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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Home Décor: How To Combine Different Rugs In A Room – INSCMagazine

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Purchasing the right rug for your home may be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It is important to remember that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all – you usually have to choose a different type of rug for different areas of the house in order to match the style, color and feel of the room. And all of that depends on your personal preference and style.

While you may prefer to place a single rug in your bedroom, you can combine two or three rugs in your living room to elevate and liven up the space. It’s all about how creative and original you want to get with your surroundings.

Although rugs can be pricey, they are a solid investment because not only do they last a very long time when properly cared for, they also give your house a characteristic warmth, coziness and comfort.

Decorating with rugs can allow you to define different areas in a house, especially if it is a studio or an open concept living area. They can also help to regulate the color scheme of a room, toning it down or brightening it up where required. Added to that, they have the power to make a room look more spacious or intimate.

While some people may strictly adhere to certain rules while placing rugs around the house, rug experts and interior designers are much more flexible in their approach, claiming that decorating with rugs depends a lot on personal preference and circumstance. So don’t shy away from sprucing up your place by letting it reflect your own individualized taste and style.

Before we tell you how to combine different rugs in a room, it will be helpful to familiarize yourself with different types of rugs. This will make it easier for you to decide when combining multiple rugs in a room.

Different Kinds Of Textures

Here are some common textures for rugs:

Wool Rugs – Ideal for lasting very long, woolen rugs are resistant to stains and clean well. They are often expensive.

Sisal Rugs – This is a natural flooring material that is great for an organic, warm look. It is durable, environmentally friendly and a classic choice for living rooms.

Jute Rugs – Also made of natural fibre, jute rugs are a fantastic option for living rooms, bedrooms or dining rooms.

Seagrass Rugs – This is one of the most eco-friendly rugs on the market. Easy to clean and highly durable, they are great for layering up.

Silk Rugs – They are great for giving a luxurious feel. They are soft and emit a naturally beautiful sheen.

Synthetic Rugs – These fairly affordable rugs are made from acrylic, olefin, nylon or polyester. They are also easy to clean, however, they don’t last very long.

Chenille Rugs – These lightweight, delicate rugs add a sophisticated touch to living room areas, and are very soft to touch.

Sheepskin or Cowhide Rugs – Made from the hide of a sheep, sheepskin rugs add a rich, soft and comfortable touch to the living space. Cowhide rugs, made from cow skin and hair, are a classic for layering up and adding an extravagant look.

Cotton Rugs – Cotton rugs are affordable and can be washed pretty easily. They are not very durable and may decolourise after a while.

Combining Different Rugs

Using your living space to integrate rugs of different sizes, patterns, textures and colors is a great way to add character to your surroundings. Whether your pick is to choose vintage mid century modern rugs or the more classic oriental rugs, here a few tips to help you in your decision.

Use Rugs To Define Different Areas In Your House

Often times, your living room will consist of different areas, from the sitting area to the dining space. When you don’t have walls and concrete separating and drawing hard distinctions between these spaces, a rug can be your best friend.

You can choose different textured rugs to compliment the different areas depending on your color palette preferences and the furniture. Always remember that when placing a rug underneath the dining table, ensure that the rug is big enough so that the chairs rest on it once pulled out.

Run With Different Shapes And Sizes

It’s time to break away from the usual rectangular rug and get experimental. You can explore different shapes and sizes, ranging from circular, oval and square shaped rugs, and place them after deciding what fits.

This means that you can top up natural fibre rugs, such as sisal, jute or sea grass, with a cowhide or sheepskin to complement your furniture. This could go exceptionally well if you have leather sofas and a rustic style.

Additionally, one of the best ways to layer and combine different rugs is to use a neutral base rug, such as white, grey or brown, and adding different textured and patterned rugs of smaller sizes and different shapes on top. You can do this by either framing the smaller rug on top of the bigger neutral rug or overlapping rugs of different sizes for a boho-chic look. Incase of the latter, make sure the pattern is more or less in the same family – you don’t want to complement a floral pattern with one that has stripes.

