Archive | February, 2014

Heritage Pork Breed Selection Considerations

Duroc Piglets

Duroc Piglets

by Kelly Klober

I’ve been around the hog business for 50-plus years, saw the Ohio Improved Chester breed go extinct and the Mulefoot come close and the demand for heritage pork arise. I was on the auction seats when boars sold for five figures and had butcher hogs to sell when the price per pound was first a zero and then a single digit to the right of the decimal point.

It seems that pork producers most often fall onto hard times when they move too far from the traditional roles for hogs and the keeping of them in modest numbers. Hogs were once but one part of a number of livestock ventures kept on a farm, kept in quite modest numbers often following rather seasonal patterns of production, and the resulting pig crops were marketed in any number of ways as the markets might dictate. Continue Reading →

Organic Versus Conventional Milk Fatty Acids

DairyA team led by a Washington State University researcher has found that organic milk contains significantly higher concentrations of heart-healthy fatty acids compared to milk from cows on conventionally managed dairy farms. While all types of milk fat can help improve an individual’s fatty acid profile, the team concludes that organic whole milk does so even better.

The study is the first large-scale, U.S.-wide comparison of organic and conventional milk, testing nearly 400 samples of organic and conventional milk over an 18-month period. Conventional milk had an average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 5.8, more than twice that of organic milk’s ratio of 2.3. The researchers say the far healthier ratio of fatty acids in organic milk is brought about by a greater reliance on pasture and forage-based feeds on organic dairy farms. Continue Reading →

Fungus May Offer Natural Weed Control

Weed control AmaranthA naturally occurring fungus may prove useful in the weed control fight against Palmer amaranth, an aggressive southern weed that can grow at the rate of 2 inches a day and out-compete corn, cotton, soybean and other crops for resources, potentially reducing their yields.

Weed Control Important to Avoid Glyphosate Resistance

To make matters worse, some biotypes of the weed have become resistant to weed control using glyphosate herbicides. As a possible alternative, USDA scientists are exploring ways to formulate Myrothecium verrucaria, a fungus which attacks Palmer amaranth’s leaf and stem tissues, causing wilt, necrotic lesions, loss of chlorophyll and other disease symptoms that can kill young plants and weaken older ones. Studies at the Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Stoneville, indicate Myrothecium can wreak similar havoc on biotypes of Palmer amaranth that resist glyphosate and other herbicides such as triazines. Learn more about this possible weed control in the February 2014 issue of Acres U.S.A.