Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Threat Down: Moo-shu Man Milk?

At our home Dad's favorite morning "news" source comes through a show called The Colbert Report. It is an interesting show to say the least. Usually I find the show a bit ridiculous but when I seen a taped episode today something caught my attention on the threat down..... Moo-shu Man Milk!!!

Moo-shu Man Milk?!?!?!? I thought, what the heck is that!! It is milk made from implanting the human breast milk gene into cows so they give different milk. Chinese scientist have created it in attempts to find better ways to feed our growing world population.

I definitely understood what was happening but I didn't really understand why so like always I asked and did some research. Dad used an analogy that I could understand easily that I will share with you. In the dairy the calves are taken away from their moms at birth so that their mothers can go immediately into production towards the farm. We milk out the mothers for the first time and feed the calves their moms milk because it is a special type of milk called colostrum. Colostrum is necessary for the calf to receive in the first 24 hours because it is packed full of antibodies that will help the calves fight away diseases such as scours. Some farms however use an artificially made milk called milk replacer, which can get the job done but isn't ideal. Breast milk for human babies is believed to be similar in quality as colostrum verse milk replacer (or baby formula for humans!). Since it is a new project there isn't much tested for benefits verse downfalls and little is known about the process. I also find it interesting that Canadians are not allowed to test these practices where the Chinese do it freely, morals come into question of course and it is hard to know where to draw the line. What do you think about this?

On a side note this is what my Dad thinks: "It's cool that they have made this accomplishment but if I was to make a genetically modified Holstein and bred her and everything else I would have, at sometime, dehorned her before the video!"  haha got to love Dad!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Interesting New Article!



Global action plan aims to rein in surging food prices

Agriculture ministers representing both the world’s advanced and emerging economies have agreed on an action plan to combat out-of-control global food prices, which have been growing steadily more volatile since 2008.

Central to the plan is the creation of an Agricultural Market Information System that will log public and private commodity holdings, according to a draft copy of the declaration obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The system is designed to increase transparency and stability in world markets by opening a window into the level of food stocks held by participating nations and agri-food conglomerates, companies that buy huge volumes in international markets but do not disclose data on their holdings. Several nations, including China and parts of Europe, are similarly secretive about the quantity of food they maintain. Many argue this has clouded attempts to accurately judge the gap between global food supply and demand, exacerbating the market volatility that G20 agriculture ministers will gather in Paris to discuss next week.
The meeting will be the first of its kind: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who holds the G20 presidency, asked the agriculture ministers to convene last year after an extreme period of food price volatility that set off riots in Africa and the Middle East. It came on the heels of a price crisis in 2008 that prompted similar outbreaks in Haiti, Egypt and elsewhere.

The ministers’ response to Mr. Sarkozy’s request was, at first, cool. For this reason, policy advisers say the action plan officials sketched out represents a remarkable consensus.
“It’s a very positive step that they tried to grapple with this issue because it [volatility] is a new issue and one that needs new solutions, not old ones,” said Stuart Clark, a senior policy adviser with the Canada Foodgrains Bank, a non-government food aid group.
The launch of an emergency humanitarian food reserve system that will be administered by the World Food Program to mitigate volatility and ensure rapid access to food for vulnerable populations is one of those solutions; the ministers also pledged to remove “food export restrictions or extraordinary taxes for food purchased for non-commercial humanitarian purposes,” and to support better regulation of agriculture futures and derivatives markets. Details of the latter task, though, will be left to the G20 finance ministers.
A big disappointment for observers of the process was the ministers’ position on biofuels: The group agreed to conduct further analysis on the industry’s impact on food prices despite the fact that an analysis commissioned by the group and completed by a coalition of 10 intergovernmental agencies linked increased biofuel production with volatility.

Also missing from the declaration, which pledges more resources to boost agricultural production and research, was mention of the need for the development of climate-smart agriculture.
“If you don’t put a climate-smart lens around it, you might simply suggest that we need more of what we do here: large-scale, energy-intensive, input-intensive agriculture,” Mr. Clark said. “I think it’s pretty clear we need to take a look at that.”
More worrisome to critics of the declaration is the absence of vital details on how private agri-food companies will be persuaded to submit to the agricultural information system.
“Those businesses depend on secrecy in order to do their business – their interest is … in a very different point from where the public interest lies,” said Sophia Murphy, a senior adviser to the global Institute for Agriculture and Trade policy and the United Nations. “They’re right to acknowledge how important the private sector is … we all agree more information would be better,” she said. “Just asking the public sector to tell us what they have is not going to cut it.”
International organizations, including Ms. Murphy’s, the Foodgrains bank and Oxfam, were hoping the ministers would advocate for the buildup of buffer stocks in vulnerable countries.
“If you have stocks, you manage volatility right away,” Ms. Murphy said. “You secure physical food against hunger.”

Ms. Murphy is concerned that underdeveloped countries will remain disconnected from international markets under the new plan. Risk management programs the ministers are advocating are designed to help smooth those countries’ entry into markets. But Ms. Murphy said she is skeptical of their value given the high cost of similar programs such as farm income supports to taxpayers in Canada and the United States.
“They cost a huge amount of public money,” she said. “How all of this is meant to work in countries that have no money and have 80 per cent of their country farming … I question how realistic this is,” she said.
Mark Fried, a policy expert with Oxfam Canada, said those types of small farmers Ms. Murphy refers to do not factor in the draft as equal participants in the global food system. That is despite the fact they feed one-third of the world’s people.
“There is nothing there to make [the action plan] accessible or useful to smallholders,” he said. “It’s a broad, global approach geared to large actors. It may or may not be the way forward for the people that are hungry today.”

