Category Archives: livestock

Automation in the feed industry a hot topic

Automation in feed mills worldwide is all about efficiency and energy savings. This was explained by Eric Cissen and Appie Boorsma from Actemium.

Over the last few decades feed mills have become more automised. Feed mills reduced their number of process operators by half or even more. “The feed industry is all about optimisation. This can be done by small nuances in the automation process.
At the same time, more data is becoming available. We try to find solutions for these feed mills, so that the operators can easily interpret the information that is gathered”, explained Cissen.
Actemium has a global presence but sees many opportunities in Asia. “There is still a lot of work done manually in Chinese feed mills for example. There is huge potential there. Our work in these regions is part the result of Western feed companies buying Asian feed mills. The next step is to make these mills compatible with the Western standards. That is why we have companies all over the world, so we can act locally to implement our products and to deliver the service needed.
Cissen thinks that in the future around 30-40% of their business in feed automation will be done in this region. “Work in Western Europe wil still be needed, because automation requires service”. He also sees that new automation solutions and bigger feed companies require skilled people. “It is hard to find good process operators. It is important to make young (technically schooled students) enthusiastic about working in the feed mill. That is why we also invite many students and schools to visit our business”.
Actemium (part of Vinci Energies) is a network of 300 Business Units. These companies are located in 35 countries across the world, most closely with our clients. Feed mills such as Cargill, ForFarmers and De Heus are clients.
by Emmy Koeleman

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Meeting climate targets may require reducing meat and dairy consumption.

Greenhouse gas emissions from food production may threaten the UN climate target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, according to research at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

On Monday 31 March the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents their report on the impacts of climate change.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy and transportation sectors currently account for the largest share of climate pollution. However, a study from Chalmers now shows that eliminating these emissions would not guarantee staying below the UN limit. Emissions from agriculture threaten to keep increasing as global meat and dairy consumption increases. If agricultural emissions are not addressed, nitrous oxide from fields and methane from livestock may double by 2070. This alone would make meeting the climate target essentially impossible.

“We have shown that reducing meat and dairy consumption is key to bringing agricultural climate pollution down to safe levels,” says Fredrik Hedenus, one of the study authors. “Broad dietary change can take a long time. We should already be thinking about how we can make our food more climate friendly.”

By 2070, there will be many more of us on this planet. Diets high in meat, milk, cheese, and other food associated with high emissions are expected to become more common. Because agricultural emissions are difficult and expensive to reduce via changes in production methods or technology, these growing numbers of people, eating more meat and dairy, entail increasing amounts of climate pollution from the food sector.

“These emissions can be reduced with efficiency gains in meat and dairy production, as well as with the aid of new technology,” says co-author Stefan Wirsenius. “But the potential reductions from these measures are fairly limited and will probably not suffice to keep us within the climate limit, if meat and dairy consumption continue to grow.”

Beef and lamb account for the largest agricultural emissions, relative to the energy they provide. By 2050, estimates indicate that beef and lamb will account for half of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, while only contributing 3 percent of human calorie intake. Cheese and other dairy products will account for about one quarter of total agricultural climate pollution.

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Drought seriously impacting rangeland, cattle.

