This second and final installment uncovers a startling crisis in agriculture and little-known facts about the new problems confronting livestock breeders today.
Synopsis: THE specter of a new crisis in farming is here. Government authorities, veterinarians and university departments of animal husbandry all tell us something is drastically wrong with our livestock. In the previous issue we saw the schemes men have devised to force unnatural profits out of livestock. We saw that dietary shortcuts are bringing on mounting diseases. And drugs and medicines, instead of relieving these distresses, have increased them by lowering the natural resistance of livestock. The California Farmer magazine admitted that: "Recent changes in handling animals may have upset the NATURAL BALANCE." We also saw that health-endangering chemicals fed to livestock are rapidly increasing the sicknesses of consumers. Then there is the mounting problem of dwarfism, of birth difficulties and sicknesses due to bad breeding practices.
OUR BODIES are made up of what we eat. Our health is regulated in large part by the quality of our food. This shoulders upon the farmer and rancher a serious responsibility. If he loves his fellow man, he will be concerned for the quality of the foodstuffs he is producing for the tables of others. We are told by many that modern selective breeders have been improving the quality of livestock. They usually cite as proof increasing size and quantity of production. That this is erroneous animal husbandry is proved by the fact that the supposedly most improved herds generally have the greater health problems eventually affecting consumers' health. Our supposedly superior beef cattle are not naturally as tender as they should be. Hence, the wide-spread use of tenderizers. "Today 80% of the nation's beef cattle get stilbestrol," states TIME magazine. This chemical related to the spread of cancer makes cows grow faster, which supposedly tenderizes them and makes for a "better" market animal. But does it, really? Chemical and Engineering News states that: "Buyers and consumers are demanding better quality and more uniform [meat] products." One factor constantly mentioned in reports on the beef market is that customers are demanding less waste fat and more of the marbling that gives meat its natural tenderness. Producers of dairy products tell us they also have been giving us better quality. But Dr. Murray C. Zimmerman, M.D., in an article in the A.M.A. Archives of Dermatology admits many are sensitive to penicillin because of the ever-increasing amounts of it we are getting in milk. A chronic itching rash is often the result. Penicillin is used to combat mastitis, which is one of the most persistent of dairymen's problems. And in the testing of commercial milk samples, measurable quantities of penicillin have been found in as high as 96% of tested samples. If breeders have been steadily improving the quality of livestock all these years, why do we have all these complaints about the milk and meat? And why does the meat of most beef animals have to be artificially tenderized? Shouldn't beef be naturally tender like most wild game? Just what are the principles by which men have been supposedly "improving" their cattle and our food supply? Could these principles have anything to do with our own health problems as well as the health problems of commercial cattle herds? Notice the facts!
How the Trouble Began
Let us start at the beginning. Here is how modern selective breeding developed and the principles it employs. Much has been written on this subject. But one of the most readable, authoritative, brief summaries of the development of the modern cattle industry is The Taurine World, a special cattle issue published by The National Geographic Magazine in December, 1925. The author, Alvin Howard Sanders, D. Agr., LL.D., is a noted author and editor of several books and magazines dealing with animal husbandry. In The Taurine World he drew upon facts published by many noted authorities, in addition to his own vast store of knowledge. The Taurine World informs us that about two centuries ago Robert Bakewell, a pioneering Leicestershire, England, farmer, discovered he could, through many generations of animal incest, concentrate the traits of one preferred-type animal in his or her offspring, and thereby establish a few isolated characteristics that were being sought. He bred a bull calf, from an especially good cow, back to his mother and their offspring back to the mother again. He repeated such