Virginia farmer raises rare Japanese cattle – WHSV

ALTAVISTA, Va. (WDBJ) — There is no shortage of beef cattle in Virginia with more than 650,000 beef cows raised on over 26,000 farms in the commonwealth. However, in Altavista, on 423 acres of land, you’ll find a very special breed of cow: the Wagyu.

WDBJ7 photo

Wagyu, which literally just means ‘Japanese cow,’ is one of the fastest growing breeds in America. And for good reason. Since taking his first bite of a Wagyu steak at the Greenbrier Resort 12 years ago, Dale Moore knew he wanted to raise these cattle.

“It was so good, when I got back to my room I called my father-in-law, he lives here on the farm, and he does a lot of internet work and searching,” Moore said.” ‘Jim, start searching for Wagyu, because we’re going to switch breeds as quickly as we can.'”

Moore has since raised a variety of fullblood and half-blood Wagyu on his farm that he sells to a number of east coast locations.

So, what makes Wagyu so special?

“Prime is as good as you get,” Moore said. “These are above prime. Beyond prime.”

Wagyu is famous for its quality and flavor. A big reason for that is the amount of marbling or fat that develops within the muscle. With a low melting point, this fat essentially melts in your mouth when cooked.

The full-blood Wagyu found on Moore’s farm can all be traced back to cattle originally found in Japan. One-hundred percent Wagyu cattle are incredibly rare in the U.S., which is why Moore takes pride in his stock.

With all this hype, WDBJ7’s Ian Cassette had to try this for himself. There’s a lot of pressure to cook it right, but the magic is in the beef, he said.

He took a one and one-half inch sirloin steak, seasoned it with some salt and pepper, tossed into a cast iron skillet on the stovetop to get a good sear and added a little butter, garlic, and rosemary as it continued cooking.

“That’s a really good steak. We did it. We did it!”

His opinion? While carrying a higher price tag, it’s a very worthy steak. If you can afford it, he highly suggests trying it.

If you are interested in trying it for yourself, Moore only sells his cows, either full or half, to farms. He suggests visiting Benjamin’s in Forest or the General Store & Inn in Altavista.

Copyright 2019 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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Who, If Not Aliens, Is Sucking Every Drop of Blood From These Cows – The Cut


A bull that has not been mutilated.
Photo: Garrett Thurman / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeE

This summer, some spooky shit occurred in eastern Oregon: Per NPR, five breeding bulls showed up dead on a ranch, with every drop of blood sucked from their body, and with their tongue and genitals surgically removed. The mutilated bulls looked like “giant, deflated plush [toys]” according to the report, which frames the deaths as “eerie” and “mysterious.” But the culprit behind the murders couldn’t be more obvious: It’s aliens.

And the county law enforcement investigating the murders undeniably knows this. According to NPR, Harney County sheriff’s deputy Dan Jenkins has ruled out that “bears, wolves, cougars, or poisonous plants” were involved in bulls’ demise; he also noted that the animals were not shot. In fact, Jenkins even acknowledged the alien theory — and he didn’t deny it.

“A lot of people lean toward the aliens,” he told NPR. “One caller had told us to look for basically a depression under the carcass. ‘Cause he said that the alien ships will kinda beam the cow up and do whatever they are going to do with it. Then they just drop them from a great height.”

Understandably, this theory might be unsettling or even incomprehensible to alien skeptics or deniers, but there’s really no other explanation. While the murdered bulls were pricey — $6,000 each, to be exact — why would a human only want their blood, genitals, and tongues? Furthermore, the report points to other incidents of dead cows turning up bloodless, one of which dates back to the 1980s. So unless there’s some deranged guy out there who’s been mutilating bulls for nearly four decades, it sure seems like a single human is not to blame.

If all of that’s not convincing enough, consider this additional piece of information: The FBI won’t confirm or deny whether it is looking into the deflated bulls. Interesting!

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Cattle losses likely as Montana ranchers dig out from September blizzard – Tri-State Livestock News

Running cows in the shadow of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front isn’t for the faint of heart. Droughts, floods, winds so strong they’ll knock you off your horse, erratic cattle prices, and a gang of predators eager to make a meal out of any calf that crosses their path: all that is a normal part of ranching on the Rocky Mountain Front.

