A salute to all women in the agriculture industry. Thank you to WAND-TV for inviting me to talk about Women in AG.
Today (March 19) is National Ag Day, a day to celebrate the wonderful world of Agriculture. As a farmer, I cannot imagine a day when I do not get my hands dirty or welcome a brand new calf into the world or discuss agriculture.
No one on this planet could go a day without Agriculture. You are part of Agriculture from the food you eat to the clothes you wear. Agriculture is everywhere. Beyond the plate, farmers and ranchers produce items you use every day.
On National Ag Day, we need to celebrate AGRICULTURE and the abundance, variety food choices that U.S. Farmers and Ranchers provide for the World. Whether your food choice is conventional, organic, all natural, local, gluten-free, vegetarian, or all animal protein; we need to be thankful for the affordable choices available to us as consumers in this nation. Despite the rising food costs in the grocery store, the U.S. still has the cheapest and more food choices for its citizens. Read More
The winter months are Calving Season for Day Cattle Farm. Despite the cold temperatures and unpredictable Illinois weather, I personally enjoy calving season. The miracle of birth can provide a whole new perspective to your life. However, I will not lie monitoring the labor process of an animal is quite stressful. Knowing when to step in assist or just wait it out is difficult when the mom can only communicate with you through nonverbal cues.
This year we added new technology to our maternity ward – a barn cam. The camera has allowed us to watch the first part of labor without making the mom nervous.
During the calving season, we place females in the maternity ward pens if they are in close to their birthing date. Although newborns can come anytime during the day, the night seems to be a very popular time and sport the most extreme temperatures. In the morning we let the cows out to exercise and fill up on nutritional items unless they show signs of calving. The cows still have access to warm barn.
On a rare day during lunchtime, my husband noticed that my daughter’s heifer, Champion, was embarking on her first calving. Fortunate for us, she chosen to come into the barn and was in full view of the barn cam. Since this calf actually came without intervention and during the day , it was a wonder opportunity for me to share the first hour of calf’s life with the world.
Each mother cow have different personality. It is natural for them to be extremely protective of the newborn calf. After all designed by nature the cow will protect its calf from any dangers. So unless you are trained in handling cattle, it is highly advised not to approach any cow with a calf.
Now, I will admit I have all degree of protective moms in my herd. In fact, I have cows that break the norm for allowing my family including my children to be in the pen during the birthing process and the first hours of life. Since my herd is small, it is easier for my family to build trust with each cow.
As soon as calf is born, a cow will begin cleaning and removing the birthing sack. Since the majority of our calves are born during cold months, I will assist in cleaning process in order to avoid frostbite to set in.
After we are certain the bond between mom and baby have been formed, we will perform several tasks to keep the newborn calf healthy. Depending on the mom’s degree of protectiveness, we will either administrate newborn vaccination in the pen with the mom present or move her to a separate pen. In this particular case, Champion allowed us to coat the umbilical cord with iodine, measure for birth weight, and administrate newborn vaccination (just vitamins) while she licked her calf and us.
So in grand fashion let me introduce you to Champion’s first heifer calf, Daiquiri. She weighed 74lbs. The next step in this healthy calf’s live is to take her first steps. For me this is the most rewarding part of the birthing process. It always takes my breath away while I watch the first steps and wait to for the calf to take its first drink of milk.
Agfact Day #30
Cattle and beef production represent the largest single segment of American agriculture. In fact according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) more farms are classified as beef cattle operations (31%) than any other type of farm. Grant most cattle operation are small, 90% of cow herds are less than 100 with average about 44 animals.
In 2011, 742,000 herds of cattle (farms) existed in the United States, the home of 30.9 million beef cows and 26.7 million feeder calves.
McDonald’s, with its Sausage McMuffin, McRib sandwich and breakfast platters, is one of the nation’s largest buyer of pork products, consuming about 1% of the nation’s total production.
More Facts about Pork
- The U.S. pork industry generates sales of about $21 billion a year, according to National Pork Producers Council.
- 21 billion pounds of pork were processed from about 110 million hogs in 2011.
- A total of 2.3 million metric tons of pork valued at more than $6.1 billion was exported in 2011.
Agfact Day #28
Each of the roughly 280 million laying birds in the U.S. produces from 250 to 300 eggs a year. In total, the U.S. produces about 75 billion eggs a year, about 10% of the world supply.
- Consumers purchase 60% of the U.S. eggs, Food Industry 9%, and the remainder are used for egg products
- Modern Henhouses have computers turning on and off the light. Lightening controls the egg laying.
- Eggs are laid between 7 and 11 a.m.
- It takes a Hen 24 hours to produce an egg.
- Brown and White Eggs have the same nutritional value
- Egg yolks are used in shampoos and conditioners and, sometimes, soaps.
Wheat is the product of a cross between three different grass species which is reputed to have happened about 10,000 B.C. Our forefathers quickly learned this wild grass was a good source of food for humans and animals. New species of wheat developed because early farmers selected kernels from their best wheat plants to use as seeds for planting the following year’s crop. That way, only the best wheat qualities were passed from one generation to the next.
Today, the method to select the best quality of corn-soybean-wheat-canola seed is selected in a lab. Biotechnology is not evil as reported in the media. Just keep in mind Bio means “living things” and technology means “the discover of scientific discovery used to solve problems”. In general terms, Biotechnology is just the use of scientific discovery about living things to solve a problem.
Like the B.C. farmers, Biotechnology today involves the process of Natural Selecting a desired trait or gene. The difference in the method. Presently, a machine can take the genetic footprint of a seed and identify the desirable trait (example, a plant species that uses less water to produce grain). Personally, this is an amazing innovation.
Food for Thought about Biotechnology
Biotechnology products in the United States are regulated more strictly than any other
agricultural or food product in history. The first biotech crop was available in 1996 but the research began many, many years before. In 1986, the government developed a framework of regulations for biotech crops to ensure it would be safe for humans to consume and the environment.
It is also noteworthy that a record 15.4 million farmers in 29 countries are using agricultural biotechnology. The grand total of biotech crop acreage of 366 million acres. Ninety percent (14.4 million) of these are resource-poor farmers in developing countries. This fact is a great example of how a scientific discover of living things can solve a problem- feeding nutritional food to people in countries where starvation is a leading killer.