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Harris Ranch beef feedlot ... a disgusting site in Coalinga.

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Hell Hath No Fury Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-30-08 01:25 PM
Original message
Harris Ranch beef feedlot ... a disgusting site in Coalinga.
I just came back on Hi. 5 from LA this past weekend and had the shock of my life when I passed by Coalinga and the Harris Ranch feedlot.

Being from NorCal, I am used to seeing the dairy cows in Marin and elsewhere roaming the hills, munching their way through the grass. A very bucolic picture. Of course I had heard of heard of feedlots, but had never personally experienced one.

What we saw in Coalinga disgusted both myself (full disclosure: I am a vegetarian) and my Mom. There were cows as far as the eye could see, thousands and thousands of them. It was 100+ degrees outside and the vast majority of the cows had ZERO sun coverage. The lucky ones under the narrow shade screens were packed so tightly together that many were laying on other cows. Most were left standing or laying in their own shit out in the direct sun. The overwhelming smell of shit -- even up driving on the freeway -- was revolting.

My Mom was so upset by what she saw she did not eat any meat the entire weekend, and is now paranoid about where the beef she is eating is coming from.

I find is deeply ironic that Harris Ranch advertises itself with the slogan "Beef the Way Nature Intended It to Be!" I did some research on Harris and it seems it is a 700+ acre "ranch" that has 70 to 100 thousand cows at one time.

I was not able to stop to take pictures, but I did find this on the web -- as good as this picture is, you still really had to be there.



If you currently purchase Harris Ranch beef, please consider what I saw in future beef purchases.

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tularetom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-30-08 01:27 PM
Response to Original message
1. If you open your windows as you drive by
you'll wind up with a thousand flies in your car.

It's pretty stinky alright.
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dana_b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-30-08 12:47 PM
Response to Reply #1
23. death & s***
that's what it smells like. Everytime we drive by there I get nauseous. We make sure that the recycled air is turned on but ut still seeps through. I'm a vegetarian too so it's really disturbing but even those who aren't vegetarians find it repulsove. I don't know how people can stand to support that company after they've driven by there. My kid and I always say a small "prayer" (not really a prayer but a thought)when we drive by and just hope that their deaths are quick.
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robinlynne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-30-08 01:28 PM
Response to Original message
2. I drive frequently on that freeway, and I plan ahead to close all the windows and stop
breathing. The smell can be felt from 5 miles away. It is absolutely horrifying.
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Auggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-30-08 07:09 PM
Response to Original message
3. That's standard operating procedure at CAFOs across the U.S.
Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)

I gave up beef and pork several months ago after reading the Omnivore's Dilemma
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Greyskye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-30-08 10:25 PM
Response to Original message
4. That pic isn't showing:
Was it anything like these Harris Ranch pics?





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roody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-30-08 11:07 PM
Response to Original message
5. Are they still putting dead cows in the feed of cows?
I think so. Not a natural bovine diet.
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 02:19 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. No this is not allowed.
Ruminant byproducts in ruminant feed have been banned since 1997. Now, some other animal products are allowed and some of THOSE animals are allowed ruminant byproducts so it is not 100% "clean" in some cases.

Best bet is to make sure feed is 100% plant based (as this company claims), or even better, grass-fed or pasture raised. see my reply to the OP.
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 02:10 AM
Response to Original message
6. Harris Ranch is for "finishing"
Beef cows in California roam the verdant hills of Marin (or somewhere else) for much of their lives, then they go to Harris Ranch for a few weeks at the end for a grain diet.

The grain adds marbling and flavor.


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proud patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 02:58 AM
Response to Original message
7. it's been like that for a long time
I'll help sign a petition for more shade etc.. for the beef.

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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
8. um it IS a feedlot....
Well, it IS a feed lot and they do tend to stink. The cattle are on a high grain diet and it makes their shit smell more offensively to humans than when they are on grass or hay. Sort of like when people eat certain things - it affects the output, so to speak. Doesn't mean there is anything particularly unhealthy or inhumane going on. Sure it isn't as bucolic or ideal as we like to fantasize but they are being grown for food, not photos.

