Jul 22, 2014
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Grazing the Net

RSS By: Greg Henderson and Friends, Beef Today

Our editors spend some time roaming the web looking for stuff cattle people and others in agriculture might find useful or entertaining. 

The Problem With Pig Cheese

Jul 21, 2014

Louisville Chef Edward Lee has been enormously successful with his upscale Louisville restaurant, the 610 Magnolia.

Lee has been recognized as one of America's top chefs, and he authored a popular cookbook, Smoke and Pickles. Like any good entrepreneur, Lee constantly searches for ways to improve his business. And like a lot of entrepreneurs, some of his ideas lack, well ... logic. For instance, Lee is consumed with idea of offering pig cheese on his menu. That's right, cheese made from sow's milk. However, there's a giant obstacle to this idea. Lee has yet to figure out a way to milk a sow. The sows are more than a little uncooperative.

Almond Milk Is A Scam

What do you get when you breakdown an 8-ounce serving of almond milk? "A jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds," says Mother Jones Tom Philpott. In other words, the trendy alternative to cow's milk is a scam. Philpott's analysis of almond milk found an 8-ounce serving contains 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of fiber and 5 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Which means you would need to drink a 48-ounce jug of the stuff to consume as much protein as found in a single ounce of almonds. The price? Let's just say that ounce of almonds delivered in cloudy water costs $3.99. Healthy? It's gotta be healthier, right? Philpott calls almond milk a waste of good food.

Cattle Rally Takes A Breather

After running uphill for three consecutive months, stocker and feeder markets fell lower amid light receipts. By all accounts it was a fantastic run, adding about $35 per cwt. to the price of yearling feeder cattle.

Consumer Demand Pushes Beef

A big factor in the strength of cattle prices this year has been strong consumer demand. Domestic meat demand was up 4.6% in May compared to last year, and on average, domestic demand for red meat and poultry has been up 3% over the last 12 months. Specifically for beef, domestic demand was up 6.7% in May compared to last year. Export demand for beef was also up 7.5%.

The Donkey Whisperer

Jul 18, 2014

You’ve heard about the horse whisperer, and the dog whisperer.

We now have a donkey whisperer, though he doesn't appear to possess the same animal behavior-modification abilities as other animal whisperers.

The donkey whisperer is from Texas, which will come as no surprise once you watch the short video. Posting of the link here is for entertainment value only, and should not be considered an endorsement in case you are looking for someone to whisper to your donkeys.

Sniffing Out Dyer's Woad

While our canine companions over the years seldom earned their keep, canine unemployment is not an option at the non-profit Working Dogs for Conservation.

Dogs were originally used to locate carnivore scat. Now, dogs are used to find invasive plants, invertebrates and contaminants such as heavy metals and pharmaceuticals.

One fully-employed dog is Seamus, trained to patrol Mount Sentinel in Colorado. His job is to sniff out dyer's woad, a noxious weed that takes over rangeland, choking out native grasses. When he finds the plant he stops and the GPS in his doggy backpack marks the location of the weed so it can be sprayed later.

Global Warming is Ruining Booze

We now have a big reason to put the brakes on greenhouse gas emissions. Global warming is ruining booze. Specifically, tequila. Apparently the hotter summers in Mexico are causing the blue agave plants used in tequila production to mature too early and they aren't absorbing the proper nutrients. That makes for weaker and less flavorful tequila.

Beef Exports Maintain Momentum

U.S. pork and beef exports maintained their strong momentum in May, with export volumes for both products exceeding last year's totals and value increasing by double digits, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports in May were up 5 percent in volume (102,967 mt) and 15 percent in value ($589 million).

Polar Bears Adapt

Jul 17, 2014

Artic sea ice has been retreating for years, which is good news if you’re a seal. That’s because the melting ice makes it harder for polar bears to catch their favorite dinner, which happens to be seal.

Polar bear numbers are estimated at about 25,000 globally, placing them on the endangered list and drawing greater attention. Scientists have theorized that warmer temperatures leave polar bears stuck on land with no access to seals for longer periods each summer, meaning there’s some very hungry polar bears come fall. Except, polar bears apparently don’t give up so easy. They’re finding substitute menu items such as caribou calves and eggs from raiding geese nests. In short, polar bears are adapting to longer ice-free seasons.

Anti-Vaxx Skeptics Rebuffed

Many news sources have reported about the dramatic uptick in measles cases in the U.S., a disease that was eradicated in North America a decade ago. Much of the blame for the measles outbreak rests squarely with vaccine skeptics, people who deny the safety of the potentially life-saving vaccine.

Alas, anti-science stupidity is not confined to North America. A Queensland, Australia, mother-to-be was shocked when she was handed a brochure promoting the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network (AVN) while at the Gold Coast University Hospital. In fact, the AVN was the only source of information on vaccines available in an information package given to expecting mothers. Queensland Health has since responded saying the form has been pulled and the matter is being investigated.

