On April 1st, Trent Loos, a sixth-generation farmer and agricultural radio show host, shared current examples of how consumer demand has influenced animal care practices in various food animal industries.

  • Duncan Donuts desires to serve only free-range eggs.
  • California’s poultry raisers have legal space requirements for their birds.
  • California requires any state that desires to sell poultry or eggs within its borders to meet their legal space requirements.

Mr. Loos shared how animal care is being driven by economic principle of supply and demand; however, producing what the consumer demands may actually be hindering the supply chain. He says, “What the consumer wants is a ribeye steak from the animal when it doesn’t have to die.” In many instances, when consumers pressure changes in animal care standards an increase in the cost of that food product is seen so that fewer consumers can afford the desired food (e.g. California eggs can cost more than $8/dozen). Sometimes people will argue that the farmer or rancher shouldn’t complain about these changes when the cost of these products are increased because they are making more money. We have to remember, that this increase in product price does not directly result in an increase in the profit of the farmer or rancher because their expenses of raising the animal have also increased (remember Profit = Revenue – Expenses).

Other topics Mr. Loos discussed were the increased concern over sustainable management practices, controlled or confined livestock facilities, and greenhouse gas emissions. What can Extension folks, farmers, and ranchers do to communicate positive messages about today’s agriculture? Mr. Loos says we should:

  • Engage our family members about their misconceptions of animal care.
  • Be good listeners before advocating to address the actual concern.
  • Look for local opportunities (letter to the editors, daily conversations).
  • Use peer reviewed science.

One of the last points he shares is that today’s agriculture isn’t about “humane ag”, it’s how we manage and decrease stress and respect animal life; this is food animal agriculture. “Humane is how I treat my fellow man.”

To listen to this webinar, visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Pick Your Project: Animal Care Resources website.

Animal Care Wednesday Webinars

For more information about Animal Care Wednesday Webinars, please contact Heidi Carroll.