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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Know which cows need attention before putting on your boots – Hoard's Dairyman

The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

Imagine starting each day with a list of cows that need attention. You wake up and open an app on your phone, tablet or computer, and the list is waiting for you. Activity and feed intake for cows #555, 579 and 790 suddenly dropped, which could be an early sign of mastitis. Chewing activity for cows #345 and 567 has suddenly dropped, which could be early warning signs for ketosis or hypocalcemia. You can start your day with forward-looking insights like these before you step one foot out of your bed in the morning.

“Automated activity monitoring systems (AMS) collect data on every cow 24/7,” says Arnold Harbers, data analyst at Nedap Livestock Management. “The system compares live data to past data on the animal and the rest of the herd. When incoming data is different than what would be expected based on previous data, the system can send an alert to your phone or laptop for intervention.”

Besides heat signs and the cow’s location, Nedap’s CowControl system monitors eating, rumination and inactive behavior. Here are a few ways AMS data gives you useful information on individual cows and herd trends to help you control costs and maintain animal health:

Reduce treatment time of mastitis

What if you could detect acute mastitis and other common diseases earlier? Mastitis is among the most contagious and costly diseases affecting U.S. dairy farms. In fresh cows, a mastitis case results in an average loss of $444.[1] And in total, mastitis costs U.S. dairy producers about $2 billion per year.[2] AMS data can help you detect early signs of disease and intervene faster, improving outcomes and preventing diseases from spreading throughout your herd.

One of the first signs of acute mastitis, for example, is a lack of appetite.[3] And, when AMS data indicates a sudden drop in chewing time compared to cow or herd historical data, the system alerts you that the affected cow needs attention. If a cow does have acute mastitis, the health alert can help you identify and diagnose it before more obvious symptoms appear like swelling, hardness, redness and heat.

“There are two categories of health attentions,” says Harbers. “One category is ‘urgent attention’ and means this cow requires immediate attention. The second category includes cows with more subtle, less sudden changes in behavior. These are the animals that you can focus on during your regular pen walks.”

Cows on health attention lists should be evaluated and sent into treatment protocols or isolation for monitoring.

Stay ahead of feed quality issues

Feed costs account for the greatest portion of variable costs of producing milk.[4] Detecting a feed issue before visual signs appear can help mitigate the financial impact. AMS data showing a decrease in feed intake for specific pens or across the herd can indicate a possible feed quality issue, such as mycotoxins.

Mycotoxins infect up to 25% of feed crops in the world, resulting in billions of dollars in lost revenue and the loss of up to 1.1 billion tons of feed annually.[5] And, mold and mycotoxin issues in the feed are often challenging to diagnose because visual symptoms can be vague and varied.[6]

AMS data can help identify symptoms of mycotoxins, including lethargy, reduced feed intake and reduced rumination. Data collected on individual cows and overall herd averages enable you to determine when an issue – like mycotoxins in feed – is affecting a group of cows or the entire herd. Reports on the groups eating pattern as well as eating, rumination and inactivity day totals provide insight into feeding and nutrition issues and management.

“The goal of AMS data is to alert you when there’s an issue before visual signs appear,” says Harbers. “We want to be able to pinpoint cows and groups in need of attention faster and more accurately, so that intervention can happen sooner.”

Drive transition period success

AMS data can also provide useful insights into the transition period from 60 days pre-calving to 30 days post-calving. Cow chewing activity, including eating and rumination, can be used to detect early symptoms of ketosis and hypocalcemia. It can also help determine future reproductive success.

“Cows that eat less during the dry period and the fresh period are at higher risk of ketosis and hypocalcemia,” says Harbers. “When chewing activity suddenly drops, the system will generate an alert and add her to a list of cows in need of attention. And, by identifying cows with a higher probability of ketosis, you can intervene and prevent lower milk production and lost body condition throughout lactation.”

A multi-year study on transition cow activity data by Utrecht University, Wageningen University and Research Centre, and Vetvice Consultancy in the Netherlands has also uncovered benchmarks for future reproductive success. Cows with higher eating times three to four weeks after calving are ready to be bred back sooner.[7]

If a cow isn’t eating as often as she should, you can check on her and treat her accordingly. If multiple cows in one pen are experiencing similar issues, you can evaluate your nutrition program and environment. Making the necessary adjustments can help cows get bred back sooner.