Color Scheme For Combining Rugs

Color is everything. It is one of the most important elements to keep in mind when buying or combining rugs. Always remember, use a light color rug to make a small space look bigger. Conversely, use rugs with dark and rich colors for an intimate feel.

Essentially, make sure that there is harmony in the color scheme, with no stark contrasts. Therefore, use rugs from the same color family when layering up. You want a soft, warm look, and something that feels natural. It is always safe to use a neutral base and go from there. Incase you want to play it safe, you can also place solid rugs in different colors around the room.

A pro tip while combining different colored rugs is to ensure that they match some of the colors of the sofas, chairs, lamps, curtains or other pieces of furniture in the room. A dash of the same color will reflect thoughtfulness of style and create a seamless look throughout the room. Moreover, maintain one consistent colors throughout all the layered rugs to add uniformity and cohesiveness in color tone.

Combining Different Textures and Patterns

While layering up, it is important to ensure that you don’t have conflicting textures and patterns. This means that if your base rug is patterned, make sure that the top rug has a unique texture that complements it. Think of a chenille rug topped up with a woolen rug.

Primarily, always ensure that the base rug is a rather flat rug, either hand-woven or tufted, as opposed to braided weave, so that the other rugs sit well on it. Short pile base rugs are also a good option as a base rug.

You can go with the same texture and coordinate the color scheme. Examples would include various hand knotted rugs in beige and browns, but with different patterns, such as half stripes and Oriental.

It’s very important to keep in mind the furniture and wall color of your room. Incase of detailed ornamentation, go for lighter colors in flat-woven weave to even out the space visually. You can go for moroccon rugs or solid rugs in this case. However, if you have muted accent colors, opt for brighter or richer colors that are patterned and textured to add personality to the space. In this case, you could opt for embellished Persian rugs or silk rugs, which would also act as the focal point of your living space.


In conclusion, it is recommended that you envision the kind of space you want to live in, and use a rug to set the mood. Be confident in your choice and show off by choosing the rug that best represents you.

Of course, always remember to render some TLC by regularly cleaning your rug. You can vacuum it once a month, and remove any stains immediately using a damp cloth. Additionally, it is highly recommended that you get your rugs professionally cleaned at least once a year. After all, taking care of your rug is as important as investing in one.

So what combination of rugs are you going to try in your home?

Author’s Bio: Lakshmi is an inspired content creator who switched passions from a career in interior design in order to work whilst travelling the world. A co-founder of CopyThat, a bespoke content creation studio, she focuses on putting into words the often complex and colourful thoughts of her interior and design focused clients. As one of Munich’s newest residents, Lakshmi enjoys hunting down culinary revelations whilst trying not to confuse her der/die/das’ in the local tongue.
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Cow Cuddles: Mooing for Moola – Drovers Magazine

Moo-ve over, goat yoga. Cows are the trendy new comfort animal. Researchers have long established animals can help lower stress levels, according to recent research by PubMed. And now businesses like Mountain Horse Farm in Naples, New York, are banking on cow cuddling as a new profit center, according to the farm’s website. 

The Horse and Cow Experience allows visitors to cuddle and spend quality time with the farm’s cows and miniature horses. Sessions start at $75 for two participants to udderly adore these bovine beauties. 

“Spend quality time with our cows and miniature horses: brushing, petting, playing, sharing space or snuggling up to the cows while they are lying down,” the website states.

The cows are a cross-breed of Scottish Highlanders, and they sport long, shaggy coats and a “friendly character.”

But not all cows are taking this new job lying down. The website offers this humorous caveat: “It’s a fun and very relaxing experience. We can’t guarantee that the cows will be lying down. It’s not a trained skill but their natural behavior, and that may or may not happen.” 

Does this story give you a sense of deja-moo? When AgWeb originally reported on this story in 2018, cow cuddling sessions were selling for as much as $300 for a 90-minute session. No bull!

