Farm Animal Truths: Ten Misconceptions Revealed

Let’s face it. There are thousands, maybe even millions, of people who have never actually been around farm animals. There’s people who have never touched one, and in several cases, have never even seen one in person. The only contact or knowledge of farm animals have come from a television screen or a computer. It is hard to believe, right? 931329_10200924874946159_300658159_n

It took me a while to understand this concept, but after witnessing this personally, it comes as no surprise. You see, a few summers ago during an internship, I had opportunities to participate in public dairy education activities. The first one, I had actually brought one of my cows with me to allow people to pet her, touch her, take pictures, etc. There was an older woman (probably in her late sixties), who told me, “Hun, this is the first time I have ever seen or touched a cow.” I could not believe it! I had similar experiences while at the20140131-210402.jpg Missouri State Fair. People of all ages would tell make comments such as “I had no idea that is where milk comes from,” or “Look, mom it’s a real cow!” As I would pick my jaw up off the ground, the reality would hit me. There are so many people who just do not know.

There is no question as to why people have false perceptions of what modern-day farming is all about. It is a lack of education – which we have to change – and getting the false idea of what farming is from movies and internet videos. Movies like Babe, Charlotte’s Web, Home on the Range, The Barnyard, etc. give viewers the idea that farms should have a big red barn, white fence, rolling green pastures and animals roaming around as they please. Yes, there are a few farms like this; however as agriculturists, we know that we could not provide enough food if all farms were like that. It is reality. It is fact. There is no other way around it.

Then you have what people can find on the internet. There is so much material containing false information or portraying false images of agriculture. Videos of animal abuse, commercials and mini TV series are a few of what goes viral and is seen by millions. Obviously, not all goatfarmers are abusers. Large farms are not what the “Scarecrow” commercial shows. Last, but certainly not least cows will not explode like the new Hulu TV series called Farmed and Dangerous implies. You see, there is so much false representation out there. It is up to people like you and me to tell agriculture’s story and educate the public about farming methods/practices.

I know that this is a topic of several blog posts out there and this is information that most of my readers are aware of. I am a person who enjoys humor and loves to laugh. With this being said, I decided to put my own twist on this post and provide you all with something you can smile about. If you are a reader out there who does not know a lot about farm animals, maybe this will give you something to smile about, as well as something you can learn from. I came up with a list of ten common misconceptions of farm animals that people have. Some of these are things you may have heard before, but I decided it was time to write something credible about farm animals. Brown_Swiss_photo

So sit back, feel free to smile and enjoy this list of ten misconceptions of farm animals!
1. Brown cows do not produce chocolate milk. Sorry to burst your bubble, but they do not. Chocolate syrup (or something similar) is what makes chocolate milk. That is fact.
2. Pigs do not talk to spiders, do not herd sheep and do not magically keep themselves clean. I know Babe and Charlotte’s Web tells something completely different, but that is Hollywood folks. If you have been around pigs at all, you know that is okay for them to be dirty. Sometimes they like to lay in the mud in order to cool off. So if you see a pig that is very dirty, do not panic. That is how they adapt to their surroundings and regulate body temperature.
3. Let’s talk about horses for a minute. As cool as Silver looks while rearing as The Lone Ranger says “Hi, Ho Silver!” that is not a desired response while one is riding a horse. While we are on the subject, horses are not ridden like you see in some western movies. The picture below shows how horses are generally ridden. No arms going everywhere, no guns, no being chased by Indians, etc. Sorry! 1470108_10202289806108585_860852273_n
4. Most farms are not barnyards full of a few cows, a couple horses, a small flock of chickens, a goat, some pigs and a sheep or two that live together in a red barn surrounded by white fences. It is just not the case. Today, farms have to be bigger and more specialized to be able to meet the food demands of our rapidly growing population. Trust me, this is true!
5. Bulls do not just attack men in leotards carrying a red cape or when they see red in general. Yes, this is the case in Looney Tunes; however it is197436_1002207137488_4811_n not the case in real life. Truth is, bulls are very dangerous animals that can attack a person at any time. (They are very important obviously because without them, no calves would be born. By the way, even though the movie Barnyard shows differently, bulls do not have udders!) This is why artificial insemination is a safer option. This also shows just how much danger some farmers put themselves in on a daily basis. Bottom line, bulls are not to be trusted.
6. Goats and sheep are more dangerous than what you see in movies like Babe or Home on the Range. You see, these critters can actually really hurt someone, especially those with horns. Even though goats are super cute and are seen in petting zoos all over, it must be noted that you must have a secure area to pen them in. If not, they will be out before you can say “boo.”
7. Most dairy cows do not wear bells. (Yes, I know there are some in some countries that do; however that is not a common occurrence in Northbrown_swiss America.) Dairy cows do not sing, do not actually advertise to “Eat More Chik-N” and do not literally help raise your kids. And in case you wondering, California is not the only state where “happy” cows come from.
8. Gathering eggs is not always a pleasant experience. There are some hens that will flog you causing you to run around the coop like a crazy person. Plus, you always have to watch out for the rooster. Those dudes are plain unpredictable. Oh, and geese? They are not your typical “Mother Goose” figure. They are completely opposite actually. Just ask someone (cough, cough this girl) about how it feels to be chased by one. NOT FUN!
9. Farm dogs are more than the old dog that just lies on the porch all day or than a dog that just chills in the bed of a pickup truck all the time. (Most cases they are not old bloodhounds like you see in a lot of shows and movies.) These dogs are a vital part of many farms. They can work livestock, protect livestock and are usually very good watch dogs. Instead of “man’s best friend,” they are simply a farmers best friend. The cool thing about this? These dogs love what they do!
10. Farm animals require constant care and attention. Movies tend to not show the hard work, time and effort it takes to care for these animals. Reality check—you ready for this? Farm animals are challenging and expensive to raise and care for.  They do not feed themselves, they do not build their own shelters, they do not magically heal themselves from injury/disease, they do not just suddenly walk out the gate to go on an adventure to save the farm, they do not “party” during the night when the farmer is asleep, etc. Truth is, they are animals. They are animals who supply us with food, fiber and so many other products. What makes a farm animal able to do this? Farmers who are good managers and caretakers.

