The following statement regarding the thousands of cattle killed by days of intense heat in Kansas may be attributed to Ben Williamson, U.S. Executive Director for Compassion in World Farming USA.
Heat waves in the U.S. are a significant threat to beef cattle, with an average of 5,000 cattle lost yearly due to heat stress. Beef cattle kept in feedlots often do not have shade or sufficient water to cool themselves during hot weather and can die from heat stress. The water requirements of cattle for drinking increase significantly during hot weather. In feedlots, cattle are in greater competition for drinker access.
Feedlots are large outdoor pens that house a large number of cattle to have them put on a lot of weight very quickly by eating a high-energy, grain-rich diet, and the majority of feedlots in Northern Texas, Nebraska, and Kansas do not provide shade. When a shelter is provided in feedlots, the shaded areas are not often large enough for all the cattle to lie down and seek refuge from the extreme heat. Beef cattle today in the U.S. are grown to much heavier body weights making it difficult for them to dissipate heat and cool themselves, so having ample space to spread out is an advantage to cattle on pasture.
Today Compassion in World Farming is the leading farm animal welfare organization dedicated to ending factory farming and achieving humane and sustainable food. The USDA recently reported that 80-85% of U.S. beef cattle come from feedlots with more than 1,000 cattle. More than 40% of those cattle are confined in feedlots with more than 32,000 cattle, and the U.S. industry continues to shift towards a small number of vast feedlots with over 100,000 animals. It's clear that factory farming puts animals at serious risk of climatic extremes.
Compassion is an organization dedicated to ending factory farming. In service to this mission, we advocate for change that improves the quality of life for farmed animals. Consumers should reduce their meat consumption and only eat beef from cattle certified to have spent their entire lives on pasture away from feedlots, such as American Grassfed Association, Regenerative Organic Certified, Global Animal Partnership Step 4 and above, or Animal Welfare Approved beef. One step at a time, we hope to see a world where all animals, farmers and our planet are treated with compassion. To join our mission and cause, please visit www.ciwf.com.
Statement in response to an article written by NPR.