Pat ‘Judge’ Hall has lived there for 64 years. His ranch, Blacktail Angus, stands just north of Birch Creek on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Four generations of Halls have made their living running cows on the Rocky Mountain Front, but none of them ever saw a September storm quite like the one that blew in last Friday.

“Where I live, we got close to four foot of snow on the level,” Hall said. “The snow banks are 10- to 12-feet deep. There’s no way I can get out of here with tractors or anything like that. It’s flat tough.”

Strong winds and heavy snow hit the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains late Friday evening. The worst of it centered on a narrow expanse stretching from the Canadian border south to Augusta. By Monday afternoon the Blackfeet Indian Reservation’s largest community, Browning, had 48 inches of snow piled up, breaking a record for September storms set in 1908.

Once the snow stopped and the winds died down, Blackfeet officials had a chance to evaluate the situation. What they found was disheartening.

“We have a lot of displaced livestock and many fences covered by snow,” said Terry Tatsey of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council. “Many parts of Blackfeet Country were heavily affected by the snow accumulation. Many ranchers are searching for their cattle as the snow recedes. We have many ranchers who will need hay.”

Just a few miles east, the conditions were far more tolerable. The city of Cut Bank, just 33 miles away, received less than a third of Browning’s total snow accumulation.

“My brother lives west of Cut Bank about 10- or 12-miles,” Hall said. “He called me on Saturday to see how things were over here. That’s when we were still piling up. He said, ‘We’ve got about six inches’.

Farmers and ranchers across northcentral Montana had ample warning that a major winter storm was was about to hit, but few fully appreciated its impending severity. Adding to their troubles was widespread delays getting winter feed. A cool, wet summer slowed maturation of the area’s hay crop. Ranchers used to having their stack yards filled before Labor Day stared nervously as the empty yards filled with snow.

“We knew the storm was coming, but there was no way I could have got up there within a day and got my cattle moved down,” Hall said of his herd grazing on the flanks of the Lewis and Clark National Forest. “It really wouldn’t have done much good for me anyway, because I wouldn’t have been able to feed them.”

“Normally by the end of August I’ve got all my hay bought and moved in,” he explained, “but the hay producer I buy mine from, he didn’t get his second crop until right about the middle of September. About the time I got ready to move that, this storm hit. I do have some feed on hand, but nothing compared to what I’d have in a normal year. Everybody else is pretty much in the same situation here.”

As noted before, ranchers by nature are a pretty hardy lot. It’s unlikely that any family stalwart enough to survive 80-plus years on the Front would be defeated by a single storm. Much the same can be said for their livestock.

“They’re pretty hardy animals, and they’re not as dumb as people think they are,” Hall said of his cattle. “They’re going find a place where there’s good shelter to keep out of the wind.”

No matter how resilient they are, Montana ranchers on the Rocky Mountain Front can’t help but worry that some percentage of their herds may have succumbed to the snow and cold; and the impact it may have on calf weights. October is when the largest percentage of cow/calf operations sell the bulk of their animals.

A quarter horse ponders leaving its stall on the Hall Ranch near Heart Butte

“I’m hoping that within a week or so, if it warms up, it will be thawed up enough to where we can maybe start looking for them,” Hall said of his cattle herd. “I’ve supposedly got a bunch of cattle up there, but I’m thinking with this snow, they’re probably making their way down. They might be half way to Dupuyer by now.”

The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council has offered the following information to ranchers concerned about livestock losses due to the past week’s storm.

“Ranchers need to remember if they have livestock losses, to document those losses through photos that are timestamped. People and organizations interested in donating hay can contact the MSU Extension office for the Tribe, Verna Billedeaux or the Tribe’s ARMP department, Will Seeley. You can call (406) 338-7521 ext 2370. We will make information available as it becomes available.”

–Reprinted with permission from the Great Falls Tribune

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Cattle truck crash near Butte triggers animal-rights group – KXLH Helena News

The rollover crash near Butte of a semi truck hauling cattle has prompted the animal rights group People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to work toward putting up a billboard near the crash site.

