Perhaps you’ve seen the internet sensation about Fluffy Cows. Many who have grown up around agriculture know them as market steers, club calves – beef! But the public has hit on it as something they weren’t aware of – and it’s opened doors. Or has it? What if it’s rabbits tomorrow? Can we stand the pressure? Not if we don’t prepare *now*!

Stay with me here folks! What seems like a great opportunity to talk about beef, livestock and agriculture is, for some, a huge opportunity to not just shoot themselves in the foot but set off a trip wire. We can change the conversation – we can teach people – or we can insult them and drive them away. Which would you do? Are you sure?

Let’s take some lessons on examples. Beef magazine questions whether it’s a good thing.

We need to refocus the message on the online forums and news stories reporting about “fluffy cows.” We need to introduce ourselves as the ranchers behind the beef consumers love and put the spotlight on the farm families in this industry.

Now this is a farm that’s been selling show stock, fitted for fairs, many pictures online. Not unlike show animals of any species. Someone saw it, and it went viral. This farm has been cast into viral publicity, the subject of television media, celebrity blog posts and much attention. They put some shirts up on their store – the first 50 were gone in 9 minutes! What a “problem” to have right? What an opportunity!

The farm itself knows there’s groups watching. PeTA is asking how people can eat those cute fluffy cows. Right next to the mashed potatoes or fries perhaps?

Phil Lautner tells BEEF Daily, “We are very vigilant that anti-animal agriculture groups try to turn conversations negative. With the #FluffyCow phenomenon it is our mission to keep the conversation about youth, family involvement and production. We feel it’s necessary to try and educate others about our way of life and what animal production is.”

MoreThan-1_0This is a fantastic example of taking a risk, reframing it, taking control and *using it*! It’s an awesome example of not letting others tell anyone what you do, or use your message for their use. They took the hash tag, a Facebook page and are leveraging to use it to teach much more than cute cows.

At the same time it’s concerning to see the negativity, not from vegans or animal rights but from within the agriculture community. How would you feel to hear or see something like city people are so stupid for not knowing these things – that city person that just bought burgers for the family?

Then there’s comments of how do they taste and more:

I didn’t know that they had cow show like they do dog shows.

“The cows, a cross between high-quality breeds”. Yum!!!

With all the beauty aids you spray, rub, comb in and wash these cows with, is the meat safe to eat?

They really have a show for each animal now, don’t they?

This is an ideal way to reach the public. With a Facebook page there is a contact point.

How can this be used for rabbits. Rex. Mini Rex. Show rabbits. Show and function. Rabbits are multipurpose and in a prime spot. We never now what will trip the public interest. But one thing is for sure – with beef shows in every state fair and most county fairs, if folks don’t know about them, they don’t know rabbits are shown too.

Don’t condemn them. Educate. Have a conversation. Teach them. Take some time with those folks with questions at the next show, or if you’re on the way to the ring say that nicely! “I’m sorry I need to get these rabbits to the show table – could you follow me or check back in a little bit?”

Fair season is coming. Publicity comes around and we can either use the example of this farm, or let the power be taken from us in the media. We better hope that we’re all half as prepared as this show cattle place! Watch and learn, take part in the conversation.

Pick out good examples and what not to do. It’s not rabbits in the spotlight, but we can sure learn by example what to do and what not to do.

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