A recent story from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram introduced us to Oatmeal the Steer, a one-of-a-kind animal. Oatmeal was born with inoperable cataracts so thick that it made him essentially blind.
Some thought that Oatmeal would have to be put down at a young age due to this handicap, that he would be susceptible to harm and it wouldn’t be worth it to keep him alive.
Kendyll Williams’ family thought differently. They took a chance on Oatmeal even though it meant that it would take hard work and dedication to raise him.
Kendyll (age 13) came to love Oatmeal and treated him like a member of the family. She’d go to his stall every day and talk to him. She and her family gave him a great deal of attention. Kendyll became very close with Oatmeal.
They knew, however, that they would eventually need to sell Oatmeal for beef just like the other cattle they raise. It’s what they do for a living.
As the time came to sell Oatmeal at the Fort Worth Stock Show’s Sale of Champions, Kendyll was sad to be leaving her friend, but wise enough to accept inevitability.
This happens all over America. Farmers and ranchers become close to the animals they will eventually sell or process. It can be difficult not to forge a closeness with these living creatures with which they spend every day.
Just like Kendyll, they are able to take care of their animals and treat them with respect, but at the end of the day, they do so with the idea that they will eventually become nourishment for us.
Many in the community of Fort Worth and animal activists across the country were not able to accept that a blind steer could still be sold for beef. They believe that this animal should have special exception. The fact of the matter is that animals with unique afflictions such as Oatmeal can become more vulnerable to disease, forcing their owners to put them down.
Oatmeal was able to survive and even thrive due to the loving care of Kendyll and her family. Without that attention, Oatmeal would have passed much sooner.
Some people wonder how a rancher can raise these animals for food and still say that they care about them. Love for animals and the knowledge that they can provide food for us are not mutually exclusive ideas. The important thing is that their lives are treated with respect.
Animal welfare is important to those who oversee these lives. Kendyll knew that, her family knew that, millions of farmers and ranchers across the country know that, and we hope you do too.
Read the full story about Oatmeal here.