Archive for April 2011

We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby.

April 29, 2011

Ya know, we sure have come a long way in techniques used around the farm for reproduction.

It’s just simply amazing what all we can accomplish by combining genetics, knowledge and technology. Almost mind-boggling at times even. What specifically I have on my mind is embryo transfer.

I mean, sure, there were many times that a farmer probably thought to himself, “If only there was a way to get more calves from this cow in her lifetime”, but who went through the trial and error to figure it out?

I’m sure a little research could answer this pressing question, but today we are simply going to talk about the process.

First, a teensy vocab lesson.

Donor- A female bovine of exceptional quality. This is typically a cow. Flushing heifers could potentially lead to breeding issues in the future.

Flushing- The process of collecting all the fertilized eggs from the Donor.

….I know, just stay with me here.

Estrus- A 12 hour window when the cow is in heat, or ovulating.

Estrous- The cycle as a whole, which lasts about 21 days. Note the similar yet different spellings of these words. There is a difference between the two.

Cystorelin- Hormone used to start the process over, or get the estrous cycle back to ‘square one’.

CIDR- Insert infused with progesterone. Read more about these puppies HERE.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone- Causes multiple eggs to be released during estrus. FSH for short.

Lutalyse- Shot that causes the cow to come into heat.

Angus- A breed. The black cow in the picture.

Hereford- Another breed. The red and black calf in the picture.

Setting up the Donor:

Day 1- Give a shot of Cystorelin and put the CIDR in the cow. Together, this will cause estrous to start over and hormone levels to raise so the female’s body think’s it is pregnant.

Day 5- Start FSH shots. 2 shots a day for 3 1/2 days. This causes multiple follicles to form on the ovaries, when there would typically only be one.

Day 7- Administer a shot of Lutalyse in addition to the FSH shots.

Day 8- Remove CIDR and give last FSH shot. The removal of the CIDR will drop progesterone levels and therefore kick-start estrus.

Day 9- Breed the cow 3 times. 1. At the start of heat. 2. 12 hours into heat. 3. 24 hours into heat.

This is Terry. He just became a Grandpa a few weeks ago. And he brought a Hereford cow to our place to get set up with ours.

One week later… An embryologist will ‘flush’ out all the fertilized eggs, or embryos. The average number collected is 6. The embryos can be put fresh into a recipient cow, or be frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen until ready for use.

Yes, reproduction techniques have come a long way, baby.

9 months later… Your babies are born! This is the rewarding part, when all your hard work pays off.

When you walk out into a pasture and see baby calves everywhere, you have one of those ‘moments’ that reminds you why you are in the ag business. Why your pay check is largely determined by mother nature and Futures markets. Why you don’t get holidays or snow days. It reminds you why you love this way of life and that you wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Why yes we really are college students!

April 28, 2011

Just a little tidbit I felt like sharing from my day.

This would be what I saw on the marker board this afternoon when I walked into my Physics 2 class. Yes, that is a fire-breathing octopus, and yes, it is attacking a....let's go with rather scared muffin.

One of my classmates must have had a few minutes to spare before class, and decided we needed such a masterpiece for inspiration today – thank you Jerry Nguyen.  In case you were wondering, this did in fact stay on the board for the entire class period, but before you go thinking we are wasting our parent’s money instead of actually learning – have no fear, we really did take notes and productively solve some homework problems, we just felt it was necessary to work around it instead of erasing it 🙂

The Fine Line Between Creativity and Stupidity…

April 26, 2011

Part of the college experience is overcoming obstacles. Sometimes those obstacles include creatively using something in the place of something you don’t have. You know, like when you bake a birthday cake and then can’t find matches or a lighter. What fun is a birthday cake with no candles to blow out??

Just last night at the Towanda residence a birthday cake was made for Kallie’s birthday (even though her b-day was Sunday!), and of course there was a disappointing absence of candle-lighting-devices in the house. But did that stop us from getting those candles lit?? Most certainly not! Not when you have things lying around like a stove top and an old phonebook! 🙂

Here is just the beginning - you can see candles have been successfully placed on the cake, and the burner is red-hot (literally!) and ready to go! I believe somewhere out of the picture Sarah is tearing a page out of an old Yellowbook.

The phonebook page is successfully on fire and now being used to light one of the candles in order to light the rest of them.

Sure looks like teamwork to me!

SUCCESS!!! (and the house is still standing!! no firemen necessary!!)

Finally, Kallie gets to destroy our hard work and blow all the candles out. (I'll let you in on a secret - she wasn't very successful 🙂 these candles are the kind that keep on burning no matter how hard you try to blow them out!)

Complete Success!

Who says you can't have your cake and eat is too? In our case, we decided plates weren't necessary - who really wants to pay for the water and soap to wash them anyways!

So we successfully made Kallie her birthday cake – complete with burning candles. Now, was lighting a piece of paper on fire with the stove the smartest way to light the candles? Oh probably not – but hey it worked and the house didn’t burn down! We’ll let you decide whether we were truly on the “creative and genius” side of the line or the “stupid and lucky” side of the line.

Cattlemen celebrate Earth Day!

April 25, 2011

Three days ago marked a world-wide celebration, inspiring people to become aware of the Earth’s natural environment. Countries, individuals and organizations across the globe came together to make the world a healthier place. In times like these, everyone is trying to accomplish more with less. And cattlemen are no exception. 365 days a year, cattle farmers and ranchers across the nation are sporting the title – environmentalist.

