Saturday, July 3, 2010

Beef from Downer Cows is Not in Your Food Supply

A poster created by U.C. Davis for dairy farmers
As dairy farmers, we take steps everyday to ensure the comfort and health of our animals. Though much time and effort is spent to avoid having an injured or downed animal, from time to time it happens on all dairy farms. A “downer cow” is an animal that can’t stand up on her own due to injury or illness.

When a cow is down on our farm, she is isolated and we administer treatment. Food and water is provided to her. All this is done in an effort to maintain her energy level to encourage recovery. If the animal displays no signs of recovery, she must be euthanized. This is not the desired outcome, but occasionally happens.

When euthanasia is necessary, it’s humanely done by my husband or our herd manager using methods recommended by our veterinarian. It’s a task nobody likes, but is a reality of livestock production.

Some people are concerned that downer cows are slaughtered for human consumption. Federal food safety regulation makes sure this doesn’t happen. In 2003, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) banned all downer cattle from the human food chain. This policy prohibits the slaughter of down cows to make certain beef from these animals doesn’t enter the food supply.

There are animal rights groups who claim they are working to ban the practice of downer cows being used for slaughter in Ohio. I’m curious why they want people to believe dower cows are currently being slaughtered for food consumption when it’s clear an existing federal law has been in place for seven years prohibiting this activity.

Animal care and food safety are vital components of what we do each day because the food we produce feeds my family and yours.


  1. Hi Brenda, Great blog! So important to get all this dairy information out there:) I have you on my RSS feeder now. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  2. Hi Brenda!

    I found your blog and we dairy in Indiana. I look forward to reading more!


  3. Hi, Brenda. I have a new "featured" button you can grab for being featured in my post on dairy cattle care:

    Have a great day!


Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! I’m opening the doors of our farm to share with you and enjoy engaging in discussion. Please be respectful in your comments. I reserve the right to remove posts that include name calling, slander, and vulgar language or contain links to websites that assault animal agriculture.

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