Livestock producers continue to defy nature. Cattle are naturally lean. They're grazers. They eat grass. They move through fields and glean forages while trampling the ground, leaving behind a covering of vegetation and manure. This ground cover retains soil moisture which prevents evaporation and drought conditions. It's natural for cattle to graze and fertilize as they move forward through a pasture.
Unfortunately the new model for raising cattle is a mono-slope building where steers get stuffed into confinement and fed a high grain diet. Typically these buildings are designed to a maximum capacity where each animal is allotted 22-24 square feet, which is roughly the size of a dining room table. I can't imaging a steer standing in the space of the table and being comfortable, let alone healthy. Another issue, many of these mono-slope buildings are built above a manure pit; in other words, the cattle are eating while standing above a pit filled with their own waste. Imagine if you ate all your meals on the toilet. Gross. Leave it to science to try to change the natural inclination of a species.
"In America today, you can murder land for private profit. You can leave the corpse for all to see, and nobody calls the cops." - Paul Brooks
Another example of poor animal husbandry is lean hogs. Hogs, by nature, are fat creatures. They're fatter than cattle. Think lard and bacon. Hogs are great at converting legumes and grains into meat. We raise Gloucestershire Old Spots, which were bred to clean orchards of fallen fruit, and Berkshires. Today's confinement hog facilities get paid a premium for raising lean hogs. The producers achieve this by feeding Ractopamine (brand name PayLean) which is a drug designed to cut the fat in hogs. Leave it to science to lean out hogs by chemical intervention.
I have an idea. Let's feed cattle on grass, in pastures, grazing and moving. Let’s raise hogs in fields where they feed on green legumes; alfalfa, forage peas, rape seed, fallen fruits (like apples) and vegetables along with a grain ration. Lets allow hogs to be fat and cattle lean. That's how each one of these animals is designed. So, rather than going against nature or fighting the natural inclination of a species, let's work with the natural capacities of each.
Food for thought.
Our calf had a left hind leg break. These pictures are of a Schroeder-Thomas splint for a hind leg. Regardless whether front or hind leg the objective is to fix the leg in place and apply downward pressure, with the leg fully extended to set the bone in place. (The red broom handle represents the leg) Click on the pictures to view more clearly.
1. Measure the hip/thigh of the calf for back leg or shoulder/upper arm for front leg. We used string to measure the thigh and made a paper template of the leg. Based on those measurements Keith Used steel rod to weld this frame.
2. Weld a plate for a hoof rest at the bottom of the splint. The plate will secure the leg in place with downward pressure.
3. Fix the leg to the sides of the frame; tape alternately left side, right side, repeat as you tape the length of the leg to the frame. DO NOT WRAP THE ENTIRE LEG TO ONE SIDE: ALTERNATE THE WRAP FOR LATERAL STABILITY. (We used 3m Vet Wrap)
4. Wrap around the hoof and fix the leg to the bottom of the frame; apply downward pressure and fully extend the leg. A wooden splint will help hold the leg in a place to the bottom of the frame. On our first attempt we didn't have the hoof held tightly to the bottom of the frame.
5. Cushion any pressure points to prevent open sores. Apply topical fly repellant.
6. We covered all the vet wrap with duct tape for additional stability. Don't use duct tape directly on the hair coat without protective covering .
7. It will take a few days for the calf to learn to get up and down while wearing the splint. He'll get the hang of it but it will be awkward.
8. If you need help send an email, we're happy to answer questions.
Good morning, piglets! The first of our sows farrowed Sunday morning. 10 healthy piglets were enjoying breakfast when I went to the barn. They'll stay inside for 8 - 10 days until they're big and mobile enough that eagles won't prey on them.
Our goal is to raise healthy hogs. We've been concerned about PEDV virus. The confinement hog operations in the area spread manure on the fields and there's always manure on the roads. We've been careful about washing the truck's tires and not allowing visitors for a few weeks to make sure there isn't any contamination brought to the farm. The experts say that PEDV is deadlier in the cold months, but we're not taking any chances. Also, we don't use a feed mix with blood plasma products, just grain and fresh pasture for our pigs. There's a possible link between feeding blood plasma and PEDV. Wasn't anything learned from Mad Cow Disease? Cows are herbivores, but someone had the bright idea to feed young calves bovine meat and bone meal. The hog industry feeds porcine plasma to young pigs that aren't old enough to start eating a grain based diet. I'm proud to go against the grain of conventional farming.
