Saturday, August 1, 2009

Can you blame 'em?

An interesting albeit disturbing report in MMWR about cattle-caused deaths was published yesterday. It turns out that 21 people, aged eight to 86 and most commonly male, were killed by cattle aggression from 2003-2007. From the report:

Circumstances associated with these deaths included working with cattle in enclosed areas (33%), moving or herding cattle (24%), loading (14%), and feeding (14%)... A total of 21 deaths met the case definition for 2003--2008. Four fatalities occurred in 2003, two in 2004, six in 2005, and three each year during 2006--2008. During these years, eight of the fatalities occurred in Iowa, two in Kansas, seven in Missouri, and four in Nebraska... Only one of the victims was female. One of the victims was a boy aged 8 years who was helping castrate cattle when he was crushed against a squeeze chute... To reduce the risk for death from cattle-caused injuries, farmers and ranchers should be aware of and follow recommended practices for safe livestock-handling facilities and proper precautions for working with cattle, especially cattle that have exhibited aggressiveness.

Many of the details reported in individual cases are too sad to post but further proof (in my opinion) that these animals do not belong in confined feeding spaces and are still very much animals - not merely inventory. Don't get me wrong, no one deserves the fate these farmers met. I'm just saying, maybe the cows don't deserve the conditions and fate they encounter either. I mean, as one Tierney Lab reader put it, isn't it sort of poetic justice that one of the deaths was by way of the antibiotic intended for the cow? And can we really blame a cow for the fact that it's maternal, animal instinct led her to charge a farmer removing her deceased newborn calf?

No comments: