Nicolette Writes

Professional Freelance Writer and Stay-at-Home Mom

Led by the nose…

I was recently asked by the Farmer’s Weekly magazine to cover a ‘Beef Farmer’s Day’ (if you know me well, you would know that this is a very unlikely place to find me…!)

So there I was, with my three-quarter, purple dress and boots, trying to ‘blend in’ with the farmers. I don’t think my blending really worked!

The last event of the day was a demonstration on how to spot a good Angus cow (is it cow? bull? I don’t know!) See the photo above – I felt SO sorry for these poor cows (?!): the nose rings seemed to REALLY hurt… they would walk with the people handling them, staying as close to them as possible, in order not to feel the pull of the ring through the skin in their noses… most farmers and ‘manly men’ (my tone here is one of irritation towards patriarchy!) will probably tell me I am just being a girl about it and that I am too emotional, but I am telling you I could see the absolute agony in those animals’ eyes. It was so upsetting seeing how they frantically tried to avoid any pull at the nose.

Why am I blogging about this today? I am not sure… I just always have all these things in my head,matters that worry me and raise questions about our life here on earth… So I guess I am asking: is this nose-ring thing acceptable? I know we need to eat and everything, but still…I don’t know…


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6 thoughts on “Led by the nose…

  1. zoubida on said:

    These are questions I ‘ve really started to ask myself too… Unfortunately, there are matters about which we sometimes close our eyes to make it easier. I have no answer. It is unacceptable and I could never be a farmer, for sure! Yet, I eat meat & dont know if I could go the other way… But I’ve never as much understood those who dont eat meat

  2. Hi Zoubida!

    Thank you for the comment:-) Yes, I must say, I also eat meat and don’t plan on changing it… but with this bull with the nose thing I got a funny feeling… it was as if this bull wasn’t there for practically purposes (such as eating it!), but it was as if the people were saying: “Look! Look what we have ‘created’: a big and magnificent bull – our cattle is better than the next farm’s cattle!” The whole patriarchy thing…

    Oh well!!


  3. lindsey on said:

    Leading bulls by the nose is an example of our tendency and ability to emotionally detach ourselves from the inhumane treatment of farm animals. A nose ring is used because bulls are powerful and unpredictable animals and the farmers must be able to handle them, or else risk losing life and limb. Ok, fine. I get that. Is there another way? Maybe, I don’t know. Probably.

    Unfortunately, the nose ring is one of the more ‘mild’ examples of the horrifying treatment of farm animals (and farmers, but that’s a different topic!) in the food industry. The problems in the food industry range from the practices of the individual farmer at the market to multinational food processing and marketing corporations.

    I agree, people too often close their eyes, plug their ears, and do not think about the cruelty or injustices occurring in this world. People accept and allow farm animals to endure miserable treatment and conditions. Why? Because it’s hard to think about these issues. It’s much easier to look the other way.

    Meat is a part of our culture. Indeed. Meat is delicious. Yes. We should think about the food we eat and know where it comes from. We should not accept inhumane treatment of animals, from bull nose rings to chicken farms to slaughterhouses.

  4. Dear Lindsey!

    Thank you so much for your comment! I felt like I wanted to shout ‘YEAH!’ all the time while reading your comment! ‘Yeah! That’s what I mean!!’ Haha!

    I should actually ask my husband’s opinion, as he grew up on a farm, and I am sure he will see this bull-and-nose-ring-thing as quite normal… I will ask him to comment here!

    chat to you soon on Twitter!


  5. Nicolette's husband on said:

    If that 900kg+ bull decides its time to show the 70kg man who’s boss, then that nose ring will come in handy (for the man). However, I’ve never handled a cow with one. Nose rings are mostly used for animals that are frequently handled (e.g. bulls used for artificial insemination/show animals).

    You guys must keep in mind that cattle are MUCH more hardened than you can imagine: If a calf succles too hard on its mother, the cow’s prompt response (and I’ve seen this lots of times) is a hoof to its baby’s head. HARD.

    I’m definitely for treating animals humanely and with respect. However, I’m not a tree-hugger. I love my steak rear and it’s evens between pork and chicken in the race for my favourate veg :-). I am also not blind to where the steak in my plate originates and prefers free-range beef/mutton/venison… killed in a very humane way, i.e. quickly and the animal not knowing what’s going to happen to it.

    • Ah thanks my love – I had a feeling you would have a different angle on the whole thing!

      I guess it is just so hard for me as a human to imagine a nose ring (and being pulled around by it!) not being painful! Ouch! You are probably right – the bull most likely does not feel pain the way in which we do… well, I certainly hope so!! It is just that on that day when I saw this specific bull and its ‘mates’, it looked SOOOO uncomfortable! It’s eyes really had this look of agony!

      Anyways – I’m going to hope there was no pain involved…

      Thank you so much for your comment!!


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