For more information about translating AMS data into useful information, visit or contact Arnold Harbers, data analyst at Nedap, at

Nedap Livestock Management is the global leader in farming automation using individual animal identification. For more than 40 years, Nedap strengthens dairy farmers through the most reliable and innovative cow identification, monitoring and automation solutions. They empower managers and personnel with dependable information to make operational and strategic decisions and help dairies become more efficient, productive and successful.

For Nedap, trust and reliability in both partnership and technology are key. Leading international dairy farming companies, including genetics and milking equipment suppliers, partner with Nedap to include its technology in their systems. A publicly listed company, Nedap employs more than 700 people globally, across 11 locations and seven business units.









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Bowdoinham woman's milking cow inspires The Last Cow Ice Cream – Lewiston Sun Journal

Christine Goodrich walks with her cow Jody at her farm in Bowdoinham. The 7-year-old Jersey dairy cow at one point had been the last dairy cow in Bowdoinham, Bowdoin and Lisbon for a few years, which is the origin of the name of her business, The Last Cow Ice Cream. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

BOWDOINHAM — Jody was the last milking cow for miles and miles when Christine Goodrich had an idea.

Christine Goodrich gives Jamie some attention at her farm in Bowdoinham. The 8-month-old calf is the daughter of Jody, who was at one time the last dairy cow in Bowdoinham, Bowdoin and Lisbon. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Friends liked the ice cream that she and her husband made from Jody’s milk. And Goodrich was ready for something new after 30 years as a teacher and case worker.

The Last Cow Ice Cream hit local grocery stores in the summer of 2018. Just a few months later, she received difficult personal news: Cancer.

Jody helped her through that, too.

“Having a cow to milk every day has just been such a huge, huge part of my ability to heal,” said Goodrich. “I can’t speak enough about it. People that do come and milk her, it’s just an incredible experience and you can’t put it into words. It’s something very healing and therapeutic about it.”

When she and her husband first met, Goodrich said they discovered something unexpected about the other: “Both of us wanted Jersey cows — it was really a neat connection. You can’t find too many people that that’s something that they want in their life. So for a Mother’s Day gift, he got me these two little Jersey steers, and then we moved to Bowdoinham with those two.”

They bought their first milking cow, Josie, in 2002.

“We were just drinking her milk ourselves and making butter,” Goodrich said. “It wasn’t until the third generation of our cows that we started experimenting with ice cream on a small scale.”

The Last Cow ice cream. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Jody was quickly ruled out for a commercial sized-operation — they wouldn’t have been able to hand-milk her, and one cow couldn’t provide the amount of milk they needed — but Goodrich did use Jody and her calf, Jimmy John, for the picture on the label and inspiration for the name of The Last Cow Ice Cream.

Jody had been the only milking cow for several towns in 2017, when the name was developed, Goodrich said. A few more have since moved to the area.

Goodrich got to work on her recipe, lining up Oakhurst, getting licensed, reaching out to stores.

“The whole business world was completely new to me,” she said.

Her first customer was the Bowdoinham Hardware Store, which purchased a cooler just to stock the ice cream.

“They heard about all of our ups and downs starting the business, and the owner, John Cote, said, ‘You let us know when you can make the first sale, we’re going to take it,’” said Goodrich. “It’s been constantly wonderful. The people in town have supported us so much.”

Small, local grocers have been equally supportive, she said. The ice cream is stocked in Food City in Lisbon, Bow Street Market in Freeport, Brackett’s Market in Bath, Pierce’s Market in Richmond and Gowell’s Shop’n Save in Litchfield and Greene.

“We don’t have any profit margin yet. This has just been going along, a day a time,” Goodrich said. “The interest is growing, the sales are growing.”

She makes 10 flavors on their small farm: Pumpkin spice at the holidays, vanilla, pure maple, salty caramel, coffee, special dark chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, banana coconut and very berry.

