Aug 22, 2014
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Grazing the Net

RSS By: Greg Henderson and Friends, Beef Today

Our editors spend some time roaming the web looking for stuff cattle people and others in agriculture might find useful or entertaining. 

Chickens Gone Wild!

Aug 21, 2014

You can get arrested for letting your son or daughter go to the park alone, as North Carolina and Florida mothers discovered. But it's fine to let chickens roam the streets? Yep. In fact, Fair Oaks, Calif., celebrates their wild chickens with a festival.

The city has about 200 chickens roaming the streets, and folks occasionally take a hen home to produce eggs. Other residents have released roosters into the roaming flock. The Fair Oaks Chicken Festival is scheduled for Sept. 20.

Nestlé Takes the Plunge

Nestlé pledges to improve the welfare of the farm animals in its supply chain, following the signature of a partnership agreement with NGO World Animal Protection.

The agreement means that all 7,300 of the company’s suppliers of animal-derived products will have to comply with tighter animal welfare standards.

Nestlé, with its global purchasing footprint, also becomes the first major food company to form an international partnership with an animal welfare NGO (non-governmental organization).

Feed Yard vs. Shopping Mall

Have you cringed at the sight of your kid wearing new jeans that had holes in them? Even more cringe when you found out he/she bought ‘em that way, and paid triple the price of a new pair of Wranglers? If you prefer root canals to back-to-school shopping, you’re not alone. Anne Burkholder, aka the Feed Yard Foodie, thinks like you do. She posts five reasons why she prefers a cattle feed yard to a shopping mall.

Forget Bitcoin: BBQ is the New Currency

A Canadian restaurant chain says it's successfully paid for the world's first ad campaign in meat. Montana's Cookhouse & Bar, which operates nearly 90 restaurants across Canada, recently filmed an entire ad campaign by bartering with BBQ ribs, sausages, chicken, brisket and shrimp. Montana's surprised businesses across Toronto by walking in and offering a plate of BBQ meat in exchange for goods and services. Over two days of bartering and shooting, the team received a psychic reading, an MMA lesson, a manicure, a yoga lesson, men's skin care products, some new shoes, a haircut, a bouquet of flowers, an area rug, a massage and even a real tattoo.

We Say ‘No’ to Entomophagy

Aug 20, 2014

We don't care how clever the packaging or how much chocolate they pour on the stuff, we refuse to eat bugs, the practice known as entomophagy.

"Crickets have as much calcium as milk," says Wendy Lu McGill.

Again, we don't care. We're planning to continue getting our calcium from a cow. Our protein, too.

Trombone Training

Kansas rancher Derek Klingenberg's video of serenading cattle with his trombone went viral earlier this month.

He's since been interviewed by media from Canada, Brazil, Norway and Japan. His YouTube video has more than 5.6 million views. Now, Klingenberg has a newly arrived group of cattle, which means they need a little trombone training.

Signs of Herd Expansion?

Rain has been the missing ingredient for ranchers trying to capitalize on higher cattle prices. With a few notable exceptions--California, the Southwest--pasture conditions have improved significantly in cattle country. Rancher Glen Cope says the abundant rain in SW Missouri "has let us consider expanding once again and make up for some for the numbers we sold off."

Still, the drought in California continues to astound us with its severity, as shown with these time-lapse drought maps.

Changing Grasslands

The invasion of woody plants into the Earth's grasslands is happening at an alarming rate, say scientists. The transformation leads to a loss of critical habitat and causes a drastic change in the ability of ecosystems to produce food--specifically meat. Researchers with Arizona State University's School of Life Sciences led an investigation that quantified this loss in both the United States and Argentina. The study’s results are published in an online issue of the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

PETA Can't Pass The Smell Test

Aug 19, 2014

Last week Dairy Carrie told us PETA’s video claiming abuse at a North Carolina dairy had more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.

That’s now confirmed by the Haywood County (N.C.) Animal Control department, who visited the farm in question to see for themselves. Animal control officer Jean Hazzard found no evidence the cows were either emaciated or in poor health, and wrote in an email that the alleged deplorable confinement and living conditions were "unfounded." PETA also claimed regional grocer Harris Teeter was receiving milk from the dairy—a fact the grocer denied and demanded to be retracted.

And about PETA’s claim that the dairy was a "factory farm?" They milk about 30 cows.

Beef Recall Leads to Federal Charges

Federal charges were announced Monday against two owners and two employees of Rancho Feeding Corp., the Northern California slaughterhouse involved in a series of beef recalls, including one for 8.7 million pounds. USDA shut the plant down in February. Prosecutors allege the company slaughtered about 79 cows with cancer eye while USDA inspectors were on lunch breaks. While there were no reports of illnesses linked to the meat, more than 1,600 food distributors were alerted to the recall. In March, USDA allowed Marin Sun Farms to take over the shuttered Rancho slaughterhouse.

