Friday, October 7, 2011

Child Labor Laws and Livestock - Proposed Rule Changes for Agricultural Employment

 Getting lots of play in agricultural publications and organizations are the September 2, 2011 proposed changes in Child Labor Regulations by the Department of Labor (DOL).  The Proposed  New Rules are available for review and comment, and can be found HERE at the DOL web site in a PDF file.  All references in this blog refer to this PDF file. 

The focus of the proposed rule changes are specifically in regard to youth employed in agriculture.  One of the primary complaints I've read is that it will lay the groundwork for the Fed to re-interpret what is defined as a family farm, and thus prevent youngsters from being 'legal' participants in the family's livestock or crop farming pursuits. 

A review of the proposal was very enlightening as to the high rate of injury of agricultural workers found in the lengthy preamble to the specifics of the proposed changes.  In regard to rate of injuries in livestock operations, the following statistics were provided:

"The injury rates for workers (adult) in beef cattle ranching and farming, which includes feedlots, was reported . . . to be 9.4 per 100 full-time workers in 2006, 8.7 per 100 full-time workers in 2007, and 7.2 per 100 full-time workers in 2008 (data available at HERE.).  These incidence rates are almost twice the national average for all private industry during the sample years." (PDF, Page 12)
"NIOSH cites several studies that demonstrate animals are one of the most common sources of injuries to children on farms and notes that, in 1998, it estimated that 20% of all injuries to youth under the age of 20 occurring on farms were animal-related. . .  Livestock-handling injuries are among the most severe of agricultural injuries; they are more costly and result in more time off work than other causes of agricultural injuries." (PDF, Page 24)

This is Flora Rae, Born 9/20/11, and pictured here
only a day old, and undoubtedly with her umbilical
cord 'present'.  Picture is courtesy of Al Ross, and Flora Rae
was sired by his fine Colonel Beau British white bull.

The rate of injury for children cited is alarming, but it is unclear contextually just what the population of 'children' are that were injured by animals, and it is an 'estimate' rather than a hard statistic.  A specific example was given of a 15 year old girl who was seriously injured.  She apparently was helping pen calves in a corral made from metal pipe, and was penned against the pipe by a "stampeding calf" and actually stomped on as well.  That is surely an extreme event, at least in my opinion.  And we are told that current laws prohibited her from working there, so these proposed rule changes would just be an added layer to existing regs with a bump as well in the age to a vague '16 or 17' age limit.  "The Department . . . is proposing to extend these same protections to minors who are 16 or 17 years of age. "  (PDF, Page 12)

Likening a livestock auction barn work environment to a family beef cattle farm is really lumping apples with the oranges.  One has to wonder if the majority of the serious injuries to children under age 20 mostly occurred in an auction barn environment.  Apparently, the DOL did not consider breaking down those 'estimates' based on 'studies', in order to differentiate and better assess the rate of livestock related injuries on family farms.

Among the new rules proposed by the DOL, one provides that 'youth' below that vague '16 or 17' years of age cannot work cattle on horseback, or any other method best I can tell.  Our docile British White cattle don't require a horse or motorized buggy to pen them or move them to new pastures, so we British White breeders would not be impacted by that.  However, there are many youngsters who do enjoy riding a horse and learning to pen cattle.  I have to wonder if implementation of these new rules will see the demise of youth rodeos!  Will team ropers have to work with cow dummies?  Maybe remote control operated calves?  Oops, forgot, those kids are doing it for fun only, and that will remain legal . . .

My niece, Taylor, 17 years old, employed by me part-time, interacting
with an uncastrated male bovine, and if the new rules were in place now,
this would be an Illegal Act.
 The new rule that irritates me the most provides that no 'youth' can be allowed anywhere near an uncastrated bull calf over the age of 6 months.  Yep, you just read right.  Nor can they be allowed near a newborn calf and mother when the "umbilical cord is still present".  Do they mean freshly pink and present, or dried and a couple weeks old and present, or still attached to the cow?! 

My niece is now 17 years old.  Just last weekend she walked among a herd full of uncastrated bulls over the age of 6 months.  Not only that, she interacted with them.  If these rules were in effect now, I would have multiple fines assessed I suppose, as she is officially working for me on weekends.  I am not her parent, so that would also be an immediate prohibition on her working here as the proposed 'new rules' would not allow any kid to work with livestock unless it was a family farm.  No 'exemption' via 'student learner' training, etc... is proposed; I suppose they couldn't figure out how to teach cattle handling in the classroom.  The full text in regard to livestock is below.

New Restrictions Proposed for Working with Livestock, and No Provision for a Student-Learner Exemption, as is the case with operating Farm Equipment:

"Accordingly, the Department proposes to revise § 570.72(b)(4) entitled Certain Occupations Involving Working with or around Animals . . .  and redesignate it as § 570.99(b)(4). This . . . would prohibit working on a farm in a yard, pen, or stall occupied by an intact (not castrated) male equine, porcine, bovine, or bison older than six months, a sow with suckling pigs, or cow with newborn calf (with umbilical cord present); engaging or assisting in animal husbandry practices that inflict pain upon the animal and/or are likely to result in unpredictable animal behavior such as, but not limited to, branding, breeding, dehorning, vaccinating, castrating, and treating sick or injured animals; handling animals with known dangerous behaviors;  poultry catching or cooping in preparation for slaughter or market; and herding animals in confined spaces such as feed lots or corrals, or on horseback, or using motorized vehicles such as, but not limited to, trucks or all terrain vehicles. . . . The Department does not propose that a student-learner exemption apply to this . . ."  (PDF, Page 25)

Choosing a gentle cattle breed such as the British White is a very effective step toward prevention of serious livestock injuries, but perhaps the most effective prevention of serious injury when handling livestock is actually plain common sense.  Essentially the DOL's proposed new rules in regard to livestock are an attempt to legislate Common Sense.  I would never let my niece near any animal that would harm her.  She is naturally cautious herself, as I have taught her to be.   But there is still that nagging question out there. . . Why is the DOL choosing now to propose these new rules? 

Perhaps the answer lies in the more international environment with respect to livestock activities.  Cattle continue to be maligned as climate change causing critters.  The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations continues to promote a change to a 'vegan' diet for the 'general population'.  The FAO predicts the family beef cattle farm will cease to exist as the owners will not be able to afford to pay the 'true cost' of the operation once the FAO and EPA recommended regulations, fines and taxes are assessed to the small family farm. 

Once you regulate away the right of children to help out on the farm or narrowly redefine what the parent can allow them to participate in on the farm -- the parents will have to hire additional help at higher wages, which can literally make or break a small beef cattle operation.  Hmmm . . . could that be a primary back door goal of these proposed new rules?

Or is the primary goal of these new rules the laying of the ground work to redefine just what is a family farm.  In this modern world there are several business entity types that can be set up for the operation of farms, ranches, and any other business pursuit -- S Corporations, C Corporations, LLC's, Partnerships, and of course plain old Sole Proprietorships.   I highly doubt this section of the proposed new rules is there just to fill white space - someone finds it necessary and pertinent to long range goals to ". . . clarify the parental exemption involving agricultural employment." 

This is Perhaps What Most Have Found Worrisome as it Relates to the Survival of the Family Farm:

"The Department proposes to clarify the parental exemption involving agricultural employment by including information about the exemption discussed in the Background section of this preamble. The proposal provides guidance as to who qualifies as a parent; what determines that a farm is ‘‘operated by’’ a parent; and how the Department interprets the extension of this parental exemption to persons standing in the place of a parent as well as a relative who may take temporary custody of a youth and stands in the place of the parent. The revision also notes that the parental exemption—both in terms of working during school hours and performing hazardous occupations normally prohibited . . .—would not apply to the employment of a child of a farmer when that child is employed on a farm not owned or operated by his or her parent. It also addresses related situations, such as where the farm or its property may be owned by a closely-held corporation or partnership consisting of family members or other close relatives." (PDF, Page 31)

Taylor and Aunt Jimmie in the bull herd, I can just hear the metal bars clanging as the jail cell is slammed shut in coming years on . . . . some farmer some where.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Precocious Newborn British White Heifer

J.West's Lillie Bell and her Carter sired heifer, Sept. 2011
I'm really loving my September born calves, the nice weather change is easier on both the dams and the calves, and because it's no longer hot as Hades even in the evenings, we can sit outside and watch the little ones scamper around and head butt one another and generally feel good to be alive. 