Each label is applied by hand, each pint hand-packed. The special dark chocolate has Wilbur’s of Maine chocolate added. Maple, the top seller, uses syrup from Maine Maple Products.

“People have loved that because we haven’t put any nuts in it. That’s one of the reasons they like it,” Goodrich said. “The other is because it tastes so good.”

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Diversification in pastoral enterprises – Mirage News

In Texas, a Nubian Ibex breeding buck and kids bred for the abundant hunting market.

As the recipient of a 2017 Nuffield Scholarship supported by AWI, Felicity McLeod from Wentworth in western NSW has investigated how pastoral wool enterprises can potentially increase income through diversification.

Felicity McLeod was motivated to investigate approaches to enterprise diversity after prolonged drought on her family’s 121,000-hectare beef, sheep and rangeland goat enterprise near Wentworth, NSW.

“If ever there was a time to study diversification in the rangelands then now is that time. However, the drought was not the only driver for my studies; it was also about managing for the future and improving long-term economic viability and sustainability in an unpredictable climate,” Felicity said.

“I returned from my Nuffield research to mustering stock for trucking out. Normally, the task would have been lamb marking and crutching, but in the previous 18 months a large portion of our ewes and lambs and nearly all our cattle had been sold due to a lack of rain.

“Unreliable rainfall is of course not new in the Western Division of NSW. Management of ground cover and the availability of water for livestock use are the main limiting factors facing pastoralists in the region.


In Brazil, goats remove the thorns from rope cactus allowing sheep to eat the plant’s flesh.

“At times, goat sales make up more than 50% of the annual income for our business. We also have sections of Popiltah and Popio lakes, which fill following flood events in Queensland and we capitalise on the moisture in the deep clay soils by planting crops on the lake beds.

“I wanted to use my Nuffield Scholarship to explore possibilities for these and other types of enterprise diversification, and to find out the viability of various approaches back home.”

Felicity travelled to Brazil, Denmark, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Qatar, United States and the United Kingdom. She met with farmers who had diversified their livestock enterprises and her report (released in October) details what they considered critical factors for success, along with several challenges and pitfalls.


In New Zealand, glamping-style tourism adds extra income to a farm business. PHOTO: brians101

The report details novel approaches to multi-species diversification including deer, goats and more exotic species. It concludes that while feed and water availability are the first considerations, market access and evaluation of animal behaviour along with the suitability of particular breeds to country type and topography are also key factors.

“In Texas I visited properties where goats complement the grazing of Merino sheep and Angus cattle. Goats fit well into their Merino production system given goats’ browsing habits and palate for trees, shrubs and rougher vegetation. They can also reduce vegetable matter in fleeces and control weeds and brush allowing better grass growth for the Merinos.

“In the Juazeiro region of Brazil, I met a farmer whose in-depth understanding of the local desert plants and interrelationships between livestock species led to successful diversification for his business. Amazingly, his goats remove the thorns from rope cactus, allowing his sheep to benefit from the flesh of the plant, which has a protein content of 8%.

“I met a farmer in Texas who, as well as a running a more traditional enterprise, has also been raising a desert adaptive goat antelope – the Nubian Ibex – which are sold into Texan game parks for hunting. The kids at six months sell for US$2,500 to $US4,000, while adults can make $8,000 a head. At another ranch I visited, hunting licences make up at least 50% of the business income, supplementing its sheep, goat and cattle operations.”


In South Dakota, tallow from a farm’s sheep is used to make soaps and skin products.

The report also details a range of approaches to value-adding, which have allowed producers to turn what was once considered waste product into an alternative revenue stream.

“In South Dakota, USA, I met a sheep meat producer who had started using tallow from sheep to make soaps and skin products, as well as toys and rugs from wool and skins. While a modest revenue stream, the concept of turning waste into a money-making product is appealing and has wider application across a range of businesses,” Felicity said.

The report also explores examples Felicity saw for improving on-farm efficiencies and how to manage predation.

“Ultimately, there are many options when investigating enterprise diversity, and many considerations that must be taken into account prior to commitment. The opportunities are there, but success depends on a well-researched approach which is tailored to the individual’s farm, business, and resource availability,” Felicity added.

