Grazing the Net
Greg Henderson and Friends
Our editors spend some time roaming the web looking for stuff cattle people and others in agriculture might find useful or entertaining.
Five-Second Rule is Hogwash
Mar 20, 2014
New research on the "five-second rule" reminds us of the old joke about the farm kid that dropped his gum in the chicken coop. He thought he found it three times. Now, research at Aston University's School of Life and Health Sciences suggests that "food picked up off the floor a few seconds after being dropped is less likely to contain bacteria than if it is left for longer periods of time." Duh.
We're not microbiologists, but it would seem to us that it's not necessarily the amount of time a chip or gummy bear spends on the floor, but what it's dropped in that makes it dangerous to eat. Let's just say we wouldn't eat anything dropped on the floor of any bunkhouse we've visited. But what does an expert say? Donald W. Schaffner, Extension specialist in food science and professor at Rutgers University whose research interests include quantitative microbial risk assessment and predictive food microbiology, says, "If you don't have any pathogens on your kitchen floor, it doesn't matter how long food sits there. If you do have pathogens on your kitchen floor, you get more of them on wet food than dry food. But in my considered opinion, the five-second rule is nonsense."
Don't Rush It
Today is the first day of spring, which means turning cows and calves out to pasture will soon follow. But don't be too hasty, says University of Missouri forage specialist Rob Kallenbach. "Wait for grass to reach a minimum of 4 inches of growth," he says. A delayed start on grazing becomes more important than usual this spring. "Pastures will be weak and thin," he says. "Give grasses a chance to gain strength." Grazing too early could cause need for pasture reseeding later, or the weak stands could become crowded out with weeds.
Seeking Sustainable Beef
The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) released its draft Principles and Criteria for Global Sustainable Beef document for public comment. GRSB's document identifies key areas in the beef value chain that must be addressed to ensure beef production around the globe is environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.
The document received plenty of criticism. For instance, Mother Jones called it "McDonalds' Vision of 'Sustainable:' Brought to You by the Beef Industry."
Heidi Carroll, a South Dakota State University livestock stewardship Extension associate, says to ensure sustainable beef is a meaningful designation, it will be critical to come up with standards that are measurable and can be regulated at the local and regional level. "It will be complicated to form a universal definition."
Dairy Cow Slaughter Declines
Dairy cow slaughter slowed considerably in February, with just 237,000 head sent for processing in federally inspected plants, USDA reports. Compared to a year ago, February slaughter was down 8.5%, with 22,000 fewer cows culled. January 2014 cow slaughter was 270,000 head, or 33,000 more cattle culled than February.