For many people, nowadays it feels like “knives out” is the new name of the game. Everybody seems to be on edge over one thing or another. In a world where “road rage” is all the rage, publicly expressing a personal opinion is just as likely to win you a round of applause as a punch in the nose. One side hates the other—and for the other side the feeling is entirely mutual.
This is not good.
In these divided times, we do well to heed the words of America’s prophet–poet, Walt Whitman:
I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contain’d…
Whether you own one head of cattle or thousands, it is important to manage your herd properly. At its most basic level, “herd management” means keeping track of your cows through some means of reliable identification. In previous centuries, this meant simply guarding against loss or thievery. One of the oldest methods of doing so was to mark the animals permanently with a brand, which left on the skin a unique identifying symbol to establish ownership of the animals.
Nowadays, the purposes for identifying cattle have multiplied. In addition to proving ownership, those who keep cattle should also maintain accurate records regarding performance, breeding, origin of the animal, its health, vaccination history, and intake of antibiotics and other medicinal treatments. Of particular importance is the need for “Animal Disease Traceability” (ADT), intended to help prevent the spread of brucellosis and other types of serious contagious infections among herds. Continue reading “Guide to Cow Tags and Other Cattle Identification Methods [Infographic]”
The more I looked, the more I saw. Countless times I saw it in Christian religious art, where the four Gospel writers—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are typically depicted, respectively, as a divine man, a winged lion, a winged ox, and an eagle. Clustered on the roof of the Croatian National State Archives building in Zagreb I noticed a parliament of Croatian owls, symbols of wisdom. And in Florence I met Il Porcellino (“the Piglet”), Baroque master Pietro Tacca’s popular boar fountain, sculpted in 1634 and situated now in the city’s Mercato Nuovo. Visitors traditionally put a coin into the boar’s jaws for good luck and then rub its snout to ensure a return to Florence. As a result, the snout always has a polished sheen, while the rest of its body remains a patinated brownish-green. (Of course, I rubbed its snout like there was no tomorrow!) Continue reading “Wonderful Life: A Celebration of Animals in European Art (Part 2)”
‘I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.’
— Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself, 32” (from Leaves of Grass)
As we enter this season of “Peace on Earth, good will toward men,” it is worthwhile to be reminded that in this deeply conflicted world, while there may be many things that divide people—borders, currency, language, religion, politics—there are many more things that unite us in harmony. One of those unifying principles is our common relationship with animals: not merely as food or pets or helpmates, but in the simple awe and affection they have always inspired in the human psyche. It is a sentiment that stretches not only across great geographical distances but across the vast chasm of time itself.
Farmers today who regularly tattoo their hogs, goats, cattle, horses, and other livestock may not realize it, but they are participants in a practice dating back to the very dawn of human civilization.
Thousands of years ago, almost as soon as our hunter–gatherer ancestors stopped hunting–gathering and instead took to farming and animal husbandry in fixed settlements to supply themselves with reliable sources of food and clothing, they realized they had a new challenge to face: how to keep track of their ever-growing herds of swine, goats, cows, sheep, and other animals in their care.