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June Cattle on Feed Report Shows Inventory Up From a Year Ago – Farm Bureau News

The Cattle on Feed 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 category of feedlots represents 85% of all fed cattle. Cattle feeders provide data on inventory, placements marketings and other disappearance.

The report showed a total inventory of 11.7 million head for the United States on June 1. This increase of 1.6% is slightly above average analyst expectations, as most industry analysts were predicting a year-over-year increase in feedlot inventories of 1.3%. 

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As usual, Texas, Nebraska and Kansas lead the way in total fed cattle numbers, accounting for just under 7.7 million head, or approximately 65% of the total on-feed inventory in the country. 

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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). Typically, May tends to be a larger month for placements, in part due to animals moving off wheat pasture in the southern Plains, and other backgrounding operations elsewhere into feedyards. However, this May most analysts were predicting a rather significant drawback with a 4.1% decrease on average, and some analysts predicting as much as a 7% decline from a year ago. Placements in May totaled 2.06 million head, which is 3% below 2018 levels. Marketings in May were 2.07 million head, up 1% from a year ago and in line with the average analyst expectation of an increase in 0.8%. Moving forward, uncertainty in other commodity markets will spill into the cattle markets.  A result of historic delays in plantings, corn prices are likely to pressure feeder cattle lower as higher feed costs tend to depress what feedlots are willing to pay for feeder cattle. Excellent pasture and range conditions reported in USDA’s Crop Progress report combined with these higher feed costs may incentivize keeping animals on pasture longer, which could result in higher placement weights later on down the road.

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From Two Bulls, Nine Million Dairy Cows – Scientific American

There are more than 9 million dairy cows in the United States, and the vast majority of them are Holsteins, large bovines with distinctive black-and-white (sometimes red-and-white) markings. The amount of milk they produce is astonishing. So is their lineage. When researchers at the Pennsylvania State University looked closely at the male lines a few years ago, they discovered more than 99 percent of them can be traced back to one of two bulls, both born in the 1960s. That means among all the male Holsteins in the country, there are just two Y chromosomes.

“What we’ve done is really narrowed down the genetic pool,” says Chad Dechow, one of the researchers.

The females haven’t fared much better. In fact, Dechow—an associate professor of dairy cattle genetics—and others say there is so much genetic similarity among them, the effective population size is less than 50. If Holsteins were wild animals, that would put them in the category of critically endangered species. “It’s pretty much one big inbred family,” says Leslie B. Hansen, a Holstein expert and professor at the University of Minnesota.

Any elementary science student knows that genetic homogeneity isn’t good in the long term. It increases the risk of inherited disorders while also reducing the ability of a population to evolve in the face of a changing environment. Dairy farmers struggling to pay bills today aren’t necessarily focusing on the evolutionary prospects of their animals, but Dechow and his colleagues were concerned enough that they wanted to look more closely at what traits had been lost.

For answers, the researchers have begun breeding a small batch of new cows, cultivated in part from the preserved semen of long deceased bulls, to measure a host of characteristics—height, weight, milk production, overall health, fertility, and udder health, among other traits—and compare those to the modern Holsteins we’ve created. The hope is that they might one day be able to inject some sorely needed genetic diversity back into this cornerstone of livestock agriculture, and possibly reawaken traits that have been lost to relentless inbreeding.

“If we limit long term genetic diversity of the breed,” Dechow says, “we limit how much genetic change can be made over time.”

In other words, we could reach a point where we’re stuck where we’re at. There will be no more improvement in milk production. Fertility won’t improve. And if a new disease comes along, huge swaths of the cow population could be susceptible, since so many of them have the same genes.

HOLSTEINS TODAY are responsible for the vast majority of milk we drink and much of our cheese and ice cream. For at least the past century, these animals have been prized for their voluminous output. Over the last 70 years or so, humans have introduced a variety of methods to ramp up production even further. In 1950, for example, a single dairy cow produced about 5,300 pounds of milk a year. Today, the average Holstein is producing more than 23,000. In 2017, a prize-winning cow named Selz-Pralle Aftershock 3918 cranked out 78,170 pounds of milk—more than 200 pounds every single day.

