Friday, 1 August 2014

Curious Cattle

The grass in the hay field at the back of our house is thick and luscious again and that means only one thing....yes the cows have returned again.  Well they haven't actually returned as it's a different bunch from last year but cows are definitely back in the field.
They spend the day wandering the field munching away with occasional forays into the pond for a refreshing drink.

 Cattle at the watering hole.

 As you can see they're all young steers (or male cattle).  
How can you tell? Well it's not the horns, as in some breeds both males and females have them.
You can tell by the lack of udders and the slightly tasseled penis sheath on its stomach.

They are fine looking animals with a fearsome set of horns adorning their heads.

They evidently like grazing on the hawthorn and young blackberries.  This charmer is reaching over our neighbours back fence to reach the unripe blackberries growing in her hedge.
Look at the size of that tongue!

 These are peering over our back fence; curious and yes, just a little bit intimidating this close up.
We'll be keeping the cat gate closed while they're in the field as the barbed wire probably wouldn't stand up to concentrated pressure.
They're very friendly, just young and curious.
Soft hides, wet noses and very licky tongues.  This one obviously likes his picture taken and wandered away once I put the camera away :-)

So here comes the tricky part.  What are these healthy and well looked after cows doing in the field.  They obviously aren't dairy cattle, they're boys after all.  I think they're probably being fattened up for beef.
Yep these charming, inquisitive animals may well end up on someones plate. 
This is the reality of farming and of our food chain. It's not all bucolic sunshine and clucking chickens.

Well, I'm not going to get caught up in the whole ethical debate about eating meat.  I'm a carnivorous omnivore. I eat meat and I'm not going to apologise for it. 
 I do though, think it's important that people who do eat meat acknowledge where it comes from.  It's all too easy to eat nondescript meat products that bear no resemblance to the animal they come from.  I accept I eat animals, I know I can kill an animal for food, I know I can skin and dress an animal once it's been killed.  I also believe it's vital to respect the animal who has died to feed me and to honour that sacrifice.  I believe we should treat animals gently, we should care for them with all possible compassion and diligence and to kill them quickly with as little pain and fear as possible.  
We owe them that at the very least.  
It's our responsibility and our duty.

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