Buzzard's Beat

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hope that beef worked

Tomorrow I run my first distance race since 2003. Holy wow, that was a long time ago.

As I mentioned here, I'm running a 10k and although I don't have a Team BEEF jersey (yet), I'll still be sporting my I Heart Beef shirt with a big purple powercat on it! I hope all the beef I've been chowing down on will help me cross the finish line under an hour.

I haven't trained much the past two weeks because I've been grading essays and working on my thesis so wish me luck!

Until tomorrow,
~ Buzzard ~

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Farm Aid Rocks n' Rolls in to Kansas City

Yep, you heard right. Farm Aid is rolling into Kansas this summer -- August 13 to be exact. Farm Aid was started in 1985 and historically has had the goal of raising money for American's family farmers and ranchers.

The annual event's founder, and main attraction, is the ever popular cannabis smoking, long hair sporting Willie Nelson. Nelson, along with his pals (and fellow board of directors members) John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Neil Young, will be raising money for family farmers at the new Livestrong Sporting Park in KCK.

I love that these high profile celebrities are continuing to embrace the farming way of life and are on board to help preserve agriculture. I found this statement on their website:

Independent family farmers are the pillars of their communities. They grow high quality food, are active in civic life, and are essential to the economic vitality of both their hometowns and the nation. As stewards of the land, family farmers work to protect the soil, air, water, and biodiversity in addition to producing high-quality, healthy food for everyone.

Below, you can hear Dave Matthews give testament to the importance of family farmers and healthy food from healthy land.

Favorite part: if you want healthy food, you go to the people who make healthy food from healthy land.

Tickets have already gone on sale and can be purchased at TicketMaster. For more information on Farm Aid, check out their website.

Will you be going to Farm Aid 2011? Do you think Nelson, Mellencamp, Young and Matthews are suitable spokespeople for agriculture?

Until next time
~ Buzzard ~

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oprah's Big Goodbye, Farewell, Adieu

Will agriculture benefit from her departure?

Oprah is by no doubt one of the most influential women, nay, people of the 20th and 21st centuries. Over the past 25 years, she has affected America's lives by suggesting books, lifestyle choices and health advice. Additionally, one cannot ignore the countless people she has helped through her Angel Network efforts -- the woman is truly amazing and daytime television is never going to be the same.

I'm not going to miss her.

For all the good Oprah has done for the mind, body and spirit of millions of Americans over the past 25 years, there is one group that was overlooked by her good deeds and words. America's farmers and ranchers. Now, in her defense, I cannot find an episode where Oprah said, "Farmers and ranchers are bad people" however, with episodes like this, thisthis and this she's not exactly waving the 'I Love Ag' banner.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with society wanting to know where their food comes from; I highly encourage informed food choices (hence the purpose of Buzzard's Beat and this blog, too). However, the people telling that story need to be the farmers and ranchers themselves. Michael Pollan may be a food expert but he is most certainly not a health, agriculture or farming expert. Neither are Kathy Freston or Alicia Silverstone -- all celebrities who have been guests on Oprah during one of her 'go-green, eat veggies and save the earth' shows.

I have read many books from Oprah's book lists and have several times cried while watching her reveal a new home to an underprivileged family. I most recently let tears flow when she had five women on the show who shared how they helped deliver a lifelong jail sentence to the man that knowlingly infected them with HIV. Will I be crying when she says her final goodbye tomorrow?

Not a chance. Oprah's absence will no doubt leave viewers searching for a new source of health and food information, that I for one will be thrilled at the opportunity to fill. Are you going to step up and be that resource?

Where do you weigh in? Do you think agriculture will benefit from Oprah's departure? What are the chances that a pro-ag celebrity will take the spotlight on daytime television? Any ideas for who will be the next talk show queen (or king)?

