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March 2011 Archive for 100% Grass-Fed

RSS By: Randy Kuhn, Beef Today

Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.


Mar 23, 2011


   Oh what a wonderful morning!  Yeah, maybe in Florida!  Here in North-East Pennsylvania, we woke up to another blizzard.  This is the 3rd blizzard in 4 weeks for us cattlemen in Bradford County.  As our forage supplies run low, and our neighbors have run out, we are all forced to look both at our herd health requirements and feed intake estimates from last summer/fall.  We plan for approx. 120 days of needing to feed stored hay each winter.  So why did our neighbors run out of forages already?  Was it colder than normal this winter?  Did the cattle have deeper snow to go through to get to stockpiled forages?  Were the round bales used to supplement the stockpiled forages not as tight as they should or could have been?  The answer is yes to all of those questions! 

   We gladly helped our neighbor with hay to help keep their herd fed while they looked for additional feedstuff’s.  And as we all know, now is not the best time to be looking for dry/quality hay.  Ask anyone who sell’s it!  They expect buyers to pay top dollar for hay in March and April.  Around here, we’re lucky if we have adequate pastures to turn our cattle out on by June 1st.  So running out of hay almost 2 ½ months early is a BIG set-back for any operation.  That’s not the way anyone wants to start a fi$cal year.

   Luckily our neighbor doesn’t have a cow/calf operation.  They raise feeders that have adequate winter back fat, are more than 12 months old and aren’t expecting any calves.  On the other side of the fence however, our herds intake requirements have increased due to calving season having begun last weekend.  Not to mention the heavy snow conditions we’ve been experiencing recently, that has increased forage intake in everyone’s cattle.   It's no secret for some of us that cows need more nutritional energy in colder/snowier weather. But some folks are still struggling with that thought process.  We have used the rule of thumb that a cow's energy requirements increase 1% for each degree the wind chill is below the 32°F.  And since most of us have "smart phones" now, it’s easier to pull up the wind chills in our area from the weather channel or national weather service.

   Another hopefully obvious fact, is that energy requirements of beef cows with a wet hair coat is much greater. Cows exposed to falling precipitation and having wet hair coats are considered to have reached the LCT (lower critical temperature) at 59° F.  In addition, the requirements change twice as much for each 1° change in wind-chill factor, with the energy requirement actually increasing 2% for each degree below 59° F.
This amount of energy change is often impossible to accomplish with feedstuffs available on ranch range.  In addition, this amount of energy change in the diet of cows accustomed to a high roughage diet must be made very gradually to avoid severe digestive disorders.

   The more common-sense approach (which is usually not obvious to some), is to provide a smaller increase in energy requirements during wet cold weather and extend the increase into improving weather to help regain energy lost during a storm.

   Cows on large "Ranch" style operations (500 head +), consuming 16 lbs. of grass hay/day and 5 lbs. of 20% "Range Cubes" can be increased to 20 lbs. of grass hay/day plus 6-7 lbs. of range cubes during the severe weather event. Extending this amount for a day or two after the storm may help overcome the energy loss during the storm in a manner that doesn't cause digestive disorders. 

For a feeding period of............................... 3 months

Number in your herd.................................. 25

Weight of each cow/heifer/steer................... 1,100lbs.

Daily intake..........................................    2 1/2% of total body weight

                                                                           (approx. 27 1/2lbs a day!)


Take the length of the feeding period, multiplied by the number of cattle, multiplied once again by the hay intake per pound.......That's 61,875lbs!!!

Not taking into account any waste hay that can't be fed due to spoilage if stored outdoors. 

(figure approx. 10%)

It's Spring vaccination time Ya'll!

Mar 13, 2011



Believe it or not, spring can be a stressful time for the cow, the calf and the farmer/rancher.  

The main objective of your vaccination program is to prevent Year-Round IBR & BVD,  not try and treat it when it rears its ugly head at the most in-opportune time!


What your vaccinating against.

Bovine Virus Diarrhea (BVD)

This is one of the most costly diseases for cattle producers. Signs may include scours, nasal discharge, coughing and fever. BVD can also cause infertility, abortion and birth defects. Type 2 BVD can cause hemorrhaging and death in susceptible young calves and adult cows.

Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex (BRDC)

Also know as "Shipping Fever", BRDC is a general term for the pneumonia commonly seen in recently weaned calves. Stress is a major contributor to BRDC. Events such as weaning, dehorning, shipping and weather changes like what we’re all experiencing now, can compromise the animal’s immune system, making it susceptible to disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Stress cannot be eliminated entirely from the cow/calf operation, but it can be reduced considerably through careful handling and ensuring sanitary conditions.

