January 22, 2018

Lies, Damn Lies, and Photos

A picture is worth a thousand words. It can tell a story. But that story can be easily changed, depending on who's sending the message, and what kind of message they wish to send.

And sometimes that message is completely different from what the picture is actually telling you. Those who don't know what they're seeing are more easily fooled than those who see the photo for what it is.

Obviously you're wondering why I've gone all philosophical this far into 2018. It's not because of some radical New Years' resolution, no we're well past that point. It's rather because of a radical extremist beast full of a scant few nutters that is making a seemingly desperate attempt to fool the agriculturally-incomprehensible innocent people into believing something shown in a photo to be what it is actually not, at least to folks like me who are a whole lot more agriculturally-literate than, oh, about 98% of the population.

This is nothing new, though, folks. It was just last year, around the same date (coincidence??) that a small farm with Highland cattle got nailed by a bunch of snivelling, no-account, "compassionate" extremists for being "cruel" to a newborn Highland calf for just merely showing a piece of twine tied around it's neck. The whole affair was a complete joke. You can read my opinion, and some farm facts, on the matter here: Cute Newborn Calves vs. Vegan Advocates

I will not bother pointing fingers at who is to blame for this libellous act, more because I've no clue, and second because I don't really care, but I want to show the photo and the message attached to it to see what I'm going to be blogging about today.

Now, here's a simple exercise for you to do.

1) Rid your mind of any preconceived notions, negative thoughts, etc. Next: 2) Take your right (or left) hand, and just cover that black wordy piece. Now, 3) take a good, close look at the photo.

For 4), have a look at this next photo below. (If you've already figured out what's actually going on in the above photo, you can skip this step. But for the rest of you, pay close attention.)

Have you figured it out yet? When you've uncovered the wording to the first photo above, you should now realize that the message in the black box is nothing more than a bare-faced lie.

This isn't where I get on a big rant about libel and deliberately lying for an extremist agenda, but I think you'll get the gist after you finish reading this post.

The angle of the photo can throw people off. I get that. But the angle of the supposed "cap-bolt gun"–for purely theoretical purposes here–is positioned where penetrating bolt will not penetrate into the spinal column like it's supposed to if properly positioned right on the center of the forehead, as this next picture clearly shows.
Location for proper euthanasia on a calf
Improper stunning means that the animal is sure to suffer, no matter if it's a young calf or an old cow. The cap-bolt–or even a bullet–must penetrate not just into the brain matter, but also into the spinal column for fast, effective euthanasia. The only way to do that is as demonstrated in the above illustration.

And that is if a calf needs to be euthanized for whatever health and welfare reasons permit it.

When you look at the second photo above, you can see the disbudder is placed where the horns of a bovine grow from.
Calf with horns beginning to form
So that's the first big clue to realize that the "baby" calf in the memed photo isn't being killed. 

The second big give-away is the restraint on the calf. Any bovine that is going to be euthanized or killed via cap-bolt does not require a nose-halter attached to the chute. There is simply no logic behind it, because the whole process of stunning via cap-bolt is much quicker than the time required to disbud or dehorn a calf. 

A bovine needs to be restrained for dehorning both for the safety of the animal being dehorned, and for the person doing the dehorning or disbudding. Two primary things can happen if a calf's head isn't restrained when using a disbudder: The calf can get a nasty burn on the eyes or any other part of the face, causing pain, and two, the person doing the disbudding can also injure themselves when the tool slips and may land on the hand or arm. 

And when you are handling an animal that is neither anything close to being a pet, and an albeit uncomfortable--or very painful if no local anaesthesia is used--procedure is being performed on them, things can get very interesting (and I say that quite liberally) very quickly. Patience and a calm demeanour is highly recommended when working with such critters. 

Third give-away that is less noticeable to most is the tool being used. I did a Google Image search on "orange disbudder" and I'll be damned if I didn't come up with the exact same tool as being shown in the photo above. Instead of showing you a possibly copy-righted photo, it's best if I show it in this video:

That tool is a bit different from an actual cap-bolt pistol which looks a whole lot different than the dehorner being used above. 

I made sure to include a picture of the two different tools, but of the same colour, just to show the stark differences. 

Why dehorn cattle? 

It's largely a safety issue, both to those who are handling the animals, and to the animals themselves. Horns are an increasingly a significant danger when animals are in a confined situation, particularly in dairy or intensive beef operations, where risk of injury to other cattle and people is high. 

Horns serve more or less an aesthetic purpose for different breeds, though they serve an even greater purpose when livestock are basically range animals that are not in confinement so much as they are exposed to predators. The need to have something beyond a protective attitude when dealing with bears or wolves that want that calf is really important. 

But a cow or bull with horns needs to be respected. Those animals are very strong and quick, and it doesn't take much of a swing with their head to hit you or even puncture your skin, take an eye out, whatever. Even cattle can hurt and even kill each other if they get into a spat that turns ugly. Dehorning at a young age is one solution to that potential problem, or tipping an older cow's horns. 

If the dehorning wasn't done properly when the animal was young, those horns could grow right into the head of the animal, causing more suffering than the short-term suffering that comes with dehorning. If the horns are not removed in time, the animal may need to be euthanized. 

Horns will keep growing. They don't stop once the tips reach bone. And that will cause undue stress to an animal.

Dehorning is necessary for a lot of reasons, but not for all operations or everyone owning cattle. Dehorning needs to be done for a reason, and when done, performed properly. 
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