There is a saying that when you have livestock, you will invariably have deadstock. While this may come as a shock to some vegan consumers, cows do die, and it’s not typically in a hospital surrounded by their family and friends.

Dwayne Faber is a writer, speaker and dairy farmer. He and his family operate farms in Oregon. To...

My dairy is close to a major state road, and over the years we have had occasions where our cows became a little more particularly free range than we had hoped. This has led to me being the contact for local 911 dispatch on every cow that gets out within a 5-mile radius.

I received one such call at 2 a.m. from the local sheriff about a cow that confused “the light at the end of the tunnel” with “an 18-wheeler with little ability to stop.” The scene of the crime was conveniently at the end of my driveway. After a quick overview of the carnage, the sheriff asked if I could dispose of the cow (which was not mine), as he had forgotten his butcher's knife. Being a good civilian, and a substandard husband, I figured the best place for the beast would be my wife’s front lawn. Needless to say, I was awakened with shrieks of horror from both my wife and my children the next morning.

Our stories of untimely cow deaths go deeper than that, however.

I grew up on a farm fairly close to the sale barn, and there was an unfortunate time period of loose gates and employees who didn’t value animals in confined operations.


I was driving Mrs. Faber down a county road on a rainy, dark night when, out of nowhere, an 800-pound Angus cow stepped onto the road and thought he had found the bright light at the end of the tunnel. With my father’s words ringing in my ears to never swerve to avoid an animal, I braked appropriately and held the steering wheel. What proceeded was an unconventional meat tenderizing process as the mass of an entire cow was absorbed by the front end of my pickup. While not wanting to be cavalier about the untimely death of one of God’s creatures, I do think it’s important to never swerve and risk the life of someone coming the other direction or hitting a telephone pole and injuring our own occupants.

This leads me to my final run-in with cows not adapting to the modern highway system.

It was several months after my incident that I got a late-night call from my sister who hit another free-range cow right next to the sale barn. She was driving a Honda Civic and was fortunate that the cow didn’t end up as a passenger. Unfortunately, we do not have any carpool lanes in our small town. The only benefit to having a bovine companion in your passenger seat is probably the ability to drive in the HOV lanes through Seattle, as there, cows are people.

Your author was at one time a volunteer firefighter, and was firmly etched every year as Mr. January, because most people wouldn’t hang their firefighter calendar until February. I arrived on scene and quickly donned my reflective gear to assist with traffic flow. The sheriff was on scene and was in a stare-down with an Angus bull that unfortunately had two broken legs and was suffering. I told the sheriff that the most humane thing to do would be to euthanize the cow and we would arrange for disposal. This young sheriff, however, was fairly new to the field and had not ever been nose-to-nose with an Angus bull. He expressed reservations about euthanizing the animal, as he would have to account for every shot fired and it would create an immense paperwork nightmare. Unfortunately, I was sans my cow shooting gun, so we sat and stared at the bull and he stared back at us.

The bull then started moving toward my young sheriff friend, and his eyes got huge as being trampled by a bovine was not the way he envisioned early retirement. What followed was something akin to a tail gunner on a B-29 allied bomber heading home with 200 German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters in hot pursuit. There was brass clinking all over the roadway as he proceeded to unload his entire clip into the charging beast. While one discreet timely shot would have sufficed, this excess was quite the show for the lineup of cars with kids hanging out the window. While it was a bad day for public relations in the agriculture world, we were thankful no one was hurt.

If there is a lesson in here: Don’t be swerving for animals, and with the price of beef, always pack your cow-shootin’ gun and butcher tools.