“These cows are real athletes,” says Hansen.

This benefits consumers by keeping food prices low. It benefits farmers because they save on costs when fewer cows produce the same amount of milk. It also benefits the environment because a cow’s digestive system produces considerable amounts of methane and waste. (Although high-producing Holsteins consume more energy and generate more waste per cow, researchers estimate that the efficiency gains result in significantly reduced environmental impacts overall.)

Part of this success story has to do with changing the way Holsteins are raised and managed. But the biggest change has been in the way cows are bred. Long ago, farmers would bring in bulls from other farms to get their cows pregnant—a way of ensuring genetic diversity, or “stirring the pot,” as Hansen says. In the 1940s, they began to use artificial insemination. This way, a single dose of bull semen could be used to impregnate a whole lot of heifers. Soon, technology allowed the semen to be frozen, which meant a bull could father calves for decades, even long after he was dead. Meanwhile, the dairy world was keeping very detailed records, so the bull studs who sell the semen could tell which bull went on to produce the best offspring—and by the best offspring, they meant the daughters who produced the most milk.

By this point, a highly sought-after bull would sire thousands of daughters. Carlin-M Ivanhoe Bell, a bull born in 1974, had more than 80,000 offspring. Most bulls have fewer, though their progeny still number in the thousands. By the 80s, it was clear inbreeding was increasing significantly.

In the early days of artificial insemination, bulls would have to prove their merit in real life. That is, they’d sire 100 daughters, then when those daughters calved and began producing milk, their output was measured. The better the output, the more marketable the bull. This “progeny testing” was a valuable process, but it took several years to determine if a bull was any good.

In 2009, new technology came along: big data and genomic selection. Today, a bull’s marketability is determined by a computer. A complex algorithm analyzes the bull’s genetic makeup, taking into account the health of his offspring, their milk production, the fat and protein in the milk, and other traits, to come up with figures that rank him against other bulls. The key figure is called lifetime net merit. It represents the average amount of money a farmer can expect to earn over the offspring’s life by choosing this bull over another one.

While this allowed farmers to more efficiently evaluate animals across many key traits, the process also led to even higher rates of inbreeding. The “inbreeding coefficient” for Holsteins is currently around 8 percent, meaning an average calf gets identical copies of 8 percent of its genes from its mother and its father. That number is in comparison to a baseline of 1960—and it continues to increase by .3 or .4 every year.

“Inbreeding is accumulating faster than it ever has,” Dechow says.

But is 8 percent too much? Dairy experts continue to debate this. Some argue that Holsteins are doing their job, producing a lot of milk, and that they’re a relatively healthy bunch. Hansen, however, notes that if you breed a bull to his daughter, the inbreeding coefficient is 25 percent; in that light, 8 seems like a lot. He and others say while inbreeding may not seem like a problem now, the consequences could be significant.

Fertility rates are affected by inbreeding, and already, Holstein fertility has dropped significantly. Pregnancy rates in the 1960s were 35 to 40 percent, but by 2000 had dropped to 24 percent. Also, when close relatives are bred, it’s more likely for cows get two copies of unwanted recessive genes, where serious health problems could be lurking.

“Something needs to change,” Hansen says.

For Dechow, the concern is the rate of increase and what that means for the future of the breed. “Imagine you’ve got a cow who has 100 really good genes and 10 really horrible genes. You eliminate that cow from your breeding program because she’s got 10 horrible genes,” he says, and “you’ve lost her 100 good ones, as well. You’re losing long-term genetic potential.”

DECHOW GREW UP ON a dairy farm, so long before he knew the ins-and-outs of the cow’s genome, he could see some of what was happening.

Holsteins look very different than they did 50 years ago. For one thing, they’ve been bred to have longer and wider udders, rather than deep ones. A deep udder can touch the ground, making it much more prone to infection or other problems, so that’s a change for the better. But other changes could be problematic. For example, modern Holsteins are bred to be tall and thin, to the point of boniness. That thinness is a byproduct of milk production, because “they’re directing the energy they consume towards milk,” Dechow says.

