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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Is Your Hamburger Killing the Planet?

 Jude Capper, PhD, will help answer this controversial question during the seventh installment of the Upson Lecture Series on November 19th at 7 p.m. in Forum Hall, located in the K-State Student Union. Capper, an independent sustainability consultant, will be sharing a message centered on beef industry sustainability and how we will feed the world in 2050.The event is free, open to the public and will be streaming live at
Serving in, professor and affiliate positions at both Washington State University and Montana State University, Capper is recognized for spending a significant amount of time sharing her knowledge regarding the current and projected state of our production agriculture systems with stakeholders. From the producer to the retailer, policy-maker and consumer, she addresses every level.
We hope you can join us in person or online for this important message!



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We Care

With the hype being pushed these days concerning animal agriculture, it’s easy for some people to believe that farmers and ranchers think their animals are just mindless creatures to be used to make money.  It’s sad some people think this way, because it’s simply not true.  I’m sure some people think we take care of animals to best of our abilities because the better cared for they are the better they’ll perform and the more money we’ll make. 

At a conference I recently attended I “learned” something I had known for years, but never really thought of-money is not a good motivator.  Money has actually been found to be a relatively poor motivator in today’s business and corporate circles.  Pride and emotional investment are much more effective.  So why do we take care of our livestock (better than ourselves, sometimes)?  It’s simple.  People in animal agriculture are emotionally invested in what they’re doing.  We are caregivers of our livestock because we care.

John Dwyer

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Modern Farming

In a country like Japan, space is everything.  So how do they find a balance between rural farm land and big city skyscrapers?  They combine them and make a building that doubles as a farm.  From vegetables, to rice, to flowers - this building has it all.  What do you think?  Is this the "farm of the future?"


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Antibiotic-Free Meat": Always the Goal, Not Always Best

We set goals in life to give ourselves an ideal to aim for and to motivate us to reach a little higher than we thought we could.  Everyone of us has felt that fulfilling sense of achievement upon attaining a lofty goal and undoubtedly also the sting of disappointment when despite your best intentions you fell just short of that elusive target.

As livestock producers we are constantly setting new goals and developing strategies to improve the well-being and productivity of the animals we are fortunate to work with and care for every day. Not only because it is our livelihood but because we are truly concerned about the comfort and health of the livestock we raise. I am concerned that a portion of today’s consumers believe we have lost this connection to our animals and that agriculture has turned into nothing more than a ruthless corporate machine driven by greed. In reality the many advances in modern technology, medicine and behavior research have enabled individual farmers and ranchers to take better care of their animals than ever before.

At our own little cattle operation in the flint hills we set goals for everything from pregnancy rate in the cows to calf survivability and weight at weaning. None of these production goals can be achieved without focusing on both the nutrition and health of the cowherd.

Above some of our newly weaned calves can be seen eagerly lining the bunk to get their breakfast. An image that indicates they are feeling good and ready to grow. Weaning is a necessary but especially vulnerable time in any young animal’s life. The stress of being away from their mother, put into a new environment and fed a new diet can sometimes lead to illness. This year we have been especially fortunate and met our health goal of avoiding sickness and thereby the need to give any antibiotics or treatments (knock on wood). By employing a strong vaccination program prior to weaning, allowing the calves to visibly see their mothers across the fence during weaning, and providing the best possible nutrition we were able to minimize the stress of the event resulting in improved calf health and comfort. It is through the ingenuity of modern agriculture research that we have access to tools and information that enable us to reach such goals.

We won’t bask in the glory of this small victory for long as we know all too well that despite your best health management efforts cattle, much like people, can still get a respiratory infection, an eye infection, an upset stomach or find any number of ways to injure themselves. And when the inevitable does happen we won’t allow them to suffer. We will do whatever we can to bring them back to full health as quickly as possible; including treatment with the appropriate dose and type of antibiotic. If you are concerned about antibiotic usage in food animals take comfort in knowing that there are strict guidelines set forth by the FDA to ensure safe withdrawal periods for any drug administered to an animal prior to harvest. Years of research and resources have gone into establishing the efficacy of these withdrawal times and food safety.