"Natural" in food labeling doesn't really mean much, you are probably thinking of grass-fed or pasture raised - that is the only kind of beef that isn't finished in a feedlot. XemaSab is correct, these are animals that have come off the range from other ranches and farms and are just being finished for a few weeks (typically 60 to 90 days). An awful lot of people love and still demand grainfed beef and this outfit seems to be doing it in an improved way. They use misters and follow the recommendations of Temple Grandin - all good signs to me. Read the snips from their website, below.

The best way to get good beef is to buy from a local small producer - you can have it finished however you want and know the animal was raised and handled however you feel best. It puts some of the responsibility back on the consumer to form relationships with their food producers (this goes for plant food too, by the way)

Here is a link to learn more and find producers in your area: http://www.eatwild.com /


from Harris' website:
http://www.harrisranchbeef.com/hrbc_index.html

Cattle Procurement through our Partnership for Quality program, we are able to source-verify an increasing number of cattle every year. These cattle are raised by western ranch families who use specific genetics and follow prescribed best management and animal health practices.

Feeding Practices young cattle (typically 14 16 mo. of age at processing) are fed a diet consisting primarily of Midwestern corn and other locally grown feeds. Our cattle rations have never contained animal proteins, and they never will. Finally, we regularly test incoming feedstuffs for unwanted pesticide residues.

Animal Health cattle are evaluated every day for health status. Those requiring treatment are moved to hospital pens, individually identified, then managed with strict adherence to health product withdrawal periods. Cattle are routinely tested for antibiotic residues through our Residue Control Program.

Humane Handling

Harris Ranch takes exceptional care to ensure the well-being of our cattle. Each and every dayrain or shinecowboys ride the pens to ensure the health and welfare of every animal in their care. All cattle are fed in large, well-maintained, outdoor pens that are equipped with an automated sprinkler system to reduce dust and cool cattle during the summer months. World-renowned animal behaviorist, Dr. Temple Grandin, has assisted with the design of cattle handling facilities and conducted employee training programs to ensure proper animal handling techniques.

Premium Natural Beef is all-natural, certified USDA Choice and Select Angus Beef.

No added hormones, ever.

No antibiotics fed or administered, ever.

Source and age verified by Harris Ranch.

All-vegetarian diet: formulated and approved by our animal nutritionist. No animal byproducts ever fed by Harris Ranch.

Added assurances: Cattle feeds tested for pesticide residues and beef tested for antibiotic residues through our Residue Control Program, which goes beyond USDA guidelines.

Cattle are source-and age-verified: The Harris Feeding Company is the single source of cattle we process. We contract with ranchers through our Partnership for Quality Program who can provide cattle with superior genetics so we can produce superior beef.

California fresh: beef is produced right here in California, guaranteeing a fresh, wholesome product.

Grain-fed: To produce the highest quality, best tasting beef, we transport Midwest-produced corn by the trainload to our feedlot where it is scientifically formulated into a balanced, nutritious ration.
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byronius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 03:30 PM
Response to Original message
10. Yes, it's grotesque.
Every time I see a cattle transport, I think 'death truck'.

I don't think most carnivores even think about it, but to me, I smell Dachau (which I visited when I was 10). It's my goal in life to fund and help create a fake or vat-grown meat that is cheaper and far tastier than the real thing.

If you can't change the consciousness, change the question, I guess. Next up: fake lumber, made from trash, stronger and cheaper than real lumber. They're almost there on that one.
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roody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 04:27 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. For those who chew their food:
Have you ever noticed that to break down meat, you have to chew and chew and chew and chew. It is a boring food.
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 07:21 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. what, do you live on porridge?
I chew most all my food, meat, bread, veggies... :wtf:
nothing boring about tasty food, meat or plant!
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roody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. Fruits, vegetables, grains.
Every bite gives a burst of flavor.
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 07:23 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. well console yourself, lots of people transport livestock from pasture to pasture
saves walking long distances. Just can't get a good cattle drive going these days. :think:
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 07:12 PM
Response to Original message
12. If you want to see Dachau
go to a dairy sometime, especially in Kings and Tulare counties.

