“Climate fires” a good excuse to target beef cattle, again. – Beef Magazine

As the wildfires (dubbed “climate fires”) rage on, there’s another battle taking place. It’s the battle of your dinner plate and your personal freedom to choose the best diet that works for your health, your budget, your taste preferences and your values.

The way we eat has become incredibly politicized in recent years, and animal products have been on the chopping block for decades.

The first blow came when the Dietary Guidelines for Americans were created and demonized saturated fats from animal products. And the fast-moving trend is that meat destroys our health and the planet.

I naively thought as the world shut down to wage a battle against a novel virus that the climate and cattle myth would die down for a minute, and it did. However, with less than 50 days until the election, we are reminded that climate change is on the ballot, and the implication is if you eat beef or drink dairy, you are destroying our natural resources.

Don’t believe me? Let me give you a few recent examples.

In response to the “climate fires” rapidly consuming the western United States, Facebook created an entire page dedicated to climate change. It’s the first thing you see when you sign onto the platform. Curious, I clicked on it to see what types of information I might find.

I was disappointed but not surprised to discover the first vlog featured on this Facebook-endorsed page. Published by Vox, the video was titled, “The food to avoid if you care about climate change.”

Any guesses what topped the list? Yes, you got it right — beef. Despite the fact that this misconception has been debunked over and over again until we are blue in the face, the popular rhetoric remains solidly in place. If you want to save the world, you’ve got to eat your way out of climate change. And you can start by skipping beef.

With 2,000 reactions and 800 comments, the sinister and erroneous video is gaining traction. As much as I hate to give it any more views, it would be awesome if you would all head there and join the conversation in the comments section.

Share the facts about cattle and environmental stewardship, and let’s shift the conversation in a positive, factual way! Be polite and considerate, but don’t spare the facts. Click here for a refresher on facts you can share.

My second example comes from Prevention Magazine. Several readers alerted me to this troubling publication, which featured an op-ed titled, “Why cutting back on beef is great for the planet.”

Sarah Smith, Prevention content director, informs readers, “Despite some people’s affinity for beef, mounting evidence suggests that cutting back is smart for us and the planet. So, as of September 2020, Prevention’s test kitchen will no longer create any new recipes containing beef. To do our part in helping our readers choose beef more mindfully, we will put our focus on other types of protein.”

Are you sick to your stomach yet? I know I am.

Meanwhile, fake meat corporations and slick Silicon Valley investors are trying to disrupt the marketplace with their plant-based patties and petri-dish proteins. With a solid smear campaign greasing the runway for them, these companies are ready to land in the lead as America’s protein of choice.

IDTechEx says plant-based and cultured meats are the future, with novel meat substitutes expecting to exceed $30 billion by 2030.

Dr. Michael Dent writes, “In its current form, the meat industry is unsustainable. It is an inefficient way to produce food that may soon be unable to adequately feed the growing global population, which could reach 10 billion by the year 2050. Meat production is damaging to the environment too, contributing to climate change, dwindling water supplies and environmental pollution.

“Despite this, global meat consumption is still growing and people are eating more meat than ever. It’s unlikely the global population will turn vegan. Realistic and affordable replacements for meat will be necessary before a significant shift away from the conventional meat industry is likely to happen.”

On Monday, I shared resources and groups that highlighted this reality—if we are to shape hearts and minds in society about who we are in animal agriculture, we need to continue to do good work and good deeds in our communities. And then share those with the world.

Naturally, this is an area our agricultural industry shines bright in. It’s only natural for us to care for our livestock, care for the environment and care for the people around us.
But how can we possibly counter this onslaught of absolute hate rhetoric against who we are and what we produce? I’ve said this hundreds of times on this blog in the last 13 years, but I’ll say it again — we NEED strong voices to get involved in these conversations.

My friends, if this rhetoric isn’t a wakeup call of what’s to come, I don’t know what is. If you want to maintain your right to own and manage your private land, to own and take care of your personal livestock and to choose the meat, dairy and eggs to nourish yourself and your family, we need to wake up, step up and start leading the conversations.

These false narratives are only getting stronger, but the truth is on our side. Let’s get to work.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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Cattle Ship with Crew of 43 Sinks Off Japan – VOA Asia

A search is being conducted after a ship with a crew of 43 and nearly 6,000 head of cattle capsized and sank off Japan’s southwestern coast, officials of the country’s coast guard and navy say.

The coast guard said it received a distress call Wednesday from the cargo vessel the Gulf Livestock 1, when it was west of the Japanese island of Amami-Oshima in the East China Sea, as Typhoon Maysak moved through the area with strong wind and heavy seas.  

A navy surveillance aircraft spotted a survivor in the water Wednesday night and a coast guard vessel rescued 45-year-old Sareno Edvarodo, a chief officer on the ship, a short time later. He told officials he put on a life jacket and jumped into the water as the ship capsized and sank after one engine failed in the storm.  

