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July 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.

What is "NATURAL" BEEF?

Jul 29, 2011

Raising "Natural" BEEF

More and more producers are finding that they can receive a premium for cattle raised naturally.

"Raising cattle naturally is a method that has attracted consumer demand," says Mr. Karl Hoppe, North Dakota State University Extension Service area livestock specialist at the Carrington Research Extension Center. "Not to be confused with organic beef production, the US Department of Agriculture has specific standards for raising cattle naturally."

The "naturally raised claim for livestock" standard was published in the Federal Register in January 2009. The USDA’s naturally raised claim can be used for meat produced from livestock that meet the following conditions:

No growth-promoting products were administered to the animals.

No antibiotics (other than ionophores used to prevent parasitism) were administered to the animals.

No animal byproducts were fed to the animals.

For your Beef Cattle to be considered as being raised "naturally", calves cannot be implanted with ear implants that stimulate growth via hormones. Calves also cannot be treated with antibiotics individually or as a group via their feed or water.

If a calf is sick, it should be identified and separated from the naturally raised calves and treated with antibiotics or other appropriate therapy. But once the sick calf is treated with antibiotics, it no longer is considered to be naturally raised and cannot be sold as such.

Vaccinations that prevent disease and sickness are allowed and encouraged for naturally raised cattle.  If you have a "Closed Herd", meaning you don’t import/introduce cattle into your herd from outside sources, you might elect to not even vaccinate your cattle.  On the other hand if you do buy cattle and introduce them into your herd, especially from an auction/sale barn, it would be in your best interest and your cattle’s too, to vaccinate them and your entire herd!  There’s allot of nasty stuff out there, and if you don’t have a trusted source (registered cattle herd with papers), for your cattle, your taking a chance by not vaccinating them and quarantining them for at least 2 weeks when bringing them onto your farm/ranch/feed-lot.

The type of feed program, such as grass, corn, hay or silage rations, does not affect the naturally raised claim. However, feeds that contain animal byproducts are not allowed. Animal byproducts can come from a variety of sources, including a commercial protein supplement, mineral mix or animal fat. Most feed manufacturers have products that are identified as natural for use in raising cattle naturally. But if you want to take the guesswork out of feeding your calves and cow’s try 100% Grass-fed!  It’s better for your Cattle, You & The environment.  Not to mention your customers/consumers.

This time of the year, cattle should be provided a mineral mix or mineral block while grazing pasture.  If the mineral mix/block contains steamed bone meal as a calcium and phosphorous source, these calves no longer will be considered naturally raised since they had access to an animal byproduct while grazing with the cows. Try a standard Mol-Mag block.  Most Feed Mills or Ag Supply Stores such as TSC will have multiple Mineral blocks to choose from.

Providing an ionophore to improve feed efficiency also is not allowed. Most creep feeds would have an ionophore included to help control bloat and improve feed efficiency, so calves eating a creep feed with an ionophore are disqualified from being classified as naturally raised.  Why not leave the calves with their mothers to wean "naturally"?  We don’t force wean our calves.  They are with their mothers their entire lives.  They generally wean them selves by the time their 6 months old. That eliminates ALLOT of stress on the calves, cow’s and us!  Not to mention you can save a considerable amount of money by not needing milk replacers & creep feed.  Leave them on pasture!  GRASS is best.

Raising cattle naturally is a lifetime claim. Therefore, producers need to keep records of treating sick calves and all your other cattle too!  Because those calves & cow's cannot be sold as naturally raised. 

Why not BEEFALO?

Jul 22, 2011

Focus on Crossbreeding

   Clear targets are required when choosing what beef breeds you plan to use in your crossbreeding program. Selection at the cow-calf level have focused on productivity per cow with emphasis on reproductive and growth traits for the last 20-30 years. The importance of hitting the market target has resulted in the emphasis shifting toward evaluation and selection of carcass characteristics. The first important step is to ensure your cow herd matches your environment and resources and then determine how to hit your market targets through breed and Bull selection.

 

Niche Markets

   Our 100% Grass-fed BEEFALO are a combination of 3/8’s Bison and 5/8’s Red Angus.  We’ve found that it optimizes and fits our regions many environmental challenges and extreme changes.  The BEEFALO breed is not limited to only Angus.  We also have Hereford and Charolais BEEFALO on our farm.  If your operation is small enough to allow you the opportunity to attend a weekly/local farmers market or maybe you have a store or farm stand on your farm/ranch, simply ask your customers what they want!  And be sure to ask them for their feed-back after tasting your products.  Good and bad critique of your products is the only way you will know what if anything needs to be changed.  That’s how you create a niche in your market/area.

   Although the benefits of crossbreeding have been known for many years, it has been accepted by commercial cattlemen only for the past few years and has become a standard for the commercial industry.

To increase profitability, crossbreeding must be used in a systematic plan, since many production benefits will result only from an organized approach.   Before designing an effective crossbreeding plan, you must have some understanding of how crossbreeding increases production.

  

BREED for VIGOR!

   Correctly cross-bred cattle exhibit hybrid vigor!  Our BEEFALO remain productive through our below zero winters and above 100 degree summers.  This "Vigor" also directly relates to an increase in production longevity, coupled with greater calf vigor and survival, resulting in increased calf crops, lower birth weights (which translate into easier calving especially for first calf heifers), higher weaning weights and faster finishing.  Our cattle generally reach optimum harvest weight by the time their 15-16 months old.

