Legislative Whirlwind Part 3: 92,000 Cows

92,000 cows in Yuma
cows in Yuma
This is what 92,000 cows looks like, and this is what agri-business looks like.

The Yuma border tour in mid-December was amazing on multiple levels.

Outside of Yuma, Arizona Legislators toured a feed lot had been owned by a local Yuma family for generations. The sign for McElhaney Cattle Company can still be seen at the entrance and on some of the equipment. In recent years, it was sold to a Brazillian corporation, which has invested millions and greatly expanded it, according to our tour guides.

Down from a normal population of 100,000 cows, we saw 92,000 cows standing and lying around in pens– with nary a cowboy in sight. We were told that the cowboys check all of the cows every night because of the heat. Although the temperature was pleasant on the December day that we visited, there were no feed lot workers anywhere– except for the couple on the bus giving the tour. The guides said these cows are tracked by computer. Is Hal tending the herd?

There were also surprisingly few birds and bugs around these cows. I’ve photographed many state and county fairs, ranches, and the Wilcox Livestock Auction pens and auction house, and where there’s livestock, there’s generally birds and bugs. (More on birds in part 4 of this series: “Lettuce & Birds.”

Miles of cows and only four birds.
This photo shows miles of cows, only four birds, and zero workers to care for the livestock.
cows in Yuma
This is what they feed the cows, who are brought to this giant holding pen when they are three months old. The tour guide called it “corn flakes”.

Continue reading Legislative Whirlwind Part 3: 92,000 Cows