Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Couple finds success operating B&D Genetics

Brittany and David Carwell of B&D Genetics.

David and Brittany Carwell are living a dream come true. The young couple finished graduate school in 2011 when they were both 23, receiving their Master’s degrees in Reproductive Physiology at Louisiana State University. The couple married and returned to David’s family farm in Cherry Valley, Ark., where they launched their business, B&D Genetics. The company offers a variety of reproductive services for small ruminants, including embryo flushes and semen collection and storage.

“For me this is something I have always wanted to do,” David said. “My whole family has farmed or run their own businesses. My parents have played a huge role in my life. My dad taught me to work hard and be honest and fair with people at all times. He is the reason I pursued graduate school at the early age of 21. Without his guidance I don't feel as if I would be where I am today. My mom is still living and is significantly involved in our business on an everyday basis.”

He added, “Brittany grew up on a small farm in East Texas. When we first met, her dream was to raise a family and to farm. We go hand-in-hand, as you might say.”

To read more about the Carwells and B&D Genetics, check out the March 2015 edition of Goat Rancher magazine. To subscribe or read it online, visit www.goatrancher.com.

The magazine also can be found in all Tractor Supply Co. stores.

New homesteaders learn a lot in a year!

Lauren Linahon's article will have you laughing out loud as she recounts how the purchase of six baby chicks turned into a full-fledged adventure in Homesteading.

Lauren and Bill Linahon are a young family (she’s 26, he’s 32) with three children and one on the way. Last April, they started their homestead, Herman’s Homestead, in Boone County in central Iowa. It is a small, family-owned, integrated livestock homestead that includes Nubian goats, Southdown Babydoll sheep, turkeys, chickens, rabbits and pigs (coming in the spring). 

Their story is a lesson in what can be accomplished in less than a year. Read Lauren Linahon’s humorous account of their new adventure in self-sufficiency in the March 2015 special Homestead Edition of Goat Rancher magazine. If you’re not a yet a subscriber, visit www.goatrancher.com for more information.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Meat industry bashes new proposed dietary guidelines

Alcohol is OK but red meat isn't?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week released the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommendations online, the agencies said in a news release. The recommendations are available for public review and comment. 

USDA and HHS will consider the committee's recommendation, "along with input from other federal agencies and comments from the public as they develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015, to be released later this year," the release said. 

The public is encouraged to view the independent advisory group's report and provide written comments at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov for a period of 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. 

Organizations representing the livestock industries were quick to issue comments on the committee's recommendations. 

"We think the advisory committee has taken the wrong approach," said Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Ia., who is president of the National Pork Producers Council. "Science recognizes that meat is, and should be, a part of a healthful diet. It appears the advisory committee was more interested in addressing what's trendy among foodies than providing science-based advice for the average American's diet. Have we really come to the point where alcohol is okay and meat isn't?" he said, referring to the fact that the committee omitted lean meat from its recommended dietary pattern (recommending 5.5 ounces a day of "protein foods") while including a recommendation for moderate amounts of alcohol. 

Barry Carpenter, chief executive officer of the North American Meat Institute, said in a news release, "We appreciate the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's recognition of the important role that lean meat can play in a healthy balanced diet, but lean meat's relegation to a footnote ignores the countless studies and data that the committee reviewed for the last two years that showed unequivocally that meat and poultry are among the most nutrient dense foods available. Nutrient dense lean meat is a headline, not a footnote." 

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association statement indicated lean meat plays an important role in the American diet and science shows it needs to be recognized as part of a healthy dietary pattern just as it was in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They encourage Secretaries Burwell and Vilsack to reject the advisory committee's recommendation that healthy American diets should be lower in red meat. The process was incomplete with flawed conclusions specific to health benefits of red meat's role in the American diet. 

Lab testing is only way to accurately evaluate hay

(Editor's Note: This article is geared toward cattle. To avoid additional supplementation, a 132-pound doe nursing twin kids would require about 4.5 pounds of hay per day that tested 11% crude protein and 48% total digestible nutrients.)

A hay probe is used to extract a sample from the middle of a round bale.

By David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
Missouri Extensioin Service

MT. VERNON, Mo. - University of Missouri Extension specialists frequently remind farmers that the only effective way to evaluate the merits of hay or haylage is to have it tested by a lab.

"Earlier this winter, a Newton County farmer in his 70's sent me the lab results on some grassy hay he'd purchased. He commented that he'd never had a hay sample analyzed in his life. I said, 'well it's about time you did'," said Eldon Cole, livestock specialists with MU Extension.

