Sunday, January 14, 2007

This British White Cow By the Name of Beauty Looks to be Asking, Just Where Have I Been?

The past weeks have been busy with Holiday commitments and now a TxDOT deadline for a ROW acquisition looms that seems to occupy all of my time. Mike snapped this picture today of a British White cow that's been called Beauty since pretty much the day she arrived. She's one of ten of my first British White yearling heifers, and she looks like she's not just real happy with my lack of attention of late. That's her bull calf standing behind her. Beauty is the Dam of Mazarati, the bull running with my big herd right now, so she's hanging out with my Spring '06 heifers in the north pasture beside the house.

Hope that Christmas and the New Year were enjoyed by all, and Sincere Wishes to everyone for a great 2007.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Have a Great Square Hay Feeder Now - With More on the Way

Take a look at this square hay feeder. I keep wanting to call it a square 'hay ring'! Maybe I'll just keep calling it that instead of trying to call it a square hay feeder. Anyway, it's great. It's built extremely well, great craftsmanship, nice and heavy, but not too heavy. The cows left little waste behind after their first try with eating a nice bale of alfalfa, and I was happy to see that.

If you'd like one of these hay......... feeders, check out this link for Avery Welding in Pennington, Texas. Brian and Vicky Avery are nice folks and the Avery's have been welding reliable farm and ranch hay rings, gates, and more for a few generations and it shows in the quality products they fabricate.

I'll be posting a photo of the cows feeding at the 'ring' -- can't help it, ring just seems to be the right word -- after I get in a few more of them. Right now, all the cows mob this one, and it's pretty impossible to get a good photo of the cow's feeding. I'm putting some higher grade alfalfa in this ring, and it was a good choice, as it has done it's job of containing waste and resolving the dilemma of putting a square bale in a round ring and providing good access to the hay for a maximum amount of hungry cows.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

British White Cattle - Let's Keep "Chasing" Pursuit of Hard Data to Present to the Beef Industry

As British White breeders we daily face lack of acceptance in the mainstream Beef Industry as our cattle are white hided and haven't been the subject of University studies. We are likely perceived by some in the beef industry as "chasing" a goal that is unwanted or unnecessary as there are some closed-minded industry perceptions about what works and what doesn't when it comes to beef breeds and beef production, and know-it-alls such as described in the article excerpt below, think they. . . know it all.

As British White breeders we know we have cattle with excellent maternal traits, fertility, hardiness in wide ranging climates, calving life longevity upwards of twenty years, well set udders that withstand the rigors of years of suckling calves without "falling down", excellent carcass quality, genectically gentle dispositions, and more. But, we do need to pursue or "chase" documenting those outstanding qualities through some or all of the following -- Conscientious recording of growth trait data such as weaning weights and yearling weights; establishing Ultrasound Guidelines for the breed and pursuing the capture of yearling bull and heifer carcass ultrasound data by certified technicians; adding to the growing pool of DNA data for the currently identified markers for Marbling and Tenderness; establishing an annual Feedlot test for crossbred and purebred feeder steers and heifers; seeking out Bull Performance tests in our local areas for our bull candidates.

The following is an excerpt from "CAB Cattle Update: The “C” word". Click the Title link above for the text of the whole article.

". . . It’s usually better to lead than chase cattle, but one calorie-counting authority estimates a moderate walk in non-strenuous cattle chasing burns 238 calories per hour for a 150-pound person. At that rate, it would take more than three hours to walk off a Big Mac.

You may be thinking of another idiom: cut to the chase, or get to the point.

Some beef industry pundits proclaim ideal pathways for all logical producers. Dissenters are deluded and must be “chasing” something.

You can sense the judgment and condemnation in the cliché warning, “don’t chase single-trait selection.” It’s such an obvious no-no that the only surprise is that we keep seeing the warning. There is usually an agenda, such as to imply that if you so much as include some popular trait, you are off on a rabbit trail. If you know the phrase at all, you know it’s like saying, “don’t chase your tail.”

Some intense cattlemen lash out with the “c” word. They may include their goals and aspirations, which never include so much as a stray glance at what they own as a senseless pursuit. However, those who see things differently are condescendingly lamented as chasing an illusive and impractical dream.

The most chased-after end seems to be genetic selection that would add value to the beef we sell to consumers. One might as well chase ping-pong balls or a cure for cancer. Critics include the range of those who see any attention to post-weaning traits as silly, to those who see it as a noble, if impossible dream.

When the rhetoric starts flying, a critic may deplore “chasing” something or other. He will usually balance that by pointing out the further errors of “ignoring” and “sacrificing” other things. The implication is that those slighted pursuits are at least as worthy as that being chased after, but the chaser is too blind to see.

It all boils down to bias in the critic. Look at their cattle, their field of study, perhaps their life’s work. They may not realize their bias or the condescending nature of their chase to enlighten others. Or, they could be using loaded words in a calculated manner to sell something. . ."

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Square Bales in a Round Ring - Not Quite a Fit! For People or For Hay..........

Southeast Texas just had a few days of temperatures reaching the freezing point, seems unusual for this time of year, but fortunately no pipes burst and the ice in the troughs was minimal, but then lately I've got water leaks on what seems a daily basis, that's surely as effective at preventing pipes from bursting as setting a faucet on drip!

