MU Extension project helps 93-year-old farmer – Houston Herald

Farmers like 93-year-old Harry Keutzer don’t quit just because their body parts slow down.

His hens, cows and pets depend on him. So do customers at the Kansas City-area farmers markets where he sells produce, eggs and hand-loomed rugs.

The Missouri AgrAbility Project, through University of Missouri Extension, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and the Brain Injury Association of Missouri, provides aging farmers with information, referrals and a variety of resources to keep working.

Lincoln University Extension farm and AgrAbility outreach worker Susan Jaster carried out an assessment of accessibility at Keutzer’s Lafayette County farm and made recommendations on how to make the home safer and more accessible.


Harry Keutzer


MU Extension state health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch said AgrAbility helps farmers with disabilities caused by age, injury or illness to keep farming. The program provides research-based information and appropriate referrals to other agencies as needed.

America’s farm population has been aging rapidly over the last 30 years. According to the USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, released in 2014, the average age of U.S. farmers is 58.3 years. There are now more farmers over 75 than between the ages of 35 and 44, Funkenbusch said.

Keutzer and his daughter-in-law, Stacy, grew 3,000 tomato plants in a high tunnel last year. They also planted a three-acre garden and put in a large plot of potatoes on a neighbor’s garden spot. Stacy picks all of the produce and Harry sorts it. Both wash and pack it.

Mobility is a challenge. When it rains, Keutzer has to stay inside and can’t work. But Keutzer’s energy level and stamina during the three-hour farm assessment surprised Jaster.

“He has the energy and deserves to be able to carry on his active life,” she said.

AgrAbility recommended a different type of scooter to reduce fatigue and help him maneuver around the farm over muddy and rough ground. The program also recommended a hydraulic lift to move pallets from the ground to make it easier to load produce onto the enclosed truck the Keutzers take to farmers markets.

Harry’s weathered hands are rarely idle and his mind remains active with farmer ingenuity. He finds it increasingly difficult to plant, so he and his son, Virgil, built a transplanter for their small tractor. It plants and waters the plant plug and lays weed-barrier plastic.

He uses his scooter to check on 100 chickens and takes buckets of water to livestock. He milks a three-teated cow that provides milk for two calves and a gallon a day for milk, butter, homemade ice cream and tapioca for the Keutzers.

He still enjoys cutting wood. He makes wine and helps his daughter-in-law cut fabric strips to make into loomed rugs. In October, he assisted a calving cow with a difficult birth.

Keutzer grew up working with his brothers on his father’s 500-acre farm at Creighton, Mo. He was so small when he started milking cows that his father had a special milking stool made for him.

He went to a country school until eighth grade. He said boys carried .22-caliber single-shot rifles to school, shooting rabbits and squirrels along the way to feed their families. And all boys had a two-bladed pocketknife, he says, to skin wild game and play “mumblepeg” at recess.

After school each day, he listened to 15 minutes of the Tom Mix cowboy show on the radio before starting chores. The radio wasn’t turned on again until 9:30 p.m., when the family listened to “Amos ’n’ Andy” and the news.

He farmed with a team of horses before buying his first tractor, a Farmall F-20. In 1942, Harry bought his second tractor, an Allis-Chalmers WC, at auction for $870.

He and other farmers anxiously awaited electrification through REA. On Jan. 7, 1945, he and his wife, Johnnie, celebrated her birthday in nearby Clinton. They returned home to a house lit with electricity, and their new Montgomery Ward refrigerator was plugged in and running.

He, his wife and a hired hand traveled the area baling hay from spring to fall. His wife drove the tractor as he put the 8 ½-foot wires into the baler. The hired hand tied the bales. It was hard work, but Keutzer and his wife made enough money to buy a new Kaiser automobile with cash.

In 1952, the Keutzers moved to southern Minnesota, where his uncles lived. He rented 320 acres on shares and was one of the first to plant soybean. Corn was selling for $1.25 a bushel under a government price-protection system.

Times were different then, Harry recalls. Farm implement dealers and oil companies helped young farmers get started by extending credit until crops were sold. He bought a four-row cultivator, planter, disk, a new corn picker and two new tractors – a John Deere 720 diesel and an IH Farmall 400 – on credit.

He and Johnnie also opened their home to 50 foster children during their time in Minnesota. The dinner table was often set for more than 20. He taught the children the value of rural life, hard work and being self-sufficient.