According to Cole, the hay that was tested had 8.7 percent crude protein on a dry basis which should meet a mature, dry cow's needs. The energy or total digestible nutrient (TDN) was the low spot at only 48 percent.

"I told him it would need some additional energy supplement to meet most classes of cattle's requirements. I also was concerned the high neutral detergent fiber (NDF) level of 71 percent would limit the animal's intake," said Cole.

In a few weeks, Cole received three more lab results on hay this same farmer had raised or purchased. The protein levels ranged from 9.8 to 11.9 percent. The TDN values were 54 to 54.5 percent. NDF was acceptable for grass hay in the 61 to 64 percent range.
"As a rule the lower the NDF, the greater amount the cattle will eat," said Cole.

Since then, Cole says the client has found some fescue, barn-stored, with 12.4 percent protein and 55.5 percent TDN. The very last sample he submitted was not so good at 8.8 percent protein, 49.9 percent TDN and 69 percent NDF.

"He figured out it wasn't worth the money, and he is not buying any more of it," said Cole. "Although he'd never had hay tested in his life, I believe he is glad he did and his experience should make him a better hay evaluator in the future."

For more information, contact your local Extension agent.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Texas A&M sausage-making workshop a success

By Blair Fannin
979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – From deer hunting enthusiasts to small grocery operators, there was wide interest in a workshop devoted to sausage making held recently at Texas A&M University in College Station.

The workshop was hosted by the department of animal science at Texas A&MAttendees went home with a wealth of knowledge about making their own sausage, according to organizers.

“We took each of the 31 participants through the grinding and mixing process, teaching them how to make sausage with the actual equipment found in their own kitchen,” said Dr. Wes Osburn, associate professor in the meat science section of the department and a Texas A&M AgriLife Research meat scientist.

Dr. Wes Osburn, associate professor in the meat science section of the department of animal science and Texas A&M AgriLife Research meat scientist, discusses spice blending with participants at the recent Creative Sausage Making Workshop in College Station. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)
Dr. Wes Osburn, associate professor in the meat science section of the department of animal science and Texas A&M AgriLife Research meat scientist, discusses spice blending with participants at the recent Creative Sausage Making Workshop in College Station. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

The workshop was open to both beginning and novice sausage makers. Participants were given classroom and hands-on experiences, learning many aspects of sausage making from meat selection, ingredients, casings, stuffing, equipment and processing to the final finished product. Attendees spent part of the workshop in a classroom setting learning about the history of sausage, food safety practices and different seasonings used for various sausage recipes. That was followed by hands-on work in the meat laboratory, including using tabletop grinders, commercial mixers, hand-crank sausage stuffers and natural or artificial casings, Osburn said.

Osburn said the idea for a sausage workshop came about after a discussion with Dr. Davey Griffin, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service meat specialist.

“Davey and I got together and decided to develop a creative sausage course,” Osburn said. “We wanted to show the basics of sausage making and use equipment you would find in the kitchen versus the commercial production methods. What we had at the workshop was something you can purchase from various retail stores and use in your home, such as food processors and hand-crank stuffers.”

Additional supporters of the workshop included: Rick Fitzgerald from A.C. Legg Seasonings, Birmingham, Alabama; Maurice Mounce from Alamo Food Equipment Company, Schertz; and Mike Reagan, Dewied Casing Company, San Antonio.

Osburn currently teaches undergraduate and graduate students the concepts and practice of developing quality food systems, and teaches graduate students in the principles and science of processed meats. He also conducts research, working with the meat industry in “helping solve problems, implementing new technology and improving the quality and safety of their products.”

The workshop was open to both beginning and novice sausage makers. Attendees spent part of the workshop in a classroom setting learning about the history of sausage, food safety practices and different seasonings used for various sausage recipes. That was followed by hands-on work in the meat laboratory, including using tabletop grinders, commercial mixers, hand-crank sausage stuffers and natural or artificial casings(Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)
Attendees spent part of the workshop in a classroom setting learning about the history o f sausage, food safety practices and different seasonings used for various sausage recipes. That was followed by hands-on work in the meat laboratory. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

Experts note sausage popularity continues to grow with deer hunting enthusiasts as well as small retail grocery operators looking to offer specialty foods for customers.

“Each individual participant had the opportunity to manufacture their own sausages, both smoked and fresh,” Osburn said. “The sausages were vacuum-packaged and placed in Texas A&M styrofoam coolers so they could take their sausage home and share it with their family and friends.

“We are so happy they came and shared their interest in making good sausage. I think all of them went away learning something new and can be very proud of the sausage they made.”
For more information about future workshops, visit http://animalscience.tamu.edu/workshops/ .

