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September 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.

It's Fall Vaccination Time!

Sep 24, 2011

It’s Fall Vaccination time!


Now’s a good time to run your cattle through the squeeze chute for their fall vaccinations. Vaccinations and fall treatments can be given to each heifer/cow after the veterinarian determines whether or not she's pregnant. At the same time, you should also consider the following management practices to keep your cows and heifers in top shape for the coming winter weather.

Parasites:  Parasite control is important in a fall management program.  Especially if you’re a 100% Grass-Fed Operation!  It doesn’t matter if your 100% Grass-Fed, Grass-finished or in a "Controlled environment" (Feed-lot).  The primary parasites to worry about are grubs, lice, worms and in some locations liver flukes.  Liver flukes will be easy for your cattle to get especially in areas such as the North East that has experienced record rainfall.  Many Farmers/Ranchers use a pour on product that is effective against both grubs and lice.  Most veterinarians recommend fall treatment of all cattle for lice control. You should also assume that any new animal brought into the herd is carrying lice.  Any animal in the herd suspected of having lice should be treated in early fall before lice populations build up (to help keep lice from spreading to the rest of the herd), and all animals should be treated in late fall before infestation becomes severe.  Effective control of lice requires two treatments two weeks apart if using a product that kills only lice and not the eggs. The second treatment kills lice that hatch out in between.

If cattle are being put through a squeeze chute, a pour-on is usually the simplest way to control lice. Oil based pour-on’s are formulated to travel through the hair coat so the chemical spreads over the whole body of the animal. If you are just getting started raising/grazing cattle and don’t have a squeeze-chute yet, the simplest way to perform your fall and than spring parasite program is to use a "Worming Block".

Your local Feed Store or Feed Mill should have a worming block and the instructions are on the box or wrapper as to how long to leave it in your mineral feeder.  It should be used as a replacement to your regular mineral block and not in addition to.  Meaning, take the regular mineral block out of the feeder while the worming block is in there.  That way you know your animals aren’t being selective and possibly missing the benefits of the worming block based off of individual animals tastes.

Check with your veterinarian for advice on insecticides and which products might be best for your herd based on where in the country you are located.  Treatment for grubs in northern regions should be given before December, while treatments in warm southern states should be no later than mid October.

Vaccinations:   A 9 way is recommended for healthy Dairy & Beef cattle of all ages, including pregnant cattle as an aid in the reduction of disease caused by IBR, BVD, PI3, BRSV.  No matter which vaccine you use, it should always be given subcutaneously (just under the skin), and in the side of the neck. That way, any tissue damage that occurs can be easily trimmed out at slaughter without sacrificing good parts of the beef carcass.    Most veterinarians now recommend vaccinating all cows for Leptospirosis in the fall as well as in the spring. Leptospira can cause abortion at any stage of pregnancy, and the Lepto vaccination is effective for only six months.   Your Vet may also recommend twice a year vaccination for IBR and BVD.  Since pregnant cows cannot be given modified live virus vaccinations for these diseases without risk of abortion, the standard procedure is to use modified live virus vaccine before the breeding season in the spring, and a killed vaccine product during pregnancy, in the fall.   

Check with your Veterinarian for advice on a vaccination program and a schedule that will protect your herd against common diseases in your area.  You won't need to give a clostridial vaccine to adult cattle unless you live in the mountain west regions. But you will need to vaccinate for Leptospirosis wherever you are, and sometimes IBR and BVD.

It's What's For Dinner?

Sep 10, 2011

E coli 0157:117  It’s what’s for Dinner?

   Research at the USDA’s ARS Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska, has found that the incidence of the deadly E coli 0157:117 was significantly higher in cattle whose corn-based feed included 40% wet distillers grains (WDG).   WDG is a byproduct of ethanol manufacturing that is often fed to feed-lot Beef and dairy animals throughout the United States but primarily in the upper Midwest.  Some cattle producers had originally thought that the absence of starch in WGD would make it safer to use than corn with ruminants like cattle.  Apparently this is not the case.

100% GRASS-FED BEEF is safer

   E coli 0157:117 is a relatively new acid-resistant strain of E coli that is only found in grain-fed ruminant animals such as cattle.  Acid resistance prevents human stomach acid from killing the bacteria and in return is killing us!  The E coli is transferred from the cattle manure in an unclean butchering facility to the meat by contact and on to us, the consumers!  This new form of acid resistant E coli is obviously much more deadly than the more commonly heard of and know strain.  The E coli in Grass-fed Cattle live in a neutral pH rumen environment and do not develop the acid resistance environment that the 0157:117 has evolved to thrive in.


   The first report described outbreaks of E coli 0157:117 as gastroenteritis that were associated with the consumption of undercooked ground beef from a chain of fast food restaurants. Since this report, several studies have shown that infection with E. Coli 0157:147 is responsible for most cases of Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, which is a major cause of renal failure in children.  Efforts to eradicate E. coli 0157:H7 have been complicated by the fact that it is an extraordinarily hearty microbe that is easy to transmit. E. coli 0157:117 is resistant to acid, salt, and chlorine. It can live in fresh water or seawater. It can live on kitchen countertops for days and in moist environments for weeks. It can withstand freezing. It can survive heat up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. To be infected by most food borne pathogens, such as Salmonella, you have to consume a fairly large dose - at least a million organisms. An infection with E. coli 0157:117 can be caused by as few as five organisms. A tiny uncooked particle of hamburger meat can contain enough of the pathogen to kill you.


   The CDC estimates that more than three-quarters of the food-related illnesses and deaths in the United States are caused by infectious agents that have not yet been identified. While medical researchers have gained important insights into the links between modern food processing and the spread of dangerous diseases, the nation's leading agribusiness firms have resolutely opposed any further regulation of their food safety practices. Some herds of American cattle may have been infected with E. coli 0157:117 decades ago. But the recent changes in how cattle are raised, slaughtered, and processed have created an ideal means for the pathogen to spread. The problem begins in today's vast feedlots. A government health official, who prefers not to be named, compared the sanitary conditions in a modern feedlot to those in a crowded European city during the Middle Ages, when people dumped their chamber pots out the window, raw sewage ran in the streets, and epidemics raged.  


   For years the large meatpacking companies have managed to avoid the sort of liability routinely imposed on the manufacturers of most consumer products. The pathogens from infected cattle are spread not only in feedlots, but also at slaughterhouses and hamburger grinders. The slaughterhouse tasks most likely to contaminate meat are the removal of an animal's hide and the removal of its digestive system. The hides are now pulled off by machine; if a hide has been inadequately cleaned, chunks of dirt and manure may fall from it onto the meat. Stomachs and intestines are still pulled out of cattle by hand; if the job is not performed carefully, the contents of the digestive system may spill everywhere. The increased speed of today's production lines makes the task much more difficult. A single worker at a "gut table" may eviscerate sixty cattle an hour. Performing the job properly takes a fair amount of skill. A former IBP "gutter" told me that it took him six months to learn how to pull out the stomach and tie off the intestines without spillage. At best, he could gut two hundred consecutive cattle without spilling anything. Inexperienced gutters spill manure far more often.


   Today the U.S. government can demand the nationwide recall of defective softball bats, sneakers, stuffed animals, and foam-rubber toy cows. But it cannot order a meatpacking company to remove contaminated, potentially lethal ground beef from fast food kitchens and supermarket shelves. The unusual power of the large meatpacking firms has been sustained by their close ties and sizable donations to Republican members of Congress. It has also been made possible by a widespread lack of awareness about how many Americans suffer from food poisoning every year and how these illnesses actually spread.



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