/Public Release. View in full here.

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A weird cosmic flare called the ‘Cow’ now has company – Science News

First, astronomers discovered the “Cow.”
Now they’ve rounded up a small herd.

A short-lived celestial flare-up with a
bovine nickname has been joined by two similarly unusual outbursts. The
mysterious events were brighter than typical supernovas, explosions of stars
that are a common source of temporary light shows in the sky. And the novel bursts
came and went quickly, with their visible light brightening and dimming over
days instead of the weeks typical of normal supernovas.

As particularly luminous examples of a
poorly understood class known as fast blue optical transients, the three novel
bursts have unknown origins. But they seem to be kin. “It’s like people going
out to find different creatures and find out how they’re related to each other.
We’re in the early stages of the ‘zoology’ of this class,” says astronomer Anna
Ho of Caltech.

Detected in June 2018, the Cow earned
its moniker thanks to the automatically assigned letters within its official astronomical
name, “AT2018cow.” It is joined by the “Koala,” Ho and colleagues report in the May 20 Astrophysical Journal. Named for the
ending letters in its handle, ZTF18abvkwla, the Koala appeared in September
2018. The third event, reported in the May 20 Astrophysical Journal Letters, resisted cute nicknames. Known as CSS161010, it was detected before the other
events, in 2016, but its significance wasn’t understood until now.

A possible explanation for the events is
that they result from an unusual type of supernova, one that explodes into a
dense shell of material. For all three events, telescopes detected radio waves
in addition to a short-lived flare of visible light. Those radio waves could have
been produced by accelerated electrons, kicked up when a blast of debris from
the explosion slammed into that surrounding shell. If an aging star shed its outer layers before it exploded, that could have created the
sheath (SN: 6/21/19).

But the events are still enigmatic. “We
don’t actually know what they are yet,” says astrophysicist Deanne Coppejans of Northwestern University in
Evanston, Ill., a coauthor of the paper on CSS161010. Scientists still can’t
rule out the possibility that the events could be the result of a black hole
ripping apart a star, rather than the aftermath of a supernova, she says.

After the Cow was discovered, scientists
had speculated that whatever created it may have involved some kind of cosmic “engine,”
a dense object like a black hole or spinning neutron star that could add some
oomph to the eruption by launching powerful jets of material. Now, in light of
the two teams’ new results, “I’m driven to think that there really is some kind
of central compact object driving these explosions,” says astrophysicist Brian Metzger of Columbia University.

That’s because the two new events both
spewed matter at blazing speeds. The Koala ejected its detritus at more than 38
percent of the speed of light; CSS161010’s ejecta reached more than 55 percent
light speed. The Cow’s offal reached a relatively measly 10 percent of the
speed of light. In the case of CSS161010, the researchers also observed X-rays,
which could likewise have been stirred up by such an engine.

Scientists have been regularly detecting
fast blue optical transients only for the last several years. Transient blips
of light in the sky are spotted by comparing different images taken of the same
locations at different times. In the past, telescopes surveyed the sky at
intervals short enough to catch normal supernovas but missed briefer events. Faster-paced
surveys have recently made it possible to spot changes that occur on timescales
of days. Those surveys include the Zwicky Transient Facility, which detected
the Koala, and the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey and
the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae, both of
which detected CSS161010.

But watch this space: “There are more
surveys coming online that are going to be capable of detecting these things,”
says astrophysicist Patricia Schady of the
University of Bath in England. That could include the Vera Rubin Observatory, which will start up in 2022 (SN: 1/10/20). To fully pin down the source of the events, Schady
says, “we really do need more of these things.”

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Appliance of Science: If a cow sits down does that mean it will rain? – Irish Examiner

We’ve all grown up with a few sayings that we may believe without ever questioning how likely they are to be true. I may not go around counting magpies anymore (well not out loud anyway), but I do catch myself looking for rain clouds if I see a field of cows lying down. Is there are science to back up some of the folklore we have grown up with?

If cows lie down it is going to rain?

