By Jessica Domel

The sun is barely peeking through the clouds, and they’re already hard at work feeding cows, milking and answering business calls.

They’ve only had a few hours of sleep, and the day won’t be over for another 10-12 hours.

They’re a Texas dairy farmer. A rancher. Or maybe just a fan of livestock. Sometimes, all three.

Taking care of horses, cows, hogs, poultry and other livestock is not an easy task. You’re taking the lives of a dozen, hundreds or even thousands of creatures in your hands.

You’re responsible for their feed, habitat and overall well-being.

It can be an enormous burden, but it’s one millions of American ranchers and dairy farmers take on each and every day.

It’s one reason why it hurts when I see “undercover” videos surface online of alleged animal abuse.

The people who commit these acts are the exception rather than the rule. They’re bad actors who shouldn’t be used to represent an entire industry.

I’ve been on dozens of farms, ranches and dairies across Texas. You know what I’ve found? Men, women and children who deeply care for their animals.

When they need food, they’re fed.

When one gets sick, they treat it.

They’re given shelter, water and the best of care.

How do I know this abuse is rare? I visit. I ask. I see.

Texas dairy producers and ranchers share their disappointment in the people who hurt cattle, horses and other animals. They say they would never do that because it’s unethical. It’s a violation of the personal covenant they make with themselves and their higher power to take care of the land and animals they’re blessed with caring for.

It’s also unpractical. Livestock that aren’t treated well don’t act well. They don’t produce as much milk. They don’t gain as much weight. They’re more likely to be ill. All of which costs money.

Farming, ranching and running a dairy takes time. It takes passion. And it takes money.

The men and women who work in Texas agriculture wouldn’t dedicate their most precious resources and passions to these animals if they didn’t care deeply about it. And you don’t hurt something you care about.