On Nutrition: What ranchers are not

Cattle grazing in a field.
Unlike in "Yellowstone," families who make their living raising livestock are usually too tired by the end of a typical day to plot how they are going to kill their siblings, says Barbara Intermill.
Dreamstime / TNS

Thanks to you many readers who pushed the case to continue this column…I’m back! And, I have to admit, this hiatus has helped me redirect where this column will go this year and beyond.

To start, my last name changed when I married my cowboy. (Some of you asked about that.) So be prepared to hear more about life on the ranch.

Along with that, I got this letter from my old buddy, Dan, who signs his emails, “Energetically Yours”:

“Since you turned me onto 'Longmire' (a television Western) many moons ago, I consider you as my authentic cowgirl connection! The other day, I watched a few episodes of 'Yellowstone' with Kevin Costner. All the cowboys seemed to be so full of themselves, angry, macho and selfish.

So I wanted to ask, is this what life is like on a working ranch? They could use some team-building exercises!”


I echo your sentiments, Dan. Although I sometimes can’t resist watching Kevin Costner drink beer in the bunkhouse with his hired hands, little else of this series lines up with what real cowboys do. Like, who’s taking care of the cattle while the guys are throwing rattlesnakes at their enemies?

While I’ve met some so-called cowboys who are full of themselves, real working cowboys take pride in just the opposite. Here are some differences between genuine ranchers and "Yellowstone":

Life on a working ranch is a family affair. In fact, according to the latest United States Department of Agriculture statistics, 96% of America’s farms and ranches are family-owned and operated. Our main help when we gather cows from a pasture are our children and grandchildren. We don’t shoot our hired hands and throw them over cliffs.

Unlike in "Yellowstone," families who make their living raising livestock are usually too tired by the end of a typical day to plot how they are going to kill their siblings.

Ranchers spend more time feeding and caring for their cattle and horses than fighting with their neighbors. In fact, with a few exceptions, we actually like our neighbors. That means we share work, meals and stories with other ranchers rather than gunning them down on the highway.

I am also pleased to say that nutrition is of prime importance to ranchers — both for their livestock and their families. Last week, my husband pointed out an article in Working Ranch magazine by veterinarian Chris Ashworth that describes the importance of the mineral zinc.

According to Ashworth, zinc plays a crucial role in the prevention of viruses in cattle and in the prevention of colds, influenza and COVID-19 in humans.

My husband then asked, “What foods are good sources of zinc?”


Beef, poultry and seafood are very good sources, I answered.

That’s something that might even make the guys on "Yellowstone" smile.

Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator affiliated with the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at to  . ©2021 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at  . Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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