   Your ultimate reason for crossbreeding should be to take advantage of your breeds complementary characteristics, since weakness of one breed can be offset by combining it with a breed strong in that trait.  The resulting crossbreed may not be superior in any single trait but be superior in overall performance.

   For us at The Kuhn Family Farm, raising BEEFALO is more than EPD’s and cattle science.  BEEFALO represent the best of two entirely different species and something more.  It’s a chance to have the heritage of the American West living in your pasture or on your range.

   As the World War II generation passes it’s farms down to you and I , we’re confident that consumers will continue to seek out naturally raised, heart healthy LEAN BEEF product for their family & friends.  A BEEFALO Bull added to your present herd will allow you to create your own vision of this great breed.  Because BEEFALO is a unique blend of species, it offers the ability to bring your herd to registered status.

   A crossbreeding program that will increase profitability must take maximum advantage of these characteristics of crossbreds.  In other words, you must keep your breeds highest qualities at the highest level possible and combine breeds that compliment each other as you create your own PBP!   

"Perfect BEEFALO Product"

100% CASH-FED

Jul 13, 2011

The cost of traditional cattle production is rising and producers seeking to put more gra$$ weight on their cattle are finding that sound pasture management has never been more attractive and/or profitable.

 

Here are some tips on increasing your forages, with the first one being….

Consult county Extension experts about the specifics of your local area before proceeding.

 

Stockpiled forages

Setting aside a supply of forage to use after forage growth has ended in the fall is called "stockpiling" or "deferred grazing."   When pastures are managed for deferred grazing, a compromise sometimes has to be made between yield and quality, since the highest yield often produces lower quality forage.

 

Forages adaptable to stockpiling include perennials such as…

Tall fescue

Orchardgrass

Ryegrass

 

Overseeding a pasture or hayfield will increase both quantity and quality of forage.  But beware!  As I learned from adding too much clover and alfalfa to our pasture mix, if you plan to take a "1st cutting" off your pastures in the spring prior to turning out your cattle, It’ll take forever to dry and bail.  And if you do small square bail’s,  your wife will complain the whole time your unloading the wagons!  Up here in North-East PA sometimes drydown can take as long as 5-6 day’s depending on the relative humidity and overnight temperatures.  However. Summer pastures over-seeded with Legumes work best for providing a nitrogen source and improving pasture quality.   The legumes that work best, no matter where in the country you live, are red and white clovers.

 

Cool season pastures. "Cool season grasses which obviously aren’t growing in the North/East this week, can help you extend the green period across as much of the growing period as possible and improve livestock weight gain.   Perennial cool season pasture grasses grow in dry land conditions not drought stricken area’s and can supplement native range by providing a month or more of nutritious grazing in the spring and possibly again in the fall.

 

Rotational grazing.   A rotational grazing program such as what we use on our farm/ranch, uses several pastures with one being grazed while the others are rested.  We divide our pasture into smaller areas

called paddocks and move our cattle from one to the next, determined by the number, size and condition of our cattle, rate of forage growth which is directly related to weather, or the lack thereof and layout of the paddocks.

 

The practice of rotational grazing can increase net profit

by reducing the cost of machinery, fuel and storage facilities;

and by cutting back on supplemental feeding and pasture waste.

 

Extended Grazing.  We leave our herd on pasture into the fall and winter, utilizing perennial pastures held in reserve, otherwise referred to as "stockpiling forages".   For those of you who supplement your cattle with feed, it has been estimated that each day your cattle graze on pasture, your feed costs could be cut in half.

 

Another advantage to grazing your cattle in rotational pastures/paddocks.  Costs of hauling manure is reduced, and nutrients are returned to the land naturally to be used by growing forages while in the rest cycle of your rotational grazing program.

Planning on planting forages next month?

Jul 01, 2011

Planting forages next month?

The wet weather this past spring in the North East, and extreme drought in the South & South West has forced many of us to postpone planting forages until mid-summer or even fall if we don’t get a break in the extremes.

If you are hoping to plant yet this season don’t forget to keep two very important factors in mind.

 

  1. Depth of seed.  The number one reason for poor stands of forages/grasses & legumes are how deep you are planting the seed.  Most legumes like alfalfa & clover need very little soil cover to germinate and grow.  Before you even put the seed in your planter ensure that you have a smooth/firm seedbed, especially if you plan on mowing it for hay.  Dips, peaks and rocks in your field will wreak havoc on your equipment.  For some of us groundhog/woodchuck holes & mounds are enough of a hassle!  Why add to your mowing frustrations.  A good rule of thumb for seed depth is to plant seeds no deeper than 5 times their diameter.

 

  1. Seed to soil contact.  Forage seeds need to absorb more than 100% their own weight in water to germinate.  Since the moisture must be absorbed from the soil to the seed, it is critical that the seeds be in good contact with the soil.  Poor contact will result in poor stands, due to poor germination.

 

  1. The planter.  You don’t need a fancy $30,000 planter to plant grass & legumes.  We utilize a seeder that has a packer wheel in front and back of where the seed falls onto the ground.  The front packer wheels firm the soil and the 2nd set ensures good seed to soil contact and a smooth seedbed for a finish.

 

So take some extra time when praying today, the weather we’re dealt isn’t more than we can handle.  Our families before us survived these weather extremes and we will too.  There might not be an end in sight to our over abundance of moisture or your extreme drought, but if your trust in the Lord he will provide what you need.  Don’t believe me?  TRY GOD!  What do you have to lose?

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