Dear editors,

Regarding “Holey Cow” in your Out of Town section July 1st:

I am neither an animal rights activist nor a vegetarian, but Mike Ervin’s story cries out for a few comments. First of all, Mike, you should really read Diet for a New America by John Robbins–it would cure you of the notion that a cow with a six-inch gaping hole in its haunches is “the envy of all the herd.” Secondly, when Mr. Drackley told you about his quest to make “cattle more efficient converters of feed into milk,” you should have asked if that includes feeding them (and I quote John Robbins) “such delicacies as sawdust laced with ammonia and feathers, shredded newspaper, ‘plastic hay,’ processed sewage, inedible tallow and grease, poultry litter, cement dust, and cardboard scraps, not to mention the insecticides, antibiotics, and hormones.” This is what many cows raised in the U.S. today are actually fed.

One more interesting note: you mention that the cows are taken away for “rendering” (anything like slaughtering?) when they get to be “a creaky old five or six years, or if they get too ill” (how could they possibly get too ill on such a nutritious diet and with such a nice hole in their haunches?). Well, under natural conditions those cows would live to be 20 or 25 years old! The manner in which our dairy cows are normally treated today make them lucky to see four years.

I expect more than this from the Reader–you should help to expose and put pressure against the mindless, unhealthy practices in our food industries, not gawk at them with simpleminded wonder. It doesn’t take a professor of nutrition to know that the way to obtain the best milk is to feed cows a natural, chemical-free, unmanipulated diet and to refrain from cutting holes in them.

Lori Withers

W. Cornelia