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Thoughts from a couple of readers

I wouldn’t say the mailbag is overflowing, but I did receive a couple comments from readers on recent items.

In the Feb. 6 Keepers and Culls I threw out a comment that supply management might be an option for bringing stability to prices in the Canadian beef industry.

Charolais breeder Jake Harp responded:

“Supply management is currently in place in the poultry, egg and dairy industry already and it only benefits the producers. It adversely affects the price to the consumer and should be illegal under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The federal minister of agriculture tried to implement this in the beef industry and the producers turned it down flat. I tend to agree that Lee Hart’s thinking shows signs he is in the beginning stages of mad cow disease.”

And I also recently wrote a column/blog where I made the comment it was nice that the South Koreans had finally agreed to a food-safety protocol that would allow Canadian beef imports into the country, but I also wondered why it took nine years of negotiations to convince them Canadian beef was safe.

I received a few comments, including one from a fellow in Texas who suggested there was a great cover-up to the fact that North American beef is causing the human form of mad cow disease in people.

And then I also I had note from a Canadian reader known only as “The Old Farmer” who wrote:

“The BSE crisis was never about food safety, it was all about politics. Ten years of giving away your product at a 50 per cent discount is great for the consumer but has been a massive setback to the Canadian beef industry. One that it may not easily recover from.”

Lee Hart

Long livers in Saskatchewan

An 80-year-old Balgonie, Sask. farmer goes to the clinic in Regina for a checkup. The doctor is amazed at what good shape the guy is in and asks, “How do you stay in such great physical condition?”

“I’m from Saskatchewan and in my spare time I like to hunt and fish,” says the old guy. “ And that’s why I’m in such good shape. I’m up well before daylight, in the field seeding and mending fences and when I’m not doing that,

“I’m out hunting or fishing. In the evening, I have a beer and all is well.”

“’Well,” says the doctor, “I’m sure that helps, but there’s got to be more to it. How old was your father when he died?”

“Who said my father’s dead?”

The doctor is amazed. “You mean you’re 80 years old and your father’s still alive? How old is he?”

“He’s 100 years old,” says the old Sask boy. “In fact he worked with and hunted with me this morning, and then we went to the topless bar for a while and had some beer and that’s why he’s still alive. He’s a Saskatchewan farmer and he’s a hunter and fisherman too.”

“Well,” the doctor says, “that’s great, but I’m sure there’s more to it than that. How about your father’s father? How old was he when he died?”

“Who said my Grandpa’s dead?”

Stunned, the doctor asks, “you mean you’re 80 years old and your grandfather’s still alive?”

“He’s 118 years old,” says the man.

The doctor is getting frustrated at this point, “So, I guess he went hunting with you this morning too?”

“No, Grandpa couldn’t go this morning because he’s getting married today.”

At this point the doctor is close to losing it. “Getting married!! Why would a 118 year-old guy want to get married?”

“Who said he wanted to?”

Great ideas not just for pork producers

There probably aren’t too many great pork industry inventions that have a benefit for the Canadian beef industry, or around the farm in general, but this idea from Ontario pork producers Mary Haugh and Peter Jones, may be an exception.

Their invention, which won an award at the recent Banff Pork Seminar, is called The Long Arm. It is easier to figure out if you go to their website at www.thelongarm.ca and see a video of how it works. It is a wide strip of a strong fabric that retracts into a holder like a window blind. The roller end is attached vertically to a wall or post. Although developed for herding pigs, it appears to be a great device when one person is trying to herd anything. One person can be working in an alleyway or pen and pull out up to 50 feet of this retractable curtain and carry it along behind animals to herd them into a corner or down alleyway.

Most farmers know, when working in even an eight- or 10-foot wide alleyway, how easy it is for some animals to turn around and dash past you. With this Long Arm curtain animals would see only a solid wall and perhaps change their minds.

One testimonial on the website even explained how useful it was in managing a group of kindergarten kids.

Three other Canadian pork industry innovators were presented with F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production. They include Garrett Gerbrandt of the Puratone Corporation in Niverville, Man.; Dale Heptonstall of Sunterra Farms in Acme, Alta.

Gerbrandt received the award for his invention of unique, livestock-friendly loading plates for hog finishing farms, which are used throughout the Puratone corporate farm system. The loading plates are designed to lessen the stress of loading market hogs to ship to the packer. The loading plates are designed to swing out towards the loading ramp to funnel the hogs through the loading ramp. This avoids piling up caused by pigs hitting the walls on either side of the ramp.

And from Alberta, Sunterra’s Heptonstall earned the prize for his invention of a tail docking length guide for farrowing. The guide improved consistency of application of protocols and supported better communication between farrowing and finishing departments, which in turn supported improved production efficiency. The guide also supports overall high standards of animal care.

Forage restoration

With an estimated 200,000 acres of pasture and hayland in Manitoba damaged by flooding in 2011, it is expected farmers over the next year or so will need to take steps to restore these fields to full production.

In an effort to provide producers with information they may need to meet this challenge Manitoba Agriculture and the Manitoba Forage Council, with assistance from Fraser Stewart, prepared and presented information on forage restoration at the five provincial beef and forage meetings this past winter. John McGregor, who provides extension support to MFC, has summarized the presentation on forage restoration. Here is a portion of McGregor’s report that describes the importance of proper seeding, but for the full report visit the Manitoba Forage Council website at www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca and click on the February 2012 newsletter.

In forages more money is made or lost at seeding than any other time during the lifespan of the crop.

Spring seeding is the ideal time for germination and establishment because of the cool, moist conditions. Unfortunately, soils at this time may be too wet and limit the time needed to get all your forage established.

Summer seeding is only recommended if adequate moisture will be available and it is timed to miss the hot midsummer temperatures. It is important to remember that forages need a long enough growing season prior to frost to freeze up. For legumes that is typically five to six weeks and for grasses two to three weeks.

Fall seeding is especially good for grasses if seeded in time for the plants to develop a root system. This typically isn’t recommended for legumes as it doesn’t provide enough time for the legumes to develop a crown.

Dormant seeding is a practice where forages are seeded late enough to avoid fall germination (after soil is below 5 C). The risk with this method is that emergence too early in the spring by legumes can result in frost kill because the growing points are exposed above the ground.

Frost seeding, unlike dormant seeding, is a system used to introduce a new species — preferably a legume into an existing stand. It can be done in the late fall or early spring or even on the snow where the snowmelt takes the seed down to the mineral soil. The freeze/thaw action on a legume seed coat breaks the seed coat & promotes germination.

Again, the full report can be found at www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca. †

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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