Don't Trust About.com When It Comes to Information on Animal Agriculture
Just a Piece of Advice
About.com is a good source of information on anything that doesn't cover agriculture, livestock raising or anything that nature which isn't considered "small farming" or "hobby farming". There's a few scant articles on the history of agriculture in the Archeological section of the site a few articles on inventions of farm machinery, and a relatively healthy category on Rodeo, but that's about it. I can do a search on winter grazing, greenfeed, canola, combine harvesters and come up with next to nothing. I type in the search box "feedlots" and I get a whole host of articles from the Animal Rights/Vegetarian categories, nothing more solid or pro-agricultural, with negative statements like "it takes 10 to 16 pounds of grain to get a pound of feedlot beef" or "Although the production of feedlot beef is widely recognized as environmentally irresponsible, few people realize how destructive grass-fed beef is." or even more amusing, "...demand for beef and fails to consider animal rights issues or the environmental impacts of growing crops to feed cows in feedlots. The solution is to go vegan."
To me personally, the site seems to be more pro-vegan than pro-agriculture than it may seem. Yes it has cooking recipes for beef, chicken, pork and the like, but when I'm talking agriculture, it's Animal Rights all the way. On there they let people walk all over animal agriculture regardless if it's commercial, organic, natural or anything in between. I've only read the articles on the cattle portion of these articles, which I even regret reading to begin with--they're so full of false claims and "facts"--I'd hate to read with the A.R. Guide wrote about hog farming, poultry farming, raising horses, goats and sheep, not to mention "what's bad" about raising bison and elk on a ranch.
Never in my life have I seen one particular section of that site that is so negative and biased towards raising livestock! I'm astonished that these folks who run and maintain the site don't even have the guts to create a section or category to let another "guide" or writer tell of the OTHER SIDE of what was written on the Animal Rights section of that site. Thank God HubPages is not like that!!!
So just a piece of advice for those of you looking around on About.com for information on anything livestock-related: take what's written there with a grain of salt, and NEVER believe everything that you read on there!
I Hate False/Incomplete Information
That's right. I also hate it when information that is provided is so full of holes it can never hold any water, no matter how much a person tries to "fix" it or defend that it does. These are what I like to ever so eloquently call "half-truths."
Here's an example of some wrong information provided in the Animal Rights category of About.com in an article titled "Milk and Health: Why Cow's Milk is a Human Health Risk." Doris Lin, the AR Guide for the site wrote:
"Cow’s milk naturally contains the large amount of hormones and protein needed to turn a 80-pound calf into a 1,000 pound cow in one year."
Two things were incredibly wrong with this statement. 1) A calf is not on it's dams milk for one full year. At the most, it's only on it's mom for 10 months, if that, before being kicked off or weaned in preparation for the arrival of a newborn calf. 2) Milk alone will not sustain a calf to reach 1000 lbs in one year. By the time it's 4 months old it's already starting to eat forages, grains, hay, etc. on its own in addition to its dams milk. The cow's milk production will have began to decline by then, and by the time the calf is 10 months old it is relying more on the green stuff in front of its nose than that tit attached to its mom.
There are actually more than two things wrong with this piece the more we look at it. The third thing that stands out for me is that not all calves have a birthweight of 80 lbs and not all calves weigh 1000 lbs by the time they are one year or 12 months old. Not even a yearling Holstein calf will get that big at 12 months! I can see it happening with Charolais, Maine Anjou or Chianinas, but not with other smaller breeds like Jersey or Hereford or often Angus either. The fourth thing I noticed that's false is that is milk does not produce a "large amount of hormones" that is used, in part to help grow a calf. A dairy calf doesn't need "hormone-rich" milk in order to grow; milk replacer doesn't often contain the "large amount of hormones and protein needed to turn a 80-pound calf into a 1,000 pound cow in one year." Calves aren't even fed milk replacer for a whole year anyway: they're weaned at 3 to 4 months of age off the bottle and put onto solid feed, which had been introduced slowly well before weaning.
Not to mention the abused usage of "cow" in this statement. A calf just doesn't automatically grow into a "cow." Technically, a calf at that age is considered a yearling, regardless if it's a heifer, bull or steer. I just hate it when people use the word "cow" so loosely!
The next one I found especially irksome from the same article:
"Milk from cows contains “considerable amounts of female sex hormones,” accounting for 60-80% of estrogens consumed by humans. "
If that's true, then why are bull calves that are raised on their dams as masculine as they are?? I've also heard some facts that there are certain plants that give off far more estrogen than what's claimed here for milk. So I'm definitely red-flagging this statement, unless someone reading this can give me some scientific journal articles that defends this to a T.
The one single article that I found to be chuck-full of false information and half/quarter-truths was "What's Wrong with Grass-fed Beef?" Talk about massacring, you think the articles on con-feedlot were bad, this one takes the cake! I had a lot to say about what was written here, and have to say that 99% of the information contained in this article was based on a vegan's illogical excuses to defend the fact that "[the] solution is to not eat beef, or any animal products, and to go vegan." Oh, please.
The only people who are going to believe bullcrap like that are those who know about as much as the author does--which, as far as I'm concerned, is next to nothing. I'm afraid I can't go beyond what I mentioned above on that grass-fed article without creating more material for you to read. I will leave that for a subsequent hub to take as far as I dare to let it go.
It's a bloody shame that About.com allows such biased misrepresentations and falsehoods related to the animal agricultural industry, commercial or natural. I do commend them for allowing a Small Farming section of the site to exist and grow little by little, and posting a little on some farm animal careers as well, but it would really do in their favor to allow a lot more information on agriculture than the revolting crap that they the Animal Rights people to put up. The site is called "About.com," is it not, so why in the hell don't they allow some more information on Agriculture and Livestock production to be put up?? I guess it will be a cold day in Hell before they let that happen. Seriously, even after I read a hub on here written some time ago about Writing for About.com or something similar that mentioned to not "bother requesting new categories" because they'll just ignore the responses, I really think that there's not going to be a chance that it will happen. Hey, maybe they'll think of it 100 years from now, who knows?
Still, it's a crying shame. Next to eHow.com, About.com is getting to be one of my least favorite "how-to" "factual" websites on the Internet. Too bad I don't feel the same about Wikipedia no matter how much I try to remind myself to never trust it...