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Friday, May 20, 2011


Ok - I read a lot of online newspapers and newsletters every day -- more than the average person if I had to guess. I get my updates from, FeedStuffs Foodlink, Animal Ag Alliance, Drovers, the Dairy Herd Network, the Humane Society of the United States (keeping a watchful eye on the enemy), Pork Network, BEEF Daily, the Phil Reid Beef Blog, Ohio Ag Net, Science Digital and a few others. Add in the NY Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Yahoo! and Yahoo!7 (Australia's Yahoo) and MSN and MSN7 and I've got quite a bit of reading on a daily basis. As I'm reading I'm constantly thinking, 'Oh, I should blog about that' but I can't possibly blog about everything like I'd like to, so instead I have listed below sofe of the most interesting agriculture articles I have read over the past few days. Some are about policy, food and health, education, animal agriculture - you name it. I hope you enjoy!

Farmed or Wild? What is the best salmon to buy?

Tennessee Establishes a Farm Animal Care Coalition (FAACT)

Is Skim Milk Making You Fat?

Curriculum Should Focus on Readin', Ritin' and Ranchin'

$2 Million Michigan Lottery Winner Defends Use of Food Stamps

What do you guys think? Is this something you'd like to see more of in the future or would you rather I continue to create my sarcastic, opinionated and fact filled posts on a regular basis?

Let me know what you're thinking!

Until next time
~ Buzzard ~

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Meeting Ag Tweeps Down Under!

Owly Images

Earlier this week, Hyatt and I had the privilege of meeting Grahame Rees. Grahame is the co-owner and operator of KLR Marketing, a program that, among other things, educates producers about how to successfully market their livestock and protect their equity, in Loomberah, NSW.

Grahame briefly spoke to us about his Low Stress Stockhandling schools and invited us to attend one in November, which we'll probably end up doing. Grahame uses principles that were established by Bud Williams, well-known and highly respected cattle handling expert from Alberta, Canada who has just recently moved to Independence, Kan. Bud and Grahame focus their schools on stimulus-response animal handling which is a different school of thought than behaviorist Temple Grandin.

Bud was the developer of the 'Bud Box' which you can see being utilized below. The K-State beef feedlot has a bud box that I have used several times and I truly appreciate it's simplistic, yet effective, nature.

It was really great to meet Grahame, who is a fellow ag tweeter, I can mark him off the long, long list of agriculture tweeps I want to meet. We're really looking forward to seeing him again in November and we promised that if he ever came to Kansas he could stay for dinner!

To learn more about Low Stress Stockhandling or KLR Marketing you can visit any of these sites and be sure to follow Grahame on twitter (@peneena).

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Scientists Care Too

I recently read an article titled, "In Animal Testing Debate, Fur Still Flies." It addresses the treatment and welfare of laboratory animals like rats, monkeys, guinea pigs, dogs and many more species. Many people are opposed to animal testing because not all animals fall under animal testing policies and being a 'guinea pig' (pardon the pun) for pharmaceuticals and other products is not the most glamorous of lifestyles. The fact of the matter is that animal testing enables us to have, among other things, vaccines, antibiotics, chemotherapy, joint replacement and bypass surgeries.

I would also like to bring to light that scientists who utilize animals for laboratory research give those animals the utmost care, just like a farmer does his livestock. While here in Australia, I've had the chance to do a lot research with sheep and most recently, I helped perform fat biopsies on some crossbred ewes. The surgery was not unlike one that would occur in a regular hospital.

Each surgery used a new set of sterilized surgical equipment and lots of sterile surgical guaze.

 The area where incision will be made is shaved, then cleaned with iodine and alcohol and finally, treated with an analgesic so that the sheep won't feel any pain.

During the surgery, covers are placed around the area and the scientists and researchers wear surgical gloves so the entire process stays clean. In this picture, Hyatt is suturing the tiny incision that was made to collect the sample. After he has finished the sheep will be treated with antiseptic to ensure that no infection ensues.