“Our billboard reminds everyone that cows are intelligent, sensitive individuals who can feel pain and don’t want to die whether that’s on the road or at the slaughter house,” said PETA representative Emily Raap from Virginia.

No people were injured in the rollover that happened at the Interstate 15-90 interchange on September 18th, but one of the 36 cows being hauled was killed.

PETA wants to promote a vegan diet with a billboard.

“Eating meat is completely unnecessary and that raising animals to be slaughtered means a lifetime of abuse and torment for the animals followed by a violent and painful death,” said Raap.

Some people believe that putting a billboard up is just exploiting an unfortunate accident.

Craig Schuett, who works for Excelsior Meats in Butte, said, “I think they’re just taking advantage a little bit of an accident, and accidents happen, people get in more car wrecks than cows do and get hurt.”

And even when PETA puts up the billboard, people in the meat industry don’t think the sign will have much impact on people in Montana who really like their meat.

“We’re a state of rancher, hunters, we like meat, we get a majority of our income derived from ranching, farming industry,” said Schuett.

PETA doesn’t know when the billboard will go up, but wants it near the crash site along I-15.

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Raising green beef: How cattle, dairy farmers are becoming environmentally friendly – GazetteNET

<br /> Raising green beef: How cattle, dairy farmers are becoming environmentally friendly<br />

  • The anaerobic digester at Barstow’s Longview Farm generates 800 kilowatts of electricity per hour. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Cattle at Barstow’s Longview Farm.

  • Jake Gaboury, an employee of Vanguard Renewables, works on the pump to the anaerobic digester at Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley.

  • Jake Aziz and Jake Gaboury, employees of Vanguard Renewables, work on the pump to the anaerobic digester at Barstow’s Longview Farm, STAFF PHOTOS/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer

Published: 9/21/2019 11:00:13 AM

Methane, a greenhouse gas, gets turned into electricity at Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley. Enough electricity is generated from cow manure and food waste to power over 1,000 homes.

The gas traps heat in the atmosphere and cows produce methane through belches, farts and their manure – enough to account for nine percent of all methane emissions in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In 2013, Barstow’s began using an anaerobic digester, which processes manure and food waste into electricity and creates a nutrient-rich fertilizer for the farm.

The digester generates 800 kilowatts per hour by processing all of the farm’s nearly 6,000 gallons of manure, plus 7,000 gallons of food waste from nearby businesses.

“We are taking the energy potential out of cow manure and food waste and turning it into enough electricity to power 1,600 homes,” Denise Barstow said.

Two engines are running continuously to generate electricity that goes into the power grid. Both engines have heat recovery units hooked up which goes back to heating the digester itself, for hot water used to clean barns, and to heat eight homes on the farm’s property.

Food waste from local companies such as Coca Cola and Whole Foods and manure from the farm’s 550 cows go into the digester’s tanks, one of which is 17 feet underground and insulated by the ground.

“It’s a lot like a stomach,” Barstow said. “It’s really hot in there. Everything is moving around, there are little microbes in there and all the gas is rising to the top — methane, carbon and sulfur.”

Barstow said that the farm captures 80 percent of the methane produced by cows, and converts it into carbon — a less harmful pollutant — along with generating electricity, making natural fertilizer, and heating. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its ability to absorb and trap heat in the atmosphere.

“We wanted to do something that the community would really buy into and support and something that reflected our beliefs as farmers,” Barstow said. “That we need to do our best to minimize our waste and reuse all that we can and do the best possible thing for the land and world.”

Barstow’s Farm partnered with five other dairy farms in the state to attract investors for the digester. Through a combination of grants and loans from the state helped support the $6.3 million project. Vanguard Renewables, a Wellesley-based company, operates the digester.

Minimizingenvironmental impact

The U.S. has the largest fed-cattle industry in the world and is the world’s largest producer of beef, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Massachusetts ranks among the smallest inventory of cattle in the U.S.

In 2017, the USDA reported a population of approximately 6,000 cattle in Massachusetts versus largest-scale productions in Texas with 4 million, and Missouri and Oklahoma each with over 2 million.

Farmers at Barstow’s and Cook Farm in Hadley are implementing farming practices to minimize their impact on the local environment.

