Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A British White Breeder in Texas Breaking New Ground in Grassfed Beef

     The Gold Standard in grass fed beef these days is acquiring certification from both the American Grassfed Association and Animal Welfare Approved.  Here in Texas we have a British White breeder who has achieved both certifications -- the Lazy A Ranch in Bellville, Texas, owned and operated by Margot and Bill Heard.  The Lazy A Ranch was established by the Allen (Buddy) and Ethel Carruth family, and was almost 1000 acres at one time. A herd of Santa Gertrudis cows remains with the original brand.

     Margot Heard has a vision, and she has the steadfastness to work toward that vision of providing excellence in healthy grassfed beef for the Houston market.  The Lazy A Ranch  in Bellville has had Santa Gertrudis cattle running on its grasslands for many years, Buddy Carruth began showing Santa Gertrudis cattle in 1953 at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.  The descendants of Buddy Carruth's fine cattle still graze the pastures of the Lazy A in Bellville.  But along with this King Ranch developed breed, Santa Gertrudis, that have a healthy dose of old Shorthorn genetics running through their veins -- the Lazy A is now home to a growing herd of British White cattle.

     Margot has her first crop of Santa Gertrudis/British White cross calves on the ground this spring, and a growthier, healthier bunch of calves you can hardly find for many long Texas miles distant.  The Heard's chose to use British White bulls on the Santa Gertrudis herd that they obligingly purchased along with the ranch that the cows have for many generations called home.  Their breed of choice for the long term is British White, the ancient polled Park Cattle of the British Isles; but in the meantime, they are working with their Santa Gertrudis females within the BWCAA breed-up program, along with running a good sized starter herd of British White cows.

     The photos you see here are from a visit to the Lazy A this past May.  Were it not for my elderly dog having a really bad day, I would have much more and no doubt better shots of Margot's spring calves!  But Fred was a real needy old guy that afternoon, and it is quite a trick to take video, much less still shots, clutching a shrillingly whiny old fart like my Fred can be.  But I digress!  It was a beautiful herd of healthy and fit cattle with many cross bred calves at foot, and the photos here were pulled as stills from my flip video camera.

     What has intrigued Margot, and most certainly myself as well, is the very large percentage of British White cross calves that bear quite classic British White markings.  Having crossed with black Angus many years ago, I'd say that about 60% of all my cross bred calves were typical milk white with black point calves, and the remainder were line-backed.

    In Margot's herd, there is a predominance, approaching likely 90%, that are classic British White marked calves, as well as some with red points, despite using British White bulls with black points.  Margot is interested in exploring the genetic relationship of her Gert/BW cross calves via their Shorthorn history, given the large numbers of cross-bred calves exhibiting British White color and markings.  It is a clearly accepted fact in historical documents that the Shorthorn was developed long ago from the polled Park Cattle of the time, or what is known today as British White.

     Margot was running a young British White bull, Aries (pictured left), with the Gerts for several weeks, not really anticipating that he was in any way big enough to really take care of the job, and anxiously looking about for a respectable British White bull of maturity.  Well, she was instead surprised to find this Spring that her young, and even today quite moderately short of frame, Aries, had done his darnedest, and his darnedest was pretty good. (See photo above right for an Aries sired calf.) She has several calves sired by Aries, and they are very thick growthy calves that catch one's eye.  If I weren't juggling too many herd bulls right now, I'd have packed Aries home with me in the blink of time it takes for a determined bull to lay down a fence and proceed!  Aries is now offered for sale by the Lazy A, so give Margot a call for more details on this quite fine young bull.

     The next set of calves Margot had this spring were sired by Tyson, pictured left, a British White bull with excellence in Tenderness genes quite hard to find, having 5 of the 6 known genetic markers for Tenderness.  Tyson is about a Frame Score 5 British White bull, and that's just a guess, not having actually measured him in a while, and he of course settled the remainder of the Gerts in short order.  The calves from Tyson were younger than Aries, but certainly exhibited very good confirmation and color, and they are all the napping younger ones in the photos included here.  I'll look forward to hearing from Margot how all the calves grow off between now and weaning time in the fall.  The photo below is one of the very few Tyson sired bull calves that have been born.  This bull, Tag #40, is out of a Popeye daughter, and has shown outstanding growth this spring.  Tyson, like his sire, J.West's King Cole, has a tendency to throw mostly heifers.

