Thursday, April 26, 2007

Carbon Monoxide - Future Source of Ethanol?

If the new technology discussed below proves to be a viable approach to Ethanol production one day, it will surely improve the air quality of the USA due to captured and utilized carbon monoxide emissions, and perhaps take some pressure off the demand and thus price of corn. A continued increase in the price of corn effects not only the cost of gains in a feedlot and on the family farm, but also is having 'trickle down' ramifications throughout our economy that will become increasingly apparent to the American consumer.
An alternative for the family farm is to raise their cattle on grass and legumes, rather than depend on corn and it's byproducts, and that requires moderate-framed easy-fattening grass genetics.
Pictured here is a British White grassfed yearling bull, grassfed from conception onwards.

New Zealand company converts carbon monoxide to ethanol

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, April 24 /PRNewswire/ ‒LanzaTech, the leader in technology using bacterial fermentation to convert carbon monoxide into ethanol, officially announced April 24 that it has secured US$3.5M in Series A funding, led by Khosla Ventures and supported by two existing New Zealand based investors.

This funding will support further technology development, establishing a pilot plant, engineering work to prepare for commercial-scale ethanol production and positions the company to raise significant capital in the near future. This technology could produce 50 billion gallons of ethanol from the world's steel mills alone, turning the liability of carbon emissions into valuable fuels worth over $50 billion per year at very low costs and adding substantial value to the steel industry.

The technology will also be a key contributor to the cellulosic biofuels business as it can convert syngas produced through gasification into ethanol.

"We have proven in our laboratories that the carbon monoxide in industrial waste gases such as those generated during steel manufacture can be processed by bacterial fermentation to produce ethanol. Garnering the financial and strategic support of Khosla Ventures is a significant validation of our approach, and we welcome Khosla Ventures Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Doug Cameron, to our Board of Directors," said Dr. Sean Simpson, Chief Scientist and Founder of LanzaTech.

Vinod Khosla commented, "Technology to produce fuel ethanol from waste material, such as the carbon monoxide produced in steel manufacture and other industries, makes use of a low cost and plentiful point source carbon feedstock. The opportunity is a large one as carbon monoxide is a significant byproduct of steel manufacture. LanzaTech has developed technology and a process to cost-effectively convert carbon monoxide into ethanol -- this ground breaking technology provides the tools to address the challenge of reducing emissions and turns waste into a valuable product, while developing new businesses based on innovative science."

LanzaTech was co-founded in 2005 by Dr. Richard Forster and Dr. Sean Simpson, who both have many years of experience in biotechnology and biofuels. The company is aggressively pursuing the development of advanced gas to ethanol technologies based on work developed in its laboratories in Auckland, New Zealand. As part of its two-pronged strategy of technology development and deployment, LanzaTech has sought international patent protection for its ethanol production process and is forming partnerships to commercialize its technologies and processes.

Khosla Ventures offers venture assistance, strategic advice and capital to entrepreneurs. The firm helps entrepreneurs extend the potential of their ideas in both traditional venture areas like the Internet, computing, mobile, and silicon technology arenas but also supports breakthrough scientific work in clean technology areas such as bio-refineries for energy and bioplastics, solar, battery and other environmentally friendly technologies.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Favorites From my Spring Calves

This little beauty was christened 'Dixie' by the girls Easter weekend. Her dam is JWest's Brigit and she was sired by JWest's El Presidente. Dixie was 14 days old in this photo and is obviously a healthy, thriving little heifer. Her dam is one of my favorite cows, having an excellent nature as well as being a really beautiful, well made British White cow that she passes on to all her calves.

Lucy Rae also had a quite friendly, well made heifer sired by El Presidente. In the following video clip I am sitting just a few feet away. She is 7 days old in this clip. Lucy Rae's Heifer

This bull calf is out of JWest's Emily and JWest's El Presidente, and is pictured here at 18 days old. His sire's thickness and muscling are apparent and his dam is one of my best cows. In the following video clip he is 8 days old. The girls didn't decide on a name for this beefy little guy, so any suggestions are welcome. :)
British White Bull Calf

This Spring has seen zero calving problems and last fall I had none as well, which makes a full year and a half without any vet calls to assist with calving, and the last one was a breach birth, which was a first here at the ranch. The typical British White herd has few calving problems, the birth weights being an average 75 pounds, and my moderate framed cows calve with ease, as well as my smaller 1000 pound cows. Check out the slideshow of my British White cow Wanda Mae giving birth to a young bull calf at Cow Calving Slideshow

