The USDA’s Market News Service reports on four classes of cull cows, which are divided primarily on fatness. The highest conditioned cull cows are reported as "Breakers.” These are quite fleshy and generally have excellent dressing percentages. Body condition score 7 and above is required to be "Breakers.” Note: If you don’t know about Body Condition Scoring (BCS) in cattle check out the following web site for good definitions and pictures of the various BCS’s: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/beef/as1026w.htm.
The next class is a more moderate conditioned group of cows called "Boners" or "Boning Utility.” These cows usually fall in the body condition score grades of 5-7. Many well-nourished commercial beef cows would be graded "Boners.”
The last two grades are the "Leans" and "Lights.” These cows are very thin (body condition scores 1-4). In general, these are expected to be lower in dressing percentage than fleshier cows and more easily bruised in transport than cows in better body condition. "Lights" are thin cows that are very small and would have very low hot carcass weights.
Leans and Lights are nearly always lower in price per pound than are the Boners and the Breakers. "Lights" often bring the lowest price per pound because the amount of saleable product is small, even though the overhead costs of slaughtering and processing are about the same as larger, fleshier cows. Also, thin cows are more susceptible to bruising while in transit to market and to the harvest plant. Therefore, more trim loss is likely to occur with thin cull cows than with those in better body condition.
From a producer standpoint, when selling cull cows, it is generally more profitable to feed the Leans and Lights up to get to Boners. It is generally not economical for a producer to feed a cull cow up to the Breakers class as the price differential between them and Boners is usually small.
To make it more confusing you’ll also see the prices reported for cull cows based on their USDA carcass grade or their expected carcass grade. The most common grades, in order of the least amount of marbling to the greatest amount of marbling are: Canner, Cutter, Utility, and Commercial. Younger aged cows (30 months or less) may also reach the Standard, Select or Choice grade.
Full mouth and broken mouth are relative terms for cull cows that describe the age of the animal. Check out the following web page on aging cattle from their teeth to see some photos: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OFO/TSC/bse_information.htm. Another age term, which you might encounter, is smooth mouth. Sometimes, you’ll see reports that only use abbreviations like FM = full mouth; SM = smooth mouth; and BM=broken mouth.
Other terms are used when Calvy or pregnant cows are marketed and the most common seen is Close-up. Close-up means the cows are 21 days or less prepartum (before calving). You might also see Far-off which means 60 to 21 days prepartum. Interestingly, these terms come from the dairy industry and are used for grouping cows on the dairy. These prepartum terms are often used to describe heifers too.
References Used and for Further Reading:
Marketing Cull Cows How and When?
United States Standard for Grades of Slaughter Cattle
Know USDA Cull Cow Grades Before Marketing Culls
- Wool is natural, renewable and sustainable
- Sheep Wool Insulation is perfectly safe to touch and requires no specialized safety clothing or equipment, making it easy to install
- It causes no irritation to the eyes, skin or lungs and wool fibers present no hazard to your health
- Wool fibers are breathable, meaning they can absorb and release moisture without reducing thermal performance unlike fiber glass based products
- Wool does not support combustion and will extinguish itself in the event of fire
- Sheep Wool Insulation does not settle due to the high elasticity of the wool fibers ensuring no loss of performance over time
- Wool is designed by nature to save energy
- Sheep Wool Insulation also requires only a fraction of the energy to produce compared to that of manmade counterparts
- This means that Sheep Wool Insulation will pay back its energy costs more than 5 times sooner (only 15 kW of energy are used to produce 1 m³)
- Wool has a higher fire resistance than cellulose and cellular plastic insulation
- It does not burn, but instead singes away from fire and extinguishes itself (Wool has a very high inflammation point of 560°C due to its high Nitrogen content of ~16%) Wool is self-extinguishing because of its high Limiting Oxygen Index (LOI=25.2), which means to completely burn wool an oxygen content of 25.2% is necessary whereas air only has 21%
- Wool fibers are hygroscopic by nature, meaning the can absorb up to 35% of their own weight from the surrounding atmosphere depending on the humidity, helping to preserve the surrounding timbers.
- While absorbing this moisture, wool releases energy in the form of heat, thus raising the temperature of its surrounding areas. Naturally releasing this moisture in the warmer seasons, wool creates a cooling effect on the same surroundings.
- Sheep Wool Insulation rolls are produced to standard width requirements – saving time when fitting
- Multiple layered wool fibers effectively reduce airborne sound transfer
Now that you know about the great qualities of wool for insulation on to the first of the two articles.
Turning Sheep's Wool into High-Quality Insulation
There is a portion of the U.S. wool clip that is too coarse for the textile industry. Bellwether Materials, a San Francisco-based startup company, has figured out that this coarser wool makes for high-quality home insulation.
Priscilla Burgess, Bellwether Materials founder, was at the West Coast Green conference where she encouraged folks to touch the new insulation.
"It's just as effective as fiberglass, but you don't need a respirator and it's cheaper to install," she says.
There are other advantages, too. Wool is allergen-free and naturally pest, fire and mold resistant. Bellwether isn't the first company to use sheep's wool for insulation, but competitors all use plastic additives.
Bellwether's product is ready to go, and customers have been lined up. Now the company just has to start its manufacturing process, which should be ready for commercial production by January. Instead of outsourcing the supply chain to China, Bellwether is hiring professional millers from the milling-reliant town of Adamstown, Pa.
"We're hoping to support one whole town that was going to turn into a ghost town," Burgess explains.
Reprinted in part from fastcompany.com
Bricks Made with Wool are Stronger
Spanish and Scottish researchers have added wool fiber to the clay material used to make bricks and combined these with an alginate, a natural polymer extracted from seaweed. The result is a stronger more environmentally friendly brick, according to the study published recently in the journal Construction and Building Materials.