Regardless of your position on animal testing, you should know that research animals receive special care and are not treated badly. Scientists and researchers care about the animals that have been entrusted to us; just like farmers and ranchers.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Friday, May 13, 2011

A New Spin on Guinea Pig

That guinea pig in the pet store window isn't just for Susie's birthday anymore. Pig farmers in Australia have been utilizing the little munchkins to help decrease the occurrence of savaging piglets in piggeries.
Quick animal behavior lesson: Savaging of piglets, when a mother pig attacks her piglets usually injuring but sometimes killing them, is a well-documented behavior most often seen in first litter gilts.  While it's been genetically selected against in U.S. swine herds, it still sometimes occurs in Australian piggeries. It is thought to be related to the hormones associated with parnutrition and unfortunately there is no vaccination or cure for this horribly bizarre condition. 

Back to the guinea pigs - some Australian pig farmers have begun putting guinea pigs in farrowing crates with the mothers prior to birth in order to desensitize gilts to the presence of small, wriggling, noisy piglets. When the mother is exposed to the stimulus of sharing her home with an small animal, farmers have reported that the behavior is drastically reduced, meaning less piglets are maimed or killed by the gilts.

I'd hate to be a guinea pig in Australia....

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

People Other People Don't Think About

Farmers and Ranchers

Megan H., a Michigan middle school student, was faced with the task of writing a letter to a group of people that don’t receive much attention from the rest of society.  Megan, bless her little heart, chose the Michigan Farm Bureau.

Have a look at Megan’s simple but extremely heartfelt words. Not driven by corporate schemes, profit margins or an animal rights agenda, her thoughts were that of a thankful consumer who truly appreciates the daily triumphs and tribulations of American farmers.

(I have copied Megan’s letter exactly as she wrote it).

Dear farmers,

               Thank you for everything, that you do. It must be hard to wake up each morning and work in fields, or taking care of animals. You must be tired after a whole day of working and you work mostly for food for US! Thank you again for all of your hard work. Without your hard work the world would not be the same. Our class is writing to people who we think that other people don’t think about. I choose to write to the Michigan Farm Bureau.

Megan H.

To hear the narrated version of Megan’s letter to Michigan Farm Bureau, click here.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Weekly Words of Encouragement

It's finally Friday (in the states, it's actually 1 am here in Australia) and since we 're usually run down, beat up and sometimes emotionally drained on Friday I wanted to instill some hope into my readers hearts and minds.

This one comes from an advisor friend of mine who I deeply respect (he didn't say it originally, he just shared it with me).

"Human beings are made up of flesh and blood, and a miracle fiber called courage." - George S. Patton 

I am in major need of some courage over the next few days and this quote jumped out at me. This will probably become a weekly feature because grad school is draining me.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Miranda Agrees with Us!

Yesterday, a funny/cool/coincidental thing happened: Crystal Cattle and I blogged about the same topic but used different sources to deliver the same message. How cool is social media?

Anyway, Crystal featured a quote on farm animals not being pets by one of my all-time favorite artists, Miranda Lambert. I won't repeat Crystal's words but encourage you to go check out what she and Miranda had to say about cows, pets and the circle of life.

Miranda Lambert: Some animals you feed and some that feed you.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Move Over Lassie, Bessie's Moving In

Photo courtesy:

The abhorrent acts at the E6 Ranch have caused a tremendous uproar among the animal agriculture and animal rights crowds. Squabbling about whom should be punished, the timeliness of the video’s release and legislation that would forbid undercover videography have been rampant across the World Wide Web. I’ve been relatively active in the ‘comments’ section of many articles and have also been fielding comment traffic on this blog. One topic that seems to be resurfacing time and time again is the supposition by anti-agriculturalists that farm animals should be treated like dogs, cats and other household pets. Below are some comments highlighting these thoughts (commenter’s names have been omitted):
We gain much more by being responsible stewards of the lands and raising beautiful legumes and vegetables. Farm animals should be kept as pets only. This would create a better world for all of us.
- ‘Who Will Protect the Animals’, Mark Bittman
I imagine a large percentage of your readership, if they look deep in their own hearts, have at various times questioned the standard industry practices which cause physical and mental pain to creatures that have done nothing to deserve it. Many of you have at sometime in your life made the connection that a cow, pig, lamb, or even a chicken, have the same primal desires as the pets you relate to as family. It must be very difficult to find yourself in a livelihood that over time has accepted practices that are more and more cruel in order to improve the bottom line. I wish each of you strength to rediscover your innate kindness, and offer it to those most at your mercy.
- Five minutes with Nathan Runkle Executive Director of Mercy for Animals, Chuck Jolley
While I’ll ignore the blatant accusation that agriculturalists, particularly livestock farmers, have lost our ‘innate kindness’, I would like to broach the subject of ‘farm animals are pets.’ That just isn’t true.

