Monday, February 8, 2010

Henry VIII and his Destruction of English Monasteries in the 1530's

The Park Cattle of the British Isles have long been associated with the herds of various ancient abbeys. What's never been mentioned is the historical impact on the movement of the breed following the wholesale destruction of abbeys, monasteries, and priories during the time of Henry VIII, including Whalley Abbey. King Henry took possession of the inventory of the multitudes of abbeys and as a consequence their cattle would have been confiscated and no doubt disposed of in a variety of ways, including placing cattle herds in the hands of nobility, and including no doubt wholesale slaughter of cattle herds and salting of the beef for the King and his nobility. Even the personal dwellings, household goods, and clothing of friars were confiscated and sold to raise money for King Henry's coffers. Wholesale destruction of religious houses and the dwellings of monks and friars was seen across the whole of England. Dozens, if not hundreds, of religious figures were hanged, and often boiled and quartered and hung.

In an example of dastardly political strategy very much still practiced in modern day, King Henry VIII began this wholesale destruction and robbery under the guise of official 'Visitations' to the Monasteries in 1535. At the same time he had rabble rousers under the guise of 'preachers' appealing to the masses with lies and promises in an effort to secure popular support for the destruction of the monasteries and the establishment of his new Church order with himself as the head.

" . . and preachers were commissioned to go over the country to educate public opinion against the monks. These were of three sorts apparently: 1) railers who orated against them as hypocrites, sorcerers, and idle drones, etc. . . 2)preachers who said the monks made the land unprofitable, and 3)those who told the people that if the abbeys went down the King would never want any taxes again. This last was a favourite argument of Cranmer at Paul's Cross.

The very fabric of medieval England was forever changed. The society of England up until this time was very much supported by the stability and charity and grace of the thousands of religious houses throughout England. These monasteries were the critical support for the poor and the lower classes (commoners) of England. Pasturage owned by the monasteries was available to the commoners, so generally each family had a milk cow, some sheep, and a horse. Once the lands of the monasteries fell to Henry VIII and were sold to nobility, those lands were generally withdrawn from use by the commoners.

To read more about this critical and bloody period in England's history, see "Henry VIII and the English Monasteries" by Cardinal Francis Aidan Gasquet, 1906

In April 1537 the popular discontent manifested itself in a serious way in Norfolk. Men met in the streets of Walsingham . . .One man said "See how these abbeys go down and our living goeth away with them. For within a while Burnham shall be put down and also Walsingham and all other abbeys in this country. And further he said that the gentlemen there had all the farms and all the cattle in the country in their hands so that poor men could have no living by them."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cap and Trade Comes to Califironia! Cutting edge aren't they?

        !Well, here we go, some interesting first steps by California in measuring the methane produced by cattle.  Production of beef cattle, including maintenance of breeding stock, on a grass and legume diet is becoming more clearly every day the safest approach to seedstock and beef production -- as in safer for your pocket book in the years to come.  Cattle on grain produce more nitrous oxide than cattle on grass, surely this fact will eventually be more important than the EPA and FAO's recommended increase in grain feeding.  Unless you have a vast forest to offset perhaps the dastardly global warming impact of your grain supplemented herd, it's time for increased focus on grass production of seedstock, in a logical world. 
         Superior Feed Efficiency of your seedstock herd is going to be vital to your success at grass-based seedstock as well as beef production.  The photos included here are of my mature herd and were taken a few days ago.  They are content and browsing on old dry grass, but mostly on the young native grasses and clovers that responded well to the sunny winter weather we had in East Texas on the heals of very nice rainfall.
         These girls also have round bales of average quality bahia grass hay, but they've dropped their consumption tremendously over the past few weeks.  They also receive a ration of alfalfa hay three times a week that generally equates to about 20 lbs for each female.  Unless you are individually feeding a cow either supplemental alfalfa or grain, it's always going to be strictly an estimate on per head consumption. 
          Purchasing alfalfa hay by the truckload direct from the farmer is generally the best approach for getting quality hay at a fair price.  As well, the per ton cost of alfalfa hay, delivered, easily competes with the average cost of a basic 20% protein bag of grain cubes, which run about $7/Bag, or $280 per ton in my area.  Even buying the grain in bulk only results in at most a 10% cost reduction for a ton of grain feed.  And most aggravating of all, to my mind, you have to practically live in the feed store picking up food, or build a real swank barn that can hold a lot of grain bags and hope the mice or the weather don't find their way in.  (Pictured above is J.West's Nell Opal 07, a Mazarati daughter, and a heavy bred heifer handling herself quite well with the big girls despite growing both herself and her calf on a zero grain diet.  Notice she has a 'poopy' tail from the watery young grass and clover in her February diet.)