Cows seem to be well connected to the weather, according to farming lore in this country anyway. Most of us are familiar with the saying that if cows are seen lying down in a field it is a sign that it is going to rain.

Is there any scientific evidence to suggest that cows really are meteorological geniuses?

One study did report a connection between cows and weather; they found that cows stand up for longer in hot weather, and lie down more in cold weather.

While this may give this old wives tale a little credence, the final scientific verdict is still a firm ‘no’; cows cannot predict the rain. If they are lying down it is probably just a sign that they are tired or taking a break and chewing the cud.

It is going to rain, I can feel it in my bones?

So if cows can’t predict the weather, can humans do so? How many of you have hear an older relative interprets theirs aches and pains as a sign of impending rain? Can arthritic joints really tell us if an umbrella is needed?

This one has more scientific research vested in it that the tired cows. There is some evidence to suggest that parts of the body, particularly fluid in the joints, can be affected by a change in barometric (atmospheric) pressure.

A drop in pressure may cause swelling in the joints or cause joint fluid to thicken, which would certainly make it possible to feel an increase in pain levels with a change in the weather. Although many people are sure that their arthritic ailments increase with rain, more recent scientific reports are less convincing.

These studies compared the number of people presenting with these types of ailments, with weather reports. They have found no obvious correlation.

However, it is still possibly that these studies require further research and data, such as if or when patients took pain medication. With this in mind we can mark this one as a ‘maybe’.

If you eat cheese before bed you will have nightmares?

Bringing the conversation back to cows, or rather, the cheese we make from their milk, can eating cheese late at night cause nightmares? Many people believe this one is true and it appears they could be right. It may be less about cheese though and more about eating habits.

Eating late at night, especially a meal of rich and fatty cheese, can alter our sleep patterns. It can put pressure on our digestive systems as we try to rest, causing more fitful, distressed sleeping.

This makes us more likely to wake up from a dream and therefore more likely to remember it. Or, the heavy meal can put us into a deeper sleep, with more Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase sleeping.

As this is the stage of sleep connected with vivid dreaming we are more likely to say we had bad dreams.

So this one is a marginal yes, showing that sometimes science, and folklore, agree.

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Blanket, Selective, or No Dry Cow Therapy: Which Should I Choose? –

Featured Articles

Blanket, Selective, or No Dry Cow Therapy: Which Should I Choose?

31 May 2020

Ohio State University

Benjamin Enger, Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University, shares the options for drying off dairy cows and the costs associated with each.

Blanket dry cow therapy, the infusion of all quarters of all cows with antibiotics following the last milking of the lactation, is a fundamental component of good mastitis control. At current prices for commonly used dry cow preparations, the cost of the antibiotics to dry treat a cow is $11 to $16 per cow. In addition to the antibiotics, many producers also infuse all quarters with an internal teat
sealant, which costs an additional $8 to 11 per cow. So, the cost to “dry treat” a cow will range from $11 to $27 per cow, or a producer milking 100 cows will spend from $1,100 to $2,700 per year to dry treat cows. During challenging economic times, producers may be tempted to reduce costs by eliminating or reducing the use of dry cow therapy.

Blanket dry cow therapy is an effective way to treat all infected quarters at the end of lactation, and many of these treated infections will be eliminated before the next lactation. Blanket dry cow therapy can also prevent new intramammary infections that frequently occur during the first week or two of the dry period.

Selective dry cow therapy is the approach of treating only infected quarters, or all quarters of a cow with at least one infected quarter, at the end of lactation and withholding intramammary antibiotic from uninfected quarters/cows. In herds with good mastitis control, those with a bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC) less than 200,000 cells/mL, a large proportion of quarters receiving blanket dry cow therapy will not be infected. It could be argued that these quarters do not require antibiotic treatment, yet antibiotics may still assist in preventing infections. Some who want to save money may consider selective dry cow therapy and treat only the infected cows or quarters. This approach
requires a method for identifying cows or quarters for treatment. There are costs associated with any identification method. Costs arise from personnel’s time dedicated to identifying cows, and culturing milk samples and/or measuring milk SCC via a commercial testing service, such as DHIA, or another diagnostic test.