Some important considerations when planning spring Vaccinations include:

PREGNANCY - DO NOT use a "Modified Live Virus" vaccine in pregnant cows or heifers because abortions most likely will result.   The loss of a calf will on average, take the next 6 YEARS to make up for the profit potential loss!  This is the one part of your operation where you have the power to control mortality.  Read all vaccine labels.  When in doubt, call your vet!

CURRENT HEALTH OF THE COW/HEIFER - If using a "Modified Live Virus" vaccine, only administer the vaccine in healthy cows/heifers prior to breeding as an aid in preventing abortion caused by IBR.


CATTLE AGE – Breeding age and bred cattle can always be safely vaccinated with "Killed vaccines".

Breeding age cattle and heifer calves that are 5 – 6 months of age that haven’t been previously vaccinated will need 2 doses, 2 – 4 weeks apart.  If you are unable to age group vaccinate, an alternative is to catch-up heifers in the fall, (October).


DURATION of IMMUNITY – claimed by any vaccine represents the absolute maximum window of protection you should expect. For the optimal immune response, vaccinate as close to 30 days prior to breeding as you can.

Just because you can vaccinate up to a year ahead of breeding doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If a vaccine is labeled for 365 days of fetal protection, it has met minimum standards set by the USDA to obtain that label.  It doesn’t necessarily mean the immune response is the same on the 364th day following vaccination as it is on the 3rd. Even the manufacturer’s own trial work that supports the product’s USDA license will show the protection begins to lessen as time passes.

SYNOPSIS - Vaccinate breeding heifers with two or more doses of modified live BVD vaccine

at least 30 days before breeding season.

Vaccinate all mature cows annually.  Preferably, prior to the start of the breeding season.

For more information go to:

FAT! It's what's for dinner.

Mar 04, 2011

GOOD FAT. It’s what’s for dinner!

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a cancer-fighting fat that is most abundant in Grass-fed products.  Recent studies link a diet high in CLA with a lower risk of breast cancer. Researchers measured CLA levels in the serum of women with and without breast cancer. Those women with the most CLA had a significantly lower risk of the disease.  French researchers measured CLA levels in the breast tissues of 360 women. Once again, the women with the most CLA had the lowest risk of cancer. In fact, the women with the most CLA had a staggering 74% lower risk of breast cancer than the women with the least CLA.


The most natural and effective way to increase your intake of CLA is to eat the meat and dairy products of Grass-fed animals.


   Did you also know that Grass-Fed BEEF has similar omega-3/omega-6 ratios as wild salmon?  In fact, Lean Grass-fed BEEF not only contains as much, or even higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, but without the possible negatives such as heavy metals (mercury, etc) and PCBs that can be found in fish.


   Now I know that a lot of people will try to convince you that meat is not good for you. And to be honest I partially agree with them when it comes to your typical "factory farm-raised" meat where the animals are fattened up with huge quantities of grains, soy additives & Hormone implants that are not Natural.  However, when animals are healthy and eat the diet they were meant to eat naturally (GRASS), the meat is actually healthy for us.  Not only are Grass-fed meats a high quality source of muscle-building proteins, but they are also a great source of healthy fats.   There are a number of nutritional differences between the meat of pasture-raised and feedlot-raised animals. To begin with, meat from Grass-fed cattle, sheep, and bison are lower in total fat.  If the meat is very lean, it can have one third as much fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed animal. In fact, Grass-fed BEEF can have the same amount of fat as skinless chicken breast, wild deer, or elk.  Research shows that lean beef actually lowers your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.


   When cattle eat a diet of only grass & dry hay, haylage or baleage rather than of grains & soy, their meat becomes higher in omega-3s and lower in omega-6 fatty acids, achieving a more natural balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats.  As previously stated Grass-fed BEEF also contains much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has shown some promising benefits in studies for losing body fat and gaining lean muscle mass in addition to helping prevent breast cancer.

Meat from Grass-fed animals have 2 to 4 times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain-fed animals. Omega-3s are called "good fats" because they play a vital role in every cell and system in your body.   For example, of all the fats, they are the most heart-friendly.  People who have ample amounts of omega-3's in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat, they are also 50 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack.  Omega-3's are essential for your brain as well, and who couldn’t use a little help in that department!  And that’s not all, people with a diet rich in omega-3's are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer's disease.


So what are you serving your family for dinner tonight?

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