     Tyson is a maternal half brother to my original herd bull, DFTX Watson, always fondly called just 'Doc' by myself and his original owner, Bob Stanley, a very fine and honest man who passed away a few years back.  Tyson has much of Doc's incredibly gentle nature, but at the same time he has more stature than Doc, coming from his paternal grandsire Halliburton Colonel and paternal granddam HRH Arlene. Three of  Arlene's daughters are foundation females in my herd today.  Look for Margot to have some very nice British White females sired by Tyson and perpetuating his clean confirmation and Tenderness genes.

     The Lazy A Ranch in Bellville has laid the ground work for producing and marketing grass fed beef.  As a fellow British White breeder, I am gladdened by her efforts and hopeful for the future of our very gentle, beautiful, and immortalized breed.  The carcass qualities of the British White breed have been enjoyed by the select few for many centuries, being for long periods of history the purview only of wealthy landed gentry in the United Kingdom.  As well, old legend has it that the coining of the word sirloin resulted from King Henry enjoying the loin (or surlonge, the French word meaning 'over the loin') of the ancient Park Cattle of the British Isles -- and dubbing it Sir Loin.

     The Lazy A Ranch is now working in Texas to see the sirloin and more of the British White breed on the dinner tables of many who choose to serve their families a healthy, safe, and environmentally friendly beef product.  Visit the Lazy A Ranch web site for contact information and availability of authentic grass fed beef.

    As well, the Lazy A Ranch has British White bulls and females periodically available for purchase.  You can be sure that the British White cattle available from the Lazy A are in excellent health and are from the best British White genetics available.  To see the cattle available from the Lazy A, visit this link, or visit the web site of the Lazy A Ranch for contact information.  Pictured below is a very fine Santa Gertrudis mama cow peering under the Huisache tree, and it is her young red-eared heifer calf pictured above that she is sternly protecting.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What Role did the U.S. Government Play in the Financial Crisis of 2008?

There is so much transparency in the air the past several days, I do believe the American people have just choked on it -- our minds are surely clogged up with the transparent sophistry of politics, both red and blue; and we are fast becoming color blind and would rather walk around in barefoot bliss rather than bother to figure out what socks match.

Those fortunate enough to breath in transparent methane from a herd of contented cows in their own pasture; those fortunate enough to feel the pleasure of going for a weekend drive with the window down along winding country roads, breathing deeply of the transparent methane of grazing cows in scattered pastures, breathing deeply of the transparent and lovely scent of sweet clover mixed with cow manure........ would much rather be in a perpetual state of barefoot bliss, sockless until the end of time.

Unfortunately, in time the squish of fresh manure between your barefoot toes becomes tiresome, the continued slap of stinging weed day after day barely fades before your ankles are slapped again, and eventually one's attention turns back to just what color socks it might be time to wear -- perhaps a new color entirely. Click the blog title link above for my colorless review of critical factors that led to the Financial Crisis of 2008 that has left so many of us sockless.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Grassfed Beef - The Preference of Alexander Hyde in the 19th Century

In regard to Grass, Alexander Hyde tells us, “. . . we do not think it has yet generally attained the relative position and attention it deserves among the products of the earth. It is like the air we breathe, so common and so cheap, that we undervalue it. We avoid treading upon the blades of corn, but walk upon the velvety turf without compunction, but the grass “crushed to the earth” rises again, and is found, like truth, to prevail over all its foes.”

