The Truth About Why You Should Attend NCBA Convention

2016 SD Logo Oval with datesNot sure what to think about the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show? Well here are just a few of the important things you should know about one of the largest events in the beef industry!

What:

The Cattle Industry Convention is the oldest, largest, national convention for the beef cattle business. This year is the 118th Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show. NCBA, in case you aren’t sure, stands for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Some highlights for this years convention are Chef Robert Irvine, Cattlefax outlook seminar, Former Navy Seal Robert O’Neil, PAC Party on Friday_Socialthe Pacific with live auction, Cowboy Concert series featuring Martina McBride, Red, White and Brew after party and other educational, entertaining and fun events.

When/Where: 

The trade show and majority of meetings will be held at the San Diego Convention center located downtown San Diego, California. The convention will take place from January 27-29, 2016.

Who: 

The convention attracts 7,000 – 8,000 producers from around the country annually.

Trade Show:

Trade Show PixThe Trade Show has 350 companies that will have exhibits set up on 250,0000 square feet. For those of us who think better in acres, that is over 6 acres of companies there for you! There is a learning lounge, which is an education area on the show floor. Also a Demo Arena will be set up featuring Stockmanship and Stewardship sessions daily.

How:

Alright now that you are super excited to attend this amazing convention to learn more about this industry that we so love, you’re wondering how to get there. Well I’ve got you covered! You need to register at www.beefusa.org before January 4th (for the early registration price), but you can also register onsite. So what does your registration include? Access to all general sessions, entrance to trade show, access to all meetings, a ticket to Best of Beef Breakfast, a ticket to Cowboy Concert Series (with Martina McBride!) and Red, White & Brew after-party, and a ticket to the USO show aboard the USS Midway. If you are interested in attending this convention feel free to contact me for a promotional code that will provide you with an awesome surprise! 

Don’t forget to follow NCBA on social media to keep up with #beefmeet and #cic16 Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Hope to see you in sunny San Diego!

Advertisements

The Truth about Grass vs. Grain Fed Beef

First a disclaimer: A lot of people say grass or grain fed beef, but that does not mean that the cow was fed grain its entire life. Most cattle live off grass for the majority of their life and then switch to grain once in the feed lot. We’ll get to the specifics of how that happens later.

As consumers, we are all worried about what we eat and the health benefits/risks associated with that. One of these worries is surrounding grass-fed vs grain-fed cattle, whether it be health concerns or animal welfare concerns.

The Grain-Finished Life Cycle

All cattle start out living similar lives; they are born, drink milk from their mothers and then eat grass after being weaned. This continues for about 6-12 months, after that, grain-finished cattle are moved to feedlots.

Feedlot penFeedlots are depicted as horrible, disgusting and cramped places (but that’s a topic for another blog post).
There is actually more room in feedlot pens than most people think. At feedlots the cattle are rapidly fattened up with grain, usually made with corn or soy. When the cattle are first brought to the feed lot they are given feed with high forage/silage content and low grain content to help their bodies adjust to the new diet. The grain portion of the diet steadily increases until the cattle are primarily eating grain. This process occurs over a 3-6 month period. If you are curious about finding out more about feedlots before my next post visit this site.

The Grass-Finished Lifecycle

Just like grain-finished cattle grass-finished cattle spend the first ~12 months of their lives in the same way. The only difference is that instead of being sent off to a feedlot they are “finished” or “grown out” in a grass pasture. This means that they eat grass for the remainder of their life, until slaughter. This entire process can take upwards of a year and a lot of land.

Nutritional Differences

Texas A&M University did a study on the nutritional differences on ground beef grass-fed grain-fed beef cattlegrass-fed grain-fed beef cattlefrom grass-fed and grain-fed cattle. As you can see from the table, grain-fed cattle have a higher omega-3 fatty acid concentration and a higher total saturated and trans-fat content, while grass-fed cattle have a higher oleic acid concentration and lower saturated and trans-fat content. The study continued on to say that the effect of the ground beef on cholesterol was minimal, and Grass vs Grain Finished Beefneither type increased risk for CVD or type II diabetes. “So, at this point, there is no scientific evidence to support the claims that ground beef from grass-fed cattle is a healthier alternative to ground beef from conventional raised, grain-fed cattle” said Stephen Smith, Regents Professor at the TAMU Department of Animal Science.

So as of the research we have right now, there is no health benefits to choosing grass-fed beef. It is solely a choice of preference. If you prefer the taste of grass-fed beef, then by all means eat it. But do not feel like you have to because of health benefits or animal welfare.