I showed livestock in 4-H from the age of seven to twenty and while I’ll admit forming a bond with my animals, I fully understood that pigs are for pork, cattle are for beef and chickens end up on the Easter Sunday dinner table. Am I a black hearted person? NO. I’m an agriculturalist and future producer who knows firsthand the importance of meat in any diet. Ninety-seven percent of the U.S. population eats meat and that meat comes from American farmers and ranchers.

Hyatt and I were recently Skyping with my sisters-in-law, who show cattle and hogs in Ohio, and asked how the hogs were doing and of course we asked if any names had been chosen. The youngest daughter said, “Breakfast, lunch and dinner.” These girls take care of their animals by exercising, grooming, cleaning their pens and feeding them daily. They practice exemplary animal care and do, in fact, very much love their livestock. I know this because I’ve witnessed their tears as they say ‘goodbye’ at the state fair. However, they know that livestock are for meat consumption. If not for meat consumption, then why are they here?

Before I go on, and further anger a few readers, I want to reiterate that farmers and ranchers provide the utmost care for their livestock because it's the right thing to do. The incident at E6, while extremely unfortunate and horrible, is a rare incident and should NOT be considered a standard for the rest of the animal agriculture industry. There is no room in the industry for inconsiderate care as seen in the MFA video and it should be very clear that farmers and ranchers are just as outraged as consumers at the blatant disregard for animal well-being.

Let’s imagine that farm animals are indeed intended to be domesticated pets. What exactly are we to do with them when their lives end? Where do we house them – in the backyard? One must wonder if the individuals advocating for cattle as pets understand how expensive it is to raise and feed a single bovine. The economics of raising livestock as pets simply don't add up.

Furthermore, while I completely agree that we all should include fruits, veggies and whole grains in their diets, I know that meat is a more efficient way to obtain the daily requirements of protein and certain vitamins and minerals.

For example:
- Half the daily protein you need in your diet comes from only 3 oz of beef. If it’s 3 oz of lean beef, only 130 calories
- It would take 6 times as much peanut butter to get the same amount of protein as you would from one 3 oz piece of beef.
- Beef is a good source of essential vitamins and nutrients.
     o  Zinc - brain and immune function
     o Iron
     o Protein – builds muscle; helps fuel active lifestyle   
     o B6 – energy
     o B12 – energy
- You'd have to eat 8 stalks of celery to get the same amount of iron from 1 - 3 oz portion of brown sugar cured ham.
- Beef and chicken have almost no carbohydrates. Of the few cuts of pork that do contain carbs, each cut has less than 3 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
- There are 5 cuts of chicken that have fewer calories from fat than 1 ear of sweet corn.
- One sweet potato contains more calories than one 3 oz serving of roasted pork tenderloin.

Calorie comparisons for 25 grams of protein in different foods:
Peanut Butter - 7 tbsp – 670 calories
Black Beans 3- ½ cup servings – 374 calories
Raw Soy Tofu – 1 ¼ cups – 236 calories
Cubes Lean Beef – 3 ounces – 180 calories

I hope that these nutritional facts have provided some insight into the importance of meat in our diets.

In closing, I’m sharing a quote from a VERY reliable source that will be the subject of a later post. For now, I think it sufficiently sums up the purpose of livestock on Earth.

Genesis 9:3 - The Bible
Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.

Get ready for some controversy on Buzzard’s Beat, folks.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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