What a beautiful quote from the past, what a reverent feeling it invokes for the vast grasslands of America, and how appalled Mr. Hyde would be at the current direction of the United Nations and our Nation in regard to legislating less grass for a cow’s diet and more grain. Mr. Hyde also tells us:

•“We should be sorry to confine our cattle to dry hay alone for the six long months of our winter, but if we can not have both hay and roots, we speak for the hay. It is for the animal what bread is for man, the staff of his life.”
•“Let the cattle graze in pastures luxuriant with white clover, redtop, June and orchard grass, and the beef will be fit to set before an English king or a New York alderman.”
•“We have seen cattle luxuriating in rich pastures, whose flanks and sirloins fairly rolled with fat; and we have no doubt that beef thus made is more healthy than where the animal is confined in a dark stall, condemned to breathe impure air, fed with oil cake, and deprived of all exercise.”
•“It is not because we like corn and roots less that we thus speak, but because we like hay more. . . As there can be no question but that we can raise a hundred pounds of hay at less expense than a bushel of corn or five bushels of carrots, it follows that hay should be the leading crop where crops are raised to be fed out to stock.”
Mr. Hyde sounds like a modern day breeder of grass-fed beef cattle! The term ‘grass-fed’ in regard to beef seems to most a modern term, a new term applied to an old and natural approach to raising cattle. However, Mr. Hyde uses the term himself in the following:

“The quality of the manure depends much on the quality of the food the animal consumes. Grain-fed animals give a much richer manure than grass-fed, and those that ruminate digest their food more thoroughly and extract more nourishment from it than those furnished with only one stomach. A pig may live on the excrement of a horse, but would starve on the excrement of a cow.”

Source:  Agriculture: Twelve Lectures on Agricultural Topics: delivered before the Lowell Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, 1871, Alexander Hyde

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Two Black, or Mostly Black, Calves born to Chartley and Vaynol horned white Park Cattle at the London Zoo

The fine specimens of ancient horned white Park Cattle gifted to the London Zoo had at least two calves born that were 'abnormally colored' or mostly black.  Imagine that...........

The Park cattle at the London Zoo were considered to be "pure wild cattle" and they all sprang from a "Chartley bull and a Vaynol Park cow". (Farm Livestock of Great Britain; 1907; Loudon, Wallace, et al)

We know from the accounts of many dispassionate observers of the 19th century that it was not at all uncommon for non-standard calves to be born to 'wild white cattle' herds and swiftly destroyed.   Storer's 1887 work, "The Wild White Cattle of Great Britain", provides one source -- ". . . and in some (herds) black or black and white calves now and then appeared, but these  were always destroyed when young in order to preserve the original characteristics of the herd." 

I wonder if those two black calves born at the London Zoo (see article below) were destroyed as well. And one thing that always nags at me, is just how did they get those unwanted linebacked or black babies swiftly out of the pasture?  After all, they were supposed to be wild and mean cows, so it would surely have been risky human business.  Ah, they probably picked them off with a rifle shot, now that's the logical human way.

Pictured to the left are Chartley Park Cattle in 1898, with the following caption:

Description: White Park cattle are one of the oldest breeds of British cattle.
In the thirteenth century several herds were enclosed in parks. Today four of these herds remain - Chartley, Chillingham, Dynevor and Cadzow.Chartley cattle remained in Chartley Park until 1904, when only 8 or 9 remained. The herd was sold to the Duke of Bedford at Woburn and crossed with Longhorns to enable the herd's survival.

"A NOTE in the London Times says that the fine herd of Indian cattle presented to the London Zoological Society by the president, the Duke of Bedford, has been a considerable attraction, and now that two of the cows -- of the Mysore and Hussar breeds -- have produced calves, the interest of visitors in these animals has increased.  In the same house is a black calf of the Chartley X Vaynol blood, two abnormally colored calves having been thrown in succession by the same cow."

Source: Science, Volume 28, October 16, 1908; By American Association for the Advancement of Science

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Finally, the UN admits the Hoax of their Indictment of the Livestock Industry as the Greatest Contributor to Climate Change

Just when you think the scientific community is deaf, dumb, and blind to the fallacy of the UN's 2006 report, Livestock's Long Shadow, a voice makes its way through the liberal media and exposes the UN's unconscionable and deliberate attempt to indict the production of livestock the world over. 