I've been feeding alfalfa as a supplement for my British Whites some years now, but it was only this past winter that had me wishing for square hay feeders. Prior to last winter I fed the alfalfa in flakes on top of their round bales of coastal and that worked fairly well. But last winter saw a shortage of hay and the coastal I had lined up didn't work out. With greed running rampant in the hay business, the price of good coastal hay per bale plus delivery to my place was equal to and sometimes more than the cost of shipping in cow grade alfalfa from Nebraska. Thus I chose to ship in nothing but alfalfa last winter, and my cattle thrived like no other winter.

Shipping costs ran higher this year, but the total out of pocket cost per ton for Dairy Quality alfalfa was still equal to or less than buying a decent quality 20% protein grain by the ton in 50 lb bags. So this year I'm feeding coastal baled from my pastures as well as crabgrass hay out of Louisiana, and providing alfalfa as their supplemental protein, but feeding it by the bale rather than topping round bales of regular hay forage with the alfalfa.

As you can see from the photo , the big alfalfa squares barely fit into my rings and I have to bust up that middle once they've eaten down enough of it to make it doable -- to make the hay accessible all around the feeding area of the ring (also, these girls are getting alfalfa from last summer that went through a 20 plus inch flood, thus the dark bottom side that you see!). I'm hoping a welding shop in Pennington will be able to make some square feeders for me. I've looked around online and most of what I find is very very heavy square hay feeders from up North that look more functional as stationary objects in a feedlot, which will not work here. I try to move the haying area all around my pastures to avoid excessive manure build up, and follow up with busting up the manure with a drag harrow. In the second photo you can see the adjoining pasture where my big herd is being fed and that it's time to move their hay rings to fresh ground. I try not to feed more than twice without moving the rings to clean ground, and so really heavy feeders aren't practical.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lost Civilizations - Apocalypto - Lost Cattle Breeds

The past days have been busy and filled with much of the typical demands of a cattle ranch, with some llama (the one in front in the pic) and cat crisis added in. I lost a cat to a snake bite yesterday, and it was the second snake bite suffered by a cat in the past couple of weeks, the first one, Leopold, did survive -- it's got me wondering if some odd, insidious, northern snake that kind of likes moving around in the fall weather may have made the trip from up North with a load of alfalfa. One of my llamas is just acting puny, I can't see any obvious wound, but then she's covered in several inches of hair over the majority of her body. She waits for me to bring her food and water a few times each day, and seems to be getting a bit better. I haven't ruled out snake bite for the cause of her decline, it's a good possibility under the circumstances.

Tonight, I got around to watching Primetime from a few days back, the main story was on Mel Gibson's newest movie, Apocalypto. It looks to be a very good movie, and the premise I find fascinating, the rise and fall of a powerful culture perhaps via their own inadvertent self-destruction due to greed and wish to control, to have, to be, more and more. Ultimately, this led to a quite lost and destitute Mayan culture in the modern day. Of course, the point was made that perhaps the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq is reflective of the waste of human life and other natural resources that led to the apocalyptic end of the Mayan culture.

While to some extent I can understand Gibson's wish to correlate current USA events and attitudes with the historical rise and fall of powerful cultures and nations, there's ample bloody fingerprints from prior administrations throughout US history that have had less basis and more loss of life than current events -- what struck me as most important from this Primetime coverage of the movie Apocalypto was the footage of Mayan descendants in Mexico and Guatemala today who live in poverty. An ancient and mighty people who when covered by Primetime reporters find their best stories in a young Mayan boy who sniffs glue and lives in a garbage dump; and a 'single' Mom who prepares meals over a fire and weeps and tells them her life is striving to somehow make a better future for her children.

How will those children ever have a shot at a better future? Education is the key to better futures in the USA, and certainly a lot of hard work is vital as well. But the modern Mayan culture presented as the norm during the filming of this movie was distinctly lacking in any indication of options such as education or industry that would provide a way out, a way up, for one person, much less the modern day Mayan culture as a whole.

We also learn via this Primetime coverage that Mel Gibson's last movie has made over a BILLION dollars -- that's pretty awesome. The Apocalypto may well make more, they certainly made use of lots of native 'actors' and so there isn't a big budget for greedy USA actors. So, given the horrid conditions Mel Gibson described very well himself, and Primetime covered so colorfully -- why wouldn't Mr. Gibson himself already have a University being built in either Guatemala or Mexico for the modern day Mayan descendants? A BILLION dollars from his last movie and more to come ----- I think that would build a University (I doubt they'd object to cinder block walls or lack of 'really cool' stuff necessary in the USA) and pay some profs for a couple of years, and truly change some lives in this lost, but once mighty, culture. A failing of Hollywood Democrats is their own lack of example. They make more money than any average American can ever conceive, even some governmental bodies, use their popularity as a political tool, but be assured they don't put themselves at risk financially, they most assuredly have the best of CPA's or Financial Planners to assist them in using every conceivable avenue of tax savings.

So what's the point of this on a Cattle Blog? :) Well, the British White cattle breed is somewhat of a lost culture if you will. It is up to the breeders of this special bovine to continue to fight to bring it back to the revered status it held in ancient days. We will never know what events occurred that brought this special breed from immortalization in ancient oral tales to the small population to be found in the 19th century, any more than we can really know what caused the destruction of the Mayan culture. But we can work hard to educate those around us about the British White breed. And we can make better efforts to record their growth traits, their ultrasound carcass data, their DNA, and their many other desirable traits that aren't perhaps as easily quantifiable.