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In recent years, the meat packing industry has been adopting more humane treatment of livestock. And that’s thanks-- in no small part-- to one woman: Temple Grandin. In her many book, she talks about applying her own experiences as a person with autism to how animals view the world. The U.S. Department of Agriculture even uses a checklist developed by Grandin to enforce better treatment.

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The Laramie County Public Library hosted a talk last week with animal welfare advocate Temple Grandin. She discussed how her own autism helped her understand the way animals think in pictures. Grandin has used this knowledge to develop methods and equipment—now commonly used in the industry—to make livestock less stressed and more manageable in feedlots and slaughter units.

She also offered advice to Wyoming’s many small livestock producers. She says, some of the old-fashioned ranching methods may need to go, like yelling at cattle and using horses to move them.

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It’s been a wet summer with lots of bugs. And all those flies and insects have led to the worst outbreak in years of a livestock virus known as vesicular stomatitis. The virus is identical to foot and mouth disease, except it can affect not only cattle but horses and other livestock. It causes sores on the animal’s mouth, ears and feet. State Veterinarian Jim Logan advises stopping the spread of the disease by limiting contact with other’s people’s livestock and with insects.

Aaron Schrank

Bright neon uniforms speckle a usually empty hay field in the sleepy town of Savery. Two soccer games are in full swing—and almost all of the players are guest workers—like Dante Bruno.

“We’re here to play sports today,” says Bruno, in Spanish. “We are Peruvians. The majority of us here are Peruvians.” 

Bruno, 38, and his teammates wear pink pullovers that read, “Sheehan Ranch.” He’s been working at the ranch--in Baggs, Wyoming—for the past 15 years. Bruno says the work is hard, but not complicated.

“It’s cows,” says Bruno. “Pretty much cows.”

Western Watersheds Project Wyoming Director Jon Ratner has made quite a stir over the last few years, monitoring stream quality in areas where cattle graze, sometimes crossing private property to do so.

“What our work over the last decade has found is that virtually everywhere that livestock grazing is found, you will have violations of state water quality standards.”

He says, when he gave his data to the DEQ, he got push back. In fact, in the last legislative session, two new statutes shut down his data collection by prohibiting trespassing.

The Wyoming Beef Council—the industry advocacy group for ranchers—says it has cut its budget and will rethink its marketing efforts.

Wyoming cattle numbers have been decreasing since 2001 because of drought, aging beef producers, shrinking grazing lands, and other factors. The Council’s smaller budget means that an administrative assistant position will be cut, and the council will only have one employee.

A study from the University of Montana shows that when wolves attack cattle, it can cause calves to gain less weight.

Report co-author Derek Kellenberg says his team found that when wolves were simply in the area, there was no change in cattle weight, but that on ranches where there was a kill, the cows weighed less.

Kellenberg says skinnier cows are worth less, so ranchers can lose thousands of dollars.

But he says wolf predation was not the biggest factor affecting weight.

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After last year’s crushing drought, wetter weather is helping crops recover, and prices are dropping.

US corn yields are up, according to IHS, Inc., a company that publishes stock market industry data. The company expects corn and soybean prices to drop by 10 percent in the third-quarter of this year.

Brett Moline of the Wyoming Farm Bureau says that means it’s cheaper for feed lots to finish more cattle, which is good news for cattle ranchers. 

The number of cattle nationwide is at its lowest since the 1950s. Wyoming’s population is just under 1.3 million, down 5% from last year and the lowest since the early 1990s. Drought has caused many ranchers in the state to sell off cattle.

Executive Vice President of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Jim Magagna, says some older ranchers with smaller operations liquidated their herds altogether and he predicts those cattle will not be replaced for close to a decade.  

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Thanks to light snowpack and a dry spring, Wyoming is in the midst of a severe drought. Such dry conditions mean that much of the grass that covers Wyoming’s open spaces isn’t growing. Wyoming Public Radio’s Madison Williams reports that’s bad news for the state’s cattle ranchers, who depend on the grass to feed their livestock.

Wyoming ranchers and law enforcement officials are trying to work together to crack down on modern-day cattle rustlers.

Some ranchers say they've seen an increase in the number of livestock stolen in recent years. An average of 55 rustling cases are reported every year, but many ranchers don't report the thefts, thinking there's nothing they can do.