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Inventing a Tribe

Brian Payne

Reflections on the American Goat Federation Annual General  Meeting 

in Reno, Jan. 27 & 28, 2015 

By Brian Payne, Executive Director, North American Savannah Association, www.savannahassociation.com

“I can't think of a single time that an individual or an organization has created a brand-new worldview, spread it and then led that tribe. There were Harley-type renegades before there was Harley Davidson. There were digital nomads before there was Apple. There were pop music fans before there were the Beatles and Rastafarians before Marley. Without a doubt, a new technology creates new experiences. But the early adopters who gravitate to it were early adopters before we got there. Our job is to find the disconnected and connect them, to find people eager to pursue a goal and give them the structure to go achieve that goal. But just about always, we start with an already existing worldview, a point of view, a hunger that's waiting to be satisfied.”
 (Seth Godin, November 20, 2014)

In my mind, “the hunger that needs satisfying” in the meat goat industry is performance-tested genetics. The “early adopters” were the progressive producers in the dairy, beef, swine and poultry industries that embraced on-farm performance testing. This process, when widespread like the Dairy Herd Improvement system in the dairy industry, paved the way for the calculation of Estimated Progeny Difference (EPD) and Estimated Breeding Value (EBV) calculations. The meat goat industry needs to be made aware of this step-by-step process.

The first step is detailed herd-management recording. Births, deaths, breeding records, sales information, pedigrees and herd health information all needs to be collected in order for producers to take their place in the “food industry”. Modern consumers are demanding “traceability” and “transparency” from producers who want to service their interest in “fresh and local” foods. They will pay more only if they are satisfied with your attention to the health and welfare of your livestock. You have to “prove” you are the “real thing”. “Authenticity” as a food producer may mean close scrutiny of both your operation and the recording system that supports your “claims of quality”. If you are only interested in shows and blue ribbons, you have not really embraced the “meat goat industry”. The objective of meat goat production is a consumable product, not a family weekend experience.

The second step is on-farm performance evaluation. If you aspire to breeding excellence in the meat goat industry you are profit motivated and you understand that your does are profit centers. You understand that phenotypic evaluation through a show ring rarely correlates to maternal productive efficiency: the cornerstone of operational profitability. If you are looking for a herd sire you would like to have some records to be able to evaluate his transmitting ability. When you look around at the current cadre of “breeders” you recognize that they have embraced artificial insemination and embryo transplant technology before they embraced an objective system that identifies production superiority. They have depended on a “judges eye” rather than the scientific method: a weigh scale and recorded data.

It is amazing to me that we are more than 20 years into the development of our meat goat “business” and we still do not have widespread recognition that we need an industry-wide system that objectively identifies superior animals. How do we hope to compete in the modern food industry? How do we hope to be
taken seriously by government when we are pursuing blue ribbons instead of production data.

This situation is ridiculous. It has come as a result of the incredible speculative interest that pushed the Boer goat into North America’s spotlight as “the most improved meat goat in the world”. We took this as “a given”. Then, when the speculators left and commercial folks had to make a living with their goats, Boer goats started to be questioned as the best breed for efficient, profitable, larger scale production. I am confident that a new breed of meat goat entrepreneur is wanting something more than show records to convince them of an animal’s “genetic merit”.

It is time to “find the disconnected and connect them”. The recent American Goat Federation meeting in Reno has convinced me that all breeds will benefit if we can find a way to underpin our industry with improved record keeping and data management. Jean Harrison of Easy Keeper Herd Management took the time to participate and demonstrated a passion and personal commitment to software product development that can help us lead a new “tribe” (contact jean@easykeeper.com).

Dr. Ken Andries was also in attendance as an AGF director and few would dispute his industry leadership in developing the Kentucky State University’s Goat Herd Improvement Program (GHIP). This is a free, on-farm, herd performance recording program and it is already up and running. Only you will know how your animals compare to one another. As Jean Harrison describes it, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”.

Dr. Andries has opened the door to the future. It behooves all of those that believe in the unique contributions that the caprine species can make to sustainable agriculture to walk through this door. If you don’t, your advertisements of genetic superiority will be meaningless. Sustainability means profitability. Are you profitable? Why not? Do you know? (contact Dr. Andries, kenneth.andries@kysu.edu).

If you are looking for a “structure” to advance the industry, I would say that Reno identified three important pillars to that structure.

1) Basic herd recording to improve management decision making.
2) On farm performance testing to identify the keepers and culls in your operation.
3) Industry-wide cooperation to put in place a system like the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) that can help us better predict the breeding merit of our animals. We can’t get to this final step unless we gather the “disconnected” and join together behind performance data collection. If your goal is a profitable meat goat operation let us know if you want to belong to our “tribe”.

