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Old 01-04-2009, 08:11 PM
 
Location: NE Nebraska
84 posts, read 363,161 times
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The term "Factory Farm" gets thrown around a lot when talking about confined livestock. To some this means any type of open lot or barn confinement of animals for most of the animal's life regardless of the numbers. For others this means large confinements of at least one-hundred or more animals. Some believe this means at least 1,000 cattle in a feedlot, hundreds of dairy cows or a couple thousand pigs in a confinement barn.

What do you define as a factory farms?

What are big livestock confinements in your area?

What are the key issues for large livestock farms?

What are key issues for the people living close to livestock?
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:02 AM
 
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We used to have a lot of smaller 60-70 cow family farms, but slowly that has been absorbed into mega-dairies. We have one 30 cow farm in the family, one mid-sized farm at 125 cows, and a mega dairy at 1000+ cows and growing.

I would say around here a farm that approaches 500 cows is beginning to get its mega-dairy status.
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,488 posts, read 38,404,041 times
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Any ranch (ranches are where you raise animals; farms are where you raise crops) that has more animals than the land will naturally support in growing season, or where animals are crowded together in such density that it negatively impacts their health.

Capitol Land & Livestock is just down the road (and across the road, and around the corner - they keep buying up land). They are one of the two largest companies of their kind in the country. Because of where they are located, I get to see their cattle as they're being raised. In huge pastures, with fresh water and flowing streams, on the most beautiful grass you could imagine. They manage the pastures by moving the cattle (mostly with horses, occasionally in trucks, never with ATVs) from one pasture to a fresh one when the first one gets a little "used"). McDonald's buys meat from them, so I guess some would call them a "factory farm" on that basis, and on the basis of the number of cattle they handle, but those cattle have it good and I certainly wouldn't call them one.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:12 AM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,683,788 times
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I have never heard dairy farms referred to as dairy ranches.

Even the 5,000 cow dairy operations in west central MN are referred to as ----"dairy farms"


All cattle aren't beef cattle.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,546 posts, read 55,469,830 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marmac View Post
I have never heard dairy farms referred to as dairy ranches.

Even the 5,000 cow dairy operations in west central MN are referred to as ----"dairy farms"


All cattle aren't beef cattle.
Being pedantic myself, I'm now looking for the possibility of pork cattle.

What bothers me is "Ranch Dressing." Taken literally, that would be the stuff that comes out of a manure spreader.

We have a lot of broiler chicken farms in this area. The issue is that the used litter is in such demand for fertilizer that it can run $60 a truckload, if you can get it. With a properly maintained farm, the smell isn't bad, and the chickens seem happy enough with the constant access to feed and water. I guess the downside for them is that they live in the equivalent of a Wal-Mart store at Christmas.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:10 AM
 
Location: The beautiful Rogue Valley, Oregon
7,543 posts, read 15,690,455 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marmac View Post
I have never heard dairy farms referred to as dairy ranches.

Even the 5,000 cow dairy operations in west central MN are referred to as ----"dairy farms"
In the west, most agricultural enterprises are just called ranches. So you can be called a farmer, but your land is often a ranch, even if you grow potatoes and alfalfa.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:14 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,488 posts, read 38,404,041 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Being pedantic myself, I'm now looking for the possibility of pork cattle.

What bothers me is "Ranch Dressing." Taken literally, that would be the stuff that comes out of a manure spreader.

We have a lot of broiler chicken farms in this area. The issue is that the used litter is in such demand for fertilizer that it can run $60 a truckload, if you can get it. With a properly maintained farm, the smell isn't bad, and the chickens seem happy enough with the constant access to feed and water. I guess the downside for them is that they live in the equivalent of a Wal-Mart store at Christmas.
Chicken stuff is great! We use it, but our free range chickens (that are up in the coop at night but running free during the day - they put themselves up and ask us politely to close the door so those nasty old raccoons can't get in) provide plenty for our needs - no need for them to live in WalMart. Better eggs, too.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Apex, NC
1,341 posts, read 5,679,793 times
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A dairy farm is a dairy farm. I've never heard of a dairy ranch. If you do a google search for "dairy farm" you get 2,000,000 results. If you do a search for "dairy ranch" you only get 14,000 results and most of those are restaurants or references to salad dressing

Opponents of large scale farms call them "factory farms" because of the negative connotation. I do not like the term "factory farm" any more than I like the term "clean coal" because both labels were thought up by people with a public relations agenda.

