“Somewhere along the way, livestock production, and I would throw crop production in there as well has gotten a bad rap, and it’s really taken for granted, when it’s a very noble profession. You are feeding the world.”
Jodi Sterle is Texas Agrilife Extension’s swine specialist.
“There are some people who think that they need to walk around, socialize with other pigs, etc., like that, but it’s really hard to explain that to someone who’s never tried to feed a group of sows who’ve been arguing and fighting over their food, like I said, even if there’s plenty of food available.”
Sterle says science needs to catch up with emotions.
“Science tells us that those sows are protected, that the unborn piglets are protected in the sow gestation stalls, but the public does not look like it’s going to accept that much longer.”
Sterle is afraid that as the public gets further removed from agriculture, animals are being thought of as animated movie characters.
“We can give her exactly what she needs every single day. In the real world, or the wild, that doesn’t happen, and it’s survival of the fittest.”
Agricultural producers maintain it’s in their best interest to care for their animals.
“Our job is to put those animals in the best environment possible, to provide shelter, food, water, and that includes shelter from predators especially, as well as from the elements, in order to provide the safest, most wholesome food supply in the entire world.”
Sterle says the remedy to these mistaken perceptions is education.
“I have a five year old and a nine year old and they can tell you that animals, livestock, have two jobs, and that’s how we describe it, and the five year old’s always asking, is this one’s job to produce food for the world, to feed the world, or is it’s job to have babies?