The faces of agriculture… National Ag Day

National Ag Day (and week) is a time to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. In 2015 I wrote National Ag Week… 5 reasons to thank a consumer. In reading it over again today, I think it is still very relevant.

You may or may not personally know the people who grown and/or raise your food, so today I wanted to share some blog posts and introduce you to various agriculturalists.

Sustainable – More than meets the eye introduces you to three farming and ranching families who are practicing sustainability. They share with you what sustainability looks like for them and how it plays into the fact that these are multi-generational businesses.

Dr. Dee Griffin (cow vet) shares what agriculture means to him in Meet… Dr. Dee Griffin

Wondering what a sixth generation agriculturalist looks like? Trent Loos is a farmer/rancher as well as an advocate for agriculture. In Meet… Trent Loos, he shares what agriculture means to him.

I often share stuff that is happening on my family’s ranch and animal care is no exception. Just over two years ago the Pineapple Express Storm hit the west coast, in California ranchers bracing for Pineapple Express storm I shared what my parents and their neighbors were doing to prepare for this massive weather event. In Care of baby lambs in freezing temperatures, I share what we do to ensure the animals are comfortable and healthy.

As we all know, newborns are delicate and fragile, whether they are human or animal. Sometimes animals need a little extra help. A day in the life of a sheep rancher is a page from my Mom’s playbook and demonstrates how that care is administered, and how that may result in animals being taken to the house. My Mom was also featured in Bummer lamb to replacement ewe

At the end of the day ranchers and farmers are just regular people too. They celebrate life’s milestones and try to take vacations 🙂 In these posts, I introduce you to my Dad in Even ranchers have birthdays! and Shout out to my Dad.

I hope that some of these posts give you some insight and connection to the people growing and/or raising your food.

National Ag Day

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
Facebook
Pinterest

Out for a ride… Throwback Thursday

My sister, left, on Rowdy, and myself on Cayenne out for a ride. We were probably out checking cows in the fields… I am guessing this was about 15 years ago. Our dog, Teko, was tagging along that day. Unfortunately, all of the animals have since passed, but we will always have fond memories. In horseback in the mountains I shared more about how Cayenne came into my life, as well as how he went out…

horses

Do your childhood memories included horses and animals?

—–

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
Facebook
Pinterest

Top 10 in 2015… Don’t miss these!

Well the 2015 “tops” countdowns have begun…

Today I bring you the Top 10 most read blogposts from 2015 (insert drumroll here).

10. 10 things you may not about GMOs

9. Growing up a rich rancher’s kid

8. Poop Patty… Is there fecal material in your hamburger?

7. Butchers, are you talking to yours? 21 conversations you should be having (if you are not already)

6. Chicken ears – the better to hear you with…

5. Cold temps cause frozen ears…

4. Do you know where your food comes from? Take the quiz. 

3. Processed meats and cancer: Fearmongering or true concern? 

2. Meat labeling: no added hormones and no antibiotics

1. Is the beef industry sustainable: A look at grass-fed, hormones, growth promotants, and more 

——-

And for fun, these posts were some of the tops in 2014…

Dumping Discover

Meat labeling: Grain-fed and grass-fed

Meat labeling: Organic and natural programs

Gluten free myths

Jello, lipstick, and marshmallows –  oh my! 

I hope all of you have a great New Year full of blessings and prosperity. See you in 2016!

Dr. Lindsay Chichester

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
Facebook
Pinterest

Lambs via Mama Chichester: Wordless Wednesday

My Mom’s sheep have been lambing like crazy over the last few days… Here are a few pictures of the new lambs.

Other sheep/lamb posts can be found here.

ewe and lamb finalMo and lambssleeping lambs——————

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Horseback… Throwback Thursday

Muchacha final
Riding Muchacha (one of our ranch horses), circa 2009.

—————————-

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Is the beef industry sustainable: A look at grass-fed, hormones, growth promotants, and more

Recently, several of my colleagues and I hosted a Sensitive Issues: Media and Communication Training, we worked on developing and improving our communication skills around agriculture and agricultural topics. One of the topics we received more information on was sustainability.

Dr. Jude Capper, a livestock sustainability consultant, was our first speaker. I want to share with some of the messages about sustainability shared by Dr. Capper.

Capper– Sustainability is defined as “able to last or continue for a long time.” Many livestock farmers and ranchers are sustainable – whether they raise 10 head or 1,000 head. If you have never heard of the Century Farms Program, you should check it out. The American Farm Bureau Foundation recognizes farms or ranches by state that have been in a family for 100+ years! That is sustainable.