mating for several generations until the desired qualities were fixed. So successful was Bakewell that King George III took a deep personal interest in his work. Immediately he had a following. It was through Bakewell's methods that ALL NEW BREEDS have been established and by which a few old breeds were forcibly changed to fit man's concept of what animals should be. Livestock authorities recognize that there are very real though sometimes hidden dangers in animal incest. But some characteristics are commonly considered by breeders worth the risk if there may be money in it! (pp. 37-38, Dual-Purpose Cattle, by Claude H. Hinman, past President of the American Milking Shorthorn Society) What characteristics did Bakewell and his followers desire? Mr. Sanders states: "He [Bakewell] found that breeding from close' affinities [incestuous inbreeding] tended to reduce size and vigor, and set up a certain delicacy of form which experience taught was f av orable to the process of fat secretion" (The Taurine World, p. 620). Thus Bakewell and his protιgιs knew that when they bred for a few isolated characteristics, they had to neglect and lose other qualities. Notice these two facts that Bakewell knew he was reducing vigor knew he did it to get more fat, which makes more profit. Being motivated by greed for money, he knowingly and willingly sacrificed quality! Bakewell's principles were applied to dairy cattle by concentrating on udder development (The Taurine World, p. 621). Cattle authorities admit that: "All cattle measuring up to the modern human idea as to what they ought to be are most assuredly not improved from the standpoint of the animals themselves" (page 621, The Taurine World). Improvement was not under consideration. What was so diligently sought by Bakewell and his followers was more money! The records prove these men bred only for big udders or blocky frames and much fat. Nothing was considered so important that it could not be sacrificed in the interest of a greater inflow of the almighty pound or dollar. Cattlemen know this brand of "improvement" results in a loss of hardiness. One of the most universally recognized facts of breeding is that species untouched by man are always more hardy! But men consider "progress" to be worth the price. Many honest farmers have been skeptical of these principles of deliberately corrupting cattle in the interest of money. Some of the animal breeders interested in greater profits had to practice their perversions in secret so their neighbors would not ostracize them. Yet, these men made such notable changes and gained such international fame that the breeds they developed usually from crossbreeds caught on and gradually became popular. Most of our major beef and dairy breeds were developed in this way, the genetic alterations and loss of qualities varying from breed to breed and herd to herd according to the degree to which Bakewell's system was applied. Breeds that were not so altered remained normal, but obscure. Selective breeders in England became so famous for changing the very hereditary nature of livestock through many generations of incestuous mating that Emerson was led to comment: "The native cattle are extinct, but the island is full of artificial breeds. Bakewell created sheep and cows and horses to order, and breeds in which everything was omitted but what is economical. The cow is sacrificed to her bag; the ox to his sirloin." Emerson's analysis was, in principle, correct. The things that were omitted because they were not considered of importance were quality of meat and milk, vitality, adaptability to extremes in weather, disease resistance, intelligence, gentleness, and other desirable traits which still remain in older breeds that were not developed by the Bakewell system. All modern livestock authorities who mention these obscure breeds commend their hardiness and other qualities. Modern experts know the trend started by Bakewell is dangerous. Yet many modern Bakewell followers perpetuate unnatural livestock by breeding for isolated characteristics. A leading livestock authority states: "The use of that criterion of only weight increase has crowded the life stream of our growing, young animals so badly that the stream is about to be DRIED UP through an INCREASING CROP OF DWARFS! There is a higher percentage of them where the stream of life has been more carefully guided by us according to PARTICULAR PEDIGREES." (Soil Fertility and Animal Health by Dr. Wm. A. Albrecht, Chairman, Department of Soils, University of Mo.)