Most "factory farms" in Vermont - where I used to live - were all simply family farms that grew over time in order to survive. I remember one farmer who was blocked by his town because a very loud minority were concerned that the larger lined manure pond he proposed building would harm the environment. He tried to explain the new large lined pond would replace a non-lined smaller pond. His appeals ultimately failed and in order to remain viable he had to purchase additional non-adjoining farms in other towns. Ultimately, this farming framework results in increased pollution for an entire region because the farmer then cannot make use of economies of scale to make desirable investments in environmental protections and efficiencies. The farming operation consumes more diesel, requires a higher price for his product, and makes food more expensive for the consumer. It becomes not an environmental issue, but a "not in my backyard" issue.

I love small farms - I currently have one in SW Virginia. But that doesn't mean I'm against large farms. I heard an NPR report recently that mentioned that large farms received a disproportionately high percentage of ag dollars from the U.S. Gov't. The implication was that small farms were getting screwed. It was a totally biased report. The reality is that most ag dollars come in the form of grants where the U.S. Gov't puts up, say, 80% of the cost of an improvement. For example, say it would cost you $40K to build a fenced-in riparian buffer along your creeks. You might pay $8K, and the gov't would cover the other $32K, and then the U.S. Gov't would follow up with small annual payments to the farmer over a period of years to cover the loss of agricultural land use. A small farm would be less likely to opt for this route because of the project's complexity. A large farm would be more inclined to do so, and therefore, on paper, large farms would appear to be getting an unfair share of U.S. gov't ag dollars.

We certainly have a way to go with respect to environmental protections and farming. But these policies need to be applied fairly to both large AND small farms. For example, in Holland, you're not allowed to broadcast spray your manure like virtually everyone does in the USA. In Holland, manure spreaders have huge booms that inject manure just below the field surface to minimize nitrogen runoff. But there is MUCH resistance to these policies from both small and large scale farmers alike. Opponents of "factory farms" do not usually push for environmental policies like those that Holland employs because enacting such policy in the U.S. would mean bankrupting a percentage of small farmers who couldn't afford to meet new regulations. You'd have better environmental protections, but more "factory farms". Oh, the irony.

Sean
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Old 01-05-2009, 01:54 PM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,158,208 times
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The marketing hype and negative remarks cross all terms and definitions. Here in Maine we are the most heavily forested state in the nation and our biggest fields would seem like lawn in the middle of Manhatten to most farms in this country. That was why I had to laugh when I had some "locally grown, free-range beef"

Free range beef in Maine? I don't think so. Too many roads, woods and neighbor yards to keep out of, especially in Orland Maine. It gives you the idea that his cows frolic in endless fields without a barb wire fence in sight.

I actually looked it up to see if he was breaking any marketing laws but he is not. The USDA does not have a definition for free range beef; only poultry can be designated as USDA free-range.

Free Range. This USDA term applies only to poultry (and only means they were given “access” to the outdoors). On beef, it’s meaningless.
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Old 01-05-2009, 02:04 PM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,158,208 times
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Having a mega-dairy farm in the family, along with a mid-sized one and then a 30 cow farm; I liked the 30 cow farm the best. I really got to know each cow and since it was so small, it was just me working in there for most of the time. Just me and "the girls" as I called them.

The mid-sized farm was nice because it was big enough to require several workers, so we chatted as we went about our day. After 2o years of working by myself, it was nice to have someone to chat with as we worked.

As for the mega-farm it has its place too. Since its milking 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, its a busy place. We let computers and ear tags keep track of the individual requirements pretty much, and I can understand why people would look at it negatively. The truth is that farm got big because it had to. On that side of the family the younger generation decided to stick with farming. That is a good thing, and rare these days. With more people taking money out of the milk check, the only option was to get bigger. More cows, more milk, bigger farm.

Still I like dairy farming the best. It was more involved then beef where you simply try to raise them as fat as you can the fastest. With dairy cows it was not uncommon to have the same cow for 10-15 years. They say the normal dairy cow is in production only 4 years, but that's not true. I milked a cow I called Curly Horn in 1990 and it just went to slaughter. The other aspect that I like is getting to know the cows. They are not just a number headed for someone's freezer, you have to know them to get the most milk out of them. To that end, you don't just pump them with antibiotics as you could not put their milk in the tank. Nope, you really hesitate to give them meds unless they need it. But giving them meds is not a bad thing. Its a 2500 dollar cow you are trying to save, and even if you have to waste her milk for a few weeks, she will eventually put her milk back in the tank and you have saved yourself a replacement heiffer. The bigger the farm the harder that is to do, but I think dairy farms are better then some types of farming when it comes to that.

Last edited by BrokenTap; 01-05-2009 at 02:21 PM..
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