Friday, July 8, 2011

Tasty Texas Home Grown Tomatoes - A Summer Delight for the Tastebuds

The past couple of weeks I have thoroughly enjoyed about a dozen and more tomatoes from the Farmers Market in Lufkin, Texas - and I mean really enjoyed them.  They were so good you could just get all tomatoey biting right into the flesh and into the most incredible taste trip down memory lane.  Who cares if the tomato juice bleeds down your chin?  Nobody is looking, and sometimes it looks just too darn good to even take the time to slice it, not to mention that tasty tomato juice that would leak and waste on the cutting board.  Although, slice many of them I did for the best burger around -- a British White grassfed beef hamburger fresh off the grill with home grown tomatoes -- just so good it makes my mouth water thinking about those burgers.

Home Grown Tomatoes, Source: Flickr
We didn't always have fresh tomatoes when I was growing up, but I remember well the summers when we did, and enjoying them so very much.  It's not surprising kids these days don't much care for a lot of fruits and vegetables.  They don't taste the way they used to!  Heck, there are whole generations of young families out there whose parents are clueless about what a tomato ought to taste like.  Same goes for a home grown cucumber. 

I picked up a basket of fresh cucumbers as well, nice small ones, very tasty, and maybe I've invented a new way to eat a bacon and tomato sandwich.  I lengthwise sliced the cucumbers thinly and put them on several bacon sandwiches, along with those home grown tomatoes of course.  Talk about an explosion of flavors and an excellent lunch - I'll call it a BCT on Rye sandwich - it was unbelievably good eating. 

Most grocery store tomatoes may as well be considered a super distant cousin to a real home grown tomato ancestor.  The eating experience is just not the same.  One is more like a chilled pseudo tomato filler to a sandwich that might have a few of the vitamins within its skin that nature intended - along with far too many chemicals both within and without I'm quite sure. (Heads Up:  Canned tomatoes apparently are subject to far less pesticides and herbicides because they don't need to look as good or travel as far.)

Source: BudgetBytes
Have you ever wondered just why the tomato at the grocery store just doesn't measure up?  About two decades ago, I would put store bought tomatoes that were under ripe in a sunny window to finish ripening for several days - and the taste was vastly improved (though still not the true sweet pleasure of a home grown one).  These days, it just doesn't seem to work anymore. Well, perhaps we can chalk it up to progress.

"For the last 50 or more years, tomato breeders have concentrated essentially on one thing and that is yield — they want plants that yield as many or as much as possible," writer Barry Estabrook tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "They also want those fruits to be able to stand up to being harvested, packed, artificially turned orange [with ethylene gas] and then shipped away and still be holding together in the supermarket a week or 10 days later." (1)

I don't know about you, but it never never occurred to me that my tomatoes had been gassed to turn orange.  Or jeez, their DNA tinkered with to make them super sturdy thick-skinned growers and world travellers.  And just what kind of nutrition is in these frankenstein new tomatoes?

"My mother, in the '60s could buy a tomato in the supermarket that had 30 to 40 percent more vitamin C and way more niacin and calcium. The only area that the modern industrial tomato beats its Kennedy-administration counterpart is in sodium." (1)

I have an antique calorie and nutrition handbook, it's so old it must surely be a collectible by now.  I have to wonder if the nutrition profile of the tomato has been updated for the typical frankenstein tomato in modern calculations.

Just what is to become of the delectable tomato?  What is in store, literally, for the future?  I cringe at the thought of further progress in the planting, growing, harvesting - and let's not forget 'gassing' of the awesome tomato.

Perhaps our future tomato eating experiences are in the hands of youngsters today who have a love of growing things; who like the magic of planting a seed, nurturing it, and enjoying the natural gift of its flavor and texture.

Here is one youngster who has a very green thumb and a love for watching his efforts bear fruit; perhaps our future supper tables will be rescued by kids such as FarmerGrant, whose family has roots in Colmesneil, Texas. Grant has a great love of growing things, and he has several videos on YouTube that track the progress of his new backyard garden in the Houston area. The videos above are his garden early this summer and then in late June -- including lots of tomato plants.