Men have imposed upon their livestock many limitations that God did not impose at creation. They look around and see what our animals are now like and assume they are the best ever thinking we are evolving better and better all the time. Many Britons, Australians and Americans feel: "It has to be bigger or have greater capacity to be better," and have disregarded all other factors in preference for capacity production in all types of livestock. Then they adamantly insist they have increased the quality of their product. But what is the result of this "improvement"? A few years ago a high concentration of nitrates in forage crops in Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin poisoned and killed many hundreds of cattle. Dr. Arthur A. Case, M.S., D.V.M., Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, reported on this tragedy in the Haver Glover Messenger: "In most instances, by the fifth day several of the largest and best cows were found either dead or very sick. Almost all of the sick animals were dead in 24 hours." Notice that the largest and supposedly best cows the most "improved" individuals succumbed first, because they had the lowest resistance to poison. The gain in size had been a loss in hardiness. The human body, fed by these inadequate animals, is reaping the same results. In recent years most dairymen have had a mania for increasing the size of their cows in order to further increase individual production, and have assumed that increasing the size also increases the strength. Their newest technique in choosing herd cows is to use wither height only as their guide to quality. Now these dairymen are wondering why these abnormally larger cows are suddenly having difficulty giving normal birth, whereas their smaller ancestors fifteen years ago gave birth without distress. Many dairymen claim a bigger cow gives proportionately more nourishment in her extra gallons of milk. But milk tests have proved that this increased capacity does not give a proportionate increase in the nourishment that the increase is practically all water, which the dairyman then sells to the customers at milk prices. Men claim that cattle were originally scrubs and had to be bred for capacity. But this is not true. God created good livestock, not scrubs (Gen. 1:24-27). In ancient times when God's people were taken into captivity and a few poor people were temporarily left in the land, a large family was able to get an abundance of milk and butter from one young cow and two sheep (Isa. 7:21-22). Laying hens are even more distorted than cattle. The modern egg has a pale, flat, sick-looking yolk and a watery white that splatters all over the skillet with the flavor missing! Such an egg is not remotely comparable to that produced by a non-pressured hen in a back-yard flock with its rich, flavorful yolk and firm, healthy white. Does this mean selective breeding is wrong? Most assuredly not! It only means selective breeding has been misapplied, wrongly used. God saw fit to preserve in the Bible the example of the patriarch Jacob's selective breeding technique. Scholars recognize that Jacob had an amazing amount of knowledge and skill in livestock breeding. Jacob agreed to herd Laban's cattle and take as his pay all the odd-colored animals, while the standard colors were to be Laban's (Gen. 30:27-34). Because Laban changed Jacob's wage frequently in order to enrich himself with Jacob's labor (Gen. 31:7), God performed a miracle to cause the animals to produce a fair wage for Jacob, as described in verses 6-12. The account makes it obvious that Jacob bred for strength as regards hardiness, vigor, and virility, which perpetuates quality in general. In his quest for quality, he trusted God to provide the quantity in the right color patterns. Jacob did not fix a particular color pattern or other unnatural characteristic by incest as modern breeders have done, but left hereditary qualities as they were. He picked the most virile males, corralled them for breeding with the more virile females in order to produce quality and as a result God rewarded him with a decent wage (Gen. 30:37-39, 41-43 and 31:38). As a constant safeguard against inbreeding, Jacob maintained a flock ratio of one male to ten females (Gen. 32:13-14). Modern authorities unwisely recommend one male to thirty or forty females or one male to thousands of females in artificial insemination, admittedly a calculated risk! Dr. C.O. Gilmore of the Ohio Experiment Station, in a report in The Rural New Yorker, stated that artificial insemination has already begun to produce many heritable defects that are becoming a public concern. With 90% of our dairy cows now being artificially inseminated, a few more years of such a practice could lead to sudden degeneration of entire herds. Men have departed from God's way and in their greed have bred their cattle and poultry for isolated characteristics according to man's desire for each particular breed: excessive fat; blocky, big-rumped frames; excessively rapid growth; abnormal amounts of milk and eggs, unusual or unnatural color patterns, and other hereditary distortions. The present livestock crisis of disease, dwarfism and birth difficulty is abundant proof that modern breeders have been wrong in their judging of what constitutes quality, and what is profitable, in the long run, for human health. Then why were bad breeding practices introduced in the first place? What did these men want to accomplish? Bakewell and his followers lived in England's fertile valleys that had attracted settlers with varied sorts of cattle. The cattle had been allowed to promiscuously crossbreed until the land was full of mongrels. Bakewell thought the way to improve those cattle was to take local individuals that looked good and, through incestuous mating, develop a new, supposedly superior, breed by concentrating on developing certain desired characteristics. He and his followers did not generally consider going to other areas and buying good quality pure breeds for foundation stock. The practice temporarily worked so well that some tried it on pure breeds to increase the size, milk capacity, or fattening ability. As farmers were paid for quantity, their reasoning easily told them quantity meant quality! What actually happened was that quality was sacrificed for quantity all in the name of quick profits. But in other areas good breeds of pure cattle were not changed by this system. Their owners were satisfied with the natural and just profit their stock produced. These breeds, though profitable, were neglected by Bakewell and his followers because they were either too small or they were in areas far removed from the productive plains and valleys that inspired the use of Bakewell's system. These neglected natural breeds have generally retained their natural hardiness since creation. They do not suffer the losses from disease, dwarfism, and birth difficulties so common in the artificial breeds. This fact and their superior digestion make them generally as profitable as the artificial breeds. They produce meat and milk or eggs in the case of poultry that are of noticeably superior quality. The meat of the old, natural breeds, according to all authoritative comment, is not tough and stringy as some have assumed. It is tender and well marbled without heavy layers of waste fat, is of superior flavor, and very highly prized by the consumer. These breeds have rugged constitutions, but tender meat. Men who switch from new breeds to the old breeds are always surprised at their many good qualities.