California To Measure Methane To Pinpoint Emissions

02/03/2010 10:13AM  (Please follow the blog title link above for the full text of this AP article.)

California plans to install a network of computerized monitors to measure methane emissions from regions that are home to dairy ranches, farms, landfills and other sources.

It will be the first network of its kind in the United States and will help the state take another step toward reducing emissions of the gases related to global warming.

By May, seven devices about the size of a personal computer will be placed in regions of the state where methane emissions are believed to be the highest. Those include the farm fields of the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys and landfills in the Los Angeles basin.

"What we'll be able to do is to find the identity, the location and the strength of methane emissions within the state," said Jorn Herner, the scientist managing the program at the California Air Resources Board. "This is new and pioneering work."

The air board spent about $400,000 on the devices and software modeling to analyze the data.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, academic research scientists and other countries have deployed similar monitors in the last two years to track greenhouse gases around the globe.

California's approach, scientists say, is the most extensive effort to gauge local emissions. The information gleaned from the monitoring system is expected to inform state regulators who are charged with implementing the state's landmark global warming law, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed in 2006. . .

. . .California's global warming law, known as AB32, requires the state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by about 25 percent over the next 10 years. Methane, which is 21 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, is the most prevalent greenhouse gas behind carbon dioxide.

State regulators currently rely on power plants, oil refineries and others to report their own emissions. That information is used to compile California's greenhouse gas registries and will determine which polluters must buy emission permits under a state cap-and-trade system now being crafted.

Under such a system, companies that cannot cut their emissions because of cost or technical hurdles can buy pollution credits from companies that have achieved cleaner emissions. . . .
. . .Providing a more accurate accounting of emissions should build confidence in carbon-trading markets, said Michael Woelk, Picarro's chief executive.

". . . These devices will tell real time, minute to minute, what your emissions are," Woelk said. "The free market has to know whether this stuff is working in real time, or the credibility is pulled out from under it."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Spring Calving - Care of Newborns

Spring calving is just around the corner.  The following article addresses getting the newborn calf breathing well.  If your cow or heifer has had a lengthy calving ordeal, the newborn may need help even if it appears to be breathing. 


"Delayed passage through the birth canal in the face of a faltering placenta compromises oxygenation of the calf. Although the calf is able to breathe as soon as its nose passes the lips of the vulva, expansion of the chest is restricted by the narrow birth canal. This situation is seriously aggravated when continuous forced traction is applied. As soon as the calf's head has passed the lips of the vulva, traction should be interrupted, the nostrils cleared of mucus and cold water applied to the head.

Again, when the calf is completely delivered, primary attention is directed toward establishing respiration. Mucus and fetal fluids should be expressed from the nose and mouth by external pressure of the thumbs along the bridge of the nose and the flat fingers underneath the jaws, sliding from the level of the eyes toward the muzzle. The common practice of suspending the calf by it hindlegs to "clear the lungs", must be questioned. Most of the fluids that drain from the mouth of these calves probably come from the stomach, and the weight of the intestines on the diaphragm makes expansion of the lungs difficult. The most effective way to clear the airway is by suction.

Respiration is stimulated by many factors, but only ventilation of the lungs, allow us to render help immediately. Brisk rubbing of the skin and tickling inside the nostril with a piece of straw also has a favorable effect. The phrenic nerve can be stimulated with a sharp tap on the chest slightly above and behind where the heartbeat can be felt."

Source: Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension Cattle Reproduction Specialist

Friday, January 29, 2010

Full Moon on the Trinity River - and did you know tonight's full January moon once belonged to February?

