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Organic?

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mp.freelance

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I wasn't sure where to post this topic, but the "political bull" section seemed to fit since the subject of organics seems loaded w/ politics. If it's not the right place, let me know and I'll re-post elsewhere.

I recently wrote a story on organic dairy production where people were critical of the use of BST growth hormones. Although I suspect most people on this website aren't dairy farmers, I'm sure that you run across the issue of using growth hormones as well.

So my question is two-fold: is there any debate among cattle producers about the use of hormones? And is the organic method of shunning hormones, anti-biotics, and other synthetic substances truly considered ridiculous within mainstream dairy and cattle production?

I'm not using this for any article, but I am curious what you all think about organic farming and ranching. The impression I get from some folks is that it is often mocked, but on the other hand it's become more mainstream than it used to be. Some say it's the only way for small farmers and ranchers to survive in the U.S. market. Have you seen a shift in attitudes? Is "sustainable organic farming" an oxymoron?
 

Disagreeable

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mp.freelance said:
I wasn't sure where to post this topic, but the "political bull" section seemed to fit since the subject of organics seems loaded w/ politics. If it's not the right place, let me know and I'll re-post elsewhere.

I recently wrote a story on organic dairy production where people were critical of the use of BST growth hormones. Although I suspect most people on this website aren't dairy farmers, I'm sure that you run across the issue of using growth hormones as well.

So my question is two-fold: is there any debate among cattle producers about the use of hormones? And is the organic method of shunning hormones, anti-biotics, and other synthetic substances truly considered ridiculous within mainstream dairy and cattle production?

I'm not using this for any article, but I am curious what you all think about organic farming and ranching. The impression I get from some folks is that it is often mocked, but on the other hand it's become more mainstream than it used to be. Some say it's the only way for small farmers and ranchers to survive in the U.S. market. Have you seen a shift in attitudes? Is "sustainable organic farming" an oxymoron?

Yes, there is a debate among ranchers about using growth hormones. In my area, not a lot of ranchers use them, but when their calves are sold into the feedlots, they are usually implanted.

Growth hormones are completly safe. That's the main point, but they can also affect the marbling of animals and higher quailty (marbling) beef is more valuable than non-marbled beef.

"Organic" beef is very expensive because it not only means the animal hasn't been implanted, but that the grass it grazed and the food it is finshed on also has to be "organic." "Natural" is a term being used more and more in beef operations. It simply means that the animal has not been fed any "unnatural" feed, been given hormones or antibiotics. Getting your pastures certified "organic" is very, very expensive. Natural is a management issue only.

The demand for organic and natural beef is definitely growing, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the general commodity beef market. Beef is an expensive source of protein when compared to chicken and pork. Many lower income people have a hard time justifying the purchase of commodity beef, much less the higher priced organic or natural, so I think organic and natural beef will always be niche market options for the well to do consumer.

We can't feed Americans with "organic" farming methods.
 

Cal

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I actually agree with Dis for once. I would however substitute "well to do" with "neurotic". Most people of affluence should have more common sense than to purchase "organic". I would also hope to feed more than just Americans.
 

mp.freelance

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Why does buying organic lack common sense?

I don't do it myself because it's too expensive, but for those who can afford it...
 

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mp.freelance said:
Why does buying organic lack common sense?

I don't do it myself because it's too expensive, but for those who can afford it...

The USDA says "organic" food contains no more or better nutrients than conventionally raised food. It is also no safer than conventionally raised food. So people are paying a pemium for nothing. For those of us who aren't rich, it doesn't make good sense.
 

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mp.freelance said:
So does using gorwth hormones have a negative effect on marbling?

Implants can affect marbling if used at the wrong time. Basically, cattle are born with the crevices in their muscles to lay down fat (marbling). If they get the right kind of feed at the right time in the right quantities, they'll fill those little crevices with marbling. Since implants cause animals to grow at a fast rate, sometimes they don't have time to lay down the marbling. You should understand that all cattle don't have the genetic make up to marble and no amount of feed can change that.
 

mp.freelance

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Although I'm no die-hard organic advocate, I have to admit that I tasted some organically raised lamb once, and the taste was far superior to what I usually get at the grocery store. I've had the same experience with tomatoes - the organic ones are a lot tastier, but smaller. My neighbor has an organic garden, and I can really notice the difference in the way his carrots, onions, strawberries, and other vegetables taste.

I understand that expecting the whole U.S. beef industry and agriculture in general to go organic is unrealistic. That said, I've done a few articles on small-time organic farmers, and they generally seem to be a lot happier than those I've met who are trying to compete in the general market. For dairy farmers, the cwt for organic milk in my state is about $4 more than the standard market cwt. And sustainable (not officially organic) farmers who produce lamb, pigs and other meats get up to 2-3 times the regular market price per carcass.

So, even if it doesn't have any real health benefits, I don't see anything worthy of ridicule. Even if it is just exploiting finicky rich people, why not? At least it gives small farmers a chance.
 

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mp.freelance said:
Although I'm no die-hard organic advocate, I have to admit that I tasted some organically raised lamb once, and the taste was far superior to what I usually get at the grocery store. I've had the same experience with tomatoes - the organic ones are a lot tastier, but smaller. My neighbor has an organic garden, and I can really notice the difference in the way his carrots, onions, strawberries, and other vegetables taste.

I understand that expecting the whole U.S. beef industry and agriculture in general to go organic is unrealistic. That said, I've done a few articles on small-time organic farmers, and they generally seem to be a lot happier than those I've met who are trying to compete in the general market. For dairy farmers, the cwt for organic milk in my state is about $4 more than the standard market cwt. And sustainable (not officially organic) farmers who produce lamb, pigs and other meats get up to 2-3 times the regular market price per carcass.

So, even if it doesn't have any real health benefits, I don't see anything worthy of ridicule. Even if it is just exploiting finicky rich people, why not? At least it gives small farmers a chance.

Finicky, neurotic, ...whatever, splitting hairs. :lol:

Was the organic lamb you tasted of superior quality because it was fattened organically? No. It was only of superior quality to what your supermarket carries.

Was the other produce you described of better quality than farmer market produce not grown organically? My geuss would be that it was only vine ripened, unlike much supermarket produce.

Maybe you should do an article containing some double blind taste tests on similar quality meats and produce, organic and inorganic. The psychy can play tricks on preferences. I have no qualms at all with anyone buying organic, as I have no qualms with anyone paying for blue sky, if they wish.

Back to your first post, we do not implant our calves. We background them, but they are basically always implanted at the feedyard. The number of head, and our limited labor has alot to do with it.
 

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mp.freelance said:
Is there any literature related to animal science that you guys could recommend?

"animal science" covers a very large field. You should try to narrow your interests down some: hogs, chickens, or cows? Homesteading, commerical, seedstock, grass fed, grain fed, reproductive efficiency, fertility, breeds, marketing, herd health.... Having said that, most states have an Ag University with a website and a lot of animal science information online. Ohio State, Colorado State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Oregon State, are a few that come to mind.
 

mp.freelance

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I'll definitely look at some websites and see what books they have for students. Also, there's bound to be some journals with articles that explore the newest scientific developments, which would probably be the most helpful in terms of getting ideas for articles.
 

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mp.freelance said:
I'll definitely look at some websites and see what books they have for students. Also, there's bound to be some journals with articles that explore the newest scientific developments, which would probably be the most helpful in terms of getting ideas for articles.

Beef Magazine, High Plains Journal, Drovers, all have websites. Maybe others will take time to give you some other publication names. You might want to find the Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), Clay Center, NE website, too.
 
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