The natural breeds came from areas where conditions were rugged and farmers could not afford to use a breeding technique that caused a loss of hardiness and quality. They left their cattle as God created them. And in many cases owners of these natural breeds have been "old-fashioned" enough to be honest to recognize, and strive for, true quality in livestock. The meat of natural breeds does not have to be artificially tenderized as the unnatural breeds usually require. Corruption is a chain reaction: one sinful practice requires another, and then another, to cover up. Now the whole land is full of the wretched result of such actions. The ultimate result is our own sickly bodies. To better understand the qualities all cattle should have by nature, notice the traits of some of the natural breeds which have been bred for over-all quality and hardiness, instead of for one or two isolated characteristics. The best market beeves of the natural breeds such as Scotch Highlanders, Brahmans, Galloways, Dexters, Red Polls, and Charolais can be counted on to dress out a carcass weighing 58% to 64% of live weight with very little or no waste fat! But the artificial breeds dress out no more than 60% to 65% of live weight only a very little more, and have a considerable amount of waste fat, and many times have a considerable amount of hard, unmarbled lean. The evidence amply demonstrates that the natural breeds actually produce a higher percentage of lean beef, and that of better quality and flavor. It is a widely known fact that the natural beef breeds give their calves a better supply of rich milk than most cows in the artificial beef breeds. Natural breeds do not have to be finished on the feedlot: they are good and tender fresh out of the pasture and grass is much less expensive than grain. When put in the feedlot, the natural breeds put on tender lean, instead of waste fat. In regard to commercial milk production, Mr. Sanders and others inform us the old, natural breeds such as Dexters, Red Polls, and Kerries have long been noted for both quality and richness of milk, and for profitable production. At the Model Dairy contest conducted at Buffalo in 1901, a Red Poll cow placed second in individual competition for profitable production. All the Red Polls entered were from one herd, but in most other breeds, contestants were picked from numerous herds scattered all over the country. Thus, the first place winner, a Guernsey, had a decided advantage (The Taurine World, pp. 683-684). Red Polls, though still not numerous, have won many similar dairying honors since that time. Another ancient breed is the Irish Dexter, smaller than a Jersey but almost as beefy proportioned as an Aberdeen Angus. Big-cow enthusiasts who look with contempt on the Dexter's small size have to ignore several vital factors which prove it does not have to be bigger to be better. They are such good foragers they eat young bushes and dry cornstalks from top to bottom which increases their health and profitableness. Even though tiny, they give up to three gallons of very rich milk a day. Those who have raised these tiny cows many years affirm that "they produce both milk and beef more economically than the strictly beef or dairy breeds." Dexters are so gentle and affectionate it is not uncommon to have children do the milking and feeding even caring for the bulls (which I have personally witnessed). Some families actually give Dexters the dog's place as household pet. But this does not make them delicate: Dexters can take extremes of heat and cold without discomfort. In England, where most other dairy cattle are put in snug barns in winter, Dexters are commonly housed in sheds open on three sides, without loss of production. Even though short legged, they are so agile on foot that steep, rocky terrain offers no problem. (The Dexter Cow, by W.R. Thrower) These factors of hardiness, which are common in slightly varying degrees to all the old, natural, pure breeds, whether large or small, contribute greatly to their profit-making capacity. When exposed to wintry cold, any of the hardy breeds get a better start in the spring and are not adversely affected by sudden spring storms. People who are familiar with only the artificial breeds assume that the natural breeds are just as limited and just as adversely affected by distresses. But this is not true. The natural breeds consider such things as sudden weather changes to be normal. Scotch Highlanders, for example, are not, as some suppose, just northern cows. They are so adaptable they do not appear to suffer from the heat of Southern California summers. Big, gentle Brahman cattle, assumed to be suited only for hot climates, adapt more readily to Canadian winters than the light dairy breeds, and frequently spend their time in the open in below-zero weather, even when a barn is available according to reports from northern breeders. Charolais cattle, another big, extremely gentle breed, are noted for hardiness, for milk that tests up to six per cent butterfat, and for fine quality, tender beef. Having long been bred in France for hardiness and lean meat, these cattle did not have their nature distorted in the interest of unnatural profit. The ancient, natural beef breeds are usually better milkers than the artificial breeds. Brahmans are sometimes used as family milk cows because of their abundance of rich milk that tests over five percent butterfat. Devon cattle are such heavy milkers that they used to be considered dual-purpose cattle. Some writers still list them as such, although the Devon Cattle Club lists them as strictly beef cattle.
