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December 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.

Stop the MAPness

Dec 31, 2011

Stop the MAPness!


   We don’t spread manure on any of our fields used for Hay production.  It’s a personal decision that we made from day 1 simply due to the fact that it doesn’t seem like a healthy option.   Of course there is manure in our pastures that is deposited by the animals while they graze.  But we do not utilize pastures for any haymaking. As far as I know, no one has been able to train their cattle to only "go" in one area, kind of like a Cattle litterbox! 


   I remember reading an article in Progressive Forage Grower that spoke about "Johne’s disease" as an increasing problem.  The disease is especially problematic in dairy cattle.  The article took a look at weather or not manure should be applied to forages?   I’m sure most (if not all), of you have heard of Johne’s disease, but do you know how cattle contract the disease?


   Calves under 6 months of age are the most susceptible.  The common route of infection is when these young calves consume colostrum or milk from infected cow’s/heifers that have been on pasture, or that have eaten forages infected with "MAP".


   MAP is Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis, MAP is what causes "Johne’s disease.  MAP can survive in manure & water for up to ONE YEAR!   MAP can be reduced by exposure to sunlight, liming, as well as the process of fermentation as when ensiling forages.  


   Manure should NOT be applied to pastures where calves and young heifers graze during grazing season.  If you don’t have the option of applying your manure on non-animal pasturing or hay production fields, make sure you apply it/top dress it as soon as possible following harvest.  This will allow the sun’s light to kill the bacteria (MAP).   If applying manure to your hay fields that will be utilized for haylage, be sure to follow good ensiling techniques.   This means making sure the harvested forage is at the proper DMC (dry matter content), when storing in a silo, trench or agbag. 


   For most of us, pasturing is over for the next few months.  If applying manure remember to keep it thin/top dress only.  Especially if your ground is frozen.  Pitch of your fields and run-off is another problem you must consider unless your going to be renovating your hay field in the spring.  Make sure you work "it" (manure), in as soon as possible.  This will help keep the nitrogen in the ground where you ultimately want it and not going up in the air or down into your ditches and other waterway’s.  This will also help keep the phosphorus out of your streams too!  Your local watershed Representatives will thank you.


   We’ve been using a new product that is 100% Organically comprised and 100% environmentally friendly.  RFD-TV has been showing a few different types of these products.  The crop benefits are healthier, hardier plants that are more resistant to disease, extreme temperatures, and drought better nutrient uptake and reduced watering needs and higher nutrient (brix) values.  The environmental benefits are reduced water consumption, all natural petroleum-free ingredients, No GMO, No fertilizer runoff and remediates contaminants present in the soil.  Benefits for the producers' are higher yields, earlier germination rates, less irrigation required, fewer inputs (such as fertilizers and pesticides) meaning reduced input costs, and allows us to grow organically.


   These products use only naturally-occurring, non-pathogenic microbes isolated from select soils worldwide. These microbes are cultivated and grown in-house using natural growth media.  These sprayable products do not contain any genetically modified organisms (GMO).   Many of these products are capable of receiving approval for use in the production of organic foods and fibers through the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and other reviewing agencies.


   These products are out there and available now, and we agreed to be part of these studies because we feel they are the best alternative to manure application.

In Memory of Dr. Christopher Raines

Dec 20, 2011

This week’s blog is dedicated to the memory of a dear friend of ours who passed away this past Sunday.

The College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State is mourning the loss of a valued friend and colleague, Dr. Christopher Raines, who was killed in an automobile accident on Dec. 18th.

Raines, 29, was an assistant professor of meat science and technology in the Department of Dairy and Animal Science.

"Chris was a remarkably talented and hard-working individual with so much career promise," said Terry Etherton, head of Dairy and Animal Science. "His untimely loss is so tragic for his colleagues, friends and family -- we will miss him greatly."

Raines' academic interests included meat color chemistry; meat product display and packaging systems; consumer demand and trends for red meat products; sustainability and meat production; and meat safety.

As an extension meat specialist, he provided educational programs and information covering meat quality, safety and compliance topics for small meat processors.

As one of the college's pioneers in the use of social media as educational and communication tools, Raines had built a growing national reputation as an important voice in the agricultural community.

Through his Twitter feed (under the handle @ITweetMeat) he had sent more than 15,000 tweets that reached nearly 3,800 followers and countless other readers. He also offered a popular blog,, where he posted his experiences and thoughts about meat as food -- where it comes from, how it's produced, how people consume it and its health implications.

A native of Ohio, Raines joined the Penn State faculty in 2008 after earning his doctorate in food science from Kansas State University. He received his bachelor's degree in animal science from Oklahoma State University in 2004 and his master's degree in animal science from Kansas State in 2006.

Christmas gives us the opportunity to do things for people we might otherwise neglect, and we must take advantage of every opportunity.

