The bullying tactics of the feedlot/grain fed beef industry.

Dear Reader

I have been threatened with legal action by SA Feedlot. They represent the grain fed beef industry. You can only feed cattle grain in a feedlot.

They know that on every conceivable metric grass fed beef beats grain fed beef. Whether it be nutritional value to the human eating it, the environmental impact, carbon sequestration versus contributing to global warming, treatment of the animals etc etc. So rather than engage on the subject and keep most beef eaters ignorant they resort to smothering tactics.

If you are interested please read their letter to me below and below that the measured response from my attorney.

I look forward to debating this with supporters of grain fed confinement cattle finishing.

Thank you.

SA feedlot letter to me 6 June 2012
VLCB response 15 June 2012



Conventionally produced food is irresponsibly or dishonestly priced

I had two sets of visitors to the farm today and the question of the pricing of organic goods came up again. Second to the great canard, organics cannot feed the world, it is the most common observation about our produce. That usually stops after tasting the quality and engaging on the subjects below.

As Joel Salatin so eloquently argues conventional food is mispriced. We can use any conventionally produced fruit, meat or vegetable for the purposes of this discussion but in this case lets look at feedlot or grain fed beef.

Here are the items that are not in the price that you pay for your steak (remember it is only ourselves and Greenfields who finish our beef on pasture/grass).

1. The environmental damage from the feedlot.

2. The antibiotic resistance in the human being from eating antibiotic meat.

3. The environmental damage from raising the GMO grains fed to these animals.

4. The humaneness or rather lack of it in having an animal stand in its own excrement for at least 110 days.

5. Contributing to global warming.


Before discussing in a little more detail have a look at the photo below of a feedlot in this country.

Now compare that with this picture taken last week whilst we were training our cattle to high density graze the vineyard cover crops. 200 cattle in a total of 2 hectares daily, moved twice a day versus an animal having 10 square metres to stand in for 110 days.

Spier vineyard grazing

1. The environmental damage from the feedlot.

The waste from the feedlot is uncompostable as the antibiotics kill the microbes that would be breaking down the compost.

2. The antibiotic resistance in the human being from eating antibiotic meat.

You can choose to read anywhere you want but this is becoming a major global health issue. Don’t expect our Department of Health or of Agriculture to take any notice of this.

3. The environmental damage from raising the GMO grains fed to these animals.

Your beef eats GMO grains. South Africa is the only country in Africa that allows GMO grains and that makes us the stupidist country in Africa. The only ones who benefit from GMO grains are the companies selling glyphosate. Here is a concise update and explanation of what the problems are with GMO’s. Words such as spontaneous abortion and resistant super weeds should get you to read this article.

4. The humaneness or lack of it in having an animal stand in its own excrement for at least 110 days.

Should there be a premium for beef eating what it is designed to eat and being moved to fresh pasture at least twice daily? Or does the treatment of animals not matter as a price factor? Is it being too green to worry about these things?

5. Contributing to global warming.

Grain fed beef contributes to global warming. Admittedly not as much here as in the Americas but think about the diesel spent on preparing, growing, planting and harvesting the maize and soya and the diesel spent getting it to the silo and then to the feedlot. Compare this to high density grazing where the pastures recover to be grazed every 6 weeks. 65% of the sugars produced by the plant are stored in complex carbon chains in the ground. Carbon is removed from the atmosphere by a growing plant.


PechaKucha Presentation


I spoke at the last PechaKucha event. It is an amazing opportunity to get your message across. You have to present 20 slides, each of them in 20 seconds. Below is the slide presentation with my comments below each slide.

Slide 1.

Just like starvation, obesity is a form of malnutrition. South Africa is now the third most obese country in the world. Deficiencies in the soil are expressed as deficiencies in the plant which manifest as disease in the plant or in the animal or human eating that plant. Healthy soil equals healthy plants equals healthy animals equals healthy humans.


Slide 2.

