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.
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.