Rather than explore the negatives of the current system, let’s discuss the potential positives when the number of steps on the way from farm to slaughterhouse are reduced. Note: keep in mind that I am not an expert in raising livestock. However, I’ve spent the last 14 months learning as much as I can about the subject. I encourage you to learn more on your own and will cite authoritative references or other opinions when relevant.
Better Quality. Logic alone suggests that the longer a particular manager or family watches over a particular herd, the more they will get to know the individual cattle and be able to spot opportunities or trouble in advance. It works the other way, too: the livestock get used to a single management style, voice, process, and surroundings. We all know that change can cause stress. With fewer disruptions, cattle are apt to be healthier and produce better quality meat.
Fewer Diseases. In general, the closer you keep your system, the fewer chances of transferring diseases. Just like what happens in a daycare center or an office building, bringing livestock together from different places and putting them in confined quarters increases the likelihood of their getting sick. Today’s proscribed solution is to add antibiotics at the sub therapeutic level to the cattle feed as a preventative measure. I'd personally rather eat meat from beef animals that have been raised in such a way as to keep them healthy without such measures.
Less Pollution. The less the beef is moved, the fewer gallons of fossil fuel needed to bring it to market. In addition, properly managed farms and ranches actually help sequester carbon. The data is pretty compelling that confined animal operations create the opposite effect. Take a look at this article from The Rolling Stone called “Boss Hog” or get a copy of Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” for further reading.