The Truth About #RealPigFarming

Inhospitable. Dangerous. Inhumane. Abysmal. Uncomfortable. All of these are words used by the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States to describe a modern swine farm. I’m here to tell you that none of these words describe the truth.

Housing 

“At just two to tpighree weeks old, piglets are removed from their mothers and placed in large, windowless sheds without fresh air, sunlight or outdoor access. Their pens are too small and crowded for adequate movement and exercise. Ammonia fumes rise to dangerous, uncomfortable levels due to the pigs’ waste.” This excerpt is from an ASPCA article.

The above depiction is not the case of most pig farms in the United States. A lot of them have some sort of natural light, either through curtains or windows. Air flow from the outside is also required to make sure that ammonia fumes or anything else does not build up. In colder climates this is done by pulling air from attics. In warmer climates the air is pulled through cool cells (like radiators) to cool it down.  This is a necessity to help keep the pigs comfortable.

Raising pigs indoors allows feed and water to be monitored and protects them from disease and predators. Pens are cleaned usually every day to keep the pigs clean and further prevent disease. As for the pens being overly crowded pigs are naturally social, so they enjoy being in a large group.

Most swine farms are extremely biosecure to further protect the pigs. Visitors have to shower in and out and any tools must be cleaned before entering the facility. Farmers truly care about their animals or they would not go to such extreme lengths to keep them safe and healthy.

Picture contributed by a swine unit worker.

Picture contributed by a swine unit worker.

Treatment

ASPCA also goes on to say that pigs are castrated and have their tails docked with no painkillers. That is the truth, but the part they are leaving out is that both of these things are done within 10 days of birth, so the nerve endings have not fully developed.The tails are docked because when left alone, pigs will bite, chew and gnaw on each others tails causing pain and infections.

Here is a video that features an Ohio pig farm and shows you exactly what pigs at their farm go through every day. You may think they changed their behaviors and cleaned their facility for the video, but that is not the case. Stalls on most farms are cleaned every day and pigs are interacted with every single day.

 

 

real pig farming swine humaneIf you google pig/swine farming, some disturbing things come up and reading/watching the horrible things online about pig farming is upsetting to a lot of people. But realize that those depictions are not #RealPigFarming. #RealPigFarming is a social group that unites pig farmers, academics, youth, veterinarians and allied industry members to discuss how modern pork production really works. Check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Remember if you ever have questions about how animals are raised or how crops are grown, be sure to ask a farmer!

The Truth About Beef Byproducts

What exactly is a byproduct? A byproduct is an incidental or secondary product made in the manufacturing or synthesis of something else.
So what does that mean for the beef industry? It means that once we have the meat (which is the main reason we raise cattle) the “leftover parts” can be made into other products.

If you have a beef animal that weighs 1,000 pounds, 640 pounds of the animal will be used for meat products, such as steaks, roasts and hamburgers. This means 64% of the animal is used for meat. However, 99% of the cow is utilized for meat and other products. This makes the beef industry more sustainable because it uses as much of each cow as possible.

There are three categories of animal by-products: edible, inedible, and medicinal.

EDIBLE

beef, byproducts, cattle

Photo via Alabama Cattlemen’s Association

Gelatin, what makes Jello, is also a beef byproduct. It is made from the connective tissue of the animal. Other products that contain gelatin might also include gum, fruit snacks, and even marshmallows! Fat from the animal create oleo stock and oleo oil for margarine and shortening.

INEDIBLE

11009350_663459813790025_1837924188656865776_n copy

Photo via Alabama Cattlemen’s Association

You probably use at least one item containing inedible beef by-products every day. Leather is a good example of an inedible beef byproduct. It is made from the cow hide and is used to make other byproducts. A lot can be made from 1 cow hide, 12 basketballs or 144 baseballs
or 20 footballs or 18 volleyballs or 18 soccer balls or 12 baseball gloves. Industrial oils and lubricants, soaps, lipsticks, deodorant, and many other items are produced from the inedible fats from beef.

MEDICINAL

More than 100 individual drugs include beef byproducts. The medicines can help make childbirth safer, can settle an upset stomach, can prevent blood clots, control anemia, and help relieve asthma symptoms. Antirejection drugs, which are used when a person has a transplant to help the body accept the new organ, come from animal byproducts. Insulin, which is used 1.25 million people daily in the United States, can come from livestock or be synthetically produced. It takes the pancreases from 26 cattle to provide enough insulin to keep one diabetic person alive for a year.

So “Where’s the Beef?”

So when people ask you where’s the beef, you will know the truth, it is in more places than just your fridge or on your plate. It is in hospitals, drug stores, helping your car run better, sporting goods, art supply shops, soap, and many other things.