Tonight was “dad’s night to cook.” We just picked up some fresh zucchini and yellow squash from the local farmer’s market last night (I stuffed and barbecued a big one last night for supper), had some hamburger thawed in the fridge, so I probed my memory and decided on a casserole.
The recipe is fairly simple, brown a couple of pounds of ground beef and set aside. Slice and sauté a couple large squash in olive oil, I use oil grown by my friend Irv Leen of Gold Rush Farms, and set aside. Mix thinly sliced mushrooms, a couple of cups of sour cream, a cube of melted butter and a roll of crushed Ritz crackers with the beef. Spread the beef evenly in the bottom of a 9 x 14 casserole dish. Spread the sautéed squash on top of the beef and then add a couple of cups of shredded cheese over the top. Place in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes and supper is served!
While waiting the 20 minutes for the casserole to bake, I began to think about the past several weeks… I have been to Washington D.C. to meet with reporters and writers about the use of antibiotics in livestock, discussed organic and conventional production and grassfed vs grainfed beef…PEW held a discussion in Chicago on antibiotic use and superbugs…and Panera launched a campaign insinuating that farmers who use antibiotics are lazy. I recommend you take a look at a well written post by my friend Carrie Mess “Dear Panera Bread Company” and “Here’s What Panera had to say…”
Now you are probably asking yourself, what in the heck does this have to do a squash casserole?
Well, remember that ground beef I used, here is the back story.
I own and wear a pink shirt. I even have and wear several pink ties. However, this post isn’t about apparel…sorry.
“Pink Slime” has hit the media yet again in recent days. Several of my friends in social media have inquired what my thoughts were on a number of videos and news reports: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution ‘70% of Americas Beef Is Treated With Ammonia,’ Fox News Report ‘Pink Slime in 70% Of Ground Beef,’ and ABC News ‘Where You Can Get Pink-Slime Free Beef,’ were the three most cited.
Can you imagine taking fresh picked fruit, misting it with ammonia hydroxide to eliminate bacteria, sticking it in a blender, cooking it, putting it in a jar and then selling it for human consumption? Most of us do, by purchasing jelly and jam to go with our peanut butter.
Can you imagine taking fresh picked lettuce or spinach, misting it with ammonia hydroxide to eliminate bacteria, putting it in a package, selling it, buying it, opening it, adding croutons, tomato and ranch dressing and then eating it? Many of us do, purchasing prepackaged salad to eat before supper.
This post is not intended to promote, nor condemn the practice of utilizing ammonium hydroxide, but rather to present some facts and allow you to make your own decisions. This is not a “new” process, nor is it solely utilized by the meat industry. The questions are those that I have been asked over the past four days. Read more…
I have now written seven posts pertaining to feeds and the feeding of cattle, with the hope to explain with clarity two things: corn is not the only feed fed to cattle and grass finishing cattle is less efficient than grain finishing.
Do not take this the wrong way, please. I have nothing against grass finished cattle. In fact, I fully support the marketing of the product as a wonderful opportunity to offer consumers more choices. In fact, I raise some grass-fed to meet that specific market.
What I do take exception to is when some individuals make claims that are untrue and misleading.
Claim: Grass finished cattle take the same amount of time to reach their end point.
Grass is wonderful for growing cattle, but due to the low digestible energy (DE), when compared to grain, is not an efficient means to finish cattle. Grain finished cattle reach an endpoint around 13 – 15 months of age, while grass finished cattle reach an endpoint around 19 – 23 months. An animals breed, genetics and frame size also play a role in determining how quickly an animal will reach their endpoint. However, the biggest factor is the animals diet; high energy yields quicker gains and lower energy yields slower gains.
Having discussed feedstuffs and ration formulation it is now time to talk about pastures, an essential component in the cattle business.
By definition, a pasture is an area of land which there is growth of forage which livestock may graze at will. Good pastures have ample growth of lush, green, nutritious, actively growing forage from which livestock can eat all they can consume in a relatively short period of time. Pastures vary greatly, depending on type, growing conditions and stage of maturity.
Legumes and Nonlegumes
A legume is a plant which has the capacity to harbor nitrifying bacteria in its roots and is able to meet at least part, if not all, of its own nitrogen needs. A nonlegume is dependent upon outside sources of nitrogen. Read more…
So far I have discussed what influences the nutrient requirements for animals and have provided some basic information regarding feed values for several popular feedstuffs. In this post, I will try to explain in simple terms, how a ration is formulated, after knowing what the requirements are.
When feeding concentrates, it is often necessary to blend two or more feeds together into a mixture that contains the required nutrients for the specific animal.
- Draw a square.
- Write the % crude protein for the final ration in the middle of the square.
- Write your grain, with its % crude protein on the upper left corner.
- Write your protein supplement, with its % crude protein on the lower left corner.
- Subtract the %CP of your grain, from the %CP of the ration and write on the lower right corner. This will tell you the parts of supplement necessary.
- Subtract the %CP of the ration, from the %CP of the supplement and write on the top right corner. This will tell you the parts of grain necessary.
- Add the two results together and use this as the denominator to determine the percentages of each on a Cwt basis
Over the years, there have been hundreds of different products utilized as feed for livestock. Alternative feed supplies vary by region. I am only going to address some of the more “important” feeds, as based on annual usage within the United States.
Corn is the most widely used energy feed and excels in pounds of TDN produced per acre. It is very low in calcium, fair in phosphorus, deficient in vitamin B12 and must be supplemented with protein for most classes of livestock.
Sorghum is grown in semi-arid regions where corn does not grow well. It is similar to corn in its nutrient load, but is slightly higher in protein. It can be used to replace corn in rations, however, feed efficiency and gains may be decreased by as much as 10 percent. To overcome this loss, rolling or feeding as a high moisture grain is recommended. Read more…
This section of the series, when coupled with the previous posts, begins to layout some of the benefits to having the ability to utilize grain in the diets of livestock, particularly as an animal’s need for energy and protein increase through various stages of physiological maturity.
How do physiological phases affect rations?
When evaluating the science of livestock production, we divide growth into several different physiological phases. All animals, including humans, are involved with at least one of the phases at all times, maintenance, but are rarely involved in more than two or three at any given time. Each phase has its own unique nutritional requirements and thus, rations are changed according to the phase and the animal’s requirements.
Maintenance is the maintaining of an animal’s health and well-being. A maintenance ration meets an animal’s need who is not growing, not pregnant, not storing fat and not yielding a product (milk, wool, etc.). Basic maintenance requirements include energy for vital organs to function properly, maintaining body temperature, protein for body tissue repair; replace mineral loss, vitamins for maintenance and certain fatty acids.
Growth is primarily an increase in muscle, bone, organs and connective tissue. It is essential during the growth phase that nutrient needs are met to insure that the animal can attain its proper mature status and size. During this phase there is an increased need for high quality protein, higher energy and a greater demand for adequate levels of minerals and vitamins. Daily growth rate increases until puberty and then decreases through maturity. Read more…