Mendocino County
University of California
Mendocino County

ANR Blogs

American Sheep Industry Mastitis Survey

Mastitis Survey Participation Requested

The greatest cause for death in the first two weeks of a lambs' life is STARVATION!

Mastitis, an infection or inflammation of the mammary gland in the ewe, is a major cause of this undesirable result. There are a variety of causes of mastitis, e.g. staph, strep, mycoplasma, ovine progressive pneumonia or trauma.

Most lambs from mothers with mastitis weaken and die from starvation or become "milk thieves" in a passionate effort to survive. The little robbers then become the world's best transmitter of mastitis organisms to any of the ewes from whom they rob milk. The ewe may survive the effects of mastitis but will likely be culled prior to the next breeding season due to a bad bag.

How many lambs starve to death due to lack of milk production from either acute bacterial mastitis or hard bag? Whether it is the loss of the ewe or the lamb(s) or costly treatments, it translates into a loss in profits. Is your flock affected by this malady? To what extent? Producers are being asked to participate in a survey being conducted by Optimal Ag and Optimal Livestock Services to determine the magnitude of the economic loss to the sheep industry attributed to mastitis. The data collected will support requests for funding to conduct further research on diminishing the negative impact of mastitis on the sheep industry and develop educational materials to disseminate important information relevant to producers.

To participate in this survey, go to The link is also posted to the American Sheep Industry Association home page at

Source: ASI Weekly
Posted on Friday, July 30, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Info on Certification and Labeling for Ag. Producers

Received an interesting question regarding geographical certification today and so I thought I'd pass on some resources. In 2005 the Western Extension Marketing Committee produced a small book on the subject that many will find useful. You can download a free copy in pdf format from: Geographical certification comes up when Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is discussed.

The 2002 Farm Bill included a provision mandating that retailers provide country-of-origin information (in the form of a label or placard) at the point of purchase for specific fresh food items. Whole muscle and ground cuts of beef, pork, and lamb; seafood; peanuts; and fruits and vegetables sold through retailers were all included in the mandatory COOL provision.

The 2002 COOL Act was scheduled to become mandatory in September of 2004. However, due to industry concerns about a mandatory COOL program, in January 2004, legislation was signed postponing implementation of a mandatory COOL program for all food products except wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish. There continues to be a debate regarding whether or not a mandatory COOL should be implemented.

A discussion of several of the issues surrounding the COOL debate can be found in the fourth quarter 2004 issue of Choices Magazine (online at

It finally became a mandatory measure and was implemented March 16, 2009, by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. In the case of imported products, the food label indicates where it started, was grown/raised and processed. For example, a meat label for pork might read, “From hogs born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States.”

The law establishes four general meat product categories: (1) Product of the United States in which the animal was born, raised and slaughtered in the United States; (2) Multiple countries of origin. The animal was born and/or raised in another country and then slaughtered in the United States; (3) Animals imported for immediate slaughter; and (4) Imported finished products to be sold at retail. These products are labeled as products of the given originating country.

There are exemptions to the rule. Food operations such as restaurants, cafeterias, food stands, butcher shops and fish markets do not have to label their foods. Grocery stores that sell less than $230,000 a year also do not need to provide this labeling. To read more about COOL go to:

So there is geographical labeling from a country standpoint but not a "local" as the interesting question was posed. Given that the wine industry seeks out and receives appellation labels, it might be worth pursuing their path with regard to geographical labeling or certification of meat products.

Posted on Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 2:47 PM

USDA Launches Cattle Dashboard - Market Price Info

USDA Marketing Service has just launched a new cattle tool called Cattle Dashboard. According to USDA, Dashboard allows users to see weekly volume and price information presented in graphs and tables that can be customized for viewing and downloaded for use in reports and presentations. The Dashboard offers a friendly format that can be readily understood by producers, packers and other market participants.

To see an overview of Dashboard in pdf, click on this link:

To go directly to Dashboard and start using it click on this link:
Posted on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 5:09 PM

Woodpecker-ready siding to cover new conference center

Many people consider acorn woodpeckers' incessant rapping and acorn storage to be a nuisance. But the UC officials who are developing a new conference center at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center in Mendocino County view the woodpeckers' activities as just another part of the natural system to incorporate into their plans.

The University of California will break ground on the new 5,000-square-foot building this fall. In addition to providing meeting facilities for 200 and display space for a collection of natural and Native American museum pieces, the building itself will be a model of integrated green design, according to center director Bob Timm.

"This won't be a steel box with an air conditioner on the roof," Timm said. "We want a building that fits in the natural landscape, that is in itself teachable. We want a building people will talk about when they come to meetings here."

The architects' inspiration in designing the new conference center was old barns on the research center property that were built when it was still a commercial sheep ranch more than 60 years ago. The barns are riddled with woodpecker holes that the birds use over and over again.

To allow woodpeckers access to the new conference center without compromising the long-term integrity of the building, the facility will be protected with galvanized wire mesh then covered with cedar siding harvested from UC's own Blodgett Forest near Georgetown in the Sierra Nevada.

"This is just one of the ways we will be integrating the building into our rural landscape and making it look like Hopland," Timm said.

Blodgett Forest manager Rob York with cedar siding for the new conference center.

Posted on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Cattle ranching offers notable public benefits

The Sierra Nevada and Coastal Range foothills are replete with wide open spaces - a home for birds and other wildlife, majestic oaks and grazing cattle. The bucolic countryside vistas that come courtesy of California’s ranchers are among the many public benefits of rangeland grazing.

“The public doesn’t always realize what ranchers are doing and how that benefits everyone,” said Bill Tietje, UC Cooperative Extension natural resources specialist based in San Luis Obispo County.  “No one really thinks about it, until it’s gone.”

Many rangeland benefits can be grouped as “ecosystem services.” According to scientists:

  • Rangeland plays a role in the state’s water cycling. Eighty percent of California water flows through rangeland.
  • The diversity of plants and animals is greater on grazed, managed grassland than on unmanaged grassland.
  • Wild raptors overwinter on grasslands managed for beef cattle.
  • Half the habitat for the tiger salamander is grazed stockponds, created by ranchers to provide water for their cattle. The stockpond’s edge of clipped grass and the absence of crowding shrubbery mimic the rare species’ natural habitat – vernal pools.
  • Rangeland provides habitat for insects that are valuable for pollination.
  • Cattle reduce the dry grass that could fuel wildfire.
  • Grazing improves the habitat for the Bay checkerspot butterfly, a threatened California insect.
  • Rangeland sequesters carbon in the soil.

There are threats to the long term viability of cattle ranches in California that put all these benefits at risk:

The sale of the ranch for development is very attractive for a rancher who isn’t making a sufficient profit on the land. Also, the division of a ranch for inheritance purposes can make it difficult to keep a ranch intact and in the business of raising cattle.

UC Berkeley professor of rangeland management and ecology Lynn Huntsinger said public misunderstanding of and a lack of appreciation for ranching is another way the system is threatened.

“Imposing regulations that aren’t needed and not valuing ranchers as stewards can have a demoralizing effect,” Huntsinger said.

Much of the land grazed by ranchers is public and grazing is supported by public and environmental agencies - the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, parks and preserves - because of the many benefits it provides.

Posted on Monday, July 19, 2010 at 11:45 AM

First storyPrevious 5 stories  |  Next 5 stories | Last story

Webmaster Email: