Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The $345,000 Burger?

Anyone with an eye on the long, long term future for animal farming will be interested in the following link:

This article outlines one area of progress to date, probably current state of the art in the creation of artificial meat.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jon Morgan on Lambing Losses

The Dompost's farming editor, Jon Morgan, has to be one of the better ag journo's around, in his Thursday piece always coming up with something interesting, dealt out in easy style, and striking the right note of levity.
The Nov 3 article on lambing losses delivered a timely and inspirational message, simply that in this day and age lamb losses aren't a good look to our urban critics, and the way to meet this challenge is to demonstrate what we're doing, as sheep breeders, to improve on this situation.
To quote Lincoln's DNA specialist, Jon Hickford: "The way to counter that (criticism) is to have aspirational goals. Even if our farmers aren't meeting them yet, they can say, this is what we're aiming for, this is what we see as important, what motivates us".
Far better than saying losses are just an act of God and we can't do anything.
Well said..., and congratulations to those breeders outlined working on the problem, whose methods are further dealt with in the article.
These include recording birth weights, mothering ability, lambing ease, rearing success, and a couple of them testing for the cold tolerance gene.
Of course, I have to chip in here, that this is the sort of stuff that's driven Coopworth selection and culling for the 40 years since our Society fathers designed the first set of breed rules and regulations.
The very first flock book contained the sensible qualification for an SE ram, that his dam had to have reared 6 lambs in 3 years, and further, to retain her place in the flock, a ewe had to have reared a set of twins by her 4-tooth lambing, plus the long-standing requirement that ewes needing lambing assistance or showing poor mothering, had to be culled.
We had/still have, a dot system to denote lambs not surviving in the lambing string, viz 222:1. etc, and at the time of the introduction of Sheeplan recording we had quite a time convincing its designers of the worth of inclusion.
The sheep-breeding world's since moved on to breeding values for reproduction and survival, but I think there's still a place for checking that lambs born actually make it to weaning, the phenotypic ideal can get lost in the genetic qualification, and so far as the above repro and surv indices are concerned, I prefer to use them additively.
While the close to 160% live lambs in the Waione recorded flock this year isnt anything to skite about in the greater scheme of things, I take some pleasure it was achieved after only a minimal loss from total lambs born, and only a couple of points away from the survival leading flock in the Morgan article, a target we can all aspire to better.
All the more important for me as well, I like the commercial flock here to run as natural and unmolested as possible year round, lambing time included.
The Coopworth Genetics rule-book, with its unforgiving focus on superior performance, leads naturally to thriving and survival, not losses.