Take a look at his other videos (or click on the YouTube icon in the bar at the bottom of the video above) that show the progress of his garden through the summer, and take the time to give him a thumbs up encouragement for his efforts.  He's also raising chickens for an FFA project, and has a pet rabbit that helps him out from time to time in his garden -- this remarkable young man will even break a sweat weeding! Now there's a rare youngster in America today. . .

(1)  How Industrial Farming 'Destroyed' the Tasty Tomato , by Barry Estabrook,  a former contributing editor at Gourmet magazine. He currently blogs at

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Microsatellite ETH10 Genotypes on Bovine Chromosome 5 in British White Cattle

J.West's King Cole,
ETH10 Genotype 217/221

The British White cattle breed has never enjoyed a close investigation of their genetic make-up so far as I know.  Several members of the BWCAA have accomplished DNA testing for a variety of carcass related traits with Pfizer and Igenity the past several years; but those results are animal specific and have not been examined or summarized by a research person or organization.  As well, many British White breeders have established a DNA profile for herd sires that is used for parent testing of their calves.  Those DNA profiles for parent testing currently identify 16 different microsatellite genetic markers of the individual animal.   

J.West's Tom Sawyer, ETH10 Genotype 217/219

Of those 16 different markers, one is referred to as ETH10, and is found in a particular gene on bovine chromosome 5.  That gene is referred to as the STAT6 gene.  The Red Angus study referenced here explores the correlation between certain ETH10 allelic sizes ( range is 199 to 225) and growth rates in cattle. My guess is this ETH10 marker is one of those evaluated by both Pfizer and Igenity when scoring for various carcass traits and potentialities of growth. 

The cattle used in this 2009 study were registered Red Angus, and this study makes reference to a prior one using registered Brangus cattle and correlating carcass yield and quality and birth weights with ETH10 genotypes.  Fortunately, I was able to locate this referenced Brangus study, and both studies are available online at the links provided at the end of this article.

J.West's Mazarati, Owned by Southern Cross Cattle,
ETH10 Genotype 217/217
What caught my attention when reading through the Red Angus study were the allelic sizes (they sounded like familiar numbers) that were correlating with higher 205 day weight, as well as the size or percent of longissimus muscles (LMs) compared to body weight (BW) and the percent of fat in the LMs of the Brangus cattle in the referenced 2008 study.  This 2009 study concluded that Red Angus cattle with both the 217 and 219 genotypes had higher weaning weights:
 ". . . Angus cattle with the 217/219 genotype tended to have 2.1% heavier . . . 205-day weight than other genotypes."  (1)
The Brangus 2008 study effectively correlated the 217/219 genotype (along with all 'large/large' genotypes) with greater carcass yield and quality as well:

The results from ETH10 typing can have a 'large' and 'large' designation; an example would be the 217 (large)/219 (large) genotype mentioned above in regard to the Angus cattle and 205 day weights.  In that instance the animal is heterozygous for the 217 and the 219 alleles.  The ETH10 can also have a homozygous result, such as the pair of 217/217 - another large/large.  In the 2008 Brangus study, allele types of 215 and less were designated 'small' and those 217 and above as 'large, thus 215/217 or 215/219 for example would be 'small/large'.

J.West's W.W. Doc, Owned by Halliburton Farms,
ETH10 Genotype 219/221 - Semen is available and cleared
for export to many countries on this mighty fine bull.
 ". . . cattle with the large/large genotype had approximately 5.1% greater . . . percent fat within LM and more LM per BW (body weight) than cattle with small/large or small/small genotypes."  (2)

BIRTH WEIGHTS & ETH10 GENOTYPES in British White Cattle

The 2008 Brangus study also found indicators for birth weight in the ETH10 genotypes.  It was concluded that 'small/large' genotypes had larger birth weights than animals with the 'large/large' genotype:
"Cattle with small/large genotype had (2%) heavier . . . birth weight than cattle of the large/large genotype . . ." (2)
Over the course of the past several years I've accumulated many DNA profiles on various cattle, both herd sires and females.  A review of those profiles for the presence of particular ETH10 marker types proved interesting.