But it’s also something of an aesthetic choice. The ideal Holstein cow—at least in the view of people who judge these things—is “feminine and refined.” That means thin and angular. The problem is, a tall, thin cow isn’t necessarily the healthiest cow and shorter and rounder cattle are more likely to get pregnant.

A few years ago, Dechow and others started to wonder, just how significant was the inbreeding and loss of diversity? In the early 50s, there were about 1,800 bulls represented in the population. They knew there were fewer today, but they had no idea how few. Dechow and his colleagues Wansheng Liu and Xiang-Peng Yue analyzed the paternal pedigree information of nearly 63,000 Holstein bulls born since the 1950s in North America.

“We were a little bit surprised when we traced the lineages and it went back to two bulls,” he says. They’re named Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation and Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief. Each one is related to about half the bulls alive today. Essentially, Elevation and Chief outcompeted every other bull on the market. Even Select Sires, a company that is in the business of selling bull semen, was surprised by the findings. Charles Sattler, a company vice president, sees the news as a bit of a reality check, but not a cause for alarm. “Probably the biggest concern is, are there any really valuable genes we may have lost along the way that we could make use of today?” he wonders.

Not too long ago, there was another Y chromosome represented, that of Penstate Ivanhoe Star, born in the 1960s. His decline demonstrates one problem with all this inbreeding. In the 1990s, dairy farmers around the world started noticing calves being born with such serious vertebrae problems, they didn’t survive outside the womb. Around the same time, calves were being stillborn with a condition called bovine leukocyte adhesion deficiency. It turns out Star, and his prolific son, Carlin-M Ivanhoe Bell, had problematic recessive genes that didn’t come to light until a few generations of inbreeding. 

After this discovery, farmers stopped breeding cows to Star’s descendants and that problem was resolved. But could other problems be lurking within the chromosomes of our remaining Holsteins? What had been lost with all this inbreeding? These questions troubled Dechow enough that he began searching out some of those old genes.

That required digging into the archives of the National Animal Germplasm Programin Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s like a seed bank, except it collects ovarian tissue, blood, and semen from domesticated animals, and it holds about 7,000 cocktail-straw-sized semen samples from Holstein bulls.

Dechow’s team found two that weren’t related to Chief or Elevation, so they took those samples, got eggs from top-notch females, and created embryos to implant into surrogate Penn State heifers. The idea was to combine the half-century-old Y genetics with DNA from females who are among the finest examples of modern-day milk production. Over the course of 2017, the animals wound up giving birth to 15 calves, seven of them male. The oldest of these animals are about two and two now have calves of their own.

Every parameter in the development of these cattle will be measured, and their DNA is being analyzed and compared to the general population. It turns out that not a lot is known about the Y chromosome, so this is an opportunity to use this newly-introduced variation to understand it better.Semen samples were also taken from the bulls and sent to the germplasm bank in Colorado. Dechow can already see a difference on the ground in the way these cattle look. They’re a bit shorter than most Holsteins, and also heavier. They’re also a little less docile than average.

Select Sires has collected semen samples from the bulls and run them through its grading program to so-so results; they came out in the middle of the pack. They’ve offered some of these samples for sale to dairy farmers, but sales so far have been minimal. Dairy farmers today are already struggling financially, and it’s not easy to convince them there’s a benefit to getting DNA from average bulls.

Dechow is still hopeful that there will be more to gain from this research once the cattle mature.

“My pie-in-the-sky dream,” Dechow says, “is that we’ll able to show these old genetics still have something to offer.”

This article was originally published on Undark. Read the original article.

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Why are portholes being used on cows? – BBC News

A video showing researchers using a porthole to gain access to a cow’s stomach has been criticised by an animal rights group in France.

Portholes are openings on the side of a cow that allows researchers to access an animal’s stomach with a cannula.

The group L214 posted a video of a researcher putting their hand into a porthole. It was allegedly recorded at Sourches Experimental Farm in northwestern France.

LS214 claims it is an “unfair system”.

