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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hasselstrom: Keep Public Land Available for Healthy Grazing

My friend Larry Kurtz says some wild things on his blog Interested Party and in various comment sections around the South Dakota blogosphere. But he also directs us toward a lot of good reading, like this essay on the importance of protecting public grasslands for grazing. Among other points, South Dakota author and rancher Linda Hasselstrom notes the superiority of grass-fed beef to factory-feedlot beef:

E. coli contamination thrives in feedlots, but grass-fed livestock, including beef, pork, chicken, sheep, elk, deer, antelope and other wild meat animals, is free of this dangerous pathogen. Range cattle roam freely, rarely spending more than a day in one spot. They must be branded to prevent theft and vaccinated against disease, but they are herded only briefly into corrals. Since cows live outside in all weather, their wastes are scattered and broken down by elements and insects. Pastured cattle never stand knee-deep in manure, because cows don't like to eat near feces. That's why, in winter, ranchers scatter supplementary feed onto clean grass. Buyers who cram cattle into feedlots for fattening waste resources and in the process make the animals—and those who dine on them—less healthy [Linda Hasselstrom, "Private Stash," Missoula Independent, 2010.11.25].

Mr. Kurtz also directed my attention, via the Goat Blog, to this really cool interactive map that helps you find which states are producing the most unhealthy feedlot beef, dairy, and pork. In 2007, South Dakota ranked 16th nationwide for feedlot livestock units: 8th in cattle, 20th in dairy, 11th in hogs.


  1. Cory, ip posted Hasselstrom's comments as a shout-out to Linda and not necessarily to condone cattle or sheep on public ground. Of course, my preference would be for ungulates that are autochthonous to those lands.

    If domestic livestock could be shown to be free of antibiotics and the other pharmaceuticals usually injected into animals that graze on public lands, ip would not be quite as critical of producer entitlements.

    Thanks for the eyeballs.

  2. Indeed, I wonder how Hasselstrom's position would fit into our discussion of the Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Grassland. That bill would protect existing grazing rights and prevent further development in the designated land. The producer entitlements have some downsides, but can we say they aren't as bad as the harms of factory farming?

  3. Yo, bro'

    Found this in a Journal archive search.


  4. Now that's eager reading! Well done, Larry!

    [Funny: in Russian, pod means under, and I thought, "subpotato?"]


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