December 25th isn’t about presents, and as our Pastor told us this past Sunday it isn’t even about family! It’s about the birth of Jesus Christ and his presence in our lives.  The angels had been overjoyed once before when the Son of God, through whom all things were created, laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:1-7).  But now the same Son was coming to dwell upon the earth He created!  The joy only the angels had known would now be a joy spread throughout the earth to all people.   Have you experienced the peace of which the angels spoke?

Imagine how excited you’d be (or are), if your loved one were returning home after a tour of duty.  You would be (or are), giddy with excitement, straightening the house, planning a menu, calling friends, and preparing for the long-awaited reunion.  This is the same excitement we should be experiencing and preparing for in the coming week as we get ready for Christmas.  The Celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Think of why he came, and what he did for us. 

This Christmas, remind yourself of why it is more blessed to give

than to receive.

And as this year is coming to an end, it’s a good time to leave behind some old habits. 

Perhaps you need to bring your temper under Christ’s control.  Or perhaps you need to change your vocabulary.  Maybe God is nudging us to forgive an offense or overlook an insult.

As we celebrate Christmas with friends and family, and prepare to end one year and begin a new one, let’s determine to start it with passion.  To press on with a desire to succeed in how we live our lives and how we choose to raise our cattle!


Celebrate Christmas this year with both a backward glance

and a forward look!  Rejoice!  God is with us!


Merry Christmas,

From all of us at:

The Kuhn Family Farm

& Old Country Store

Winter Tetany Prevention

Dec 17, 2011

Winter Tetany

Grass tetany is a nutrition-related health condition that generally occurs when cows are grazing cool-season grasses in early spring or wheat pasture in the fall.  In all actuality, tetany can occur in some form at any time of the year.  Fall or "Winter tetany" can occur in wintertime when cows are fed harvested forages. Grass hays, including cereal grain hays, tend to be low in magnesium and need to be properly supplemented. Feeding legume hay may alleviate the problem, but it will not fix an immediate problem.

   Non-legume hays (Mixed-Grass), may average 0.18% magnesium, but some hays may be as low as 0.03 to 0.05% magnesium on a dry matter basis. Forage levels below 0.18% magnesium are marginal, while levels less than 0.12% will cause your cattle to suffer from winter tetany.  Cereal-grain hays and grass hays may be high in potassium, but calcium and magnesium levels may be low.  A plant magnesium level of 2-2.5% is considered a safe level. Normal blood levels are 1.7-3.2 mg./dl in mature cows.

Mature animals are far more susceptible than younger animals because of their inability to mobilize magnesium from their bones to meet their requirements.

This is especially critical during lactation.

   Cows with young calves are more at risk than steers, heifers, dry cows and cows with calves more than 4 months of age, but heavy milking cows are the most susceptible to tetany.  Tetany-afflicted cows may show signs of nervousness, reduced forage intake, reduced milk production and muscular twitching along the face, shoulder and flank. It progresses to staggering, when cattle fall on their sides with the head thrown back, excessive salivation and grinding of the teeth.  This is no laughing matter folk’s! The time between the first signs and death may be as short as four to eight hours.

   Obviously, treatment must begin as soon as possible. It's important to quickly get some form of magnesium into the animal and relocate the cattle until preventive measures can be taken.  The treatment of choice is an intravenous (IV) injection with calcium-magnesium gluconate because it gives the most rapid response. Another way to treat your cattle if your not comfortable with starting a bovine I.V., is by drenching the animal with a source of magnesium, such as magnesium sulfate, or using a rectally-infused enema of magnesium sulfate are other options.

   With an IV treatment, the blood levels rise rapidly but fall back to the previous level within three to six hours, so additional measures must be taken.  To prevent winter tetany on tetany-prone grass or harvested feeds (grasses, cereal grain hays), feeding alfalfa or other legume hay may reduce the risk. Cows at this time of year (off green graze-able pastures), should always have a mineral source available to them that includes a source of magnesium and calcium.  We always (year-round), have a free-choice "Mol-Mag" block in a mineral feeder to prevent this from occurring.

   We, as BEEF Producers, are the best defense against tetany.  As part of management, a complete forage analysis should have been run on hay & pastures at some time during the grazing/haying season.  If you have a known problem with tetany or suspect a problem, the forages in question should be analyzed specifically for magnesium, calcium, nitrate and potassium.

   When your receive your forage analysis information, a "tetany ratio" can be calculated by your Vet or nutritionist to see if the forage is tetany-prone. The formula is: tetany ratio = % potassium % calcium + % magnesium.  If the ratio is greater than 2.2, then the forage in question is tetany prone and preventive measures should be taken immediately.

   If grazing wheat pasture, crested wheat or tall fescue or feeding straw, cornstalks or other low-quality, tetany-prone roughage, you should be prepared ahead of time to plan preventive measures and reduce losses.

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