CRAE215G, ETH10 Genotype 215/221

Of the 35 DNA profiles I have on file -- 23 of the profiles were 'large/large' genotypes, and 12 were 'small/large' genotypes.  Of those 12 'small/large' genotypes, 5 of them have the common ancestral cow, CRAE 215G, who carried the alleles 215/221.  As I have the DNA profile on her sire, Mr. NOY 1B, I can see that the CRAE cow received her 215 allele from her dam, MS NOY 8E, as her sire carried the markers 217/221, so MR NOY couldn't have given her the 'small' 215 allele.  What's notable here is that this CRAE cow did tend to have larger birth weights.  She was also a very big cow, one of the biggest cows I've ever had in pasture here.  I once thought the tendency for higher birth weights was due to her size -- that would appear to perhaps not be the case at all. 

Black Sapphire, ETH10 217/219
 An example of that would be J.West's Black Sapphire.  While she wasn't quite as tall as this CRAE cow, she was for sure as heavy, if not heavier.  Black Sapphire had average to small birth weights, and has the ETH10 alleles of 217/219, or 'large/large' as defined in the Brangus study referenced here.  Coincidentally, her sire was also MR NOY 1B. 

A look at 3 other animals in this group of 12 with the 'small/large' genotype reveals another ancestral clue.  All three of these British Whites track right back to the English bull Woodbastwick Randolph Turpin.  In all three instances it is clear that the dams did not carry the small genotype '215' and thus it was received from the Turpin bull.  While my experience with Turpin calves is limited, I do believe he tends to have larger than average birth weight calves.

But, before you get real negative on the 215 genotype, it is worth noting that the actual best result for Average Daily Gain was found in Red Angus cattle with the 215/217 genotype.  Follow the link below for the study and you'll find a chart on the last page with the actual results for several items, including the 205 day weight of 217/219 genotypes highlighted in the study's conclusions.

Let's jump back to the carcass and growth traits indicated by my little study of these 35 British Whites.  23 of the 35 British Whites have the 'large/large' genotypes, or ~66 %.  While I would like to see that percentage higher, it is still very supportive of the excellent carcass traits of the British White breed when you consider the negative skew from the single family line of CRAE 215G discussed above.

J.West's El Presidente, ETH10 Genotype 217/217
Of particular interest as well in comparing these study results is the high prevalence of allele 217 in this population of 35 British Whites.  The allele 217 was also the most prevalent in the Red Angus population of cattle, with about 75% being either heterozygous or homozygous to this allele.  In this population of 35 British Whites, 24 of them, or 69 %, had the allele 217, and it was as well the most prevalent ETH10 allele of these 35 British Whites. 

Also, the Red Angus study concluded that the best 205 day weights came from animals with the 217/219 pairing of alleles, but only 8.7% of the Red Angus had this pairing.  In this British White population, there are 6 animals with the 217/219 allele pairing, or 17%Of those, three are herd sires -- J.West's Tom Sawyer, J.West's S.S. Carter, and J.West's Blue Boy.  And one of them was a bull we butchered, J.West's Prime Dude, who had the biggest dinner plate ribeye area of any bull we've butchered, and very nice marbling on a grass diet as well.

In the Brangus study the most prevalent alleles (greater than 5%) in the population were 209, 211, 213, 217, 219, and 221.  The only 'small' allele in this British White population was the 215 genotype.   In the Red Angus study the most prevalent alleles were 215, 217, 219, 221, and 223.  In this population of 35 British Whites, 100% of the cattle had one or more of each of the most prevalent Red Angus allele genotypes with the exception of allele type 223.  In the Red Angus population studied there was an ~14% occurrence of the 223 allele. 

The breakdown of all ETH10 allele frequencies in this population of 35 British Whites is as follows:
Allele Type 215 - 34 percent
Allele Type 217 - 69 percent
Allele Type 219 - 31 percent
Allele Type 221 - 31 percent
The breakdown of all ETH10 allele pairings (which were the basis for the Red Angus study) is as follows:

Alleles 215/217 - 7 animals
Alleles 215/219 - 2 animals
Alleles 215/221 - 3 animals
Alleles 217/217 - 6 animals
Alleles 217/219 - 6 animals
Alleles 217/221 - 5 animals
Alleles 219/219 - 1 animal
Alleles 219/221 - 2 animals
Alleles 221/221 - 3 animals
These results indicate a very tight gene pool, or low diversity, for this marker in the British White breed here in the USA.  However, most of the DNA profiles I have on file were necessitated by embryo flushing, artificial insemination, as well as DNA profiling of herd bulls for subsequent parentage confirmation.  The DNA results from parent testing embryo donor cows and their subsequent calves place quite a skew on these results.  They account for 9 (from 2 family groups) of the British Whites in this population of 35. 
J.West's Elvis in 2005, ETH10 Genotype 217/221

It would appear that the greater the size of the ETH10 allele, the greater the marbling potential of a given animal.  But, that is an unscientific observation, merely one of inference from the various studies reviewed.  In the Wagyu breed there is a prevalence of the ETH10 allele 223, which is considered a source of that breeds renowned ability to marble. 
"Barendse (2002) reported an association between marbling score and ETH10 alleles in Wagyu cattle. In brief, the 223 allele was associated with higher marbling scores relative to the 217 allele." (2)

So, if you are a British White breeder out there with some curiosity about the ETH10 allelic markers in your cattle -- have a look.  If in fact your British White has the allele 223 or greater, or different alleles altogether, please be sure and let me know!

Update 7/6/11:  There are in fact family lines of British White cattle that have the 223 size allele at marker ETH10, and those lines include offspring of the full English bull, Woodbastwick Randolph Turpin.

So what is the conclusion here?  That is perhaps a puzzle if I've not succeeded in a clear presentation of the basic premise and results of these studies, and how the DNA data in these studies provides very positive correlation and support to the British White breed's comparable characteristics as to birth weights, carcass yield and quality, and growth rates to that of other desirable  bos taurus beef cattle breeds - such as Angus.  While we cannot fund our own DNA studies, we certainly can make use of studies of other bos taurus breeds originating in the United Kingdom in gaining better understanding of the genetics of the British White breed. 

It is a remarkable thing that we can pull some tail hair or send a straw of semen to a lab and get back 16 identified DNA markers of that animal along with confirmation of their parentage.  Even more interesting is just what can be found beyond parentage confirmation in the details of those specific 16 DNA markers. 
UPDATES 7/9/11: 

(1) The Simmental breed in Poland underwent microsatellite study in 2006, and it is interesting to note on page 4, Table 1 of that study that the ETH10  genotypes were of low diversity, with genotypes 217 and 219 accounting for 92% of all animals studied.  The genotype 217 accounted for 74% of the animals studied; 219 for 18%; 221 for 1.6%; 223 for 3.8% -- along with the 'small' genotye 215 accounting for 1.6%.

(2) The Blanco Orejinegro (BON) Columbian cattle breed has been the subject of DNA microsatellite marker study.  This 2009 study demonstrates that the BON breed  is predominantly the 'large' ETH10 genotypes.  It is interesting to note that none of those ETH10 genotypes are the same as those found in the Red Angus, Brangus, Simmental, or British White.  They are:  218 at 33.8%; 220 at 20.3%; 222 at 25.4%; 224 @11.8%; 226 at 3.3%; and the 'small' alleles of 216 at 3.3% and 214 at 1.6%.  (See March 2011 Blanco Orejinegro blog post for information about this interesting white cattle breed.)
(3) The bos indicus Nellore breed of Brazil, which has many characteristics similar to the bos indicus Brahman breed, has been the subject of DNA microsatellite marker study.  This 2006 study identified the ETH10 genotypes found in the Nellore breed, and they are largely of the 'small' type - including 49.6% with marker 209 and 34.5% with 207.  The Brangus study had a more significant frequency of 'small' type ETH10 markers, including marker 209 at 10%.

(4) Icelandic cattle were examined for microsatellite markers in 2008.  "The Icelandic cattle breed is the only cattle breed in Iceland and has been, more or less, isolated for over 1000 years; therefore it is considered a closed population."  This 2008 study (See Table 6, Page 25) identified the ETH10 genotype frequencies in Icelandic cattle.  The 'large' alleles measured were 217 at 6.6% of the population; 219 at 61.5%;  223 at 14.3%.  The 'small' alleles were 214 at 5.5% of the population, and 215 at 9.3%.