– There are essentially three things that need to be considered to be sustainable: 1) the economic viability, 2) the environmental response, and 3) the social acceptance. I think you would agree that no matter the type of agriculture system, these are all important to livestock farmers and ranchers.

– Every farmer and rancher can be sustainable! Sustainability is seen in all types of agriculture — conventional, organic, grass-fed, grain-fed, small, and large. Size of the agricultural enterprise is NOT a determinant of sustainability. Sustainability does not just apply to niche agricultural products.

– Animal agriculture’s U.S. carbon footprint is small! According tot he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meat production accounts for 2.1% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

– If everybody in the U.S. went meatless every Monday for an entire year… The National carbon footprint would only decrease by less than 1/3 of 1 percent!

– If animal agriculture did not exist, what would be the carbon cost of sourcing product ingredients that currently come from agricultural byproducts? Think about all of the products we use daily (i.e. cosmetics, gelatin based foods, paints, etc.), medications, and even food for our pets. Animal agriculture helps keep the carbon footprint low!

– Meat and dairy can be replaced with vegetable proteins, but humans produce methane too!

– In 1977, it took five animals to produce the same amount of beef as four animals in 2007. Raising beef has become more efficient. 

– In 1977 it took 609 days to get them to a harvest (slaughter) weight, in 2007 it took 485 days.  This equates to 3,045 animal days in 1977 and 1,940 animal days in 2007. Raising beef has become more sustainable, and is reducing resources.

– If we converted our current cattle feeding system entirely to a grass-fed system:

– We would need 64.6 million more cattle for a grass-fed system. These cattle average a 615 pound hot carcass weight (the weight after the animal has been harvested, hide, hooves, and intestines/variety meats removed), and it would take approximately 679 days to get them to a desirable harvest (slaughter) weight.

– In comparison, a conventional (or grain-fed beef animal) has an approximate 800 pound hot carcass weight and takes approximately 444 days to get to desirable harvest weight. 

*** All cattle farming/ranching systems are needed and valued, whether it is grain-fed, grass-fed, organic, or natural — one is not better than another, they are just different.

– If, the entire beef industry converted entirely to grass-fed beef we would need an additional 131 million acres of land, 468 billion gallons of water, and 131 million tones of carbon!

– Hormones in food are considered unacceptable, but lifestyle hormones are acceptable.

– One 8 ounce steak from a non-implanted beef animal contains 3.5 ng of estrogen, from an implanted beef animal (a beef animal given additional hormones) it is 5.1 ng of estrogen. One birth control pill delivers 35,000 ng of estrogen. In comparison, a woman would have to eat 3,000 pounds of beef daily to get the same amount of hormones through meat that is found in birth control!

– Growth enhancing technologies (i.e. growth hormones) reduce the environmental impact of beef by 10.7%! More specifically, 4.2 tonnes of feed, 1 acre of land, and 22,722 gallons of water per 800 pound carcass and reduced if growth enhancement technologies are used.

– The extra beef produced as a result of using beta-agonists and implants on a single carcass with supply seven children with school lunches for an entire year!

All foods and food systems can be sustainable. Sustainability is best achieved by optimizing efficiency across the entire food and agriculture chain. Technology has allowed beef farmers/ranchers to produce more beef using less resources.

What other questions do you have about sustainability? I have also written about it here.

cow-calf pairs

————————————-

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Cowboy Conversations… Throwback Thursday

As National Ag Week continues (also posted here and here), I wanted to share an oldie but goodie. My sister and I are the 4th generation on our family ranch which has been in our family for about 100 years. Below is a picture of my Grandpa (aka Pop) on the right and his brother, my great uncle (aka Bob) on the left (both have since passed). This was taken after working cattle, and they were washing down the dust with a Budweiser and a Pepsi, respectively. I have so many great memories of ranch work with my family, including moments with both of these guys.

Pop and Bob
Cowboy conversations

————————————

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

National Ag week… 5 reasons to thank a consumer

This is National Ag Week, with March 18 being Ag Day, a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture.

While I could spend the time today sharing with you how great I think agriculture is, and how much I adore the people who grow or raise agricultural products, I will not. Instead I want to celebrate the consumer – the user of the agricultural products.

Consumers are essential for agriculture. They buy agricultural products (i.e. meat, milk, fuel, pharmaceutical/medical supplies, fruits, vegetables, seeds, byproducts of the various ag enterprises, and more). While survival on this planet would be difficult (impossible) without agriculture, we are in this together – consumers and farmers/ranchers.

Some of the specific things I want to thank the consumers for:

1. Making food sexy and fun again. The “foodie” movement has allowed for persons to look at and taste food in a whole new light. People from all walks-of-life are enjoying trying new dishes, new flavor and texture combinations, and new venues (i.e. food trucks) for getting their food. As someone who loves food from all corners of the earth, I love that this is happening, and so do my taste buds.

food collage
A variety of foods that I got to eat in Austin, TX… Yum!

