posted on Jul, 29 2004 @ 11:35 PM
I paid my way through college working on ranches in the southern plains. Once a year we took all of the steers to auction (about 500 or so).
Definitely an anthropological odyssey.
Anyway, everyone I went with knew the McDonald's buyer. The rule is that cattle are graded, and marched onto a giant scale that weighs them in lots
of 50 or 100 head. They are bid, and the longer it takes to bid, the more they move around. The bids come in slow at first; usually a crew from each
firm is watching the herd, since one dying cow can blow the profitability on the other 49. So you watch really careful for any cow that has a broken
leg, or is in obvious distress.
These are called "Downers."
Occaisionally, the bidding will be stopped, because no one will bid on the lot with an obvious downer in it. We resorted to some fairly devious
things, like trying to get the one with the broken leg into the middle of the herd, so buyers might not notice him. (Never works--a limping cow bobs
his head in a very obvious way.)
Anyway, the McD guy would bid on every lot with every cancer-eyed, wheezing, limping, blind and ulcerated beast you ever saw. It was pathetic. They
literally dragged em on to the trucks sometimes.
Most meatpacking plants will refuse to take downers, or sometimes even the whole load that a downer came in with, just in case the downer has some new
and spooky virus that looks like the start of an x-files episode.
I don't know, but apparently, McD has it's own meatpacking operation, or a close relationship with a single packing contractor. Because they bought
steers no one else would.
The disdain was so palpable that, seriously, no other buyers or ranchers wanted to sit next to the Micky D dude. He was definitely a Pariah.
All this got changed in 2002, of course, since it is now illegal to slaughter out downers. They have to be destroyed.
Maybe that's why Mick Dunulds' stock has tanked over the last 2 years.