Use of fertilizers

Land management practices for growing cow feed can have a significant impact on its surrounding area. The type of fertilizer used and the method for preparing the land to grow crops are vital to minimizing a farm’s impact on the environment.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit organization, U.S. farmers applied roughly 4.3 million tons of nitrogen-based fertilizer on their crops in 1964. By 2007, Americans used 5.7 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer on corn alone.

Since the 1950s, artificial commercial fertilizer has become a cheaper and easier method of growing cow feed, and the practice of rotating crops in order to keep soil naturally fertile has become less common, according to an agricultural professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Masoud Hashemi, who teaches pasture management at UMass, said, “For many years, farmers were dependent on legumes for biologically fixing nitrogen” in the soil. Then, “the fossil fuel (industry) made artificially fertilizer cheap and easy to handle and farmers stopped using legumes since they could buy big bags of urea for $20.” Urea is a cheap, nitrogen-based artificial fertilizer.

Farmers would use peas, beans, alfalfa, and clover in order to bring nitrogen from the atmosphere into the ground and enrich the soil after harvesting hay and corn used for cow feed, Hashemi said. The harm in using artificial fertilizers is the runoff created from rain and water. Harmful chemicals make their way into underground sources of water that can cause algae blooms in brooks, ponds, and lakes, according to Hashemi.

“Algae blooms deplete oxygen from a body of water and any organism in the water, including fish, snakes, and frogs that will die because of a deficiency of oxygen,” Hashemi said. “The water is also toxic and small animals that drink from it will die. Baby sheep and cows are very sensitive to that.”

Gordon Cook, a co-owner of Cook Farm, said runoff control methods can help prevent erosion from rainwater from contaminating larger bodies of water.

“We incorporate the use of grassways to purify the water before they get into a stream,” he said. The grassways disperse the erosion into the ground before reaching a body of water. Cook also said the farm uses stone waterways to move the water into a swale rather than a ditch.

“Rather than let (erosion) run off and take things and put it downriver, we try to disperse it so that the water doesn’t go” into waterways such as the Connecticut River, Cook said.

Disturbing the soil

How farmers prepare their land for a growing season can have adverse effects on soil quality and can produce harmful runoff. Tilling practices that break up and invert the soil, such as plowing and disking, have been considered conventional since the 1980s, Hashemi said, but research has shown that minimally disturbing the land produces a healthier soil.

Over the past five years, Barstow’s Farm has transitioned to no-till planting using specialized equipment that uses knife-like tools to cut small slits in the soil to then drop and cover seeds in the ground.

“We do not disturb the soil when we plant our seeds in the springtime,” Barstow said. “By not disturbing the soil you are keeping the biodiversity within the soil more intact, which will sequester more carbon. It also reduces soil erosion.”

Farms harrow the ground to chop unwanted weeds, eliminate clumps in the ground and to incorporate topsoil into the ground, which releases a lot of carbon into the air, Barstow said.

Planting cover crops after the harvesting season of cow feed crops help minimize the runoff of harmful chemicals in the ground from fertilizers, according to Hashemi. “It eases erosion and the impact on the environment.”

Cook Farm has used cover crops for the past 30 years in order to “sequester nitrogen and protect the soil from wind and rain erosion,” Cook said. The farm grows rye, wheat, and turnip kale to feed the farm’s 190 cows, 70 of which they milk for dairy.

The farm grows a little over 90 acres of corn and 175 acres of hay to feed their cattle, Cook said. They also use mixed grass, clover and alfalfa to feed their cows.

For the past seven years, Cook Farms has not plowed its fields, but Cook said tilling is useful in combating aggressive weeds and a complete turning over of the soil can help in those cases.

“I am pretty fond of trying no-till planting systems and the use of cover crops,” Cook said. Cook said he has seen the use of cover crops as more common in the past five to 10 years.

Barstow said that cover cropping in western Massachusetts has become a common practice among farmers, and “learning about farms out West that didn’t cover crop was alarming to me because I thought it was a common practice. I don’t know any farms in the area that don’t.”

Barstow’s will be holding free walking tours on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., to show how “innovation and tech have changed this farm for the better.”

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at

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