(5) Piedmontese, Maremmana, and Podolica were examined for microsatellite markers in 2003.  See 'Genetic Diversity between Piedmontese, Maremmana, and Podolica Cattle Breeds' .  The allele frequencies are charted in Table 1 .
(6) Fleckvieh, Charolais, and Simmental were examined in a 2010 study of cattle in the Czech Republic.  Utilization of a 17 Microsatellites Set For Bovine Traceability in Czech Cattle Populations .
(7) Bulgarian Grey Cattle were examined in a 2005 study.  Genetic Diversity in Bulgarian Grey Cattle As Revealed By Microsatellite Markers.

Original Studies Reviewed:


De Beauvoir's Huckleberry Finn on the Left with Gerald Fry,
This full English bull is possibly the ETH10 Genotype 217/221 or Homozygous 221/221,
but that's just a guess from looking at his offspring's DNA types.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beef Prices are on the Rise - While Beef Quality is Dropping?

"David Theno had been advising the USDA and the beef industry that, because we were changing how we raised and slaughtered cattle, a disaster was just waiting around the corner if things did not change. . ."
POISONED, June 27, 2011, By: Richard Raymond, Industry Blogs, .

Texas Grassfed British White Cow Herd - JWCC 
 With the price of beef skyrocketing at the market these days, and the healthful quality of that beef very questionable.....isn't it time to seek out healthy natural grassfed beef straight from the producer? Have you noticed cattle grazing in the rural areas that you enjoy on country drives?  And, yes, I know much of Texas is in a drought, so grazing for food is hardly an option for a cow herd in many parts of the State.  However, cattle raisers who are focused on grassfed beef production will be offering their cows and growing beeves good grass hay and supplemental alfalfa to keep their herd on the proper growth curve.  In those rural areas near you where you enjoy the site of grazing cattle on your country drives, you'll most likely a grassfed beef producer or two right under your nose.

If you buy straight from a grassfed producer you could buy the steer or bull based on its carcass hanging weight at the abattoir or live weight upon leaving the farm, and you would then pay the processor about .40 to .50 cents a pound (cost varies by region) for actual carcass hanging weight to cut and wrap it the way you want them to. Average cost per pound of beef for your family just dropped or hit an equivalent, and you're providing yourself and your children with the best of won't worry so much if their diet is nothing but will be hamburgers providing optimal Fatty Acids, CLA's, Vitamin E, Vitamin A......and more.

The American Grassfed Association (AGA) tells us:
"According to a 2009 study conducted by the USDA and Clemson University, grassfed beef is better for human health than grainfed beef in ten ways:

1. Lower in total fat
2. Higher in beta-carotene (Vit. A)
3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamine and riboflavin
5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
6. Higher in total omega-3s
7. Better ratio of omega-6 to 3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease.
We've been brainwashed into thinking that all fats are bad for us, but the truth is that fats are a necessary component of a healthy diet. The human body needs an array of fats in the right amounts to function and remain disease-free. Grassfed beef is one way to add those healthy fats to a balanced diet."  AGA Newsletter 6/22/11

Texas Grassfed British White Bull Herd
Put grassfed beef in the freezer and you'll never wish to shop for grocery store beef again. Guaranteed. Put grassfed beef in the freezer and you won't have to worry so much about the fat in that delicious ribeye, it will be heart healthy fat you can enjoy, and generally less of it. 
Buying a whole beef is maybe too much to handle, but you can find a friend to take a side of beef and you the other, about 300 or so pounds of beef  at most from moderate framed beeves.  Or split the beef in quarters amongst your friends and families.  The butcher is accustomed to processing beef in halves and quarters to be taken home by several folks.

Consider the economics of buying a grassfed steer or bull straight from a producer. Too many people don't realize that it is still done today, and not just in rural America. Many grassfed beef producers will arrange to ship your beef to you in the city. These days, buying just a few cuts of grassfed beef at a retail grocer can cost a bundle over what regular grain fed beef costs at the grocery store.  As well, online storefronts for grassfed beef producers that sell you beef by the cut rather than the whole beef carcass can be prohibitively expensive for the average family.  You can avoid much of the added retail cost by buying direct from a grassfed beef producer, and you can control just what cuts of beef you'd like to put in the freezer. 