Gentleness and Courage
Many people assume that gentle animals must be indolent cowards, and that certain animals, like watchdogs and dairy bulls, must be vicious and dangerous in order to be good. Such an assumption is the height of folly! God did not intend any domestic animal to be dangerous. He commands that a dangerous bull should be kept penned, and that if this does not keep him from harming people or other animals, he should be killed (Ex. 21:28-36). Men have not obeyed God. They have carelessly bred such belligerent natures into dairy bulls that big-game hunters always list the domestic dairy bull as the most dangerous animal on the North American continent. This is true, but it is a perversion. Viciousness is NOT an essential part of courage. Some of the most docile cattle are noted for their courageous protection of their young. And there are several breeds of medium and large dogs gentle as lap dogs that have for centuries been used to guard sheep and cattle. They are so courageous they will fearlessly fight off wolves or bears. Viciousness in cattle is not a trait created in them. It is a rather recent development caused by mismanagement, crossbreeding and breeding for a few isolated characteristics while neglecting the over-all quality. Throughout the Middle East, where our ancestors and our cattle originated, all species of livestock have been noted for gentleness ever since the earliest recorded history. Both the Bible and secular literature speak of young boys and girls caring for the family flocks and herds in ancient times. And the modern traveler in Crete who mentioned "a small yellow-haired girl, driving a flock of sheep, goats, cows, and one pig under the shadow of the trees," in The National Geographic Magazine, November 1943, p. 564, was only reiterating what many other recent travelers throughout the East have said. Those flocks of cattle, sheep and goats together, commonly seen throughout the unfenced East, normally include a few male animals, all docile. Those people could not afford a vicious animal. But when our ancestors started migrating and indiscriminately mixing different breeds from different areas, and breeding for abnormal profits, many strains lost their normal docility, along with some other qualities. Many breeders recognize that crossbreeding many times causes a loss of docility as well as quality. It is no wonder God forbids crossbreeding (Lev. 19:19). From the beginning He intended that each species should reproduce "after its kind" (Gen. 1). Crossbreeding recommendations are made primarily by theorists, and not by quality-minded cattlemen.
Age-Old Qualities Still Profitable
All the natural breeds which originated by the branching out of the original stock have inherited many of the desirable traits in common, because these are the traits God put in the original perfect cattle. These good traits were bred out of the others as a sacrifice to unnatural profit. As an illustration of the day-to-day economic usefulness of these diversified qualities that good cattle have, notice the rare qualities listed in this enthusiastic report from a rancher who hauled a few Scotch Highland cattle 3000 miles from Vancouver, Canada, to Ross River, Yukon Territory: "They gained weight on the trip. I gave them lots of room and hay... To unload at night I would back up to a bank and call them and out they would jump. In the morning the same thing, just walk in with some hay and they would follow... [What manageability!] These cattle alongside others have horse sense. Loose on the range other cattle I have known will walk into bog holes, fall into holes, wedge into trees, in fact are always in trouble; not these little guys. They walk around bogs and open water in the river; you can't drive them near a dangerous spot. They nonchalantly feed on side hills that a horse would break his neck on, in fact we are sold on them... It gets very cold, down to 70 below..." Another rancher reports: "It got down to 20 below and a strong northwest wind. The Herefords broke through the fence and came home, and a couple of Highland cows came with them. I rode out the next day; the rest of the Highland cows and the yearling Highland heifers were out there by themselves and didn't seem to be a bit perturbed. We have no natural shelter here... With performance such as reported by these ranchers, coupled with disease resistance, good calf crops, twenty years of productivity, and no dwarfism, it would be difficult to lose money. Low overhead and good production is a combination hard to beat. These are the qualities all cattle would have if they were bred and fed properly. Some of the long-neglected hardy breeds are gaining more public attention and favor, especially from cattlemen who have been suffering losses. Regrettably some breeders are using the hardy breeds only for crossbreeding, or are trying to quickly make them fatter or bigger in the rump by using Bakewell's techniques. Thus they are headed for the same degeneration through the same mistakes all over again. Indiscriminately striving for larger frames, more fat, heavier rumps, more milk, or a particular color pattern will lead to neglect of the over-all quality and can quickly degenerate any breed.