Obviously, different selection approaches are associated with different costs. No selection method is 100% accurate in identifying infected quarters. Selection approaches should be practical for the dairy operation as assigning antibiotic treatments at the cow level is less complicated than treating individual quarters within a cow. Producers that use internal teat sealants in combination with intramammary antibiotics may be tempted to stop the use of either the antibiotics, the teat sealant, or both for savings. Use of the teat sealants, in the absence of the antibiotic therapy, is very risky if teat hygiene infusion practices are poor. Establishment of a new infection will likely result, and death of the cow can occur in the most severe of cases. When stringent infusion practices and excellent hygiene are followed, use of only an internal teat sealant is just as effective as using both antibiotics and teat sealant for uninfected quarters. Accordingly, most selective dry cow therapy programs use internal teat sealants for both quarters that do and do not receive antibiotics. Usage of a teat sealant with selective dry cow therapy is highly recommended and may determine the success of this approach. Should economic conditions dictate that only antibiotics or teat sealants can be used, dry cow antibiotics are likely to have greater positive impact on mastitis control.

Attempts to save money by completely eliminating both dry cow antibiotic therapy and teat sealant is not recommended.  Infusion of intramammary antibiotic and internal teat sealant  products should be done using excellent hygiene so that no new infections are accidentally established by the operator.
The partial infusion method should be used for both antibiotic and teat sealant products. Selective dry cow therapy may be considered for herds with a consistent SCC less than 200,000 cells/mL, but herds with a SCC greater than 250,000 cells/mL would do best to continue using blanket dry cow therapy. In these higher SCC herds, switching to selective dry cow therapy may save a few
dollars in the short run but will very likely cost producers in the future due to increased future bulk milk SCC and increased incidence of clinical cases of mastitis, all leading to reduced milk yields.

Farms considering selective dry cow therapy should consult their local veterinarian to determine the suitability of selective dry cow therapy for their farm and for assistance in designing appropriate protocols and review of infusion practices. Selective dry cow therapy programs should be periodically evaluated for success by the farm’s veterinarian and milk quality advisor by assessing clinical and subclinical mastitis case rates and evaluating bulk tank SCC.

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Alberta cow-calf farmers harried by backlogs brought on by COVID-19 – St. Albert TODAY

Beef industry insiders say Alberta’s cow-calf industry is in more trouble than people realize, as farmers face down the possibility there won’t be a market for their calves come the fall.

Cow-calf operations are the founding sector of the beef industry, where calves are born and raised up to weaning age (roughly six to eight months). Once they are weaned, they are typically sold to a feedlot, where they are fattened for slaughter.

But severe backlogs at feedlots, brought on by COVID-19’s catastrophic implications for Alberta slaughterhouses, could mean there won’t be room for newly weaned calves to move along the food supply chain.

Chris Sloan, who owns Sloan Cattle Co. Ltd. north of St. Paul, says the industry is in need of government aid.

“I think we’re in a little bit of trouble in the cow-calf industry, and I don’t think the government’s addressing our concerns or problems at all,” he said.

Three meat packing plants in Alberta process some 85 per cent of Canada’s beef: the Cargill plant in High River, the JBS plant in Brooks and Harmony Beef in Rocky View County. All three plants had outbreaks, forcing them to temporarily close or slow their operations, dropping Western Canada’s slaughter capacity to roughly a quarter of its usual amount. The facilities, which once processed 9,000 cattle per day, dropped to processing 2,000, which resulted in slaughter-ready cattle backing up into feedlots.

In early May, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced a $42-million federal/provincial funding program to help cattle producers cover the cost of feeding market-ready cattle until slaughterhouses can catch up. At the time, he estimated there were about 400,000 cattle backed up in feedlots, which could take up to 30 weeks to clear.

Kelly Smith-Fraser, chair of Alberta Beef Producers which represents 18,000 beef producers across the province, said that money isn’t making its way to cow-calf producers who sell to feedlots.

Smith-Fraser said in general feedlot producers are feeling calmer now, but there is “a lot of anxiety” amongst cow-calf producers.

“The emotions that are involved right now are really close to the level of BSE,” Smith-Fraser said, referring to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy outbreak (better known as mad cow disease) of 2003.

