its lifeline, the farm. You may not like that answer, but it’s the truth. Farmers do things for their family, no matter what size the farm is. 99 percent of the farms in the U.S. are family-owned. Farms may look like factories, but there is a family behind those barn doors. Every decision a farmer makes is out of love. A decision I am sure every parent would make if they were faced with this desicion.