But experts say that in some cases cows with portholes live longer.

So what are portholes and why are people using them today?

Maximising production

Jamie Newbold, Academic Director at Scotland’s Rural College told the BBC that studying cows’ stomachs is important if “we are going to maximise food production and minimise greenhouse gases”.

There are three ways of studying a cow’s stomach – by using samples of deceased cows, a stomach tube, or by cannulation.

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Mr Newbold said that cannulation gives direct access to the cow’s stomach, known as the rumen “so people can take out samples”.

He said: “It’s becoming less popular because there are laboratory models of the rumen. They are plastic but they mimic the fermentation in a cow.”

“It’s an operation normally done under anaesthetic, but once the animal has recovered it tends to live far longer than the average cow. It suffers pain during the process but I’m aware of animals living 12 – 15 years after the operation has been done.

Sourches Experimental Farm is owned by Sanders, a animal feed provider and subsidiary of the food group Avril. Avril told the AFP news agency that the procedure had been used for “many years in research on animals”. It said the method was currently being used on six cows.

It said that the aim is to “improve the digestive health of millions of animals, reduce the use of antibiotics, and lower the nitrate and methane emissions linked to livestock farming”.

Criticism from animal rights groups

In the video, L214 said: “They have pierced a hole into the cow’s stomach so they can regularly access its content. Employees come regularly to open the porthole to deposit food samples or take them out. The aim is to perfect the most effective form of feeding so the cows produce as much milk as possible.”

The group has launched a petition to end the practice. Brigitte Gothière, co-founder of L214 said: “Today from genetic selection to food, everything is optimised for animals to produce more eggs, milk or meat.

“Many of them already suffer from lameness, infections, lung or heart problems. And yet, instead of stopping this cycle, we are always pushing further. It is high time to put this unfair system into question.”

France is Europe’s second largest milk producer after Germany. It has some six million dairy cows housed at more than 61,000 dairy farms.

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A cosmic explosion called 'the Cow' may be a strange supernova – Science News

The cosmic oddity known as the Cow may have been a dying star that shed its skin like a snake before it exploded.

Newly released observations support the idea that the burst occurred in a dense environment with strong magnetic fields, astronomer Kuiyun Huang and colleagues report in The Astrophysical Journal Letters June 12.

These new measurements “for the mysterious transient … provide one of the strong hints of its nature,” says Huang, of the Chung Yuan Christian University in Taoyuan City, Taiwan.

Since the Cow appeared in June 2018 as a brief burst of light in a galaxy about 200 million light-years away, astronomers haven’t been sure what to think of it. The initial glow flared more quickly and seemed 10 times brighter than an ordinary supernova, the violent explosion that marks the death of a massive star (SN: 2/18/17, p. 20).

Follow-up observations of the Cow — which got its nickname from the randomly assigned name “AT2018cow” — left two main theories for what it could be: a strange sort of supernova, or an exotic star being shredded by a black hole (SN: 2/2/19, p. 13). But neither theory alone could explain all the Cow’s weird features.

Astronomer Anna Ho of Caltech and colleagues published work in April at that analyzed light from the Cow in a range of wavelengths, from short gamma rays to long radio waves. That work suggested that the light was getting distorted on its journey. So if the Cow is a supernova, it must have exploded in a very dense environment that squashed some of the light emerging from the dying star. But to come to that conclusion, the team had to simplify assumptions about how the explosion’s energy was released.

Now, Huang and colleagues have released new radio wave observations that back up the findings by Ho’s team, without relying on those assumptions. In June and July 2018, Huang’s group used the Atacama Large Millimeter-submillimeter Array in Chile to look at the way the Cow’s light was polarized, a measurement of the light’s preferred direction. Imagine holding a jump rope: If you swing your arm up and down, the jump rope will take on an up-down wave pattern. Swinging left to right gives the rope a side-to-side wave.