(Contact the writer (Brian Payne,savannahassociation@yahoo.ca), Jean Harrison, Dr. Ken Andries or Anita Dahnke and the American Goat Federation to get “connected” (contact Anita Teel Dahnke, atdstuff@frontier.com, www.americangoatfederation.org.)

Whether you agree or disagree with Brian’s commentary, let us know what you think. Send your comments to goatrancher@hughes.net.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New certification supports growing demand for grassfed meat

Animal Welfare Approved Logo

First Grassfed Label in North America to Guarantee 100% Grass and Forage Diet, Environmental Management AND High-Welfare Standards From Birth Through Slaughter--
MARION, VA (January 27, 2015)--A new food certification label is setting the standard in the U.S. when it comes to 100% grassfed meat.        
AWA Certified Grassfed is available to farms with beef cattle, meat and dairy sheep, meat and dairy goats, and bison, with individual logos for each species [hi-res versions available on request]. 

AWA's new Certified Grassfed label is the only label that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards in the U.S. and Canada. Although other grassfed labels exist, none has fully met consumer expectations when it comes to a grassfed and forage diet, environmental management, and farm animal welfare--until now.

As consumers wake up to the damaging impact that intensive farming is having on our health, the environment, and animal welfare, many are seeking truly sustainable alternatives--including grassfed meat. According to recent researchdemand for grassfed beef has grown by 25-30 percent every year over the last decade.

But while demand for grassfed meat is sky-rocketing, some grassfed certifications are not meeting consumer expectations--and may even permit some highly questionable practices. Under the USDA Grassfed label, for example, farmers can confine their cattle on dirt feedlots for long periods outside the growing season, or use growth hormones and subtherapeutic antibiotics, and still market the beef as grassfed--just as long as they feed the animals cut grass or forage. 

AWA's new Certified Grassfed label is the ONLY grassfed program in North America to guarantee:                
  • Ruminant animals raised outdoors on pasture for their entire lives, with an entirely grass and forage diet                 
  • Animals raised according to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards in the U.S. and Canada                      
  • High-welfare handling, transport, and slaughter of animals--including an annual review of slaughter facilities

Located near Hanna, Alberta, 10,000-acre TK Ranch was the first farm business in North America to achieve the AWA Certified Grassfed status for their beef and lamb. TK Ranch has been producing strictly grassfed and grass-finished beef for over 15 years and was already Certified AWA in 2012. However, owner Colleen Biggs was eager to make products from TK Ranch truly stand out in the marketplace. Colleen Biggs says,

"We're proud to be Canada's first ranch to achieve the AWA Certified Grassfed for our beef and lamb. There are a lot of great grassfed producers out there, but the term "grassfed" is currently not regulated in Canada and is open to some interpretation in the U.S. So unless consumers know exactly what questions to ask, they might be buying an orange when they really wanted an apple. AWA's Certified Grassfed standards and certification procedures are authentic, measurable, and transparent. This is the one grassfed label farmers, retailers, and consumers can really trust."                

AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther says, 

"No other grassfed label can match the breadth, integrity, and transparency offered by AWA's Certified Grassfed standards and certification procedures. With independent on-farm audits to ensure compliance with our practical and achievable farm standards, the AWA Certified Grassfed program provides grassfed farm businesses with the tools they need to clearly differentiate themselves in the marketplace. 

"The recent decision by Carl's Jr. to source grassfed beef highlights that this is the right time to launch a grassfed label that ticks all the right boxes. AWA grassfed farmers across the country are ready, willing, and eager to supply these exciting new markets."        

For more information about the AWA Certified Grassfed label, read our AWA Certified Grassfed FAQs or visit AnimalWelfareApproved.org/standards /awa-grassfed.

# # # 

About Animal Welfare Approved 
Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) audits, certifies and supports farmers raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. Called a "badge of honor for farmers" and the "gold standard," AWA is the most highly regarded food label in North America when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability. All AWA standards, policies and procedures are available on the AWA website, making it the most transparent certification available.

AWA's Online Directory of AWA farms, restaurants and products enables the public to search for AWA farms, restaurants and products by zip code, keywords, products and type of establishment. AWA has also launched AWA Food Labels Exposed, a free smartphone app guide to commonly used food claims and terms, available from the App Store or Google Play. A free printable version of Food Labels Exposed is also available for download at AnimalWelfareApproved.org.

Like us on Facebook                                                                              Follow us on Twitter