We are all farmers by proxy. Each one of us eats at least three times a day. With our fork we decide what agricultural system we support. My aim during this talk is to show you different agricultural systems. Agriculture uses over 70% of the world’s fresh water and is the greatest contributor to greenhouse gases.


Slide 3.


laying irrigation pipes on Spier

laying irrigation pipes on Spier

There are basically two types of agriculture. Destructive or regenerative. Here we are laying the irrigation pipes into land that was destructively farmed. Over 85% of the world’s food is produced using destructive chemical agricultural methods.


Slide 4.

This is the same pasture 19 months later. This has been achieved with high density grazing of cattle and the Biodynamic 500 Field Spray.


Slide 5.

Composting Spier Wines grape waste

Composting Spier Wines grape waste

In addition to the methods described above organic and biodynamic farmers use compost to fertilise their soils. Composting is a process where various forms of waste are combined and then break down to form a nutrient rich, stable substance which is excellent plant food. In picture is the composting operation of Spier Wines where their grape waste is being composted which will then be returned to the vineyard as food for the vines.


Slide 6.

Conventional farmers use artificial fertilisers. These are salt fertilisers that not only consume huge amounts of energy to produce they also make the plant very thirsty. In addition to damaging the soil microbes.


Slide 7.

Not only are chemical fertilisers used to “feed” plants they are also very good explosives. This is the bombing of the Norwegian Prime Minister’s office in July 2011 achieved with 6 tons of artificial fertiliser.


Slide 8.

There are more soil microbes in a handful of healthy soil than there are humans on earth. Chemical fertilisers kill most of these microbes. Compost and the Biodynamic field and compost preparations multiply these microbes and most importantly keep them in balance.


Slide 9.

This is the way 98% of the eggs in this country are produced. The birds are debeaked because of cannibalism and kept confined in cages up to 5 stories high. Lights come on and off every 8 hours to stimulate laying.


Slide 10.

Eggmobile on Spier Wine Farm

Eggmobile on Spier Wine Farm

Alternatively you can buy our eggs which come from hens that overnight and lay in these Eggmobiles. For the rest of the day they are free to range over the pastures where they please.


Slide 11.


This is grain fed beef. 99% of the beef sold in this country comes out of a feedlot. Animals stand in their own excrement, are fed foods they are not designed to eat, are given growth hormones as standard practice and accordingly have to have routine antibiotics.


Slide 12.


Below is the list of what is fed to cattle in a feedlot.

GMO grains 





Fruit pulp

Distillers wet grain


Slide 13.

These are our cows grazing grasses and legumes that they were designed to eat. This animal is a herbivore, not a chickenshitivore.


Slide 14.

High density grazing in action. Here are our oxen moving into the new pasture. The area to the right has been heavily grazed and manured upon over the past few hours. In about 6 weeks time it will look like the pasture to the left.


Slide 15.

This is the inside of the typical broiler chicken house. 98% of the chicken in this country is produced in this way where there are 23 chickens per square metre. Also fed GMO grains, same species meat as well as routine antibiotics.


Slide 16.

In comparison our chickens live in these houses that are moved to fresh pasture every day. We have a stocking density of just under 7 per square metre. In the foreground, in brown, is the chicken manure from the previous 24 hours.


Slide 17.

Farmer Angus showing the impact of chicken manure on pasture growth

Farmer Angus showing the impact of chicken manure on pasture growth

This chicken manure makes the grasses grow really well. In this photo you can see a dark green strip which is where the chickens have grazed and to the left where they have yet to graze. Of further significance in this photo is that in the background on the right is the house where the baby chickens are raised for the first three weeks and back left is the abattoir where they will be slaughtered.


Slide 18.

Plantain on left has grown where chickens have grazed I.e. chicken manure fertiliser. The plantain
on the right has not had that benefit. This is how we make the grass grow for the cattle and lambs.


Slide 19.

Respect for the animals and the process is encapsulated by this Kahlil Gibran quote at the entrance to the abattoir. We have complete control over the integrity of our product.




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