A Recent Case History
A typical example of rapid corruption occurred in the Brittany peninsula of France, long famous for its tiny, hardy, excellent milk cows. Several decades ago "progressive" farmers on the fertile coastal plain began to import Shorthorn bulls to increase size and Ayrshire and Jersey bulls to increase milk production of the Brittany cows. The latter did not increase the already-good milk production but the former did increase size, so they continued to use Shorthorns and discontinued the others. However, in the poor, rugged, hilly southern part of the peninsula, Morbihan Department, the farmers would have none of this crossbreeding, but kept their cattle pure and small (The Taurine World, page 656). What is the outcome of this unfortunate experiment with the Shorthorns? Dr. Ghislain Gielfrich reports that "pure Brittany cattle are perfectly adapted for poor land," and he adds, "purebred animals are now in the minority in the peninsula, but certain crosses are as unfortunate as they are indefinable" (page 17 of L'approvisionnement en Lait de la Ville de Rennes translated by Ambassador College French Department). Dr. Gielfrich further informs us, on page 41, that brucellosis, or Bang's disease, is prevalent in the northern part of the peninsula (the coastal plain where crossbreeding had been practiced), and that the hilly southern section (where cattle were kept pure) has healthy cattle to this day. Crossbreeding did not directly cause Bang's disease, but weakened the constitutions of the animals so they became more susceptible. Greed for unnatural profits always brings its eventual retribution. In this end time when a speedy downfall has been decreed for a rebellious society, that retribution will come more quickly. The susceptibility of livestock to degeneration from mismanagement also implies another factor. The degenerate breeds if not hopelessly decadent can be regenerated, NOT by crossbreeding and use of feed additives, but by following Jacob's breeding principles and by use of proper feed and forage. By culling out weaklings and breeding hardy, normal individuals beef cattle with the normal, not-so-blocky appearance and slightly smaller, natural rumps, and milk stock with normal udders giving a natural amount of rich nourishment instead of excessive gallons of water and by seeking quality first, following the teachings of the Bible, some can rebuild the health of their cattle soon enough to avoid catastrophe. Changing the principles of management will rebuild the health of livestock more quickly than it will give normal tenderness to the beef of the tougher meated modern breeds. For that reason some have already found it necessary to change breeds, but many will not find such a drastic move necessary.
Knowledge Requires Action
We may not previously have known these principles of animal husbandry. God held off the crisis until the proclamation of the penalty for sin was sent to this heedless people on a nationwide scale through The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast. After God warns us He requires us to obey His instructions (Ezek. 3:19; John 13:17). We should be satisfied with the prosperity God built into the natural heredity of good livestock. God's standards of excellence are best for both producer and consumer. A greedy desire for more brings less in the long run and poor health. Some claim they cannot afford to correct the abuses in their livestock. But neither can they afford to stand idly by and watch a plague of livestock losses descend upon them like a storm. One who follows God's principles will always prosper without indulging in drugs, growth stimulants and tenderizers and need have no fear of disease, dwarfism, or birth difficulties. It is time to quit deceiving ourselves into trouble and rely upon God and His ways for our prosperity (Deut. 28:1-6; Mal. 3:8-11; Mat. 6:24-34). God's promises are not the idle dreams of righteous men of old; they are the sure and practical ways that work. All our errors can be eliminated and a livestock tragedy can be prevented but only by changing man's motives and practices. We must learn to act upon the living, working sure laws of God Almighty.