NOBULL: Steer slaughter at Callicrate Ranch — and why Mike Callicrate has a beef with just about everyone

Food for Thought

Steer slaughter at Callicrate Ranch — and why Mike Callicrate has a beef with just about everyone

By Lori Midson Fri., May 10 2013 at 6:04 PM

All photos by Lori Midson.

Earlier this week, on Monday, I spent the afternoon in Kansas — specifically St. Francis, Kansas, a small, sleepy town just a few miles east of the Kansas/Colorado border, population a mere 1,200.

Cattle far, far outweigh humans in St. Francis — there are thousands and thousands of them — and on Monday, I, along with several chefs from Linger, Root Down and Fuel Cafe, experienced what most people never have, and likely never will: We witnessed the slaughter of a steer, a beautiful, majestic Black Angus beast that suffered a single shot — a bolt — between the eyes before he slumped to the ground with a dull thud. The knocker was quick and precise.

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Callicrate, the cattle ranch and slaughterhouse where we all herded — and which is owned by a fiercely opinionated, radically passionate man by the name of Mike Callicrate — exposes sloping hills pelted with short, lush, green grass, and it’s small in comparison to most industrialized farms.The lackadaisical cows and steers — hormone- and antibiotic-free Black Angus and Wagyu — graze on grains, hay and grass, and they’re slaughtered, singularly, on an outdoor kill floor, often in front of witnesses — in our case, twenty. Photos are allowed, even encouraged. It’s an unusually humane, transparent business practice.

Most industrialized feedlots are completely cut off from the public — and certainly from journalists — while packers with dehumanizing jobs that I can’t even begin to fathom, slaughter, often brutally, upwards of 400 head of cattle each hour. That, too, is a number that I have a very difficult time comprehending. (MORE)

Eryn Taylor