But I've got one newborn heifer that is behaving rather oddly.  Up until this morning,  I was blaming this on her first calf heifer dam, J.West's Lillie Bell - thinking Lillie Bell was just not paying enough attention to her little heifer, not giving her the right moo of instructions to keep up with the herd or something.  Lillie Bell's heifer was born on Monday evening, the 26th, and on Wednesday morning the pretty little thing was all by herself snuggled up in goat weed along a cross fence about 50 feet off of U.S. Highway 69.  That morning I moved her several feet away from the cross fence, as I've had them sort of roll over and under and get up and find themselves in the wrong pasture in the past.

Lillie Bell's Heifer Calf - Very nice, notice how wide she is......
 Later on in the day something made me jump up and head out to check on her again.  Guess where the little heifer was?  She was on the shoulder of the highway with her pretty little head peering through the barbed wire back toward home.  Fortunately, she is very calm and I just lifted one of her front legs over the wire and then the other, and of course she full well knew what to do to go through the fence after that.  Afterwards, she just about flat refused to get off the fence line and walk with me on up the hill where most of the herd were gathered under a grove of hickory trees.  I finally gave up and carried her the majority of the way, a good 250 feet by my estimation. 

This heifer had a chest tape of 27 inches, which translates to a birth weight of about 64 lbs.  I didn't take a live weight on her, I've been trying to be a little kinder to my back lately.  I now wish I'd have done so, as I can't imagine that I could actually carry 64 lbs that far, and uphill as well.  Granted it was hard and I had to stop once and rest myself, but that's a lot of awkward weight to carry.  Sometimes in particularly thick or chunky built newborns, a chest measure can overstate birth weight.

This morning I went out to check the herd, and of course the little heifer was curled up napping right on the fence line of the highway.  I really couldn't believe my eyes.  She is going on 4 days old, her dam has had 4 days to learn a little something about keeping up with her kiddo, yet here she was all by herself in that dangerous spot.  However, this time her dam came down the hill when she saw me with her calf.

Lillie Bell's Heifer Contemplating Crossing the Fence.......
 Lillie Bell came straight away and somehow I think the tone of her mooing was one of absolute irritation with her baby, as in "Why don't you mind me!".  I had my camera this morning and shot some footage of them both.  In the video you'll see the little heifer giving some serious consideration to going through the fence yet again, rather than following her dam back up the hill.  So I'll not blame Lillie Bell any more, as it appears her daughter is just refusing to do as she's told.

The heifer calf was sired by J.West's S.S. Carter, and Lillie Bell is an El Presidente daughter from an Elvis sired daughter.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gidget Had a Girl! Classic Mini British White First Calf Heifer Success!

For a few years now, I've been focusing the breeding decisions for a small part of my herd on the goal of consistent classic frame score 3 cattle, which is the top most range of what is considered miniature cattle today.  They are far from being the tiny little micro minis, but instead are a reversion back to the classic frame, or traditional frame, of most British cattle before the push to lengthen leg and just create much bigger cattle -- the very cattle who can't well survive a drought such as the one Texas is enduring today. 

J.West's Gidget was born September 23, 2008 - a long 3 years ago this little gal hit the ground and this journey began.  Gidget is an El Presidente daughter, and her dam (a full sister to J.West's Tom Sawyer) was an embryo transfer calf out of a Woodbastwick Randolph Turpin daughter and De Beauvoir's Huckleberry Finn.  So, Gidget has lots of full  English blood in her pretty little veins, and is as sweet natured as you could want and quite the milky and fertile British White female in a small package.