Dr Frank Mitloehner, from the University of California at Davis (UCD), said meat and milk production generates less greenhouse gas than most environmentalists claim and that the emissions figures were calculated differently to the transport figures, resulting in an “apples-and-oranges analogy that truly confused the issue”. (UK Telegraph, 3/24/10)
On the surface, this appears to be new news -- but it is not.  Dr. Mitloehner stated his views on cows and climate change and the UN's flawed approach to livestock in a December 2009 UC Davis press release.
"UC Davis Associate Professor and Air Quality Specialist Frank Mitloehner says that McCartney and the chair of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ignored science last week when they launched a European campaign called "Less Meat = Less Heat." The launch came on the eve of a major international climate summit, which runs today through Dec. 18 in Copenhagen." (UC Davis, 12/7/09)
The newsy part of this UK Telegraph story is that one of the UN scientists finally admitted that their approach to slamming the production of livestock with every conceivable basket of greenhouse gas emissions might not have been exactly good science.

 ". . .one of the authors (of the FAO's Livestock's Long Shadow) of the report has admitted an American scientist has identified a flaw in its comparison with the impact of transport emissions."  And we are further told,  "Pierre Gerber, a policy officer with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, told the BBC he accepted Dr Mitloehner's criticism.  "I must say honestly that he has a point – we factored in everything for meat emissions, and we didn't do the same thing with transport," he said."But on the rest of the report, I don't think it was really challenged." (UK Telegrah, 2010)

Mr. Gerber does not think the "rest of the report was really challenged"?  Odd.  What Dr. Mitloehner has done is question the veracity of the entire report, and if Mr. Gerber concedes Mitloehner "has a point", then the entire premise and intended result of the report is called in to question -- it is challenged.

The United Nations' clear pro-vegetarian attitude has materially influenced their approach and their conclusions, as well as their own biased press releases, in regard to assessing and then slandering livestock production's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

Unfortunately, Dr. Mitloehner seems to be of the opinion that a more intensive style of livestock production as recommended by the United Nations, is the best route for guiding developing countries toward more efficient and less damaging production of livestock.

"In developing countries, we should adopt more efficient, Western-style farming practices, to make more food with less greenhouse gas production," Mitloehner continued. In this he agrees with the conclusion of "Livestock’s Long Shadow," which calls for “replacing current suboptimal production with advanced production methods — at every step from feed production, through livestock production and processing, to distribution and marketing.” (UC Davis, 2009)

However, it is not clear from Dr. Mitloehner's quoted statements above that he is actually in favor of modifying the diet of livestock with primarily added grain.  Certainly improving grazing lands and building fences and rotating pastures as we do here in the USA would be a vast improvement of the "current suboptimal production" of livestock in developing countries.  And in terms of climate change, improving grasslands through animal rotation would result in greater carbon sequestration by those pastures.

Of course, the United Nations knows that -- they just don't wish to recommend this as a recommended mitigating policy as it does not fit with their long term goals of controlling the great land mass devoted to livestock the world over.  The UN wants the belching cow off that land.

UN admits flaw in report on meat and climate change

The UN has admitted a report linking livestock to global warming exaggerated the impact of eating meat on climate change.   By Alastair Jamieson  - UK Telegraph
Published: 7:16AM GMT 24 Mar 2010

A 2006 study, Livestock’s Long Shadow, claimed meat production was responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions – more than transport.  Its conclusions were heralded by campaigners urging consumers to eat less meat to save the planet.

However, one of the authors of the report has admitted an American scientist has identified a flaw in its comparison with the impact of transport emissions. Dr Frank Mitloehner, from the University of California at Davis (UCD), said meat and milk production generates less greenhouse gas than most environmentalists claim and that the emissions figures were calculated differently to the transport figures, resulting in an “apples-and-oranges analogy that truly confused the issue”. 
          . . . . more