They Won’t "Got Milk?"

The owner of a Kauai island resort in Hawaii is suing to stop the development of a proposed dairy farm on a nearby property.

The lawsuit filed in Circuit Court last week says progress on the dairy operation should cease until developers prove it won't negatively affect the surrounding environment. Hawaii Dairy wants to open a facility nearby on 582 acres that will milk 1,800 cows. Spokeswoman Amy Hennessey says the suit is "deeply disappointing," and calls it a malicious attack on local food by commercial resort interests."

Drones Invade Heyworth, Illinois

Drones could add $82 billion to the U.S. economy by 2025, with the lion’s share of that going to agriculture. That was just one of the messages delivered at Farm Journal’s Drone Fly-In event this week in Heyworth, Ill.

The Berkeley Beheading

Jul 16, 2014

Earlier this week we noted a few urban chicken owners have startlingly realized the eggs produced from those aromatic predator magnets cost about $40 a dozen.

Glaringly omitted from such calculations was the additional benefit of some tasty, free-range, organic and totally primitive meat from those birds. Urban chicken farmers, however, have encountered a major obstacle in transitioning backyard pullets to plate. It’s called slaughter, a process many know little about. To the rescue comes Urban Adamah, a Berkeley, Calif., urban farm that planned a public chicken slaughter in May with the intention of teaching city folks how to properly cut the head off a chicken.

As word of the Berkeley beheading spread so did the outrage. Animal rights activists demanded the chickens be spared and given safe passage to an animal sanctuary. Fearing the Chickengate protest could get out of hand, Urban Adamah wisely cancelled the public event.

The birds were "harvested" in private a few days later, which led the activist group United Poultry Concerns to hold a candlelight vigil outside the farm gates. Seriously.


California's Water Wasters

Officials believe California's drought is the worst in 500 years.

Since mid-winter, California officials have pleaded with residents to conserve water, but a report released yesterday indicates Californians have done exactly the opposite.

The State Water Resources Control Board survey shows overall water consumption is up 1%, while Governor Jerry Brown has asked residents to cut consumption 20%. The water regulators approved a measure to levy fines up to $500 a day for residents who waste water on lawns, landscaping and car washing.

Arizona Rancher Fears Immigrants

An Arizona rancher whose property along the U.S.-Mexico border has been a path used by an estimated tens of thousands of immigrants to sneak into the U.S. says he believes a health epidemic will soon follow. "The fact is that we're going to be inundated with diseases in our population as well as livestock diseases,'' John Ladd, owner of the San Jose Ranch in Bisbee, said Tuesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

Vesicular Stomatitis in Texas

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has received confirmation of two new cases of Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) in horses in Bastrop and Travis counties in Central Texas. To date, 10 premises in seven Texas counties have been confirmed with VS. Those counties include Kinney, Hidalgo, San Patricio, Nueces, Jim Wells, Bastrop and Travis counties.

City Slickers Are Sicker

Jul 15, 2014

We’ve long suspected living in the city makes us sick. Now we have scientific evidence to support our theory. Research at Denmark’s Aarhus University has revealed that people who were raised on a livestock farm are only half as likely as their urban counterparts to develop the most common inflammatory bowel diseases: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The researchers believe the human body is dependent on exposure to a wide variety of microorgnisms to develop a healthy immune system, and they say the differences in the "microbial environment between city and country has increased over the past century," exposing children to far fewer bacteria than previously. In other words, there’s logic in letting your kids make mud pies in the barn lot.

Other research says kids on dairy farms run one-tenth of the risk of developing allergies, and pregnant women can benefit from visiting a dairy as the exposure promotes maturation of the fetal and neonatal immune system.

Western Water Worries

Water levels at Lake Mead sank to a record low this week. The surface of America’s largest man-made reservoir rests at about 1,081 feet above sea level, about 130 feet lower than 15 years ago. That’s the beginning of the long-standing drought that has reduced the flow of the Colorado River. California and the Southwest depends on the river and the receding reservoir to sustain 30 million people and several billion dollars worth of farm production across the West.

In California, researchers expect farmers will see wells run dry next year. The study also says farmers will leave 430,000 acres idle this year resulting in a $2.2 billion loss.

Zilmax Study Shows No Detrimental Effects

The cattle feed additive Zilmax has no noticeable detrimental effect on cattle health or well-being, according to research by scientists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. The study was undertaken after Zilmax's maker, Merck Animal Health, temporarily suspended sales of the additive last year when concerns emerged in some quarters that it might cause lameness in cattle.

Another, larger study by Merck, however, has been delayed. According to the Wall Street Journal, Merck wants to test Zilmax on 250,000 cattle but those plans are delayed as some beef packers are reluctant to try to market the beef produced during the research.

Feeding Margins Remain Above $300

Despite a $17-per-head decline, average feedyard margins remained above $300 last week. Fed cattle prices dipped $2 to $3 per cwt., but lower breakevens on outgoing cattle supported solid profits, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

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