In 1959, his father quit farming and he returned to Missouri. Harry rented the farm next to his father’s and had 1,000 acres of South Grand River bottomland.

They farmed the home place until 1972, when Truman Reservoir took much of their land. They sold out and returned to Minnesota to a 45-head dairy farm.

His son met Stacy and married. She wasn’t a farm girl but quickly learned how to care for 45 bucket calves. They farmed there until Harry’s wife died, then moved to Iowa. He worked until he was 81 as a night watchman for Spee-Dee Delivery Services before moving to Napoleon.

Keutzer’s farming practices and lifestyle evolved as times and technology changed. He keeps current with technology by following farm auctions and news online.

Just as he learned to incorporate new farming methods throughout his life, he has learned to adjust as a farming nonagenarian.

AgrAbility gives him the resources to continue doing what he loves to do-provide food to feed America.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an agency of USDA, administers the AgrAbility Project.

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Brighten up your home – Waterbury Republican American

Gorgeous Bull Skull by Aureus Arts

CHICAGO TRIBUNENo need to break out the crayons. Beat the winter grays with bright stuff for your home. Here are some products to get you started.

1. Scottish designer Jonathan Saunders’ cheeky designs make clashing colors harmonious. His Herringbone carpet for The Rug Company is a case in point. $129 per square foot at The Rug Company, Chicago.

2. Primary colors and simple organic shapes mark the chairs from the Swedish design trio Claesson Koivisto Rune for Tacchini. The Kelly E Chair is $2,300, at Orange Skin, Chicago.

3. The Lindona Necklace from Songa Designs, an eco-friendly accessories line made by women in Rwanda as a way to establish their economic independence. Each handmade piece is made of repurposed natural materials such as banana leaf fiber, sisal plant, and cow horn. $48 at songadesigns. com.

4. Improve your mood by upholstering Vitra’s Mariposa sofa in a bold hue. Pick from dozens of colors including poppy red, grass green, magenta and lemon, pictured. $7,520 at

5. Four shades in different hues give the Tam Tam suspension lamp by Design Fabien Dumas a colorful personality. $1,093 at

6. Give time the attention it deserves with a clock that steals the proverbial show. Normann Copenhagen’s Watch Me Wall Clock is $50 at

7. Studio Job’s paper lamp for Moooi is inspired by classic lamps but draws on a crafty material. $1,703.00 at

8. Warm up any seat in the room with Maharam’s Millerstripe Pillow with fabric designed by famed 20th-century industrial designer Alexander Girard. The 17-inch pillow is 92 percent wool and 8 percent nylon and sports a cotton insert with a duck feather fill. $175 at

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An unusual snack for cows, a powerful fix for climate – The Washington Post

One of the most powerful weapons in the fight against climate change is washing up on shorelines around the world, unnoticed by most beachgoers.

It’s seaweed.

Specifically, Asparagopsis taxiformis and Asparagopsis armata — two species of a crimson submarine grass that drifts on waves and tides all around the world’s oceans.

It doesn’t seem like much, but it could practically neutralize one of the most stubborn sources of a powerful greenhouse gas: methane emissions from the digestive processes of some livestock, including the planet’s 1.5 billion cows, which emit methane in their burps.

Reducing methane from livestock, and cows in particular, has long been a goal of scientists and policymakers but is especially tricky: How do you change a fundamental fact of animal biology in an ethical way that doesn’t affect milk or meat?

Meanwhile, growing seaweed used for the feed supplement could also help sequester carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas, and reduce ocean acidification, because the plant sucks up carbon in the water as food.

Rob Kinley, the scientist who identified asparagopsis as a methane inhibitor, said it might just be the most promising way to eliminate methane emissions from livestock in the next decade.

That’s significant because livestock overall account for about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with nearly 40 percent of that linked to methane from the digestive process, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. The amount of methane from livestock production alone is about the equivalent of the emissions from about 650 million cars.

In a study published in 2016, Kinley and his co-authors found that asparagopsis virtually eliminated methane emissions in lab trials.

When a cow eats grass or other fibrous plants, microbes inside its rumen, or first stomach, use carbon and hydrogen from the fermentation of those plants to produce methane, which escapes from the cow mainly through burping, although about 5 percent is released through flatulence.

Asparagopsis and other types of seaweed have specialized gland cells that make and store bromoform, an organic compound. When the blurry red seaweed is freeze-dried, powdered and sprinkled as a garnish on a cow’s meal, bromoform blocks carbon and hydrogen atoms from forming methane in the stomach.

In response, the cow makes more propionate, a fatty acid that helps produce glucose in the metabolic process, allowing the animal to more efficiently grow or to produce more milk. That may enable farmers to use less feed and save money.

As it turns out, cows have been eating seaweed for probably as long as there have been cows, since they are, generally speaking, not picky eaters. Some evidence suggests that herders in ancient Greece fed their cows seaweed, as did many in 18th century Iceland.

The most recent effort began when Joe Dorgan, a farmer on Prince Edward Island in Canada, observed that his cows that grazed on seaweed that rolled up on beaches had better pregnancy success, produced more milk and suffered less from mastitis than cows that didn’t eat seaweed.

Before Dorgan could sell the seaweed to other farmers, the Canadian government required proof that it was safe, said Kinley, who was then at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and was hired by Dorgan. Kinley and his colleague Alan Fredeen, published their results in 2014 and now Dorgan is part owner of North Atlantic Organics, which makes seaweed supplements for livestock.

Dorgan’s seaweed reduced methane by about 18 percent, Kinley found in lab trials but suspected he could improve on that. “The light came on for me that there’s probably a seaweed in the world that’s better than that,” said Kinley, who continued the work when he moved to Australia.

With scientists from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and James Cook University, Kinley identified asparagopsis as that seaweed, and determined that even proportionally small amounts of the stuff could produce significant climate benefits.

CSIRO licensed the use of asparagopsis as a feed supplement and founded a company, FutureFeed, to manage its commercial use.

A number of companies have been working to make asparagopsis taxiformis and asparagopsis armata into commercial products that can be added to animal feed.

These companies are in various stages of production, with some using tanks on land to tinker with their seaweed strain before moving to grow in the ocean; others plan to always grow on land in tanks filled with ocean water and still more growing indoors. All are on the path toward commercialization, with one, Sea Forest, doing commercial trials with a wool producer and a dairy cooperative.

While their approaches differ, they share an urgency in getting asparagopsis to farmers, something they recognize is not easy. It’s a challenge to figure out how to grow and process asparagopsis at scale and in a way that will translate into higher earnings for farmers.

“We’ve found something that’s been under our noses the entire time that could have one of the greatest impacts on emission reduction in the next 10 years, which is cool for people to crack but not anyone can do it,” said Sam Elsom, Sea Forest’s chief operating officer. “It’s not a gold rush.”

Blue Ocean Barns, based in Hawaii, is backed by venture capital funds, which Joan Salwen, the company’s CEO, says sets it apart.

“The capital that underpins our company is provided by a consortium of food companies including Starbucks and a number of others that are really interested in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from their supply chains,” she said. “They think that’s imperative, and not an interesting little science thing or a climate thing. Their role as global leaders depends on their stepping up and using their power and influence to make a difference.”

Blue Ocean Barns is growing its asparagopsis in land-based tanks, using deep seawater to provide the right temperature and necessary nutrients. Although the seaweed is native to Hawaii, known as limu kohu, large-scale aquaculture could negatively impact the ocean ecosystem, Salwen said.

CH4 Global, which operates in New Zealand and Australia, takes a different approach. Its seaweed will be grown in the ocean, reducing energy needs, but also providing a benefit: The seaweed can help mitigate the problem of nutrient pollution from agricultural runoff because it eats nitrogen and can clean the water. It can perform the same function for fish farms — the asparagopsis eats excess nutrients resulting from aquaculture, allowing managers to increase density and raise more fish. As a result, CH4 Global is partnering with fish farms.

Steve Meller, one of the founders and CEO said CH4 Global is unique because three of its five founders are Maori and the company is working with Indigenous groups in Australia and New Zealand. It signed an agreement with the Narungga Nation in South Australia to build “the world’s first commercial scale asparagopsis aquaculture and processing facility,” Meller said.

“These are the folks who have lived on the land for 50,000 continuous years in the spot where we want to do some work, so it is natural for us to partner and drive that value and that has always been part of our plan,” he said.

All four CEOs interviewed said they needed buy-in from farmers, not only because they need customers, but because of the urgency of the climate crisis, and what they believe is the power of their solution. They say their supplement could allow farmers to sell their products at a premium, using climate and other environmental benefits as a marketing point.