Cowboy College

Beef Today’s Cowboy College is rapidly approaching. The event, designed for feedlot cowboys, cattle crews and others involved in day-to-day care and welfare of the animals, will be held Sept. 9-10 in Omaha. This educational event will be led by veterinarians Dan Thomson and Tom Noffsinger. Attendees will see how management of newly received cattle, low-stress cattle handling, care of high-risk calves and antibiotic and therapy decisions can significantly impact the bottom line and lead to higher profitability. Online registration can be completed here.

Angus Names New AGI President

The American Angus Association has named Dr. Dan Moser as its new president of Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) and Association director of performance programs. Moser brings more than 15 years experience in genetic research and education to the Association’s 25,000-plus members and their commercial partners. A native of Effingham, Kan., Moser received his bachelors of animal sciences and industry from Kansas State University in 1991, then earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in beef cattle genetics from the University of Georgia. Moser will begin his new role on Sept. 1.

High Prices, High Anxiety

Aug 18, 2014

Tight cattle supplies and strong consumer demand has produced a record-shattering year for cowboys. Lost in the glow of this once-in-a-lifetime market, however, is the precarious position of your national beef checkoff. A shrinking cattle herd means a shrinking budget for promotion, research and consumer education. Couple that with the fact a dollar has about half the buying power it did when the beef checkoff was launched over a quarter-century ago, and you begin to realize the budget crunch facing the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. There’s plenty of evidence that the $1 checkoff has paid tremendous dividends back to producers, but it’s clear the program needs a raise. Several organizations with ties to the beef industry have held ongoing discussions about raising the national checkoff to $2.

Texas producers approved an increase in that state’s checkoff by a 2 to 1 margins last month.

Cowboys and Pipelines

Texas rancher Pete Bonds believes state law gives pipelines too much power to condemn and grab private land. Bond, who is the president of the Texas & Southwest Cattle Raisers Association, and other Texas landowners are keeping a close eye on the Texas Railroad Commission’s recent efforts to more tightly regulate the states’ network of oil and gas pipelines. The Commission, which regulates 426,000 miles of pipelines in the Lone Star State, has been criticized for rubber-stamping applications by pipeline companies.

Cattle Feeding Margins Decline $87

Cattle feeding margins declined $87 per head last week, but remain near $200. Farrow-to-finish pork margins declined $16 per head to $61.74, according to John Nalivka, Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore. Beef cutout values declined about $5 and beef packer margins improved $2 per head.

USDA Seeks to Change Grading Standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking public input on possible revisions to the U.S. Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef. Significant changes (such as grass fed versus grain fed feeding regimens, instrument grading, management, and export requirements) have taken place in the beef industry since the current grade standards were adopted in 1997. AMS is seeking input from cattle producers, food processors, the public and other sources before revising the grades to better reflect the characteristics of meat that is available for Americans.

PETA Says "Cease and Desist"

Aug 15, 2014

Dairy Carrie considers her "cease and desist" letter from PETA a badge of honor. And we do, too! The ruckus is over a video PETA claims was filmed in a dairy barn showing cows wading in boot-high manure. Except, there are several inconsistencies in the video, as pointed out by our heroine, Carrie Chestnut Mess, aka Dairy Carrie. You have to read her post to get the whole story, but Dairy Carrie says the cows "were telling me the truth." For instance, the cows wading in the manure look like they just walked out of a shower – except for their feet, of course. How is that possible? It's not, and thanks to Dairy Carrie, PETA was exposed.

Montana Cowboy Bucks Putin

Montana rancher Darrell Stevenson stands to benefit from Russian President Vladimir Putin's ban on U.S. and European meat.

The third-generation American cowboy also has a ranch 550 kilometers (340 miles) south of Moscow, and believes the sanctions will "stimulate the growth and development of (Russia’s) domestic herds. Within a year, a considerable amount of Russian-raised beef will be available." With the government embarking on what Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev calls a "new page" of agricultural development in the wake of tit-for-tat sanctions, the biggest challenge for Stevenson and his team is the lack of ranch knowledge and infrastructure in the country.

Cow Herd Expansion: Where and When?

Higher prices for cattle and calves should encourage ranchers to expand their herds. But it will take time – maybe six to eight years. That's according to Purdue University Ag Economics professor Chris Hurt, who expects expansion to start in the Northern Plains. It's a region where beef cow numbers did not decline over the past seven years. "We have a lot of marginal land in that area and now there is a profit incentive," Hurt says. The western Corn Belt from Minnesota to Missouri, where cow herd reductions totaled 566,000 cows, is also primed for expansion. University of Kentucky analysts claim the next cattle herd expansion will be complex for producers.

"Too often we discuss cow-calf operations as though they make decisions year-to-year, when expansion decisions take a long-term outlook."

Feral Horse Fight

Free-ranging horses near Placitas, New Mexico, are now drawing the ire of some residents who say their growing numbers are hurting the delicate desert landscape amid an ongoing drought. Horse advocates say the drought is to blame for damaging the landscape and state officials have blocked their attempts to administer a female contraceptive to help control the horse population. A round-up of some of the 125 or so horses by state authorities and a plan by federal officials to remove some from nearby federal land have raised the potential for a standoff between horse advocates and federal officials over the animals' fate.

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