Monday, 13 June 2011

Thursday, 9 June 2011

In Perfect Harmony Part 2

As promised! :) The second difference in the lifestyles of Dairy vs Beef come in the facilities/ areas they are kept in.

On our dairy the cattle are kept in a free stall barn during the winter and get "pastured" during the summer. The beef cattle however are always out in the open on pasture. In the winter they are of course fed hay and supplementary feeds but they are always there!

Simmentals out on pasture

Holsteins headed to the summer pasture

Free stall barn for the winter

When looking after any animal whether it a Holstein, Simmental, or even a horse :), there are many factors to take into consideration. Each facility must have available drinking water for the animals at all times. Both cattle breeds are provided this at our place via an automatic water. Shelter also comes into place. As we all know winters can get pretty cold in Alberta so there has to be a place where the cattle can relax and be warm. That's why out in our pastures we have sheds for the beef cattle and the dairy cattle are kept in the free stall. In the free stall the cattle have the option of being inside or out protecting them from the elements and in the pasture the beef have the shelters!!! You also have to make sure that the facilities are safe for your animals. To do so we check all the fences regularly, keep facilities clean and dry, and check daily for anything that may cause harm. This has been part 2 of in perfect harmony!!! More to come later! Please feel free to ask any questions that may come to mind!!!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

In Perfect Harmony

Cows, cows, cows! So many cows! For the most part I think we all know the basic differences between dairy cattle and beef cattle. Dairy are for milk, beef are for meat. Plain and simple. Even though we know that however, how much do we truly know about the differences in the way they exist on the farm?! Fear not for I am here to educate you! :)

The first difference starts from birth. On our farm the Simmentals(Beef) calve out at the end of April/ beginning of May where as our Holsteins(Dairy) calve year round. The Simmental calves are raised on pasture with there moms where the Holstein calves are raised by hand!

A Simmental calf with his momma!

Feeding the Holsteins in the barn!

The Simmentals are raised with there moms because it is more economical for us to do so that way as well as easier! The Holstein calves however need to be fed because their moms are being milked to sell as .... well milk! At our farm we still feed them milk from our "bucket cows". At some farms milk replacer is used to feed them at all times. Tune in tomorrow to learn more about the differences :)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Terminator!

The cattle mommas around our house aren't the only new moms with little mouths too feed!! As promised here is the picture of our fox at the log pile and a few of her little ones (there is six of them!!!!). Lets just say I'd sure hate to be a gopher these days :) !

Friday, 3 June 2011

Learn the Lingo

"Every last one, route one, rural hearts got a story to tell. Every Grandma, In-Law, Ex-Girlfriend maybe knows it just a little too well. Whether you're late for church or AT THE 4-H SALE, hey words gonna get around. Everybody dies famous in a small town!" - Miranda Lambert (Kinda!)

What does good kids, good food, and good cattle all have in common?... They were all at the 2011 Eckville & District Show and Sale on Wednesday June 1, 2011!!!! :) Normally in a post like this I would merely tell you what the going ons at the show was but this year there is a much bigger story. A story about success of the underdogs, which I know everybody enjoys! The Grand Champion at our show was a breed that maybe some of you are not familiar with, a Buelingo! and to tell you the truth I wasn't that familiar with the breed either! After a little research however, (most of which consisted of talking to a very knowledgeable young lady, Jordan Hainsworth) I learned a few things about these intriguing animals! They are a composite breed made from several other different breeds, the main two in them however is the breed called Lakenvelder (more commonly called Dutch Belted) and Angus. The were founded in North Dakota by a man named Russell Bueling, hence the name Buelingo. When I was speaking with Jordan (who is now in her 7th year of 4-H!) she mentioned that she has always been asked crazy questions about her cattle such as are they from India! She said it is extremely hard to get people to take them seriously as hardly anyone has heard of them and the judges at shows sometimes don't even know what they are. Jordan and her younger sister Madison (4th year 4-H member) didn't give up on the breed however and it paid off! Maddy and Ned won the show on Wednesday taking Grand Champion honors and Jordan stood on top of her class with her Purebred Buelingo Gizmo. I think these young ladies should be extremely proud and we could all learn a valuable lesson from them. It's important to stick to what you do and on top of that to be proud of it. When we think about it all breeds really go through similar difficulties, even Angus, arguably the most popular breed right now, weren't always on top. Another point to keep in mind is that the more we know about other cattle breeds, including those that aren't as popular, the more we can learn about ours. Knowing about other breeds keeps your eyes open to alway be improving upon your own. This really is what the industry is about!!

Want to know more about Buelingos? You can "learn the lingo" at The Official Website of The Buelingo Beef Cattle Society

I encourage you to check this out and take this opportunity to learn about this amazing breed!! :)

Jordan at the top of her class!

Jordan congratulating her sister!

Madison and Ned - 2011 Eckville & District Show Champion