Beef farmers are leery of advice on controlling gases from cows


We need a lot more common sense. But, wait! Common sense means an idea that’s widely held, not that it is right.

Some things appearing true are not. Over the centuries we’ve learned to rely on science to find truth.

Plato, a Greek philosopher about 400 years B.C., started us toward scientific thinking. He urged learning by looking at the world. Study the laws of nature.

He lived in a culture that thought all things were controlled by Greek gods. There was a god for everything from sea to moon.

He spent a summer beside a lagoon, describing every living thing there. That fills a useful book.

It took a long time for science to advance beyond natural history. After a long time, often called the Dark Ages, science grew based on experiments. In the 17th Century A.D., it took off.

Early scientists didn’t have an easy time, working against common sense.

We can go out any morning to see the sun come up in the East to circle the earth in 24 hours. Back in 1633 Galileo was almost burned at the stake for saying, No; the earth orbits the sun, not the other way around.

Everyone knew that was crazy. They saw the sun moving.

We’ve come a long way; but still have a ways to go in science. Facebook and Twitter may be its downfall. Anyone can post their commonsense belief, true or not.

Social media says that vaccines harm kids. So, now kids die from preventable diseases.

Tweeting reigns, right up to the top of government. Our leader says he doesn’t need science. He has common sense. Somehow, he knows that wind turbines cause cancer, according to his Tweet.

The Wall Street Journal had a good line this past Saturday. “We think, in Democracy my ignorance equals your knowledge.”

Well, let’s not ignore science.

Science prevails although it isn’t done discovering new truths. We should continue to learn throughout our lives. Some things I learned in animal husbandry class over a half century ago are no longer valid.

Animal breeding advanced quickly with the deciphering of the DNA map of cattle. Breeding became more precise. With Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) herd owners improve the quality of their beef. They make Prime grade beef calves that would have been low-grade beef, left to the whims of genetics of a sale barn bull.

For 20 years I’ve written many stories on profits made from using the scientific protocols of Show-Me-Select. Yet, considering the thousands of beef herd owners in Missouri, few adopt the science. “We have bulls that do the work of insemination,” some say. “I learned cow breeding from Grandpa, I don’t need to read a farm magazine,” others say.

Common sense can be costly. When a politician from the Bronx proposes laws about ridding cows, we’re in trouble. After all, common sense says that cow farts cause climate change, destroying the earth.

Since I was a farm boy, I’ve spent time with cows. I never yet heard one fart. The other day, just to confirm, I asked Dave Patterson, MU Extension beef specialist: “Have you ever heard a cow fart?” Looking at me kinda weird, he said: “No, never have.”

I think Dave in all of his years of breeding cows and heifers probably stood behind more beef animals that about anyone.

That is Plato’s kind of science. Observe and learn.

Cows do belch. But that’s methane which biodegrades unlike CO2. Carbon dioxide, found in flatulence, lasts far beyond our lifetime. It accumulates in the atmosphere every time we drive a car.

The political answer seems to be: Do away with hamburgers and eat vegan burgers. I assume that’s bean burgers. From my Platonic observation, I know what beans do: They create gas.

Should we have millions of bean-burger eating humans passing gas, instead of cows belching? It’s common sense, right?

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