If you want 2 inch ribeyes, they will cut you 2 inch ribeyes. If you don't want a lot of roasts, well they'll just make those cuts into more ground beef instead if you like - and grassfed ground beef is by far the best tasting burgers and tacos you will ever put in your mouth.

Texas Grassfed British White Bull Herd - J.West Cattle Company
The cost of processing by the abattoir is the same per pound no matter what cuts you choose. And the cost of processing is on the actual beef carcass poundage processed and packaged for you - or better known as the hanging weight of the carcass.  If you are on a budget, it's worth saving up to pay for the beef carcass and the processing. It really puts money in the bank in the long run. Not to mention the better eating quality of the beef and the superior nutrition of the beef that will be in your freezer.....and not beef from an overpriced Walmart that injects their meat with.......weird stuff.

Look for authentic 100% Grassfed or Grass-finished animals;  no corn and no emergency byproducts to get through the winter if you're buying a steer for harvest in early Spring. There are various studies examining the length of time it takes for a beef steer's muscle and fat to convert back to a Heart Healthy state for optimum nutritional benefit, and it does take a few months and more of grazing or grass/alfalfa haying for that to occur - just like it would the human body to develop a proper store of fat soluble vitamins and the optimal ratio of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  We all know water soluble Vitamin C runs right through us, but those such as Vitamin A and E and Fatty acids, etc.... are stored for the longer haul.

A steer or bull with superior grassfed genetics will thrive on grass hay and high quality alfalfa hay as a supplement. Always ask what they're eating, and don't presume they haven't received antibiotics or hormone implants or recent long periods of grain supplement, you need to ask and if possible visit the farm or ranch that you're considering buying from direct.  You can also look for American Grassfed Association (AGA) certified producers who are also Animal Welfare Approved (AWA).

The Lazy A Ranch in Belleville, Texas is AGA and AWA certified and has grassfed beef available now, and the Lazy A follows a finishing protocol that I am particularly fond of - it includes the addition of natural molasses to the finishing beeves diet.  There are other small producers in the Texas area who also raise registered British White cattle in a grassfed program, and they have grassfed beeves available as well.  See the British White Cattle Association member listing at this link, and make a few phone calls to find British White grassfed beef in your area.  British White breeders of registered seedstock that follow a grassfed feeding protocol for their herds oftentimes have bull calves that don't make the cut as herd sires, but will be excellent natural grassfed beef for your supper table.

The late J.West's Big Mac, Elvis sired bull born, bred, and fed with zero grain inputs . . . he had 7 of 8 known markers for Feed Efficiency in bovines.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Spotted Calves Born in the Dinefwr herd of White Park Cattle in Wales

"So. . . you don't like my spots?  Check out my horned Welsh cousins . . ."
  J.West's Tootsie, Sired by J.West's S.S. Carter 

You have to see this May 2011 video of  horned White Park Cattle on the grounds of old Dinefwr Castle in Wales.  Some of the cows have calves at foot, and altogether it is a perky upbeat video you don't want to miss.  But, Lawrence Alderson, late of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the UK, must be cringing every time he thinks about this video in the public venue.  This particular herd of White Park Cattle have been under his purview for many years, and the very natural manifestation of SPOTS in many of the calves quite belies the sputtering stance of the horned White Park breeding either all white or all black bodied calves -- or was that just the theoretical genetically pure Chillingham herd that purportedly only has solid black calves occasionally, never parti-coloured or spotted?  Hard to keep up with the yarns. 

Regardless, the Dinefwr cattle are quite beautiful, very impressive, and I was glad to have the video brought to my attention.  It is interesting to note that you can only identify one or two cows with spots along the neck in this magnificent herd.  Sadly, I'm fairly sure all those pretty calves with spots are not long for this world, as in days of old they'll be culled by the knife as unacceptable - male and female alike.  It would appear that despite all these decades upon decades leading to well over a known century of killing spotted or overly colored calves -- those babies just keep on coming.   Why?  Because spotted calves are a natural manifestation of the breed's genetics -- accept that, embrace that, and you won't be so upset when two perfectly white animals give you a calf with spots.