In an ironic twist of events a calf from last year’s crop successfully made it through the first year of life completely healthy until one fateful day she showed up in the pasture with a huge gash above her knee and a painful limp. We followed the veterinarians orders by keeping the wound clean and giving her Penicillin to combat infection. Although she did show some improvement over time, the wound was so deep that her mobility was never fully restored. Instead of subjecting her to a life of pain attempting to keep up with the herd we decided to harvest her for our own freezer beef.

I firmly believe that livestock producers in this country consciously do what is best for their livestock and consumers; continuing to set the standard for food safety and quality throughout the world. We must continue to support the responsible use of antibiotics in food animals and recognize that while “antibiotic-free” is an admirable goal, in reality it may not always be in the best interest of the animal. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Life of a Farmer: July

The next month in the series from the Peterson Brothers!!!




Monday, July 15, 2013

Wheat Harvest in Kansas

My brother harvested his first wheat crop this summer and finished up right before the 4th of July. It wasn't the first crop on our family's farm, he is now the 4th generation of farmers in the family!

This year was the first year we had our own combine and harvested our own crop. We normally hire what is referred to as a custom grain harvesting crew. They travel from the Southern US to the Northern US following the ripening of the wheat crop to harvest wheat for farmers at a set fee. Farmers call these people, "Custom Cutters." Farmers often hire custom cutters because you don't have to invest in all of the harvest equipment and incur the repair costs that it requires to maintain all of the machinery needed for harvest.

Even though it is still extremely dry in Southwest Kansas, the wheat was better than we had expected. We got a few late freezes in April and May that really set back the wheat and made my dad and brother nervous about the yields.  It was no bumper crop, but it just wasn't as terrible as they had expected.

Want to learn more about harvest? Check out this video from the Peterson Farm Bros!

Want to learn even more about harvest? I thought of some of the vocabulary that we use on the farm and you might find it useful to learn more about these words.

  • Yield: this is a term we use to describe how much of a crop we harvest per acre of the crop planted. We usually talk about yield using bushels and acres. Some other countries use tons per hectares. 
  • Combine: a piece of machinery specifically used for harvesting grain. It operates to reap, thresh and winnow the plants in order to gather just the grain for transport to the nearest grain elevator, barge or train. Crops that are harvested with a combine are wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, soybeans and flax.
  • Bushel: a bushel is a volume measurement used by farmers to describe an amount of grain. It is equal to 1.244 cubic feet or 32 quarts. 
  • Test weight: this is a measure that farmers will use a lot in conversation. It is the measure of the weight of grain in pounds per volume in bushels. Wheat has a standard weight at a specific moisture content and it is 60 pounds per bushel at 13.5% moisture. 
Sometimes we forget that, in agriculture, we have our own lingo. I like to post about that lingo so that you can get a better understanding of what it is we do on a family farm.  Heck, there are even multiple words that all mean "Harvest" and are used with different crops. Many of these terms are regional, but it's interesting to hear people talk about how they all harvest their crops.

Synonyms for Harvest: 
Corn: shell, pick, shuck
Beans: run, cut
Wheat: cut, thresh
Cotton: pick, strip
Silage or Hay: lay down, cut, chop




Friday, July 12, 2013

Life of a Farmer: June

Here is the June edition, if you have been following our series of the Peterson Farm Brother's videos depicting the daily life of a farmer throughout the calendar year.




Thursday, July 11, 2013

Paragliding Photographer Punished for Picturing Private Property

I'd like to think my high school English teacher would be quite proud of that alliteration I just created.

Have you heard about George Steinmetz?

He's a freelance photographer, working for National Geographic at the time, who recently sent to the slammer in Garden City, Kansas. The paragliding photographer and his instructor were photographing a Garden City feedyard when they were arrested for trespassing on private property. The Finney County District Attorney's office released this statement:

"Much discussion has ensued surrounding the arrest of Mr. Steinmetz and his employee regarding the right to air space and to take photographs. The charges in no way are related to those two issues and focus on the landowners right to privacy and control over their property."

