The American Meat Institute (AMI) Foundation has just recently released their 2010 Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines & Audit Guide. The guide, written by Temple Grandin, while focused on humane animal handling at the processing level, still has valuable information for all those involved in the livestock industry. The sections on animal transport, temperature, and handling facilities are especially useful at the ranch level. I’ve attached the pdf file but you may also download it from AMI’s web site, animalhandling.org, under their guidelines and auditing section. I’d suggest checking out the other information and links on their web site too.
Blackberry control is a common issue for many ranches in both Mendocino and Lake Counties and so I thought it would be interesting to hear about Claudia’s research and results. She compared the effects of goat browsing on blackberry vigor by quantifying the densities of different age class stems, comparing it to mowing alone, and goat browsing followed by mowing over a three-year period.
Her results showed that total stem density declined, but the primocane density actually increased after all three treatments, which means that the blackberry population was still vigorous. All three treatments, however, resulted in a decline in blackberry cover and a favorable increase in both perennial grass and forb cover.
She could not detect any significant differences between the three treatments, which mean that goat grazing alone controlled the blackberries as well as mowing or grazing plus mowing. Given the fossil fuel costs of mowing, goats as targeted grazers are a better option.
Targeted grazing by sheep to control weeds, like our Vines
In their study the researchers wanted to find out if by grazing cattle to reduce the common grass orchardgrass, that more soil moisture would be available to the trees. They found that seedling water stress levels during spring and summer were similar in a cattle-grazed vs. ungrazed area, but in summer, water stress was reduced significantly in the grazed area. Soil water content was higher in the grazed area, especially at the 10-20 cm soil depth. End of season (July) orchardgrass root growth was reduced 18% and 15% with grazing. They concluded that repeated cattle grazing of orchardgrass reduced transpirational surface area and root growth sufficiently to increase soil water availability to seedlings. Thus, prescribed cattle grazing on conifer plantations can enhance seedling physiological status by acting as a regulator of above- and belowground competition.
Karl, Michael G. and Paul S. Doescher. 1993. Regulating Competition on Conifer Plantations with Prescribed Cattle Grazing. Forestry Sci. 39(3):405-418.
In past posts I've shared information concerning carbon credits and the potential for rangeland and forestland owners to benefit from this relatively new market.
The 2008 Farm Bill's conservation title directs the Secretary of Agriculture to facilitate the development of environmental markets and ensure the participation of America's farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. As set forth by Congress in the Farm Bill, the Office of Environmental Markets (OEM) will work across government and in consultation with experts and stakeholders to build a market-based system for quantifying, registering and verifying environmental benefits produced by land management activities.
More information can be downloaded at:
Section 2709: Environmental Services Markets (PDF, 17 KB),
2007 Farm Bill Theme Paper on Conservation and the Environment (PDF, 0.7 MB)
and Executive Summary (PDF, 144 KB).
Specifically according to info on its web site, the "Office of Environmental Markets (OEM) is a new office created within the U.S. Department of Agriculture to catalyze the development of markets for ecosystem services. OEM has a unique role in the federal government's efforts to develop uniform standards and market infrastructure that will facilitate market-based approaches to agriculture, forest, and rangeland conservation. OEM is bringing experts and stakeholders together with government agencies to build a robust, accessible, and scientifically credible market system that will protect and enhance America's natural capital into the future.
The office, formerly called Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets, was established in December 2008 to provide administrative and technical assistance to the Secretary in implementing Section 2709 of the Farm Bill. Sally Collins was named Director of the office, after serving as Associate Chief of the Forest Service for eight years."
The following links provide more information:
USDA News Release (March 10, 2010): Secretary Vilsack announces details and objectives of USDA’s Office of Environmental Markets
To get additional information you can email or phone via the contact information below.
SSQA Training Accessible Online
You can now become Sheep Safety and Quality Assurance (SSQA) Level 1 certified from the comfort of your own home. The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) just released the newly developed online version of this training, and it is available at www.sheepusa.org by clicking on "Online Education."
"The American sheep industry has a long history of producing a quality product," commented Glen Fisher, ASI president. "The SSQA course is a valuable tool for producers to use to demonstrate their commitment to this goal."
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the safety of the food they eat as well as the quality of the product they buy. The SSQA program has been developed to ensure that consumer products generated by the U.S. sheep industry are safe and of the highest possible quality.
The Level 1 training is designed to educate producers on the basics of assuring safety and quality in American lamb products, to describe and define the safety and quality guidelines and to assure that producers understand the concepts and reasoning behind the development of the guidelines and the importance of their implementation.
At the conclusion of the training, participants complete the assessment and mail the results to ASI to be added to the growing list of producers who believe that producing safe and high quality lamb is of the utmost importance.