Gidget had an actual scale birth weight of 57 lbs, a very unusually small birth weight for the breed, and over time it was clear that she would remain a small female.  On November 18, 2009, Gidget had a weight of 483 lbs at 14 months old and stood 38.75 inches in hip height, and was clearly not a candidate for getting settled to calf at 15 months and calving at two years of age.  Below is a video of Gidget in December of 2009, shortly after this weight and hip height were taken.

The next weight and hip height I have on her is in June of 2010 at 21 months old.  She weighed in at 580 lbs, which was pretty decent weight gain for about 6 months, and stood 40.5 inches at the hip.  On October 17, 2010, about a full four months later, Gidget weighed 644 lbs, again pretty good weight gain on her short frame.  I decided it was time to bite the bullet and let my little Gidget get settled to calf.

Gidget was pastured with J.West's S.S. Carter in late November of 2010 and about midnight Saturday night, the 17th of September, Gidget calved an awesome little heifer.  Gidget clearly settled to Carter on her first cycle last fall, and I was quite pleased about that - after it was all over.  I've kept Gidget right by the house for about 3 months now as she put on quite a bit of milk back then and I was afraid she'd somehow got settled to calf on a bull break in or something, so I kept her close.

Gidget's Heifer, Born Sept. 17, 2011
She kept that pretty little udder full of milk until about 3 weeks ago, then it doubled, and I thought sure she was about to calve.  Not!  A few days ago she put on even more milk!  And of course finally gave birth to her heifer Saturday night.  Check out the awesome udder on Gidget, and of course her charming heifer calf, in the Pic &  Video of the Week link.  Her heifer had a chest tape of 26 inches, for a birth weight of about 60 lbs.  In the video you see her at I suppose about 34 hours old, still wobbly, quite friendly, and so beautifully marked.

If you have an interest in Classic Frame British White Cattle, visit for more information and upcoming availability.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bastrop County Wildfire - Hay Donations and/or Help in Locating Hay Needed

UPDATE 9/20/11:  See link below video for current hay ads in the Lousiana Market Bulletin

All week I've watched this fire from afar, sort of wide-eyed and unbelieving, plain shocked; and I can't begin to imagine what it has been like to actually be in the midst of this great fire, under the threat of this great fire moving my way.  The WunderMap at has a 'fire' option to show satellite views of the burning fires and the smoke cover as well.  It reached the point where you couldn't see where the Bastrop fire was burning on the satellite view unless you opted out of viewing the reach of the smoke cover - it was just that solid black for miles and miles and miles.  My thanks to Christine Files, a fellow BWCAA member, who sent me the link to the youtube video below.  Christine was just south of the fire and part of the large scale evacuation of the area.  So far her home and land have been spared.  When she made it back there a couple of days ago there were charred remnants of the fire blown in by the winds and scattered around her property - any of which could have become yet another raging fire in her own backyard. 

Hay was scarce and grotesquely expensive in this area before this fire -- it is now practically non-existent.  Anyone (except thieving hay brokers) who can help Chris and other BWCAA members, as well of course as the many other horse and cattle raisers in the area, with locating hay is encouraged to do so. 

Update:  Take a look at the current Louisiana Market Bulletin published monthly by the State of Lousiana.  See Page 15 for the beginning of the Hay Ads.  This is a pretty large PDF document, so be patient for it to load.  Bookmark this Lousisiana Dept of Agriculture page to check back for the upcoming September issue of the Market Bulletin.