2. Showing interest in agriculture. There has been a lot of renewed interest in knowing how food is grown or raised. People want that connection with their food; and I think that is great. Farmers and ranchers know what they do is awesome, I mean not everyone gets to witness the miracle of an animal birth(s), look out over a crop that was grown by your own hands, or sit upon a horse who helps you get your daily work done. While consumers may not be able to do these things, they want a chance to experience them.

3. Questioning agriculture. You will probably hear farmers and ranchers say they do something because that is the way it has always been done. In agriculture there is so much risk involved, that farmers and ranchers are afraid to make drastic changes without knowing the outcome, or without having an incentive for their investment. Consumers are starting to question farmers and ranchers about why they do the things they do. While this has come with some growing pains from farmers and ranchers, ultimately it has helped identify areas where changes can and should be made. Things can and will be better as a result of it.

4. Establishing relationships with your local agriculturalists. I am seeing/hearing/reading about more and more relationships developing between consumers and farmers/ranchers. Consumers can put a face to their food. They are getting to meet the people who grow or raise their food, either where the food is sold, via a farm/ranch tour, or a field day on a farm/ranch. Farmers and ranchers are generally surprised that someone wants to see how they plant a crop, how they move livestock to another pasture, or how they harvest grain – but consumers want to see/read/listen about these things, and they want the farmer/rancher to explain it to them. Shared agricultural experiences, between a consumer and a farmer/rancher, are becoming more and more popular.

Bently Ranch
Shared learning about agriculture!

5. Increased transparency. Consumers want to know the ins-and-outs of how their food was grown or raised. Until recently, this was not something that many people really cared about, and farmers/ranchers being the private people they are, never shared that information… until now. More and more farmers/ranchers/ and agriculturalists are taking to social media to share the ag story. To share what they do on a daily basis, and to bring the farm or ranch to the masses who can’t go to the farm or ranch.

Growing and raising food is a hard job that is not for the faint of heart, but there is a renewed interest in food production. This is a great time to be an agriculturalist and a consumer!

Bridgeport_final
Cows grazing on pasture int he Sierra Nevada Mountains.

——————–

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Babies…Babies Everywhere — Wordless Wednesday

Lots of babies being born at the Research and Extension Center where I work. Love this time of year!

cow-calf pairsnursing calves

——————–

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Work, life, and everything in between: A photo update

Wow, where have the last six weeks gone? I had intended to do more posts, but couldn’t make the time. So today’s post will fill you in on all of the recent happenings.

citc14-1
I participated in Christmas in the Country gift exchange with other agricultural bloggers – it was a blast and I look forward to doing it again next (err this) year. I did blog about this, and it can be found in my feed.
1030
My sister and I were able to get on the same flight west – good times.
river_final
A view of the river, notice the beaver trees?
lambs-final
My Mom’s sheep started lambing right before we came home, it was fun to see them play and run.
heifers-final
My Dad and I went coyote hunting (they are a major predator for sheep, goats, and baby calves). One morning all we called in were these curious heifers.
1117
My sister and I started a little genealogy project for my Dad. We didn’t quite solve the puzzle, but when we finish gathering all of the details I will do a blog post on what we found.
advent calendar - final
Many years ago my Grandmother made an Advent calendar for her mother (my Great-Grandma) and my Mom. My Mom uses hers annually, and I now have the one my Great-Grandma had, but it has seen better days and left my sister with out one. So I decided to make one for my sister… and loved it so much I am making one for myself too. It was fun to customize the ornaments to fit them and their interests, and some of the ornaments came off of the original tree my Grandmother made.
Home skies - final
While there wasn’t much Christmas snow, there were some great sunrises, sunsets, and clouds – and if you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I love sky shots.
1302
For New Year’s Eve the Hubs and I cooked up some crab legs. Oh they were tasty! The only problem was we should have bought more 🙂
reports - final
I just had my 5th Extension anniversary, and went up for promotion. Our annual reports were also due just a week later… What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
research center - final
One of my favorite things about my job is that no two days are the same. In the last couple of weeks I have seen calves grazing corn stalks and I have received a bag of popcorn from our agronomy department – who else gets these perks at their job? Working at a research center is pretty awesome.
Kansas City - final
The Hubs and I both had Martin Luther King Day off, so we headed to Kansas City (one of our favorite cities to visit) for a long weekend. We enjoyed the sites, the food, the tours, and the relaxation!

Were your last few weeks as insane as mine? I look forward to things slowing down just a bit!

————————————-

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)