You can find the story ran today by the Huffington Post here.

I'd like to get your thoughts on this predicament the photographer finds himself in. I personally think that farmers, ranchers, researchers and the like have a certain amount of protection under the law to prevent trespassers like Mr. Steinmetz. This protection is not because there's something going on that they want to hide, but because they own the property and deserve the privacy. Go visit a feedyard, on foot, and they'll check you in the front office as a visitor and give a tour. If you are interested in visiting a feedyard, comment below and I can put you in touch with one. I conducted my masters research at 56 Kansas feedyards. We were assessing how cattle are housed and handled; and the feedyards performed exceptionally! I wasn't surprised, though, because I met the managers and employees while assessing the yards - they were born to work with cattle and have dedicated their lives to perfecting the art of feeding cattle for human consumption of a nutrient-dense protein.

Enjoy more Beef!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Life of a Farmer: February, March, April

I'm a little late. Ok, so a lot late!

Here is the Peterson Farm Brother's Life of a Farmer video update:




If you haven't checked them out, please do. These boys are showing you what's going down on their family farm during the different months of the year.

More to come soon, and I promise to keep up this time!



Monday, June 3, 2013

Life of a Farmer: May

The Peterson Farm Brother's May video is up!

Find out what farmers in Eastern Kansas are up to this time of year!!!



Sunday, June 2, 2013

Superfood: Flax Seed

Flax Seed: Up close and personal.
You may find flax seed in your local grocery store, check in the cereal or supplement aisle. It's considered a superfood, a fad term given to food products that are high in a nutrient content that is believed to be a health benefit.

What ingredient is so SUPER in this oily seed? Omega-3 fatty acids.

Jim Drouillard, a professor at K-State, has been researching flax seed for the last decade. Not in human nutrition, but ruminant. Ruminants are mammals that digest plant-based food because they have bacteria and protozoa in their digestive tract that can help them out! There are about 150 species of ruminants, but Dr. Drouillard is interested in cattle.

He has found that feeding flax seed to cattle in the five months before they are ready to be slaughtered can help make these animals more healthy. He set out to improve the health of the animals, but also found that it increases the amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in the meat from the animals fed flax seed.

NBO3 Technologies is a Kansas-based company that launched a ground beef product that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seed is pretty expensive, but for consumers who are willing to pay for the higher priced beef product, it's a good option.   

It also goes to show that the research done at Universities like Kansas State, is groundbreaking and necessary for advancement in today's society.

Always a Wildcat,


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Meals that Matter - Tyson Cares

Tyson Foods, Inc., unveiled a new truck in April of 2012. It's a 53-foot semi-trailer and it recently departed Tyson's headquarters in Arkansas towards disaster-stricken Moore, Oklahoma.

Meals that Matter

On board the truck? 20,000 pounds of meat, grills, volunteers, sanitation supplies, tents and Wi-Fi.

Josh Tyson, Chairman of Tyson Foods, announced that the company has always had a disaster-relief program that respond and mobilizes when people need it most. The Meals That Matter truck just puts a new face to the initiative.
Meals That Matter
Hot meals and a few supplies. I can't think of a better way to help those suffering in Moore than that.

Way to go Tyson!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

McDonald's - Not Lovin' The Angus Burger Anymore


What’s your favorite food at McDonald’s - Chicken Nuggets, Quarter-Pounder with Cheese?  Hope it’s not the Third Pounder Angus Burger (or the Angus Snack Wrap).

With the price of beef on the rise, even large corporations such as McDonald’s have had to make some cutbacks – their first one being the Angus Burger.  The price of beef has risen as a result of last summer’s drought, with the price of beef carcasses rising 24 cents per hundred pounds (cwt) to hit $204.91 per cwt, a new record.

With McDonald’s already making cuts to their menu, how do you think this will affect other fast food chains?



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