“We want to put money in farmer’s pockets,” Meller said, adding that his company plans to pay farmers for their methane reduction by buying carbon credits from them. “Dairy farmers and beef farmers are under enormous financial pressures, with some of the highest suicide rates and an enormous number of bankruptcies,” he said. Last year, an estimated 10 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy farmers were expected to file for bankruptcy and the rest continue to struggle against the coronavirus crisis this year.

Another company, Symbrosia, is in the trial stages and hopes to offer carbon offsets to consumers who want to help reduce methane emissions through asparagopsis feed. Through its website, the company is selling carbon offset subscriptions, which will help pay for the implementation of a seaweed program on a cattle or sheep farm, said Alexia Akbay, one of the company’s founders and CEO.

The power of the asparagopsis seaweed as a climate solution appeals to Akbay, who also appreciated that it was tapping into technologies that already exist in nature.

There is an inherent tension in this solution, as with so many others: If the main climate impact of cattle production has been removed, people might eat even more beef and dairy because they feel less guilty. And that might be okay, as long as methane emissions can be brought down, Akbay said.

“Instead of banging my head against the wall and trying to get people to become vegetarian, which I’ve done,” she said, laughing, “we could try to trick the system.”

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Cow pasture pool | – Fence Post

The concept of private property baffles some people.

Gentleman and I were out checking the steers when a golf ball whizzed by right in front of Gentleman’s Roman-nose. As we swung around and galloped in the direction from whence the dimpled ball came we were showered with a blast of pebbles and stones. This phenomenon was caused by a golfer trying to get out of a sand trap which just so happened to be in the middle of my cow pasture! I found the steers spectating in the safest place they could possibly be, directly in front of the old duffer.

Gentleman and I just sat and watched for a few moments while one of our urban neighbors addressed the tee and tried to hit a ball in one. I don’t play the game myself but I could tell he wasn’t very good. But he had a big handicap… his playing partner and wife was there telling him every move to make. Ninety percent of the time when he took a mighty swing the ball just stayed on the tee.

“Pretty tough course huh?” I asked sarcastically.

The golfer nearly had a stroke. “Shhh! Can’t you see I’m hitting a bucket of balls.”

“Pardon me, but do you mind if my horse and I play through? This is private property you know? It is not a driving range, a country club or a place to practice your chipping. We were riding just over the hill and you almost hit my nag.”

He handed me a three wood and asked if I wanted to take a shot or two at his. Which prompted his wife to tee off on him and caused him to see birdies.

“I yelled “FOUR”. Didn’t you hear me?” he asked. “That is a warning you are supposed to get out of the way or you might get hit on the head with a golf ball.”

“Well, I’m going to start counting and if you are not out of here by the time I get to FIVE that will be a warning you are about to get roped and drug through three acres of cactus.”

“But I’m not hurting anything,” the golfer protested meekly.

“A calf could eat one of your golf balls,” I replied.

“I appreciate your concern but it’s all right, I’m using old golf balls and don’t care if I lose them.”

“No matter how you slice it,” I replied, “you could hit a steer on the head and kill it. And your wife looks like a real hooker to me. (I meant, of course, that her shots seem to arc to the left.) I know she couldn’t break 100 but she might break a window.”

“How dare you call my wife a hooker? I ought to sue you for defamation of character.”

“That would be par for the course. By the way, you sure look familiar. Aren’t you the one who dumped his trash on my place last year?”

“It wasn’t trash. It was food for your cows.”

“My cows don’t eat mattresses or old tires,” I replied. “Just look what you are doing to my pasture. I want you to clean up those 36 holes you made and head back to your own clubhouse.”

“What do you want me to do with this?” he asked while pointing to a piece of earth that came from a divit big enough to bury a cow in.

“Why don’t you just take it home and practice on it,” I replied. “How would you like it if I came over to your house and played golf on your front lawn?”

“Well, I’d knock your block off, of course.”

“I’d be pretty safe then wouldn’t I? Judging from what I’ve seen here today you’d miss by a mile.”

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Cattle on Feed Report: Higher Inventory, Lower Placements – Farm Bureau News

The latest Cattle on Feed Report shows a decline in placements and an increase in inventory. Micheal Clements shares how the data from the Department of Agriculture impacts livestock markets.