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This list could easily go on and on. These are just some things that I have heard personally or just find funny. Now can you see how easily it is forwinter_storm people to have false impressions of farming and agriculture? There is so much influencing factors out there that cause people to have an idea of farming that is simply not true.

It is time for a reality check. Farming is not what you see in the movies. It is not what you see in those cruel videos. Farming is what puts food on our tables, clothes on our backs and so much more. Farm animals play a major role in this. Think of what you eat on a daily basis. Pizza, hamburger, egg, ice cream, steak, wool, milk, etc. are all examples of what farm animals provide. Think of life today if we did not have farm animals? Not a pretty picture is it. See the image below. All of these products come from cattle. They provide us with a lot don’t they?

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I hope you got a smile or two out of this. I know I did! Ultimately, I do hope this serves as an eye-opener of what farm animals are and what they are not, as well as what they do or what they do not do. They are extremely important to our food supply, which is something we have to realize. In addition, we must remember to thank those who dedicate their lives to raising and caring for these animals.

I will close by saying this. In honor of Thank a Farmer week, which was last week, I want to extend a special thank you to all of our farmers and ranchers. Your hard work, difficult lifestyle, commitment and dedication is extremely appreciated. Keep up the good work as you continue feeding the world.

Remember, to be sure to thank a farmer and appreciate farm animals.

Until next time…

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God Bless You All!

~Ali

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GO TEAM USA IN SOCHI AT THE WINTER OLYMPICS! PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN

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Comments

  1. Kay Blackstock says:

    Outstanding!!!! I was raised on a small farm as a kid. I did my share of cleaning stalls, fixing fences, chasing loose cows, horses, pigs, chickens. (That was the worst part). Growing up we still had a few animals and I loved every minute of it. I can’t have livestock now, but what you said above brought home some very good memories. And they are all so very true. Thank you….

  2. I really wish brown cows made chocolate milk 😦 I think the world would be a better place if they did. But on a more serious note, loved the post. Thanks for sharing!

  3. just stet it says:

    You mean, milk and bacon don’t just magically appear in the grocery store? 🙂 Thanks for your post.

    Adriane (from just a few hours away in Higginsville, Mo.!)
    http://littlehouseonthedairyblog.blogspot.com

  4. One thing you didn’t get quite right is that pigs actually are very clean animals as long as they are comfortable. If they get too hot or too cold they look for ways to cool down/keep warm and that is when they get dirty. They learn by the first or second day of life to do their business in one part of the pen and sleep and eat elsewhere.

    • First of all, thank you for reading and leaving this comment! I was just wanting to get the point across that it is not necessarily a bad thing to see a pig dirty because like you said, it is how they cool off. My family raised a few hogs and you would not believe how many people would come over and scold us because they would see our pigs dirty. (It was a hot summer so they liked to lay near their water trough and did get pretty muddy). In my experiences with dealing with the public, I know they automatically think seeing a dirty pig means it is neglected and/or not adequately cared for. I will definitely clarify that in my post. Thanks again! 🙂

  5. Pigs are actually very clean animals, as long at they are comfortable. If they are too hot or too cold they will look for ways to deal with that. Within a day or two of birth most pigs have worked out where the “toilet” is and don’t eat or sleep where they do their business.

    • Very good point! I know that from having raised a few hogs; however many people who do not have ag backgrounds think that pigs should always be clean (they watch movies like Charlotte’s Web and/or Babe). A lot of times, people get very concerned when they see a pig dirty because they think they are not getting adequately cared for. However, like you said, it is how they cool off. Thank you for the comment, and I will clarify that in my post as well- as I can see where it could confusing. Thanks for the insight! 🙂

  6. Joe Robinson says:

    Here’s a few I had to learn, I was raised in a big city. Then at age 34 I moved to a working farm to help my future wife & her mother run the farm.
    If a cow has horns it’s a boy.
    Brown eggs are bleached to make white eggs.
    Farmers only drive John Deere & listen to John Denver.
    Worst one: Turtles can leave their shells to get new ones. I was crushed after hitting a turtle and then this information was told.

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