"The objective was to produce bricks reinforced with wool and to obtain a composite that was more sustainable and non-toxic using abundant local materials and that would mechanically improve the bricks' strength," said Carmen Galán and Carlos Rivera, authors of the study.
The mechanical tests carried out showed the compound to be 37-percent stronger than other bricks made using unfired stabilized earth.
This piece of research is one of the initiatives involved in efforts to promote the development of increasingly sustainable construction materials. These kinds of bricks can be manufactured without firing, which contributes to energy savings.
According to the authors, "This is a more sustainable and healthy alternative to conventional building materials such as baked earth bricks and concrete blocks."
Reprinted in part from esciencenews.com
Bluetongue is an endemic disease in California and is a common problem of unvaccinated sheep living in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The disease is seasonal and is usually seen in the late summer and early fall months. Most clinical cases are usually seen during the months of August through the end of October. Bluetongue disease occurs worldwide and has recently caused serious economic problems in livestock in northern Europe.
Bluetongue is caused by a virus that is a member of the Orbivirus genus. This disease is not contagious from animal to animal and must be spread to
Although Bluetongue virus infects many different domestic (cattle, sheep and goats) and wild ruminant (deer) species, sheep tend to be the species most seriously affected. One particularly serious bluetongue strain of virus (Bluetongue virus strain 8) that was recently introduced into Northern Europe from Africa is currently causing significant disease in sheep, cattle and goats. The strains of bluetongue virus in California tend to produce no disease symptoms in cattle and goats while causing apparent and severe disease in sheep.
Symptoms in infected sheep include elevated body temperatures (105oF to 107oF), excessive salivation, swelling of the face, lips, and nose, ulcers and erosions of the dental pad, tongue and lips, swelling and discoloration of the tongue (blue tongue), difficulty in standing and/or lameness with swelling and/or ulceration of the coronary bands and hemorrhaging of the mucus membranes of the mouth and tongue. Some sheep may have respiratory difficulty due to pulmonary edema in the lungs. Other sheep with significant lesions in the mouth, tongue and esophagus may occasionally vomit with aspiration to the lungs which can lead to severe pneumonia. Mortality can be variable with death rates approaching 30% to 80% of the infected animals. Infected pregnant animals that survive clinical disease can have abortions or deliver young that are deformed, blind, weak, or have serious neurological defects.
Yearly vaccination of animals in the spring protects most sheep from becoming seriously affected by this viral agent. Since the Bluetongue vaccine is a modified live vaccination it is not recommended to vaccinate pregnant sheep because the virus in the vaccine may cause abortions or deformities in the fetus.
If you suspect bluetongue in your sheep you should contact your veterinarian immediately and discuss further testing of your flock. Testing of sick or dead animals for this disease can be accomplished through your regional veterinary diagnostic laboratory.
The American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of A
The effort summarizes current knowledge of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and capture as influenced by cropping system, tillage management, and nutrient source (including manure) in six US agricultural regions. The six regions are the Northeast, Southeast, Cornbelt, Northern Great Plains, Southern Great Plains and the Pacific. The Pacific region includes California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Additionally, topics requiring further research have been identified.
The report's interpretive summary states that: "Approximately 6% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions originating in the United States (U.S.) come from agricultural activities. These gases are in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4). However, by employing proper management techniques, agricultural lands can both sequester carbon and reduce CO2, CH4, and N2O emissions, thereby reducing their GHG footprint.
Cap-and-trade climate change legislation, currently under discussion in the legislative and executive branches, may have broad and long-term implications for the agricultural sector. In order to determine the role of agriculture in GHG emissions and capture, a full life cycle accounting of GHG sources and sinks is needed."
The report does a great job in explaining the effects of GHG on climate change and documents the rise in each of the three GHG's. It further offers methods of reducing agriculture's production of GHG or sequestering carbon including:
- Reducing fuel consumption;
- Enhancing soil carbon sequestration;
- Improving nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE);
- Increasing ruminant digestion efficiency; and
- Capturing gaseous emissions from manure and other wastes.
Livestock producers, rangeland managers and hay producers will value many of the specific suggestions for them in both reducing GHG’s and sequestering carbon. A few of these include:
- Harvesting forage by livestock grazing rather than mechanically - reducing fuel consumption;
- Using legume-based rotations or organic agricultural systems to reduce N fertilizer applications - reducing fuel consumption;
- Conservation tillage, winter cover crops and perennial pastures - enhancing soil carbon sequestration;
- Leguminous green manures (like clovers) can convert nitrogen gas from the atmosphere to plant available N for crop use (like hay and pasture or between vineyards) - improving nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE);
- Adjusting the portions of animal feed to decrease digestion time - increasing ruminant digestion efficiency;
- Using edible oils or other feed additives to reduce metabolic activity of rumen bacteria that produce CH4 - increasing ruminant digestion efficiency;
- Capturing CH4 emissions from livestock waste using covered lagoons and converting to electricity – capturing gaseous emissions from manure; and
- Applying manure to the soil as a nutrient source rather than storing it as waste – capturing gaseous emissions from manure.
It's encouraging to know that grazing livestock and some of the typical practices we presently employ can have a positive impact on our environment. I hope all of you will download and read the entire report.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2010—The U.S. Department of Agriculture today published the first edition of a program handbook designed for those who own, manage, or certify organic operations. Prepared by the National Organic Program (NOP), the handbook provides guidance about the national organic standards and instructions that outline best program practices. It is intended to serve as a resource for the organic industry that will help participants comply with federal regulations.