Clements: The November Cattle on Feed report shows the number of animals on feed as of November 1 is higher than it was this time last year. The report provides monthly estimates of the number of cattle being fed for slaughter. Scott Bennett, American Farm Bureau Federation Congressional Relations Director, says the number of cattle on feed has largely followed seasonal patterns, but since August has been running above recent years’ levels. 

Bennett: Most significantly, the report showed a total inventory of 11.97 million head on feed in the United States. With large monthly carryovers to offset a drop in placements, this is the highest November inventory since the series began in 1996.

Clements: Bennett says placements, described as new animals being placed on feed, were lower than expected.

Bennett: Placements were 11 percent under those from a year ago and more significant than the 8.9 percent decrease estimated by analysts. While the placements in October of 2019 were record high, we’ve been running ahead of year ago placements since April and May during the height of the pandemic.

Clements: Bennett says the near-term future will be dictated by how COVID-19 impacts the supply chain.

Bennett: This report would be considered neutral to bullish. Looking into the future, the big question mark is how much a resurgence of COVID-19 effects packing capacity. While we do not anticipate it to be as challenging as it was this spring, the risks of plant closures still lingers in the air.

Clements: Find a complete analysis on the Market Intel page at Micheal Clements, Washington.

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Health-promoting ingredients add something extra | 2020-11-23 | Dairy Foods –


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FSIS Issues Public Health Alert for Chicken and Beef Samosa Products Containing Pastry Ingredients That Have Been Recalled Due to Misbranding –

Congressional and Public Affairs
Mitch Adams (202) 720-9113

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert for chicken and beef samosa products containing spring roll pastries that have been recalled by the manufacturer, Tee Yih Jia (TYJ) Food Manufacturing, due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen. The products may contain milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product labels. FSIS is issuing this public health alert out of the utmost of caution to ensure that consumers are aware that these products should not be consumed. A FSIS recall was not requested because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inquiry for the spring roll pastry recall is ongoing. As more information becomes available, FSIS will update this public health alert.

The chicken and beef samosas items were produced from November 11, 2019 through November 11, 2020. The following products are subject to the public health alert: [View Labels (PDF only)]

  • 12-oz. packages containing 12 pieces of “TAZA CHICKEN SAMOSAS Stuffed pastry with seasoned chicken” with best by dates of November 11, 2020 through November 11, 2021.
  • 12-oz. packages containing 12 pieces of “TAZA BEEF SAMOSAS Stuffed pastry with seasoned ground beef” with best by dates of November 11, 2020 through November 11, 2021.
  • 12-oz. packages containing 12 pieces of “SOUTH ASIAN FOOD Beef SAMOSAS Stuffed pastry with seasoned ground beef” with best before dates of November 11, 2020 through November 11, 2021.
  • 12-oz. packages containing 12 pieces of “SOUTH ASIAN FOOD Chicken SAMOSAS Stuffed pastry with seasoned chicken” with best before dates of November 11, 2020 through November 11, 2021.

The products bear establishment number “EST. 44163” or “P-44163” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to distributors in California, New York and Texas.

The problem was discovered during routine FSIS verification activities. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via email to For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at

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John Nalivka: A few thoughts on cow and heifer slaughter data as the end of the year approaches – Tri-State Livestock News




Federally inspected slaughter numbers reported weekly are some of the most reliable data released by USDA. Consequently, these figures provide a good cross-check against the reported cattle on feed inventories and are an indicator of decisions made concerning the breeding herd. So, let’s take a look at cow and heifer slaughter and what that might suggest with regard to herd decisions.

The most recent weekly slaughter through the week ending November 7 indicates that total cow slaughter is down 2% from a year ago and both years are the highest since 2012. While that is a start, we need to dig deeper and look at the breakdown between dairy and beef cows to get an idea of what is taking place in both industries. Dairy cow slaughter is down 5% year-to-date (Nov. 7) from a year earlier and last year’s dairy cow slaughter for the same period was the highest since 1986. In fact, that was the highest dairy cow slaughter since FSIS/USDA began separating dairy and beef cow slaughter statistics. Remember the 1984 Dairy Termination Program? Milk prices drive dairy cow slaughter and last year’s increase was no exception.

Shifting over to the beef side, beef cow slaughter, year-to-date, is up 2% from a year ago when it was the highest since 2012, a severe drought year. In fact, the percentage of dairy cows, year-to-date, are the lowest since 2012 and shows that beef cow slaughter has continued to be high this year. In short, cattlemen have sent a lot of beef cows to the packing plant this year.