Texas Wildfire Livestock Supply Points for Hay and Feed Donations - Donations of Hay and Feed and Hauling for Livestock Needed

Texas Fire Support - Active Facebook page for current information on resources available to assist humans and animals in the Bastrop and Smithville area. - Online access to Live Police and Fire Scanner Feeds
Volunteers rescue livestock and horses - Hay Donations Needed
WeatherUnderground - WunderMap - Once the map loads, scroll down the options on the right and you will see a 'fire' option, click that, and then click on the actual fire location for a closer view of the fire perimeters.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Climate Change is Not a Modern Day Topic - It was Refuted by the U.S. Government in the Early 1900's

Climate change is certainly a hot topic right now, from Al Gore's latest laughable, pitiful and puzzling efforts to get in the limelight, to lots of finger pointing at Hurricane Irene and the Texas drought as proofs.  I understand the premise of the science that backs up the global warming gurus -- but as long as livestock continue to be falsely targeted as the greatest contributor to climate change -- my ears will remain deaf and the motives of the likes of Al Gore and the United Nations quite suspect.

I was very surprised when I stumbled on an old U.S. Department of Agriculture article from 1908 entitled, "The So-Called Change of Climate in the Semi-Arid West".  Clearly there were alarmists spouting off about human caused climate change to such an extent that it warranted a rebuttal 103 years ago, and I would say it was soundly rebutted as the poppycock it was then -- and is now to a large extent, as cows continue to be touted as the greatest cause of global warming, and a vegan diet necessary for us common folks:

"The former Vice President also said we need to initiate an organic vegetarian diet for the general population since industrial agriculture is contributing to the relentless, growing problem of global warming. According to Gore, meat eating has prompted forests to clear due to higher demands for cattle in the interview, adding that synthetic nitrogen use in fertilizers continues to contribute to global warming." (Al Gore, 8/29/11)

Sunday, August 28 - View of our Parched Pastures and a Fire Top above the Trees -- on Monday evening there was another fire so close that big particles of ash fell around us at the cattle pens just to the left in this photo.

The Texas drought is not a weather event brought on by human caused climate change (nor some divine judgment by an angry God as the likes of a Louis Farrakhan tell their followers), and neither is Hurricane Irene a storm to be blamed on climate change.  Certainly, the level of carbon dioxide in earth's atmosphere is a factor in our weather, but to presume that the human and livestock activities on the land mass of the United States can somehow change the climate of the world, for better or worse, is simply preposterous.  We can't allow ourselves to be used to "set an example for the world" that literally destroys our economy while the rest of the world laughs their butts off in to the next century -- and our EPA is now being used as a tool to backdoor accomplish that so-called example.

The drought of 1886/1887 that I blogged a couple of weeks back was a severe Texas and Plains area drought, much like the one occurring now.  Coincidentally, just a mere couple years later, in May 1889, there was a "great storm" that severely impacted the northeast, and caused the catastrophic Johnstown Flood in Pennsylvania.  This storm occurred on the heals of quite abnormally high levels of spring and summer rainfall in the northeast.  Sound familiar?  There has been well above average rainfall in much of the northeast this spring and summer.  This was the weather forecast for Memorial Day 1889 in Pennsylvania, from The Tribune :

"A Storm of considerable energy has developed in Southwestern Texas, which is now centered in the Mississippi Valley, moving northeastward. General rain has fallen within the track of the storm. Elsewhere fair weather has prevailed. The temperature is unusually low throughout the lake region, heavy frost having occurred in many places and light frosts are also reported from the county districts in this locality, with no perceptible damage, however. The temperature has risen slightly in all other districts. The barometer has fallen decidedly in the Mississippi Valley with manifestations of cyclonic disturbances, and is highest in the extreme Northwest."
I certainly wish that the above weather forecast was actually for Labor Day Weekend 2011, without the subsequent heavy rain and flooding in the Northeast!  No doubt in the days that followed the devastation of the great Johnstown Flood there was a creepy person somewhere at a podium postulating about God's divine judgment on Pennsylvania.  Hopefully, someone laid him out with a good punch of divine judgment to his belly paunch.

Did you know there is now yet another factor of great import in projecting carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and will require new 'climate change' analysis models?  Check this out: Nitrogen in Rocks Could Help Counter Climate ChangeNow why is this not headline news this morning all over the world?  And just what else is out there yet to be discovered about the resourcefulness of this grand and ancient earth we all call home? 