The radio waves emitted in the wreckage of a supernova should do the same thing, Ho explains. But if the waves travel through an environment filled with gas, charged particles and magnetic fields, the waves’ preferred direction can get rotated or smeared out. “By the time it all gets out at the end, it can look like a blurred mess,” Ho says.

That’s what Huang and colleagues saw from the Cow: The radio waves essentially had no polarization by the time they reached Earth, suggesting the waves had been tossed about in a dense and turbulent environment.

That environment probably came from the Cow itself, Ho says. Toward the end of the star’s life, it started shedding outer layers of gas, similar to a snake shedding its skin. Those discarded layers were still nearby when the star finally ran out of fuel and exploded, so the light and material from the explosion plowed through the debris from the star’s death throes.

“That might actually be a common thing that stars do,” Ho says. She and her colleagues observed another stellar explosion in September, SN2018gep, that first appeared to be a Cow-like event. It ended up looking more like a straightforward supernova, with ordinary speed and brightness — but one that was also surrounded by the dense layers the star tossed off before it died.

The new polarization observations by Huang’s team aren’t the final word on the Cow’s identity, though, says astronomer Daniel Perley of Liverpool John Moores University in England. “It supports one argument,” he says, “but doesn’t overall change the balance of the somewhat contradictory evidence pointing in different directions for this event.” More work on the shredded star theory could help break the tie, he says.

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Fury as cows have ‘WINDOWS’ fitted on their stomachs at Europe’s largest animal research centre – The Sun

ANIMAL rights activists have reacted with fury after footage shows cows having their stomachs punctured and fitted with “windows” at Europe’s largest research centre.

Footage, filmed between February and May in France, shows a man putting his whole arm inside a cow’s stomach – a common practice which helps farmers obverse which pasture helps the animal produce more milk.

 Footage shows one man insert his hand into the cow's stomach


Footage shows one man insert his hand into the cow’s stomachCredit: AFP or licensors
 Another man was filmed doing the same thing to a different cow


Another man was filmed doing the same thing to a different cowCredit: Central European News

The hole is created using a surgical procedure called ‘rumen fistula’ which allows researchers to look inside the cow’s digestive system.

It is frequently performed at veterinary schools and is viewed as a benefit for the cows whose health is not adversely impacted by the procedure.

Professor Brian Aldridge, a specialist in large animal internal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine in Illinois told Modern Farmer: “To put one in would take about an hour and a half.”

Dr Susan Fubini, professor of large animal surgery at Cornell University said the fistulated cows “are without a doubt the happiest animals in our hospital.”

Despite this being a common procedure, dating back to the 1920s, animal rights group L214 have filed a complaint this week based on the recent pictures from France.

Clips were filmed in the north-western French department of Sarthe, at the Sourches facility owned by the Sanders company, a subsidy of French agro-industrial corporation, Avril Group.

French TV host Nagui Fam is also calling for the practice to stop, arguing it is bad for the animals’ health.


L214 spokesperson Barbara Boyer said: “We obtained the images after a whistleblower who works there contacted us to alert us to the conditions there.

“We have filed a complaint with the authorities.”

In the video, presenter Nagui said: “There are also chickens at the centre that are so fat that they cannot even walk anymore, as well as very sick pigs, calves and rabbits that are trapped in tiny cages.

“For Sanders, these cows are just milk-producing machines that need to have their settings optimised.”

We have filed a complaint with the authorities

Barbara Boyer

He added: “Other experiments are carried out on isolated calves in small enclosures.

“The pigs only have cold metal as their environment. The rabbits are prisoners in their small cages and they will know only these cages their whole lives. They will never get out.”

The research centre said only six cows have been fitted with the windows.

It says they need the windows to carry out an experiment to find out how to reduce the use of antibiotics in the farming business.

Avril spokesperson Tom Doron insists the experiments come with “rigorous veterinary monitoring and are considered painless for the animal.”

They also claim to be studying how to reduce methane production, a major contributor to climate change, according to the European Commission.

Helene Thouy, L214’s lawyer, said: “The Rural Code provides that animal testing is permitted only when strictly necessary. Making dairy cows more productive does not seem to fall into this category.”