"I was snow white when I was born!  My skin grayed or blued,
 depending on who you talk to, or maybe it was that way from the get go, ask my human Mom,  she might not have noticed at the time, all I know is I'm
 this cool dun white color!"  J.West's El Presidente

In regions of the country where the sun can be intense, it is preferable to have cattle with gray or black or blue skin, whatever you choose to name it, both around the eyes and nose and on the vulva and rectum of the cow, as both are constantly bearing the rays of the sun thoughout their life moreso than any other vulnerable area of your cows.  In my experience, a British White cow with black spots on her body hair will also be more likely to have sun protective black spotted skin on her vulva and rectum, as well as all the rest of the desirable dark pigmentation of the eyes, nose, teats, etc... When possible, breeding decisions should include consideration for maintaining or improving the skin pigment of sun vulnerable areas, particularly in hot climates such as Texas.

The Dynevwr (Dinefwr) herd of white cattle actually date back to at least the 10th century A.D.   Records exist that document the payment of white cattle with colored points as a tribute to the ". . . Welsh lord of Deheubarth" by those seeking his pardon.

Here is a passage from a lovely Welsh fairy tale, The Lady of the Lake, that makes reference to the Dynevwr (Dinefwr) herd of white cattle - and it's good to see the dear Lady thought enough of the speckled and spotted cows that she took them on home as well.  This old version of the fairy tale provides some of the original Welsh language side by side with the English translation.  Follow this link to the Sacred-Texts copy of The Lady of the Lake if you'd like to read the whole charming story.

She started off immediately towards Esgair Llaethdy, and when she arrived home, she called her cattle and other stock together, each by name. The cattle she called thus:
Mu wlfrech, moelfrech - Brindled cow, bold freckled,

Mu olfrech, gwynfrech - Spotted cow, white speckled;

Pedair cae tonn-frech - Ye four field sward mottled.

Yr hen wynebwen - The old white-faced,

A'r las Geigen - And the grey Geigen

Gyda'r tarw gwyn - With the white bull

O lys y Brenin - From the court of the King,

A'r llo du bach - And thou little black calf,

Sydd ar y bach - Suspended on the hook,

Dere dithe, yn iach adre! - Come thou also, whole again, home!

"I come by my spots honestly and where them proudly . . . no worries, just keep me in green grass!"
J.West's Tom Sawyer - Sired by the English bull De Beauvoir Huckleberry Finn, and his own dam was sired by the English bull Woodbastwick Randolph Turpin . . . so he's pretty predominantly English with a great American punch by way of his Popeye sired granddam, HRH Bountiful, bred by Halliburton Farms. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

The 19th Century Cow Theory vs the 21st Century Bull Theory

The Cow Theory

 The phrase “the cow theory” caught my attention while doing some research in the newspaper archives of New Zealand. Today’s world is filled with theories about the cow. Theoretically, belching cows are one of the greatest contributors to climate change -- theoretically, cattle raisers are inhumane humans who rear animals to “kill” in a world where killing a “sentient” animal is no longer necessary -- theoretically, all the food a fattening steer or mama cow consumes could solve world hunger by feeding the cow’s ration to humans -- theoretically, small beef cattle farms are environmentally degrading to the soils of grasslands and to the water supply -- theoretically, we should be assessed new “land taxes” so we will better appreciate our privilege of rearing environmentally friendly cattle or grass.

All theory, yet broad assumptions and bad science are being used by national and international institutions of government in a quite God-Like approach to policy changes aimed at mitigating the negative environmental impacts assumed under these “theories”.

What follows is the text of the article entitled “The Cow Theory”, published in the Otago Witness, an old New Zealand newspaper. I very much like this 135 year old life sustaining ‘cow theory’ over those running rampant today.

Pauperism Exterminated by Means of a Cow
Otago Witness, Issue 1212, 20 February 1875, Page 18, Full Text Follows:

"Speaking of the cow theory— that is, that a man with five acres of land can maintain himself, his family, and his Cow— a writer in the Farmer's Magazine, for the last month, has the following —

"On Sir Baldwin Leighton's estate in Shropshire, England, pauperism is almost exterminated by means of the cow, it being the rule rather than the exception for a labourer to have sums varying from £20 to £80 put by in the savings bank out of the proceeds of the sale of the butter. I have seen the books with the sums entered to their credit. Most cottages have two or three fields attached to the holding, mostly laid down in grass. The cow, however, is only a second string to the labourer's bow, and does not in any way interfere with his giving efficient service to the farmer (Sir Leighton), as the cow can be looked after by the wife, who makes the butter and sends it to market by the carrier."