J.West's El Presidente standing in a patch of green that remains over our sewer, it is rare for the cows to ever eat this grass.  What must he think looking out over his pasture at nothing but dead grass and worm eating cattle egrets?  Is he blaming himself for Climate Change?

Here are some excerpts from the 1908 U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's 'The So-Called Change in Climate . . .' :

"It is the man that has changed, not the climate, and the face of nature has changed with efforts far exceeding those of the early eastern pioneers. The western man who has observed the wilderness blossom as the rose -  decries his own power when he charges to the account of change of climate the blessings resulting from his own initiative. It required much more than the buzzing of the drones while the climate was "changing" to make orchards, meadows, grain fields, and vineyards in Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. Perseverance placed the city of Denver on the site of the Indian tepee in the valley of the upper Platte, and "change of climate " did not plant Salt Lake City in the deserts of Utah."

"Droughts, hot winds, and high temperatures are not impossible in any section at any time. Francis Parkman says that during the summer and fall of 1764, at the time of Pontiac's war, a great drought prevailed over the region north of the Ohio River, and British soldiers suffered great hardships in navigating the streams. Yet the settler had not then had much chance with his ax, and the lands were covered with an interminable forest."

"Prof. Alfred J. Henry, in Climatology of the United States, says:
'The greatest drought this country has experienced in the last one hundred years, both as to Intensity and extent of territory covered, culminated in the middle Mississippi and Missouri valleys in 1894, and in the Lake region and Atlantic coast districts in 1895. The drought of 1894 was the culmination of a period of deficient precipitation and high temperatures that began during the early summer of 1893. . .'
'In September, 1908, the Susquehanna River was lower than it had been in more than one hundred years, and instances were published of boys playing ball in the river bed of the upper Ohio.'
'In the Middle States, as well as the entire region between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River north of Texas, the great hot wave of July, 1901, broke records in many sections, the temperatures ranging from 109° to 116° in the shade. These figures were published by the Weather Bureau at the time, and clearly show that abnormally high temperatures or hot winds are not confined to any particular locality.'"
"The semiarid States are contending against stupendous forces in the form of the great air currents, which are charged with billions of tons of moisture and dust before they come within a thousand miles of the Middle West. . . . It is evident, then, that the cultivation and forestation of the semiarid region, even though (if) they had proceeded much farther than they have, could not change the climate. . . In spite of the great differences in density of population and in the proportion of land improved, the records show that no single part of the areas mentioned, or any other part of the vast territory remaining in the country, has been exempt from droughty periods."
" . . . climatic changes have been as numerous as the epochs in geological history. . . If the ancient ancestors of the mound builders could be aroused from their slumbers, their medicine men would relate a hoary legend to the effect that the waters of the southern seas once tossed over the western plains, and the great Southwest and washed the feet of the Rockies."
"Aristotle, the sage, one of the greatest of scientific observers, flourished about two thousand three hundred years ago; since his day there have been many scientific observers; yet in all these years there has been no record of a permanent change of climate in any part of the known world."
"Western Asia, northern Africa, and portions of North America were called deserts in remote ages, and we still believe they will continue deserts during the vast periods of time to come. The Chaldeans, ancient Persians, Ninevites, and Egyptians exerted untold effort in producing verdure (green growth) that succeeding peoples have allowed to disappear before the blistering desolation. Geological evidence shows that extensive forests once flourished in these regions, and remains of highly creditable irrigating works have lately been discovered in the Arizona desert. But man's efforts did not change the climate in these regions. When his efforts ceased, the desert reoccupied the territory which he had for a time subdued to his needs."
". . . such as the great storm of 1889, originated by the intermingling of masses of warm air from the equator and cold air from the pole, and which cover a greater extent of the earth's surface than the territory of the United States, and then imagine the influence of any semiarid State lying in the pathway of such a disturbance, we can understand that a whole series of States, much less the man with his plow, is unable to control climate."

Source: Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1908; The So-Called Change of Climate in the Semiarid West,  by Richard H. Sullivan, Local Forecaster, Weather Bureau, Wichita, Kansas