Cattle rustling in Texas has risen five-fold in the past decade. Driving it? Drought and desperation: "Cattle rustling has returned, but it has also changed; if the essential act has not, its context has. Today’s rustler has no hope of parlaying a few stolen cattle into a business. Rustling is no longer an aspirational crime, but a stopgap, a stay against desperation. A single head of cattle is not the seed of an empire; it’s a payday loan, a child support payment, or cash for pills. Rustling is not, in this sense, an archaic crime at all, but a crime very much of its time and place, adapted to today’s America, in which social classes are established and the frontier, whatever it was once, has collapsed." [more inside]
In 1900, the average dairy cow in America produced 424 gallons of milk each year. By 2000, that figure had more than quadrupled, to 2,116 gallons. We explore the incredible science that transformed the American cow into a milk machine—but we also uncover the disturbing history of prejudice and animal cruelty that accompanied it. Along the way, we’ll introduce you to the insane logic of the Lifetime Cheese Merit algorithm and the surreal bull trials of the 1920s. This is the untold story behind that most wholesome and quotidian of beverages: milk. Prepare to be horrified and amazed in equal measure.
BBC World Service has over 500 audio documentaries you can download. The subject matter is incredibly wide ranging, for example, internet cafés, the influence of Islamic art on William Morris, South African female AIDS activist Thembi Ngubane, Yiddish, the importance of cows, novelist Chinua Achebe, financial risk management, Obama as an intellectual, the physical and emotional effects of a car crash and many, many more. If the quantity and variety are overwhelming, you can subscribe to a podcast, which delivers a new documentary to you every single day.
Using images from Google Earth, scientists have determined that grazing cattle and deer align themselves with the Earth's magnetic field.
Undercover video (warning: very graphic) released by the Humane Society reveals abuse of animals on the slaughterhouse floor and other code violations. [more inside]
Finally, some genetic modification I can sink my teeth into! Wired reports this morning that an Australian researcher has identified the genetic characteristics for "tenderness" and "toughness" in cow muscle tissue. Aussie cattle ranchers are already gearing up to produce animals that result in more tender, juicier beef. I'm drooling already.