 The research centre said only six cows have been fitted with the windows


The research centre said only six cows have been fitted with the windowsCredit: Central European News
 The centre claims it needs the windows to try and find out how to reduce the usage of antibiotics


The centre claims it needs the windows to try and find out how to reduce the usage of antibioticsCredit: AFP or licensors
 A video published online also claims that chickens at the centre are so fat they cannot walk


A video published online also claims that chickens at the centre are so fat they cannot walkCredit: Central European News

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When Under the Dome Sliced a Cow in Half, It Stirred a 'Bloody' Debate – TVLine

To quite vividly illustrate an unsuspecting town’s sudden entrapment by an invisible barrier, Under the Dome defied Bart Simpson and halved a cow, man.

It was six years ago (on June 24, 2013) that CBS’ adaptation of the Stephen King novel made its debut. The premise found the fictional town of Chester’s Mill suddenly cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious and indestructible dome, leading to a clash of would-be heroes, opportunistic residents, local government, military forces and the media.

At the instant that the dome dropped, Iraq War veteran Dale “Barbie” Barbara (played by Mike Vogel) was busy stabling himself amid seismic rumblings when he looked over and saw one half of a nearby cow slowly slump down to the ground… while its other side, bloody interior now exposed, clung onto the opposite side of the barrier. (In King’s novel, the bisected beast was a groundhog.)

The image was quite disturbing, a bit disgusting and hugely memorable. Meaning, it was a ready-made for heavily repeated on-air promos!

[embedded content]

Reflecting on the cleaved cow, Under the Dome‘s showrunner, Dr. Neal Baer (now boss of Netflix’s Designated Survivor), tells TVLine, “Shooting the scene wasn’t so difficult, because it was all special effects” — a mix of CGI and then practical effects, for when Barbie walked over to inspect the curiosity. The matter of “how much to show,” though, demanded discussion.

“How much of the inside is pulsating? Do you want it to look bloody? Is it clean? Does it look like at the butcher shop?” Those were some of the questions Baer had to ask. “There was lots of debate on the sliced cow, but of course that’s the moment we all remember.”

Animal rights groups had no beef with the shocking visual (“because no animal was harmed,” Baer notes), while CBS embraced the promo-friendly jaw-dropper. In fact, the network may have liked the provocative moment too much, wanting lots more of that from its first summertime original in a while, and less character-driven storytelling.

Shaking his head a bit, Baer notes, “You have this amazing concept, people locked under a dome, but if you’re not going to really pursue character — and instead do the windstorm, the rainstorm, the dome getting dark, running out of food — it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge as opposed to pursuing it in a character-driven way, which I wish we had done more of. But that was the edict of the network back then.”

Looking back on the show’s three-season, 39-episode run, Baer counts among his blessings getting to work with the likes of Vogel and female lead Rachelle Lefevre (“They were wonderful”), as well as rare (due to the premise) guest stars such as Mare Winningham. She played Agatha Seagrave, a bit of a loon who was ultimately left to die by sketchy councilman “Big Jim” Rennie (Breaking Bad alum Dean Norris).

Sharing his inspiration for Agatha’s watery demise, Baer says, “I was passionate about the movie A Place in the Sun, where” — 68-year-old spoiler alert! — “Montgomery Clift is in love with Elizabeth Taylor, but Shelley Winters is pregnant with his baby.” As such, when Winters’ character topples overboard during a canoe ride, Clift “doesn’t save her. He doesn’t kill her, but he doesn’t save her, and that was so memorable.”

In Under the Dome‘s darkly comedic homage, Agatha fell off a boat that was being steered by Big Jim, and “he just keeps paddling…,” Baer recalls with a smile. “He wants to get rid of her, but he doesn’t kill her. He just lets her drift out.”

Read Baer’s previously shared thoughts on Under the Dome‘s series finale, plus what the plan was for Season 4.

The practical cow, shared by Under the Dome‘s VFX boss:

(Half of) Dome‘s cow on display at the Cape Fear Museum:

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