A Girl Who Loves Cows

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I grew up on my family’s cattle ranch watching my dad work hard everyday, never taking a weekend off or a stat holiday, watching our family business and my dad struggle when times were tough in the beef industry. However, through it all I have  managed to grow up and love cows, and love raising high quality beef for my family, friends, neighbour, fellow Canadians and other across the world to enjoy. When I was 21 years old and still in University I made the decision when I was done my degree in Education I was moving back to my hometown and going to ranch with my dad on our family operation. I did receive my bachelors of Education from the University of Alberta and 2 months after I moved back home I was offered a job teaching, so I took it and taught part time and worked on the ranch. However I really wanted to ranch full time, so that’s what  I am doing now. The reason I am explaining all this is because I want people to understand I gave up teaching to work on the ranch full time, I love it and this is my career, this is what I will be doing for the rest of my life. At 26 years old I am earning an income solely based in the agriculture industry and this was my decisions. When things happen in the industry they directly affect my life and my family’s. 

Right now there seems to be a huge interest from people to know where their food is coming from and I think that is really important people need to get back in touch with how food is raised or made. However, some information that consumers are receiving is from advertising, which can sometimes be misleading information. When there are claims made that one product is better than other because it is raised without growth promotants, for example, that leads consumers to believe that if a producers chooses to use growth promotants than that is wrong or an improper choice. When in reality the use of growth promotants is regulated and a lot of research has been done to ensure it has no affect on human or animal health. Moreover, there are rigorous testing that goes on to ensure the levels of hormones in beef do not exceed the levels set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada.

I think its great for food companies to try and connect people with where their food is coming from, but in doing so they need to display all the facts and not pit one production method against the other. I believe we need all the different production methods, organic, natural, convention, halal, to give consumers a choice and let them pick what works for them. 

For the most part growth promotants are used in the finishing stages of cattle production. This is done because beef farmers are trying to produce more beef than ever before on a decreasing land base with an increasing population to feed. Growth promotants are used because they enable the animal to use feed more efficiently converting feed to lean muscle. Therefore, the beef industry is feeding people in a more sustainable and economical manner than ever before. 

In addition, no matter the production methods used, organic, natural, growth promotants, no growth promotants all beef in Canada goes through the same rigorous testing for quality and safety, so at the end of the day no matter what you choose to buy be assured that you are buying the finest beef available. 

Do these ad campaigns make you worried about hormone levels in your food? Check out this chart below!

 

 

Estrogen

 (nanograms)

Progesterone (nanograms)

Oral Contraceptive (per pill)

20,000- 50,000

100,000- 500,000

Hormone replacement therapy (per pill)

625,000

2,500,000

Beef from cattle NOT given hormonal growth promotants (100g)

1.5

27

Beef from cattle given hormonal growth promotants (100g)

2.2

44

Soybean oil, 15 mL

28,773**

Not applicable

Cabbage, 100 g

2,281**

Not applicable

Milk, 250 mL

35.9

Not applicable

**estrogen equivalent activity (i.e. in the form of phytoestrogens)  
Prepared by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and Beef Information Centre  

           http://www.cattle.ca           http://www.beefinfo.org  

 

Here is a link to a Canadian Cattlemen’s interview regarding the new A&W ad campaign “better beef”
http://www.ipolitics.ca/2013/09/26/canadian-cattle-groups-respond-to-aw-better-beef-campaign/

Here are some FACTUAL resources if you are interested in learning more about the use of growth promotants in cattle production.

BC Cattlemen’s Association fact sheets.
http://www.cattlemen.bc.ca/docs/hormones.pdf

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
http://www.cattle.ca/

Beef Cattle Research Council
http://www.beefresearch.ca/

Canada Beef Inc
http://www.beefinfo.org/

 

 

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Red Our Wild Bronc

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This is a picture of Red our 2 year old gelding. We bought him a year ago and have recently started working with him. We bought him because his blood lines (he is out of the Playgun stud) produce horses that are smart, cowy and most importantly really gentle and calm. Well that proves to be true because the first time we really worked with him and put a saddle on him the man who is helping me break him got on him and he never even tried to buck or jump around or anything. We were pretty amazed at that, but then he just got even more amazing! On Saturday afternoon after a morning of moving cows, my fiance and I took Red down to our friends place who is amazing with horses and who is helping us break him. We lunged him around the round pen and ponied him down to the arena. At the arena I got on him while our friend ponied us around. We had a great day getting Red use to the saddle and getting on and off him. When we were all done for the day we unsaddled him and then my fiance tried getting on him bareback and it worked! Our little 2 year old who has only been saddled 2 other times in his life just stood there as Cyle climbed on and went for a little walk around the yard. We are super excited for Red to get big enough to go to work because we think we have found ourselves a really great horse! 

Green Anchor Power

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The other day my daughter and I were out in the barn working with her horse.  We went under cover because the wind started to pick up and we could see a huge storm blowing in.  As we were finishing up, ready to run inside through the winds, we looked up to see our ranching neighbour in his airplane coming in to land on our airstrip. We proceeded to watch the wind throw him 15 feet one way, then 15 feet the other! At that point I seriously wondered if he would reach our 35 foot wide airstrip safely or not! But being the good pilot he is, he landed successfully! Again, this was at the height of the storm so the easiest and quickest way to tie his plane down was with our two John Deere Tractors and our John Deere Gator!
We raced into the house to wait out the storm and got the story that he was not out for a joyride in this terrible weather, but on a flight back from southern Saskatchewan. This Ranching neighbour also uses his plane to spot his cows on his 100,000 acres of range.
We were happy he could touchdown on our ranch and have his plane safely anchored by Green Power!
~Erika Fossen~

A Field of Marshmallows?

I blogged a week ago about how depressing it was that our beautiful second crop of alfalfa was getting rained on. We really depend on making enough hay to feed our cows all winter because if we have to buy hay it is expensive and really increases our inputs costs. We need quantity, so we have enough hay to last us throughout the winter, but also we need quality hay especially for the heifers who are having their first calf. We were not sure what we were going to do with all our brown hay in the field (when the hay is almost dry and gets rained on it turns brown, and also loses a lot of its nutritional value). Then we had a great idea, our neighnour has a fancy baler that wraps bales. This allows the bales to be baled at about 30% moisture and then the baler wraps the bales with plastic, so no air can get in and rot the hay. This is super beneficial and saved us because it meant that our brown wet hay did not have to dry again (each time it dries it loses nutrient value). We got lucky and are really thankful that we have such a great neighbour because we were able to salvage the hay and get it off the field and still have some nutrient value in the hay for our cows this winter. So next time you see those white bales in a field you know what they are and maybe they were a ranchers saviour! Image

Canadian Farm Writers Tour

I had a great morning touring around our range with Holly Jackson, The Communications Coordinator with the British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association. She came out to our ranch this morning so we could decide some stops for the Canadian Farm Writers Tour coming up this October. The tour starts in Harrison BC and is heading North to the Nicola Valley, where our ranch is located. The Farm Writers are going to be making two stops at our ranch. The first stop is going to be on the further point of our range, Coquihalla Lake. There I am going to discuss some issues that we deal with being crown range tenure holders like quaders, campers and the spread of noxious weeds. Crown range tenure holders mean we lease land from the crown. This land is where our cattle spend our summer. This is very important to BC ranchers because we need our cattle off our fields at the home ranch to grow hay. Next, the tour is going to stop at our home ranch where I am going to be talking our Environmental Farm Plan, my Direct Marketing Business among other things… I am really looking forward to meeting all the Canadian Farm Writers and touring and talking to them about our ranch and range! 

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The British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association website.
http://www.cattlemen.bc.ca/default.htm

 

The Canadian Farm Writers Federation website.
https://cfwf.wildapricot.org/

A Little Creativity And A Little Luck

Today we noticed we had cows in one of our lease fields that is really close to home. At this time of the year we still want the cows to be back in some of the furthest parts of the range. Our Range Plan says we can have cows on range until October 15, so that is exactly what we aim for. We do not want them home any earlier because if they are at home that means they are eating grass that we would like to be saving for them when they have to come off the range. We found 9 pair and 2 yearlings in the lease field. This field is about 200 acres with no fences and the river going around one whole side. We were not sure how exactly we were going to get these animals loaded in the back of the stock trailer to haul them back out to the range… Then we came up with a plan! We have portable panels that we use often around the ranch, so we loaded those up into the back of one truck and loaded the horses in the back of the other and set out to trap our animals! We got to the field and set up a corral with panels into the side of a bank (so the bank could act like a fence as well) and tied some panels to nearby trees, so they were extra secure. Next we got on our horses, crossed our fingers and hoped our plan would work! Our plan was somebody would push them from the back and the other person would haze them towards the bank where our make-shift corral was and also haze them that way so they could not cross the river. The cows can cross the river basically anywhere they wanted and if they crossed we would lose them! We got around the cows and then they were off on a gallop across the field, no ideal and definitely not a part of our plan. I do have to admit at this point I thought there was no chance of us being successful on this mission! I didn’t help that I had my pup Milly, who does listen really well, but not at the start as soon as she sees cows, especially ones that are running the chase is on! However, she listened really well and exercised immense self-control and stayed close to me. After running around the field for a while we got the cows into the right position and hazed them along the bank and right into our corral system! Worked like a charm… thankfully! 

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This is the field they were in!
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Our make-shift corral out of portable panels.

 

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Our helpers!

Vegetarian Credits Meat to Full-Term Triplets

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Here is a very interesting story of the survival of a vegetarian.  How she credits eating meat to the fact that she carried her triplets to full-term.  Have a read:

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/WeirdNews/2013/09/02/21092111.html

~Erika Fossen~