Life in The Upper South... More About Birds and Animals... And What I Think About It...
A small elk herd is held in a series of pens, behind the Amish store south of Elkton, KY. We saw these bulls on Tuesday when we were over there, as well as a small pen of younger bulls and a pen of cows.
Elk are ruminants like cattle. Their first stomach, an anaerobic digester of cellulose, is called a rumen, . Ruminants spend their time grazing and ruminating -- that is, regurgitating food matter from the rumen and re-chewing it. (This is also known as "chewing the cud.") When the grass is sufficiently ground up and fermented, it passes to the next stomach.
It seems probable that the elk meat sold within the Amish store comes from this herd. Elk meat, like buffalo meat, is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, pork or lamb, and it compares favorably with chicken and turkey (according to nutritional information supplied by Grande Premium Meats, an online seller of buffalo and elk meats.)
Personally, I am not interested in trying elk meat for a couple of reasons.
- Reason 1: I am finicky about meats other than beef, pork, turkey and chicken. I avoid mutton, duck, goose, venison, etc. (and the etc. includes elk.)
- Reason 2: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). I would want certification that the meat was from a CWD-tested animal, if I were to try the meat which is unlikely (see Reason One.)
I wasn't able to find any official information about the current market for U.S. velvet antler, but producers have been greatly impacted by North America's CWD problems. I'm always sorry when someone who makes their living from the land is having difficulties, and I hope those people have survived the crisis with their farms or ranches intact, but frankly, the velvet antler business is vaguely sickening to me.
The elk in the photo appear well-tended and healthy and they certainly have handsome racks. Apparently their owner isn't selling velvet antlers. I wish they had a little more room to roam, but I know that Todd County farmland isn't cheap, and neither are the materials for a strong, high fence.