Cow and calf prices have reportedly plummeted some 40 per cent since March.

Prices weren’t good last year, either. Calf prices were so low last year that Sloan decided to keep his animals back a year in the hope of selling them to feedlots for a better price this fall.

Rising costs, falling profits

The cost of operating farms has gone up significantly in the last decade, while the value farmers are getting for their product hasn’t risen as quickly.
According to Statistics Canada, the realized net farm income of agricultural producers (cash after costs and depreciation) fell 45.1 per cent in 2018 to $3.9 billion, which was the largest per cent decrease since 2006.

Rising feed, interest and labour costs combined with little change in farm cash receipts pushed the net farm income lower.

To make matters worse, in 2018, farm operating expenses increased by 6.5 per cent to $50.6 billion, which was the largest percentage increase since 2012. This was due to a 9.6-per-cent increase in feed costs, as feed grain supplies were tight prior to harvest. A sharp rise in interest rates contributed to the hardships with a rising debt level.

Fuel prices for machinery rose by 18.1 per cent in 2018, followed by a 9.3 per cent hike in 2017. Cash wages that farmers were paying out to staff increased across the country as minimum wages went up.

Overall total farm expenses rose 5.9 per cent to $58.4 billion in 2018.

Total net farm income fell $5.2 billion to $3.0 billion in 2018.

Fed cattle prices have hit their lowest price since October 2013.

But with COVID-19 driving the price of cattle down, Sloan said he will be forced to sell his 2019 calves – who are now yearlings – and could be taking a loss on those animals. He’ll have to hold onto his 2020 calf crop until 2021.

Sloan’s operation consists of 8,000 mother cows and another 1,800 heifers. Every spring, he welcomes around 8,000 calves into the world. But when he doesn’t sell his animals, he doesn’t have money coming in – and he still has to pay to feed all those extra cattle.

Those backlogged cows can cost around $3 to $4 to feed per cow per day – an expense that rises quickly when thousands of cattle back up for weeks.

Smith-Fraser said many operations across the province don’t have the capacity to keep their calves for a year and said they will just be forced to sell at a loss.

“The amount of stress that is out there in the cow-calf sector is daunting,” Smith-Fraser said.

Calves that were just born this spring will need to move to feedlots in the fall, giving producers a matter of months before they face major hits to their revenues.

“What we could end up seeing is a really depreciated price on our calves, and we may not have the pens to go into come fall,” Smith-Fraser said.

“I get calls questioning the capabilities of (producers) to make their payments this fall, and what their farm’s future looks like.”

Government support needed

So far, Sloan said the provincial and federal governments have not helped operations like his, and the help they’ve provided to feedlot producers isn’t enough either.
“Lots of my neighbours (bought) calves in the fall and fed them all year and then sold them for less than they paid for. So that’s just an absolute disaster,” Sloan said.

The $42 million allocated to support feedlot producers won’t go far enough, Sloan said. Beef producers estimated they would need $187 million and asked the government for the funding, but received roughly 22 per cent of the funding requested, said Smith-Fraser.

Sloan said he hates taking government money for his farm operation, but producers need help. He suggested the government pay $300 per head to help feed the animals while the supply chain is backed up.

Meanwhile, AgriStability – a federal/provincial program to help farmers manage losses from major market fluctuations, among other factors – won’t help producers immediately, Sloan noted, adding money from that program will likely find its way to farms 18 months down the road, while they are haemorrhaging cash now.

Slaughterhouse catastrophe

While many food industries across Alberta have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the beef industry has arguably seen the worst of it, including several deaths at meat packing facilities.

Hiep Bui, 67, and Benito Quesada, 51, two employees at the Cargill meat packing plant in High River, died of the virus after an outbreak struck their workplace. Armando Sallegue, 71, the father of a staff member at the plant who was visiting Canada from the Phillippines, also died.

The Cargill plant became the largest outbreak linked to a single facility in North America, with more than 1,500 cases linked to the plant. Nine hundred forty-nine employees, nearly half of the plant’s approximately 2,000 workers, tested positive. At least seven were hospitalized, with five in intensive care.

