January 2010 Archives
Just when I thought I knew it all, (or is it that I didn’t want to learn anymore) I spent a day at the Saskatchewan Beef and Forage Symposium in Saskatoon, this week, and got a bad case of information overload.
I was only able to catch 13 of the 17 presentations during the day, but here are some of the highlights. (Many of the presenters were students at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) working on their Masters degrees – so young and yet so smart.
- Alison Ward is working on a project to see if genetic testing might one day help identify cattle who could benefit from Vitamin A supplements to improve carcass marbling. Vitamin A does affect marbling and some cattle may have a genetic disposition to better handle vitamin A than others. If genetic testing can identify those cattle, supplements could be used to improve carcass quality.
- Dyan Pratt, selected a glamorous project where she is collecting the liquid from rotting carcasses to get a chemical analysis. The whole point of this is, if there is ever a major disease outbreak and large numbers of cattle have to be euthanized and buried, she wanted to evaluate the impact of this liquid or leachate on soil and groundwater. It appears the leachate would be very high in ammonium sulphate, phosphorus, chloride and other compounds, so proper citing of these disposal grounds and even SRM disposal is important to protect the environment.
- Brooke Aitken, of Eyebrow Saskatchewan and a student at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (photo at right) is trying to determine if there is a way to identify overly aggressive cattle in a beef herd.Some goofy heifers just make poor mothers, and of course other aggressive females, at calving, injure and kill ranchers every year. Some limited surveys she has done shows that 70 percent of producers report having ‘dangerous’ cows, and 70 percent of those producers have been injured by cattle. Surprisingly only 50 percent of injured ranchers say they culled overly aggressive cattle. (Maybe Brooke should be evaluating the 50 percent of producers who don't cull crazy cows).
- Alin Gannon, at U of S, is looking at the potential of using the bran from wheat used in ethanol production as a feed source for feeder cattle. Research results are preliminary, but it appears the high fibre bran can replace barley in a feed ration and still produce good gains.
- John McKinnon, who is way to old to pass as a student, is currently Saskatchewan Beef Industry Chair in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Saskatchewan. He has, for several years, been evaluating the use of Dry Distillers Grain (DDG) from ethanol production as a livestock feed source. While a lot of the DDG used in Canada comes from corn ethanol plants in the U.S., as much as 500,000 tonnes of wheat DDG is produced in Canada. Looking at DDG used in backgrounding rations, McKinnon’s research shows wheat DDG can be a very cost effective ingredient for backgrounding, however he notes it is high in nitrogen and phosphorus, so any surplus nutrients end up in manure making it a challenge to properly manage manure application so it doesn’t overload the environment.
More reports later.
We were in Lethbridge yesterday to help welcome the Olympic torch run to southern Alberta. We could have seen the flame and the torch bearers in any number of communities. It is actually in Calgary today for a three-day event before it heads west.
We met friends – Adrian and Val Cooke, and son Elliott, in Lethbridge, to mark the anniversary of when we stood together with them, 22 years earlier, to welcome the Olympic torch to Calgary just prior to the opening of the 1988 Olympics. Val’s sister and brother-in-law Wendy and George were also with us.
I’m not even a big sports fan, but there is something patriotic or important about marking these events that only come along once or twice in your lifetime – sort of like lining up to see the Queen, or The Pope, or seeing Tina Turner in concert during her farewell tour.
The nice thing about seeing the torch in Lethbridge is that it isn’t the huge logistic issue it would be in Calgary. We had a late lunch, and then about 20 minutes before the flame was suppose to arrive, we drove downtown, parked the car, walked over to the CP Rail line, near where the old brewery used to be and waited a few minutes. It would have been a two-hour production in Calgary.
The torch was entering the city from the west side. Hundreds were lined up along the tracks, but there was plenty of room. Four employees of CP Rail pumped the torch into the city on a hand car across the mile-long High Level Bridge. It stopped about 20 feet from where we were standing on the east side of the bridge.
A bubbling Chantelle Dubois Nishiyama, was the first torch bearer (see photo) to light the torch off the caldron on the hand car and begin her run through the city. She is a rail traffic controller with CP in Calgary, a graduate of the University of Lethbridge, a private pilot and a downhill skier.
She was just beaming at the opportunity to make this run. It will likely be the highlight of her year. So that was the torch entering the city. We went back to the Cooke’s house for hot chocolate and then a couple hours later went over to Henderson Lake where a few thousand had gathered for closing torch ceremonies and fireworks.
It was great to be part of the whole celebration, but part of it too was thinking where the past 22 years had gone. The kids, who were in strollers in 1988 have grown up, some are out doing their own baby thing. Some of the adults have got a little older, gained a little weight, and are even retired.
Probably, the scarier thing is to think about where we will be 22 years from now. I will be 80. If the Olympic torch run sticks with the current time table. I told my wife, I probably won’t feel like standing on a CP rail track in 2032. Hopefully we have a senior’s apartment somewhere, and she can just roll me over to the balcony, and wake up in time to see the torch jog by. That will be good enough.
The year is off to a better start already, compared to 2009. Last year my CaseIH calendar didn’t arrive in the mail until sometime in April (that was for the 2009 calendar year) so it really was too late.
I had already found a good calendar to put on the wall above my office phone. So I wasn’t going to change it in April. For 2010, the CaseIH calendar arrived in late December, just in time to make the cut.
Now for the month of January I can observe on a daily basis this happy farmer driving a red chore tractor as he cleans up manure in a dairy feed yard. I did cheat and looked ahead to February, and it features someone with a front-wheel assist red tractor, cultivating a field and in the corner of the photo is a satellite receiver atop a tripod in the field.
I’m assuming it is one of those RTK (Real-Time Kinematic) systems that helps those with GPS and autosteer to reduce implement overlap to a micrometer. (I didn’t know it either until I looked it up, but a micrometer is one millionth of a metre). I don’t think the RTK systems are quite that accurate, but they can supposedly reduce overlap to a few centimeters.
Regardless of tractor color, the most important feature of a calendar to me is the size of the print. How easy is it to read from 2 ½ to three feet away? Do I have to squint, or put on my glasses? Are the boxes for each day well defined? Do they have room for a couple notes? Does it show the phases of the moon, and most Christian holidays?
The CaseIH calendar does all that and more. It even has a daily count off, so you can see how many days of the year are completed, and how many days there are left in the year. (July 1 is actually the truest mid-point – 182 days completed, and 183 days to go. – I cheated again and looked ahead. July features a big red round baler, putting up hay on what might be a dairy and elk farm.)
The CaseIH calendar passed the test on all counts, and the calendar even offers a contest to win a $1,000 CNH gift card. I will leave the contest for the paying customers. My luck I would win, but what could I get for $1,000 from Case? I guess I could give it to my brother-in-law who has all green machinery, but then that would really confuse things.
Anyway, I can easily read the calendar dates from a good three feet away, without glasses, and that’s a good thing. CaseIH is the best.