I've seen conditions that make Harris Ranch look bucolic. Dairy cows standing in YEARS of shit, obviously ill and starving cows just waiting to die, thousands and thousands of veal crates in 100 degree weather... just really horrific conditions.

And boycott Land O' Lakes!
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Oerdin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-31-08 10:30 PM
Response to Original message
16. No problem.
Cows only stay on a feed lot for a couple of days, a week at most, before being sent to the slaughter house. What you likely saw was them unloading a new incoming shipment right before they loaded the next out going shipment. Personally, I'd rather eat locally grown meat then foreign stuff and I'm sure not going to become a vegetarian.
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Tumbulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-04-08 01:19 AM
Response to Original message
17. Horrendous- cafo's should be outlawed.
Even my seven year old daughter won't touch animal products from any animals who "had a bad life". If you don't think that the horror of the tortured life does not get into you in some way by eating it, then you are a simpleton.

And all of you that say it is only for a few days are wrong. Torturing of animals is sinister and eating the products from tortured animals is both unhealthy and stupid.

If you eat animal products make sure that the animal has had a happy and healthy life. We are what we eat. There are lots of choices now.
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-04-08 04:05 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. How do you make sure the animal has had a good life?
:shrug:
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Tumbulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-06-08 12:10 AM
Response to Reply #18
20. Well, you can start with the HSUS "Free Farmed" label (or something like that).
Or you can buy directly from a producer (and then get to know them and their animals) who produces their animals humanely. In California the dairy products from Straus Organic Creamery and Clover are excellent, as are the Organic Valley products. The organic label assures that the animals were healthy when slaughtered (vs the conventional ones where they are often sent to be slaughtered at the first sign of illness). I met a man who worked at a slaughterhouse and he said that over 75% of the livers of conventional cattle have cancer and it used to be rare. He is 70 years old and still works part time.
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-06-08 04:08 AM
Response to Reply #20
21. Organic says nothing about the treatment of the animals
:shrug:
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Tumbulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-07-08 12:51 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. well actually it does
First of all, if an animal is sick it cannot be slaughtered and sold as organic. This is not true for conventional meat. In fact I was just reading a paper on line about sheep/lamb production written by the University of Colorado for conventional producers and they recommend at the first sign of illness shipping the animals off to slaughter so that the producer don't lose money. Second point is that because you cannot use antibiotics you can't design situations for the animals that are stressful since you will lose to the conventional market any individual that gets sick. You are obligated to treat sick animals with any medicine called for by the vet, but that animal is now called conventional and it cannot be sold as organic. A big loss.

All organically raised animals are supposed to have access to pasture at all times - except when the animals will wreck the pastures or be injured by too much mud. I have gone through many organic inspections and the inspectors and the certifiers they represent do care about the animals being healthy and thus happy. Healthy animals are the result of good food, stress free living- such as good space and adequate shelter in rain and shade in the summer and good genetics. I always had to show that I had all of this for my animals.

I know all about the stunts of Horizon, and I am sure that there are others who attempt to get around the rules, but the rules are there and should be made stronger. But it is a start.
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Juneboarder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-04-08 04:47 PM
Response to Original message
19. Welcome to Coalinga!!
What did you expect, fields after fields of flowers? Ha! Harris Ranch has been there for eons. They have great beef; I lean most towards the burgers! Love the burgers :)
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Kablooie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-02-08 09:59 PM
Response to Original message
24. I think ... though I'm not sure ... that the cows spend their last moments in Coalinga hell.
They are raised in relatively benign circumstances up till then.

But it shocks me too whenever I pass it.
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