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

British White Cattle and Early Spring in East Texas

Well, it is time I got back to blogging and sharing what's happening here at the ranch with my herd. (and to Taylor and Alana, all the photos can be clicked on and enlarged. . . and of course you both are so up on things, you no doubt realize that!) It's Springtime, and it is looking to be a beautiful Spring here in East Texas. We did have a quite odd Easter, with Easter morning requiring one to hide Easter eggs beneath a thick layer of sleet from the night before, we even had lots of snowflakes the evening before! Butt, Taylor's Mom, Catheryne, hid some candy filled eggs for Taylor and Alana in the house late morning and they had quite a hunt.

My niece, Taylor, and her friend, Alana, were thrilled with the change in the weather and the snow and sleet, having nothing on their minds but the uniqueness of the experience -- which we all should, how boring if the days and months of the seasons of the year were always the same. I realize it creates difficulties for many, these odd turns in the weather, but all the same it is our life, and without these seasonal changes and oddities . . . I don't know, I think I would miss them. I spent most of the winter indoors on essentially numbers and book work, and felt like I'd missed the winter;this last bit of winter suddenly appearing in the Spring made me happy, and certainly ready to let it go and get on with the Spring. Taylor and her good friend, Alana, really enjoyed the weekend 'joy-riding' as they termed it in my new Ranger, but judging from the quite apparent track through the center of my best back pasture that ends with a few berms that lead down to a ravine, (no doubt quite fun to roar through) they will not be having free reign with the Ranger in the coming seasons until they realize the damage they can do.

Besides buzzing around in the Ranger, the girls took turns trying to blow an old horn made from a cow's horn, or maybe a bull, who really knows! The photo above is of Alana giving it one last try on the Eve of Easter with the weather turning very windy and cold. The cows were coming up for a look and a listen, not accustomed to hearing the quite odd sounds Alana managed to make with the old horn. The next picture is of Taylor, suited up in my coveralls again (and yes, I'd dearly love to find some feminine coveralls from someone manufacturers please listen!) We newby cowgirls would like to have a more ....feminine and better fitting coverall for cold days working the cows! And even some very light weight ones for the summer....

Note how Taylor is able to approach this two day old calf without it's dam, who is just to the right in the photo, having not any problem with Taylor's approach and touching of the newborn, beyond being . . .watchful. That's what is so wonderful about this breed, their trusting and docile nature. This particular cow is actually a British White half blood, her dam was an excellent registered black Angus cow who would have done much more than appear to glare a bit at Taylor's approach or touching of her calf -- her Angus dam would have knocked you down.

My newborn calves weathered the cold sleet quite well and all were fine on Easter morning, with one cow, J.West's Madison, calving late that morning just in time for Taylor and Alana to see the newborn bull's birth before they left to spend the rest of that special day with their families. We didn't have the camera going, one of those moments when running back to the house seemed the wrong thing to do, we might all miss the big event, but the girls were able to watch from a close distance, and were quite enthralled to witness their first complete birthing of a calf, and Madison the cow was quite fine with her audience.

The following photo is of J.West's Wanda Mae, an outstanding heifer, who found herself a cozy spot in native clover and wasn't much interested in moving with the rest of the herd, including her mama, through this pasture to the next pasture this past week. I think the heavy native clover growth must surely be due to all the rain this area has had the past several months, and perhaps as well to my haying of the cattle on this once red muddy hilltop these past few years, adding much needed organic matter to the soil -- as well as scraping top soil from other areas and spreading it somewhat thinly across the surface a few years back. The combination of those efforts and this very wet Spring seems to have paid off.

If I could post a video or photo that allowed you to smell the sweet scent of this pasture of clover I would. It has been quite a beautiful early Spring pasture, buzzing with the hum of bees and smelling like Spring. It's all the more amazing to me knowing that it was nothing more than a barren red hill top a short 4 years ago. The prior owner had scraped this hilltop completely down deep into the clay soil that lies beneath the sandy layers of usually about 3 to 4 feet. It has taken much time to bring this pasture back to productivity, and this Spring has seen it at it's best for certain.

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.