The Life of a Steer

In an article for The New York Times, Michael Pollan follows the life of  a steer born on a ranch in South Dakota. The ranch where this steer was born is a family owned operation that keeps about 850 cows. On a good year, almost every one of these cows gives birth to a calf that survives to the fall. For the first six months, these calves live a good life. They roam the pasture with their mothers, nursing and learning to eat grass. Not every calf is so lucky, those born to milk cows are separated from their mothers at birth and never see a pasture.

When the calves at our ranch are six months old, they are separated from their mothers. At this point, calves from most ranches are sent off to auction and then sent straight to a feeding lot. The calves from our ranch are given some time to transition to not having room to move around in and to eating a diet that is mostly grain instead of grass.

The calves are then shipped to a feed lot, where they are expected to gain several pounds a day in cramped, crowded conditions that breed illness and infection, eating food they were not designed to eat.

Once they have gained enough weight, the steers are shipped to a slaughter-house, where they finish their last moments of life and then are packaged to be sold as dinner.

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