The JBS plant in Brooks saw more than 550 of its 2,600 staff members contract COVID-19. One man died. The illness spread to the wider community, infecting more than 1,000 people out of Brooks’ population of 15,000.

At Harmony Beef, a third smaller meat packing plant in Rocky View County, 36 employees tested positive for the virus.

Forty meat plant inspectors across the country – 21 of whom were in Alberta – came down with the virus.

Jim Vercammen, a food supply economist with the University of British Columbia said because of the need of large economies of scale when producing beef, almost all the beef in Western Canada goes through Cargill and JBS.

Plants have become more expensive to operate as food safety standards have increased, he noted, forcing smaller plants in other provinces to close. Big producers like Cargill and JBS were the only ones able to survive.

“All it takes is a Listeria outbreak in one of the plants and people freak out and governments try to come in there and do the right thing by raising the standards. Then these little medium sized abattoirs just gradually disappear, and they just can’t make any more money,” Vercammen said.

“It’s an unintended impact of governments trying to make food safer.”

Smith-Fraser said the immediate need for the industry, after making sure workers were safe and confident to perform their jobs, was supporting feedlot producers.

“Those feedlot producers have to carry those animals over, they’ve got to hold them over and try and just put them on a maintenance ration, so that when they do get the call that that load can go, they can get to the processing plant,” Smith-Fraser said.

“Those guys have animals that are ready to be processed and didn’t have any plan on feeding those cattle beyond the date that they had expected. Now they’re having to carry them over for – we don’t know how long it could be. It could be quite a while.”

Smith-Fraser said she is an optimist and hopes that through the summer the packing facilities can work through the backlog and supply and demand will be matched by the fall.

“If we can get through the backlog, my earnest hope is that we will be fine. Consumers … still need to eat and they like our product,” Smith-Fraser said, adding consumers stockpiled beef at the beginning of the pandemic. Consumer demand for beef product made up for the lost revenue when restaurants closed.

But Smith-Fraser said if the industry can’t work through the backlog in the next few months, the industry could be in trouble.

“If we can’t, we’re going to see incredibly low prices this fall,” she said.

“The sooner we can get back to full capacity, the better we’ll be.”

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June is Dairy Month | Columnists – Rincón Latino

National Dairy Month started out as National Milk Month in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk. It was initially created to stabilize the dairy demand when production was at a surplus, but has now developed into an annual tradition that celebrates the contributions the dairy industry has made to the world. After the National Dairy Council stepped in to promote the cause, the name soon changed to “Dairy Month.”

National Dairy Month is a great way to start the summer with nutrient-rich dairy foods. From calcium to potassium, dairy products like milk contain nine essential nutrients, which may help to better manage your weight, reduce your risk for high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers. Whether it’s protein to help build and repair the muscle tissue of active bodies or vitamin A to help maintain healthy skin, dairy products are a natural nutrient powerhouse. Those are just a few of the reasons that you should celebrate dairy not just in June, but all year long.

There are several other dates throughout June that correspond with this great month!

June 4 is National Cheese Day! Why don’t you try a new cheese that you’ve been intrigued by … an amazingly tangy goat cheese, or a pepperjack, or a unique cheese that you can find in many cheese sections of our stores. Or just go with an old classic, and sit down to an ooey-gooey grilled cheese sandwich!

June 7 is both National Chocolate Ice Cream Day and Frozen Yogurt Day! Chocolate ice cream is an amazing treat during the summers, but frozen yogurt just hits the spot some days … or try them both on June 7!

June 20 is Ice Cream Soda Day! Never made an ice cream soda? Try this recipe from Food Network:

Lastly, June 29 is Waffle Iron Day … now what does this have to do with Dairy Month? Just slather those toasty warm waffles with tons of butter to get your dairy fix for the day!

Dairy Month is a great thing to celebrate and a wonderful way to thank all of those farmers raising these dairy products for us! So maybe send a thank you card in the mail or ask if you can bring them dinner one night. We are greatly appreciative of all of their hard work they do to help feed us every day!

Thank you, dairy farmers!

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