Above, a nice rendering of the the Trinity River and a Full Moon from an old book on Texas history, click the image for the full text.  Below, comments on February weather from 82 years ago.

The Weather for February - (The Farm Journal, Phil., PA, 1918)
        The story reads, " Then came old February, sitting in an old wagon, for he could not ride," perhaps because he was so abused, for February has always been a much abused month. The year used to begin with March, and February was last. February then had one day less than any other month, or twenty-nine days. In 1752 the month was shifted to its present place, and the new year began in January.  
        When old Emperor Augustus wanted to add an extra day to the month bearing his name, it was taken from February, the month least able to spare it. In 1866 they even took away February's full moon, giving January two and March two. No such thievery had ever been practiced on any month before in history. Astronomers have apparently made better laws since then, for they promise that such.a thing will not befall any month again for 2,500,000 years. So February will have a full moon every year during our lifetime, anyway.
     In an average February half the days are cloudy ; this year the sun will not be seen the first five days of the month—at the north pole. So the groundhog will not see his shadow there when he comes out of his hole February 2. See how his forecast works this year. He always consults his own comfort when he makes his exit from winter quarters too soon. Our average February temperature ranges from 7° in Minnesota to 65° in Florida.
" February fill the dyke
Either with the black or white ;
If it be white it's the better to like," 
expresses a prevailing opinion that a snowy February means a fruitful year. There is much truth in the saying, for heavy snow has a good effect on the soil. Look for the first robin the last of the month. A better indication of spring is a box of early tomato plants, a seed-corn tester or a chilled lamb in the kitchen.
J.West's Colonel Beau at 22 Months Old, Owned by Al & Dalene Ross

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Spring Calving Time is Almost Here!

Another great article from  Click the blog title link for full text.  Presented here is Halliburton Boopsie, AKA Wanda Mae, going through the various stages of calving a bull calf sired by J.West's King Cole.



by: Stephen B. Blezinger  Ph.D, PAS

 ". . .We know, fortunately, that most calves are born alive and unassisted. We also know that those that require assistance create some of the greatest headaches on the farm. This is especially true on ranches that purchase or retain and calve out heifers. Some current data indicates that an estimate 16 to 18 percent of all heifers calved require some type of assistance with the calving process. That can be compared to about three to four percent of cows which may require assistance. . .(Note: Generally, British White cows rarely need calving assistance unless it's an unusual problem, like a breech birth.)

The Precalving Period
Management during the last third of pregnancy is very critical, especially for the growing heifer and developing calf. The producer must keep in mind that the heifer must continue to grow structurally and gain body weight during this 90-day period. The weight of the fetus and fetal fluids and membranes will increase about .90 lb per day. Therefore, the heifer needs to gain about 1 to 1.5 lbs per day to sustain her growth and that of the fetus. However, a heifer should not gain excessive weight and become fat as this may increase the likelihood of calving difficulty since a significant amount of this fat may be deposited in and around the reproductive organs. 

If the heifer is on a deficient nutritional level, she will draw nutrients from her body tissues to provide for the developing calf. The calf may lack vigor or energy at birth and need help nursing. These heifers may be short of colostrums, which is a component of the first milk given by the female that passes on crucial antibodies to the calf that helps build the calf's immune system. In extreme cases, the calf may be born dead or die shortly after birth. Milk production will usually be decreased, which will reduce growth rate and weaning weight of the calf. Also, the heifer will tend to rebreed late or may fail to rebreed. All this said, it is obvious that producers cannot afford to compromise the nutritional plane of bred heifers. 

Some producers feel that reducing energy and/or protein intake prior to calving will reduce calf birth weights and, subsequently, calving difficulty and calf losses. Research does not agree with this. Restricting feed to heifers may reduce calf birth weights, but does not reduce calving difficulty. It may also decrease the percent of cows cycling and conceiving during the breeding season and it may reduce the weaning weight of the calves. Therefore, the practice of reducing feed to heifers in average or thin condition prior to calving is not advisable. However, feeding excess protein or energy to heifers should also be avoided."