The coast guard said he is the only crew member rescued.

The ship loaded with cattle departed New Zealand, bound for China, on August 14 with 39 crew members from the Philippines, two from New Zealand and two from Australia.  

Typhoon Maysak also struck South Korea’s southern and eastern coasts on Thursday, flooding streams, cutting power to thousands of homes and leaving at least one person dead.

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Painting Eyes on The Butts of Cattle Can Protect Them From Lions, Research Shows – ScienceAlert

The predation of livestock by carnivores, and the retaliatory killing of carnivores as a result, is a major global conservation challenge. Such human-wildlife conflicts are a key driver of large carnivore declines and the costs of coexistence are often disproportionately borne by rural communities in the global south.

While current approaches tend to focus on separating livestock from wild carnivores, for instance through fencing or lethal control, this is not always possible or desirable. Alternative and effective non-lethal tools that protect both large carnivores and livelihoods are urgently needed.

In a new study we describe how painting eyes on the backsides of livestock can protect them from attack.

Many big cats – including lions, leopards, and tigers – are ambush predators. This means that they rely on stalking their prey and retaining the element of surprise. In some cases, being seen by their prey can lead them to abandon the hunt.

We tested whether we could hack into this response to reduce livestock losses to lions and leopards in Botswana’s Okavango delta region.

This delta, in north-west Botswana, has permanent marshlands and seasonally flooded plains which host a wide variety of wildlife. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site and parts of the delta are protected. However, though livestock are excluded, the cordon fence is primarily intended to prevent contact and disease transmission between cattle and Cape buffalo.

Large carnivores, and other wildlife including elephants, are able to move freely across it, and livestock losses to large carnivores are common in the area. In response, lethal control through shooting and poisoning can occur.

While the initial focus of the study was ambush predators generally, it soon became clear that lions were responsible for most of it. During the study, for instance, lions killed 18 cattle, a leopard killed one beast, and spotted hyaenas killed three.

Ultimately, our study found that lions were less likely to attack cattle if they had eyes painted on their rumps. This suggests that this simple and cost-effective technique can be added to the coexistence toolbox, where ambush predators are involved.

Eye-catching solution

Conflict between farmers and wildlife can be intense along the borders of protected areas, with many communities bearing significant costs of coexisting with wildlife. The edge of the Okavango delta in Botswana is no exception, where farmers operate small non-commercial livestock enterprises.

Livestock rub shoulders with lions, leopards, spotted hyaenas, cheetahs, and African wild dogs.

To protect the cattle, herds (anything between about six and 100 individual cattle) are kept within predator-proof enclosures overnight. However, they generally graze unattended for most of the day, when the vast majority of predation occurs.

Working with Botswana Predator Conservation and local herders, we painted cattle from 14 herds that had recently suffered lion attacks. Over four years, a total of 2,061 cattle were involved in the study.

Before release from their overnight enclosure, we painted about one-third of each herd with an artificial eye-spot design on the rump, one-third with simple cross-marks, and left the remaining third of the herd unmarked. We carried out 49 painting sessions and each of these lasted for 24 days.

The cattle were also collared and all foraged in the same area and moved similarly, suggesting they were exposed to similar risk. However the individuals painted with artificial eye-spots were significantly more likely to survive than unpainted or cross-painted control cattle within the same herd.

In fact, none of the 683 painted “eye-cows” were killed by ambush predators during the four-year study, while 15 (of 835) unpainted, and 4 (of 543) cross-painted cattle were killed.

file 20200805 215 1qc58fvNenguba Keitsumetsi demonstrates the technique to farmer, Rra Ketlogetswe Ramakgalo. (Bobby-Jo Photography)

These results supported our initial hunch that creating the perception that the predator had been seen by the prey would lead it to abandon the hunt.

But there were also some surprises.

Cattle marked with simple crosses were significantly more likely to survive than unmarked cattle from the same herd. This suggests that cross-marks were better than no marks at all, which was unexpected.

From a theoretical perspective, these results are interesting. Although eye patterns are common in many animal groups, notably butterflies, fishes, amphibians, and birds, no mammals are known to have natural eye-shaped patterns that deter predation. In fact, to our knowledge, our research is the first time that eye-spots have been shown to deter large mammalian predators.

Previous work on human responses to eye patterns however do generally support the detection hypothesis, perhaps suggesting the presence of an inherent response to eyes that could be exploited to modify behaviour in practical situations, such as to prevent human-wildlife conflicts, and reduce criminal activity in humans.

Possible limitations

First, it is important to realise that, in our experimental design, there were always unmarked cattle in the herd. Consequently, it is unclear whether painting would still be effective if these proverbial “sacrificial lambs” were not still on the menu. Further research could uncover this, but in the meantime applying artificial marks to the highest-value individuals within the herd may be most pragmatic.