Grass. Last time I checked, it was world-wide, and I’m fairly certain that we as human beings cannot eat grass. But, what I do know is that cattle CAN consume grass, converting a resource otherwise unusable by humans into a high-quality, tasty protein source that offers 10 of the essential nutrients for life.

Today, cattlemen provide families with nutritious beef using fewer resources than ever before. So, if you’re a little late on Earth Day festivities….why not do something good for your health and for the health of the planet by celebrating with a delicious, juicy steak.

Famous Faces of Butler Ag

April 25, 2011

Maybe you’re aware, and maybe you’re not. But Butler is famous.

Not because of the awesome ag program it has, or the national winning livestock judging team, or not even because we have Suzie’s in El Dorado.

It is because of the people.

A lot of great folks have gone through the classrooms in the ag department and many have gone on to do great things. Some people are even attending Butler while educating others.

One of those people is Paige Wallace, the current Miss American Angus. Tonight, at 7:00 CDT, Sure Champ is unlocking the secrets to winning in the showring, and our very own Paige will be featured on the program. Along with experts Jon Davis and Radale Tiner.

It is all going down on RFD-TV.The live show will allow viewers to call in with their questions pertaining to nutrition, pre-show preparation, and presenting your animal in the showring. Check out more info HERE. Don’t miss out!

Northwest vs. Midwest

April 23, 2011

I knew there was something special about Butler when I visited the school my senior year. Coming to the close of my freshman year at Butler, I’ve been looking forward to getting back home for the summer. It hasn’t always been easy the past 8 months going to school 2000 miles away from home, however, it has been extremely beneficial. It has given me a chance to step away from the day to day routine I knew at home. Coming to Butler has allowed me to build life skills and confidence, as well as showed me just how much I appreciate my family and their support.

Now to the real topic I wanted to discuss within this post. During my senior year, and through the year I served as a Washington FFA Association State Officer (which I was required to forgo a year of education for) I was asked the typical question for someone around the age of 18, “Where will you be going to college?” I’m sure most who knew me expected that I would go to WSU, and some thought OSU, but almost none expected me to say a community college in Kansas. Now if you would have told me this coming into high school, I would not have believed you either. My belief in the value of community colleges dramatically changed after visiting Butler. At home, most people go to the closest community college because “it’s the next step” not because they want to attend college and gain an education. This is the biggest difference I noticed about Butler, and community colleges across the Midwest. Through several credit hours at Butler I get the feeling that people WANT to be here. Not only that, but people here care about our programs. The turn out at our Ag Open House a couple weeks back was significant, and amazing to me.

A few differences I observed coming from Washington State to Kansas include, but are certainly not limited to: football at community colleges (no community college in Washington have football programs, whereas Butler has the best program in the nation over the past decade), Agricultural Departments at community colleges (the closest two-year Ag Program to home for me is approximately 10 hours, Linn-Benton CC in Oregon, at Butler we have a stellar program, amazing instructors, and state of the art facilities), and finally the weather (windier all the time! But thankfully warmer that home in the spring).

Another adjustment I had to make once arriving at Butler was understanding what schools my friends and classmates were referring to with acronyms. WSU (Washington State University at home) quickly became Wichita State University, and OSU (Oregon State University at home) became Oklahoma State University.

These are just a few of the differences I’ve experienced moving from home, but perhaps the most important difference has been in the friends I’ve made while at Butler. Between my livestock judging team mates, other agricultural students, and friends from outside the Ag Department at Butler I’ve found a new home. Everyone is outgoing, caring, and supportive of each other. Although there may not be much to do in El Dorado, hanging out and getting to know where people come from and how things are done differently in other parts of the country has been an enlightening experience. All in all, I’ve learned that a person can further their education in many ways, and sometimes moving away from home can provide invaluable life experiences. Thank you to all who have made Butler an opportunity, and a reality!

Hot and Dangerous

April 18, 2011

Hate to break your heart, but I’m not going to sing you Ke$ha’s song. But… 

Spring time in Kansas brings one of my favorite things to do on the farm- burning pasture! There’s something about having a controlled fire burning up all the dead grass and watching it spread all over the pasture that is really intriguing to me.

The burning practice catches a lot of flack. But the good out weighs the bad.

  • Kills unwanted/dead vegetation.
  • Gives new, more nutritious grass a chance to grow.
  • Cattle grazing have a healthier diet.
  • Not putting chemicals into the ground to achieve same results.

This video will give you a chance to see what it looks like while the grass is burning.

As mentioned in the video, several factors must come into play. A few of these include:

  • The wind can’t be too strong, or from the wrong direction.
  • You must have enough dead grass to make it worth while. Green grass is too full of moisture and won’t burn.
  • You need to have a water supply close by in case the fire starts to go the wrong direction.
  • It never hurts to have too many people, rather than not enough, when dealing with fire.

Here is Flinton and Paul, our fire burning crew for the weekend. You can see that they are sitting on rakes. They are used to move the fire along the grass. On the back of Paul’s 4-wheeler is a water tank. Always good, just in case.

I just helped with the very end of burning this weekend because my sister’s prom was Saturday! So I went with my mom and cousin and watched her in the Grand March.

No, I’m not short. She’s just ridiculously tall.

 Her and her friends were sure looking Hot and reeeal Dangerous that night! (They think they are really intimidating, and we don’t burst their bubble.)