Heifer slaughter, the other indicator of breeding herd decisions, is down 4% year-to-date from a year ago. While there is still 7 weeks of actual slaughter data to be considered, I would suggest, that this year’s heifer slaughter will remain well below a year ago. Those last 7 weeks of the year in 2019 posted the highest heifer slaughter since 2007 and I don’t think the last 7 weeks of this year will surpass that figure. In fact, for 2020 heifer slaughter to equal 2019’s heifer slaughter, the last 7 weeks of this year would have to be the highest in my database going back to 1989.

So, what does it all mean – a 1% smaller cow inventory for January 1, 2021, but at the same time, I believe that there were an increased number of heifer retained as replacements from both the 2019 and the 2020 heifer calves. Consequently, both cow and heifer slaughter will decline during 2021 as the size of the breeding herd stabilizes.


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November Cattle on Feed Report Shows Sharp Decline in Placements, Inventory Up – Farm Bureau News

USDA’s latest Cattle on Feed report, released November 20, shows the number of animals on feed as of November 1 is higher than it was this time last year. The report provides monthly estimates of the number of cattle being fed for slaughter. For the report, USDA surveys feedlots of 1,000 head or more, as this represents 85% of all fed cattle. Cattle feeders provide data on inventory, placements, marketings and other disappearance.

November Cattle on Feed Report

This report showed a total inventory of 11.973 million head for the United States on November 1, up from 2019 and from last month. This 1.3% year-over-year increase is slightly below analysts’ expectations of an average increase of 1.8% in feedlot inventories, but still within the expected range. Large monthly carryover inventories helped to offset the drop in placements and pushed cattle on feed up 157,000 head over last year, making this the highest November inventory since the series began in 1996. Typically, November continues the fall buildup of animals after September lows, and it looks as if we are seeing this seasonality play out.  After strong impacts from the pandemic in April and May, the number of cattle on feed has largely followed seasonal patterns, but since August has been running above recent years’ levels.  

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As usual, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska led the way in total fed cattle numbers, accounting for over 7.8 million head, or approximately 65% of the total on-feed inventory in the country. Texas continued to gain year-over-year, adding 1% relative to 2019. Kansas and Nebraska saw moderately greater gains, adding 4% and 2%, respectively.

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While total inventories are an important component of the report, other key factors include placements (new animals being placed on feed) and marketings (animals being taken off feed and sold for slaughter). Coming in at 11% under 2019, placements in October fell below the average analyst expectation of an 8.9% decrease. The placement number was at the lower end of the range of expectations, coming in slightly above the minimum forecast of a 12.7% decrease. The relatively wide range of forecasts for placements – approximately 8% — highlights the uncertainty that can exist in forecasting this specific variable, with normal indicators such as feeder cattle imports from Mexico and auction volumes sending mixed signals. A large driver of this pullback in placements is the fact that October 2019 placements were the highest in nearly a decade. Placements have been running ahead of year-ago levels since they recovered after declines in April and May at the height of the pandemic. In October, historically the peak month for placements, placements clocked in at 2.192 million head, bucking normal trends and coming in below September’s placements of 2.227 million head. Marketings came in at 0.1% below last year. This is slightly below analysts’ expectations of 0.2% above year-ago levels, but well within the expected range and not a surprise. The 1.873 million head that were marketed in October is roughly even with 2019 levels even though October 2020 had one less slaughter day for the month.

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This November Cattle on Feed report is considered relatively neutral to bullish. While an 11% decline in placements is bullish for future supplies of fed cattle, this was widely expected by the industry.  The overall supply of cattle on feed is up moderately over 2019, and the number of animals marketed throughout October is even with a year ago. Looking forward, the big question mark on future reports is the level of resurgence in COVID-19 cases throughout the winter. The packing industry should have gotten better at managing this challenge after the crash course in the spring, but whether or not plants have to be closed is still a risk, albeit hopefully a lower one.

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Less energy for cows after leaving out the dry period is beneficial for fertility –


Less energy for cows after leaving out the dry period is beneficial for fertility

16 November 2020

Lowering the energy level in the ration at the beginning of lactation in cows that have not been dry improves fertility.

Researchers from the Tailor-Made Dry Stand project have reached this conclusion.