Second, it is important to consider habituation, meaning that predators may get used to and eventually ignore the deterrent. This is a fundamental issue for nearly all non-lethal approaches. Whether the technique remains effective in the longer term is not yet known in this case.

Protecting livestock from wild carnivores – while conserving carnivores themselves – is an important and complex issue that requires the application of a suite of tools, including practical and social interventions.

While adding the eye-cow technique to the carnivore-livestock conflict prevention toolbox, we note that no single tool is likely to be a silver bullet. Indeed, we must do better than a silver bullet if we are to ensure the successful coexistence of livestock and large carnivores. Nevertheless, as part of an expanding non-lethal toolkit, we hope that this simple, low-cost approach could reduce the costs of coexistence for some farmers.

Dr J Weldon McNutt (Director, Botswana Predator Conservation) and Tshepo Ditlhabang (Coexistence Officer, Botswana Predator Conservation) contributed to this article. The Conversation

Neil R Jordan, Lecturer, UNSW; Cameron Radford, PhD Candidate, UNSW, and Tracey Rogers, Associate Professor Evolution & Ecology, UNSW.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Few surprises in the USDA cattle reports – AGDAILY

The U.S. cattle herd is known to cycle through periods of expansion and contraction roughly every 10 years or so. According to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, high feed prices from 2007 through 2013 contributed to one of those contraction phases with beef cow numbers reaching a low in 2014. Of course, low supplies translate into higher prices, motivating producers to expand. Currently, there are over 7 percent more beef cows in the U.S. than during the low point in 2014. Last January showed signs that the expansion of the beef herd was leveling off, and recent reports suggest that appears to remain the case.

The USDA’s Cattle Inventory report pegs the total number of cattle and calves on July 1 at 103 million head, just slightly above last July’s inventory of 102.9 million head, and fairly in-line with pre-report expectations. All cows and heifers that have calved total 41.4 million head, just 0.5 percent below last July, which is driven by 1 percent fewer beef cows at 32.1 million head, as milk cows at 9.35 million head are about 0.5 percent higher than last July. Beef replacement heifers, at 4.40 million head, and milk replacement heifers, at 4.10 million head, remain essentially unchanged from last year, while the category of other heifers weighing over 500 pounds is up 1 percent compared to expectations of 3.2 percent, which suggests producers are not really expanding their herds but also may not be cutting back as much as anticipated. For the same weight category, steers are 2 percent higher and bulls are even with last July. The number of calves under 500 pounds, at 28 million head, is down slightly.

With somewhat fewer cows and heifers calved, the USDA has revised downward its January estimate of the 2020 calf crop to 35.8 million head, so that, consistent with pre-report expectations, it is now 1 percent below the 2019 level. This may help hold down the number of animals on feed and beef production for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.

The USDA’s July Cattle-on-Feed report, indicates 11.4 million head on-feed or just 0.4 percentless than July 2019, consistent with expectations that it would be on par. In June, feedlots placed 2 percent more cattle than a year ago and marketed 1 percent more animals. Each of those numbers was within the expected ranges but somewhat lower than the ranges’ midpoints. The slightly lower number of cattle-on-feed reflects 1.5 percent fewer heifers and 0.3 percent more steers than a year ago. Even so, heifers still comprise over 38 percent of the cattle currently in feedlots, as compared to only 31 percent to 33 percent during much of the last expansion. This is additional evidence that the breeding herd is leveling off or at least not expanding.

Given the inventory and cattle-on-feed numbers, beef production is anticipated to be no more than 1 percent higher in 2020 than last year and then drop 2 percent next year. In terms of domestic demand, per capita beef consumption is expected to remain at about 58 pounds per person in 2020 and drop to 56 pounds per person in 2021. Meanwhile, given limitations due to packer closures, exports have taken a hit this year at 2.5 percent lower, but are expected to rebound 6 percent in 2021. U.S. trade agreements with China, Mexico and Canada over the last year should help to bolster exports, provided containment of the coronavirus limits packer closures and adverse effects on economic growth.

All things considered, prices for the next four quarters are likely to follow similar seasonal patterns as in prior years, albeit at lower levels. Slaughter steer prices are forecast to average, respectively, about $99/cwt and $110/cwt for the last two quarters of 2020, and $114/cwt and $101/cwt for the first two quarters of 2021. For 600-to-700-pound feeder steers, prices are forecast to average about $146/cwt and $148/cwt for the last two quarters of this year and $141/cwt and $137/cwt in the first two quarters of next year. Again, the major factors that could result in notably lower prices are uncertainties surrounding trade and the coronavirus. If the virus continues to have negative effects on economic growth, that could depress both domestic and export beef demand, putting further downward pressure on prices.

Discussion and graphs associated with this article available here. 

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