The Bureau of Land Management has been tracking range conditions as the current drought lingers on.
Drought conditions across the West have impacted rangelands, leaving little water and forage for animals and livestock, prompting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to undertake targeted actions, such as providing supplemental water and food for wild horses; reducing grazing; and enacting fire restrictions.
Hot, dry conditions continue to persist west of the Mississippi River, with at least 15 states experiencing drought. For example, 93 percent of rangeland and pastures are rated poor or very poor in New Mexico; 59 percent in Colorado; 35 percent in Wyoming; and 17 percent in Utah. Similar conditions exist in Nevada, where more than 60 percent of the state has been in severe or extreme drought conditions since the beginning of 2013.
“Since last fall and winter, we have been working with grazers across the West in anticipation of tough conditions related to drought. In southwestern Montana, for example, the BLM worked with permitted ranchers to graze no more than 70 percent of their alloted forage on BLM-managed lands,” said BLM Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze. “As drought conditions continue, wild horses, livestock, and wildlife that rely on rangeland forage and water will face extremely challenging conditions that may leave them in very poor condition. We are taking action to address these situations as quickly and as effectively as we can, but our options are increasingly limited by conditions on the land.”
In Nevada, all BLM Districts have been hauling water to wild horses. There, the BLM is trucking 5,000 gallons of water per day, five days a week to four separate locations throughout the Winnemucca District at a cost of $1,000 per day.
In the next few days, a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian will join BLM specialists in assessing horses in Lincoln County, Nev., after BLM employees noted that horses were not drinking water from trucked-in troughs and were not eating supplemental hay. This raised concerns about the health of the animals.
Over the past week in Nevada, average temperatures have been 10 degrees above normal, hovering around 100 degrees. The state has recently had only 0.1 to 0.5 inches of rain, resulting in sparse, poor-quality forage. In addition, scarce water sources have put pressure on all users, including wild horses, livestock, and wildlife; causing long-lasting damage to plants, stream channels, spring areas, and water quality

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Tips For Cattle Management Especially In Drought.

Early weaning of calves is a common drought management practice. Removing
calves from cows at approximately 300 pounds or 75 days of age decreases cow
nutritional requirements and gives producers the ability to stretch limited
forage resources. Drought conditions in 2011 are forcing producers to wean
calves early; many of which have already marketed at auction. Supply and
demand principles are in evidence as an increased supply of calves is
decreasing market price. Noble Foundation consultants suggest that early
weaning and preconditioning calves for at least 45 days can still result in
profit. During preconditioning, calves are vaccinated, de-horned, bull
calves are castrated, and all calves are fed for an additional 45 days
post-weaning. Calculate your cost of preconditioning prior to retaining
ownership of calves. For help with budgeting or developing a feeding program
for preconditioned calves, please see Optimizing Weaned Calf Value or call
your Noble Foundation consultant.

Cull cattle

Sell all open, old or injured cows. It is not economical to maintain these
females – particularly when resources such as pasture, feed and hay are
costly and in short supply. The immediate advantage to removing animals from
the herd is that grazing pressure on pastures will be decreased and less
money will be spent on supplemental feed. Additionally, cull cow prices have
remained relatively strong. Selling cull cows now can provide immediate
assistance for producers who are in a difficult cash flow situation.

Drought may also provide the opportunity to make improvements to your cow
herd. Consider tightening up your calving season by selling late calving
cows. Calves born later in the calving season are typically lighter weight
at weaning and less uniform than the calves born earlier in the calving
season. Cull cow marketing reports are available through the Agricultural
Marketing Service.

Evaluate cow herd liquidation costs

Many producers may be tempted to liquidate the cow herd during persistent
drought conditions. However, before selling the herd, compare the cost of
maintaining a cow through the drought and winter months to the cost of
purchasing replacement females next spring. To do so, calculate the cost of
feed and hay on a per-cow basis from now until spring. Add this feed cost to
the current value of cows sold. If the sum of feed cost and cow value is
greater than the cost of buying cattle next spring, then liquidate the cow
herd now and take advantage of tax benefits associated with drought-related
sales. If you decide to maintain ownership of the cow herd, be prepared to
maintain cow numbers for approximately six to eight months. It is not
advantageous to begin feeding cattle through the drought only to sell them
in the fall at seasonally low prices.

Plan ahead

Have a livestock management plan ready for the next step. Consider what you
will do if you run out of pond water or if a well goes dry. Is it an option
to fertilize bermudagrass this fall or plant ryegrass? Think about potential
situations and solutions, and prepare now. Those that plan ahead and are
prepared to act quickly will have the best results

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Study: Milk Quality is Higher on Larger Farms in Wisconsin.

Research conducted by a former food science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that the state’s larger dairy operations tend to put out a higher quality product than smaller farms.
Steve Ingham says he looked at milk quality data from over 14,500 dairies around Wisconsin–of which 14,591 were classified as small farms with fewer than 118 cows; 1,565 had between 119-713 cattle; and 160 milked more than 714 cattle.
Continue reading Study: Milk Quality is Higher on Larger Farms in Wisconsin.