We have frequently called attention to the great boon a good cow is to the poor man, and the large profits of a good dairy. This is especially the case where only a few cows are kept and are well cared for.

A friend of ours, with three grade shorthorn cows, has realized no less than ninety dollars from the product of each cow, in a single season, besides the milk and butter used in the family. But these favourable results depend upon two conditions, one or both of which we frequently see overlooked or disregarded, to wit : First, that we have a good cow — good in form, that a profitable disposition may be made of the carcass for beef, when the cow is no longer wanted for the dairy — and a liberal and steady milker.

It is incomprehensible that poor cows should ever be used when good ones can be obtained at so small an advance upon the common price. And this is especially true where feed is high, and the animal is kept with a view of supplying milk and butter for the family or market. Indeed, inferior cows should not be kept for any purpose, but should be slaughtered for beef as soon as their inferiority is discovered. To keep an ill-formed cow or a poor milker for a breeder is even worse economy than for the dairy, as in this way we perpetuate and multiply unprofitable stock.

The second condition for success with a dairy cow is, that she have plenty to eat and the best and kindest treatment. . . But in no instance does full pasture or a proper supply of other food in winter, or when pasture is short, pay better than in the management of the dairy cow — the more plentiful the feed, the greater will be, not only the yield, but also the absolute profit."

This 19th Century Cow Theory Supporting Families in the 21st Century?

J.West's Joey, British White Bull Calf

 Yes, this Cow Theory has merit and value to small farming today, whether it be cows, pigs, or chickens, or any of a number of different livestock species suitable for home growing. In the United States, there is a growing group of citizens taking up backyard chickens in our cities, others in rural areas selecting dual purpose cattle to provide their own milk and beef, wild hogs are still captured and 'fed out' to supplement the rural person's income -- those are but a few of the many instances today where small livestock farming is providing vital income and food to sustain households.

Across the world, small livestock farming plays a vital role. The industrious can and do raise livestock to improve the quality of their lives, or merely to sustain a ready source of food for their families. An excellent example of this is in the Philippines. What follows is an excerpt from a 2010 article "Raising Livestock in the Philippines", and it well illustrates the 19th Century Cow Theory alive and well and working to sustain families in the 21st century:

"Filipinos raise animals in order to improve the quality of their lives. Many families today, both in the provinces and in the cities, engage in livestock raising to have a secured supply of food, support their daily needs, and have an additional income. Just like having a vegetable garden in the backyard, tending animals prove financially rewarding if done in the right way."
"For many smallholder farmers, livestock are the only ready source of cash to buy the inputs they need to increase their crop production, like seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. Livestock income also goes towards buying things the farmers cannot make for themselves. And that includes paying for school fees. Income from cropping is highly seasonal, almost of it coming in just a few weeks after harvest. In contrast, small stock, with their high rates of reproduction and growth, can provide a regular source of income from sales. Larger animals, such as cattle, are a capital reserve, built up in good times to be used when crops are poor or when the family is facing large expenses, such as the cost of a wedding or a hospital bill."

In the progressive world of the 21st Century, we are faced with international efforts by the United Nations to bring the valuable function of the Cow Theory to an end. The United States is slated to be the proverbial 'guinea pig' for the world. Developing countries are slated to theoretically gain financially and environmentally from U.S. revenue generated by plans such as the now tabled 'Cap and Trade' bill much argued over by our U.S. Congress. Such taxation schemes could be said to be premised on the"Bull Theory".  Already, our own EPA has been granted via executive order broad and far-reaching authority to literally regulate the methane belches of your cattle -- if they so choose. 

It may be too late 10 or 20 years from now to turn back to the "Cow Theory", and rural areas across the globe will find the regulatory tape, fines, and fees resulting from carbon regulation and taxation a lot of Bull -- their lives forever changed and that of future generations.  So, get off the fence on this important issue, and keep your eyes and ears alert to the actions of the EPA, and support the efforts of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to look out for for your land and your cattle.