Are you looking to make a change in your diet? Grass fed, organic beef might be the answer.
It's important to know where your beef is coming from. Did you know, 4 of the top 5 sellers of grass fed beef purchase cattle who have been fed distiller grains and soybean hulls? What else might these cattle have been fed? Many sellers of grass fed beef are buying, rather than raising cattle in order to keep up with demand. Is your beef coming from a farmer, or someone who procures their beef? It's time to go organic. EatWild.com has a list of farmers who are committed to raising animals on a grass based diet. Be careful though, some farmers have a few steers on grass, but they buy the majority of what they sell. It's labeled with their farm's name and shipped to them for distribution; however, the steers never set foot on their farm.
Another reason to buy organic beef - Inputs. This story is just starting to unfold. Merck, the maker of Zilmax is trying to downplay the relation of their product with downer cattle. Conventional farms use additives including; hormones, antibiotics, larvicides (the list goes on), to promote weight gain and profits, not health. If you wouldn't sprinkle any of these products on your breakfast cereal why would you accept your farmer using them on their livestock's feed?
This is 'Patches', Clarisse's calf. He was born a few weeks ago. He has pinkeye. We thought we'd gotten ahead of it with the rest of the herd, but patches eye was teary and we didn't want to take any chances. At the first sign of irritation we start treatment. The protocol we follow consists of a booster shot of vitamins A, D, & E, cod liver oil (administered orally), cleaning the surrounding area with tea tree oil, and spraying the eye with Vetericyn HydroGel Spray A patch, glued in place over the eye, will fall off in about three weeks. By that time the eye will be completely healed. Through trial and error, working with our veterinarian for a couple years, this is the treatment that's been most effective for us. Dry weather and tall grass seem to exacerbate pink eye. We aren't milking Clarisse during Patches' healing time. We don't want him stressed. When his eye has recovered, Clarisse and Patches will be separated at night. She'll be milked first thing in the morning and reunited with Patches during the day time. The past two summers' weather has been a challenge in more ways than one, but Patches is doing great, now.
Using Tear Menderand old denim Keith makes a patch which he shapes to fit the calves eye. We buy livestock tag adhesive to adhere the material to the calf.
Every now and again we have a chick or a full grown hen whose neck and head are crooked. This particular chick was in the brooder when I noticed that she wasn't moving to the freshly filled feeder with the rest of the flock. Typically, as soon as the feeders are re-filled, the chicks crowd around them. I noticed her head was tilted on a sharp angle - almost upside down. I gave her a quick exam; she hadn't been smothered, crushed, or stepped on. I placed her in a small bucket with shavings to cushion her and got out the bottle of B-12 vitamins.
If you ever find one of your poultry with this condition here are the steps to follow:
Get B-12. Sublingual drops.
Use an eye dropper to administer B-12 (Do not use the dropper that comes with the B-12, you don't want to contaminate the bottle with bacteria)
poured some of the B-12 out on a dish, used an eye dropper or syringe (without the needle) to draw up the vitamins. A few drops are more than enough for a chick.
Tilt back the chicks head, open up the beak and squeeze in the drops. Make sure the chick swallows them.
Don't use more than a few drops, we're trying to heal, not drown, the chick.
Keep her in a small box or container that's open on top and place it in a safe area where dogs, cats, or other chickens can't bother her.
Repeat the drops three times a day for a couple days.
Every few hours you should see improvement. After one dose her head and neck should start to return to normal. Give the chick water in the same method as the B-12 a couple times a day and offer a small amount of feed free choice. If you don't have B-12 available try using raw liver. Chop the liver very fine or use a food processor to make a paste. Open the chicks beak and feed a small amount of liver. Massage the chicks throat to make sure she doesn't choke. Follow this with a few drops of water. Feeding liver will take longer to correct the crooked neck than the B-12 drops. You should see improvement within a couple of days.