Cows that were not dry and were given a less energy-rich ration after calving had an interval between calving and gestation of 84 days. This interval was 114 days for cows that received a more energy-rich ration.

The smaller number of open days could be explained by both slightly fewer days after calving to initiate cyclicity and fewer inseminations until gestation at a lower energy level, compared to a normal energy level. In addition, cows with a low energy level after omitting the dry period had more normal cycles of 18 to 24 day length and fewer abnormal cycles. This improvement in fertility was especially visible in older calf cows (parity ≥ 3).

Better fertility with a low energy level

This better fertility for cows with a low energy level was unexpected because the cows at the lower energy level had a less positive energy balance, compared to cows with the normal energy level after the dry period was omitted.

The normal energy level after omitting the dry period, however, resulted in a very positive energy balance. The results of the current study suggest that not only a strong negative energy balance, but also a strong positive energy balance is not beneficial for fertility in older calf dairy cattle.

Custom dry period was part of the PPP Sustainable Dairy Chain and was financed by ZuivelNL and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

From January 2014 to May 2016, research was conducted at Dairy Campus, part of Wageningen University & Research (at that time still located in Lelystad) into the effects of lowering the energy level in food.

More information about this research can be found here in the full English-language article.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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'The cow can't tell my secrets' – UK care farms a lifeline during pandemic – Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Care farms nestled in the British countryside are providing a lifeline for people struggling with mental health during the pandemic, allowing them to swap therapy sessions on Zoom for the joys of fresh air, mucking out cow sheds and cuddling donkeys.

Emily Trice relaxes as she connects with donkeys Milly and Max, during a visit to Future Roots, a community farm staying open to support the vulnerable amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Sherborne, Britain November 13, 2020. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

With vital public services for vulnerable people shut down or reduced to video calls because of social distancing measures, care farms have been able to stay open as activities take place in wide open spaces.

At Future Roots in the southern county of Dorset, 14-year-old Liam Holt has found that spending time outdoors working with animals and other people has had a transformational effect on his state of mind.

“It’s made a huge impact for me,” he said.

“I had a lot of stress issues, high stress levels, quickfire snaps, anger, just a lot of anger and that, and lockdown did not help me … I had no control over it. The person that was helping me, I couldn’t see her face-to-face.”

On a sunny, blustery November day when Reuters reporters visited the farm, children in muddy boots were busy cleaning a cow shed, feeding chickens, guinea pigs and rabbits, stroking cows and donkeys, even driving tractors.

Future Roots has been functioning as a care farm since 2006. Children and young people can be referred there by their schools for animal-assisted therapy and training in agriculture and cookery skills.

“I’d even be dead or in prison if it wasn’t for this place, because in no way I would have been able to cope in society if I hadn’t come here,” said Abi Edmed, 25, who used to come as a child and is now a trainee nurse. She still comes to help out, as a friend.

Edmed said she endured a lot of trauma as a child, resulting in her becoming aggressive. She said the care farm had helped her to process her trauma.

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“It was actually just being able to wander off, go chat to a cow, (I’m) very known for doing that,” she said, smiling. “The cow can’t tell my secrets.”


Julie Plumley, a Dorset farmer’s daughter and professional social worker who founded the care farm, said Future Roots has helped young people for whom social distancing was devastating.

“The young people here can’t take it. They couldn’t take Zoom therapy sessions because they need a relationship with people, and that’s really hard on a computer,” she said.

For Emily Trice, 15, the farm has been a safe haven from struggles at home and at school. “The best bit is seeing how everybody is enjoying it and having fun with all the animals,” she said.

At another care farm, Pathways in the eastern county of Suffolk, founder Geoff Stevens was on a mission against loneliness.

“Isolation is gripping people. They’re stuck away in their house,” he said. “You bring them out here and they start mixing with 5, 10, 12 people, they’ve got relationships going, they’ve got conversations going, they’re using their grey matter.”

Sally Payne, 31, was filling troughs with feed for llamas, grooming donkeys and clearing out animal pens, alongside her mother Susan. Both smiled and laughed as they worked.

“I have autism and anxiety and depression, so I like coming here because it gives me structure, which is good for the autism, and fresh air and exercise that is good for the mental health,” said Payne.

Susan Payne said the care farm was a bulwark against loneliness for her too.

“It has given me a sort of back-up team, you know. You can feel very alone when you’re dealing with a child with difficulties.”

Writing by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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