Category Archives: Dairy Cows

No BS: Male Cows (Bulls), Seen As Pests, Are Being Targeted in Uttar Pradesh

cow--strolling in Uttar Predesh

Stray cattle have become a menace in Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Biosphoto/Gil Chamberland

Politicians in the US, the UK and elsewhere often encounter issues they term ‘a load of bull’, or BS. In India’s largest electoral state, Uttar Pradesh, while the leavings of bulls may be problematic enough, it’s the bulls themselves who inadvertently prodded the governing Janta Party (BJP) to take what Asia Times early in March described as “urgent measures” to control the bull population.

Following a recent massive flak over the menace of stray cattle, the party decided to control the bull (and thus the overall cow) population by allowing only female calves to be born.

The government of chief minister Ajay Sing Bisht, also known as Yogi Adityanath, has been feeling the heat over stray cattle destroying crops and becoming an economic hazard to the state’s farmers. Most of the stray cattle were abandoned by farmers owing to the collapse of local cattle markets along with the fear of vigilante groups who disrupt cattle transportation.

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There have also been cases of mob lynchings on suspicion of cow slaughter, which is banned in the state by law. Moreover, as Hindus who are vegetarians, consider the cow to be a sacred symbol of life that should be protected and revered, the rise of the Hindu nationalist BJP and cow-protecting Hindutva vigilantes, cattle slaughter has become a sensitive issue in the Hindi heartland.

With agriculture becoming increasingly mechanized, Asia Times explained, male calves are of little use to farmers, who commonly set them free as they become a financial liability. These bulls then run amok on roads in the cities and destroy farms in the countryside.

INDIA-CRIME-RIOT

Policemen gather outside a police station after reports of mob violence at Chingravati village in Bulandhahr, Uttar Pradesh, on December 3, 2018. Photo: AFP

To introduce some semblance of control, in the government budget for this year, Bisht earmarked 6.12 billion rupees ($87 million) for the protection and welfare of cows, including around 2.5 billion rupees ($35.6 million) for setting up and running cattle shelters for strays.

Female calves only

The sex-selection for bovines involves administering sex-sorted semen, with a concentration of X-sperm, through artificial insemination to produce more female calves than male. But at present, dairy farmers in the state largely depend on natural breeding methods.

“The ‘sexed semen’ method takes the likelihood of delivering a female calf up to 90-95%. With the natural method, it is a 50% chance, just like humans,” Dr. AK Singh, deputy director of Animal Husbandry Department of Uttar Pradesh told Asia Times.

“We will roll out the sex-sorted semen project under our Bovine Artificial Insemination Program in all 75 districts of the state in March,” Dr. Singh said last month. “This will not only ease out the dairy farmers from the burden of maintaining male calves but will serve as a long-term solution to the stray cattle menace caused mainly by the male bovine.”

Using this method, which has been popular in western countries in recent decades, the state government hopes to curb the surplus bullock population within the next 10 years.

The scheme will also be aimed at producing cows of Indian breeds, said a government official on the condition of anonymity. The artificial insemination costs around 1,300 rupees (US$18.40). To avail themselves of the scheme, cattle-breeders would have to pay 300 rupees per conception. However, in the drought-prone region of Bundelkhand, this levy would only be 100 rupees.

Dairy farmers benefit

The government aims to reach out to a maximum number of dairy farmers to encourage them to go for artificial insemination using sexed semen technology.

However, this would be a daunting task. The state has been offering artificial insemination for cows for almost four decades, yet still has not been able to cover the entire breeding population.

A senior bureaucrat told Asia Times, “Most farmers still opt for natural insemination over the artificial (method) due to reasons such as unawareness, inaccessibility and better success rate of conception. The artificial insemination is the most powerful genetic tool for cattle breeding as it involves genetically superior semen. Sexed semen will be a further upgraded version of artificial insemination useful for commercial cattle production.”

The conception through artificial insemination requires 2-3 attempts, which is a cumbersome and prolonged process as each attempt requires a time gap of at least a month. Natural insemination by a male bull typically achieves success in one attempt, a veterinary doctor explained.

Pilot test success

The government’s decision is based on the success of a pilot project launched in three districts (Etawah, Lakhimpur Kheri and Barabanki) two years ago during the previous Samajwadi Party regime.

“By using sexed semen under our artificial insemination program, covering around 500-600 cows in each district, we managed to get 90-95% female offsprings,” said an official.

The department imported the sex-sorted semen from the US through Genus ABS India, an American firm, to run its pilot projects. Each dose of sex-sorted semen cost 1300 rupees, though farmers were not charged. The same firm has been commissioned by the government at Babugarh in Hapur district. Production is expected to start by March, a government official said. The firm has been selected through the global e-tendering process to execute the project.

Congress legislator Deepak Singh supports the move. “It seems to be a good step to tackle the surge in stray cattle population,” he said.

Project Is A Long-Term One

olitical analyst Shivsharan Geharwar said, “The cow shelters are too few in numbers compared to the stray population. Even though the government has geared up to build more shelters, it may take a few years to be able to cater to the entire surplus population. The sex selection would be a long-term measure not only to curb the strays but also help improve the cow economy.”

The move may provide some relief to aggrieved farmers and may tip the upcoming general election in BJP’s favor. Uttar Pradesh sends the largest number of lawmakers to the parliament and will play a key role in electing the federal government, though only time will tell if the move will bear any fruit.

 

We’re In ‘World Meat-Free Week’

 

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People enjoying vegetarian/vegan entrees from around the world: Steamed sourdough dumplings filled with buckwheat groats. Fermented beetroot & wild herbs, with sweet & sour chili sauce. Carrot, savoy cabbage & chickpea coconut milk curry. Basmati rice pilav with cashew nuts. Photo: Greenpeace

Meat-eaters of the world: This isn’t your week.  It’s World Meat-Free Week!

The exclusion (or limiting) of meat from one’s diet is, in fact, a growing trend in the US, the UK, and, undoubtedly, elsewhere.

The reasons, as a recent article in The Guardian put it, “are obvious – meat-eating is cruel, environmentally ruinous (accounting for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions) and often unhealthy, too – recent studies have found raw meat samples contain increasing amounts of plasticsantibiotics, and even fecal matter.”

All this, The Guardian said, “explains why Quorn is on course to become a billion-dollar business within a decade, and why this is World Meat-Free Week. (And June 11 was World Meat Free Day. Did you know, or participate?)

‘Fake Meat’ Is a Divisive Topic

Many meat-lovers – or carnivores, as my wife calls herself – look down their noses (but not to their mouths, or their health) when the topic of ‘fake meat’ arises. As USA Today put it recently, “It’s a divisive topic, and one that frequently pits vegans against carnivores – pretty needless given it’s just a way of increasing options for the dinner table. It’s not just for vegetarians but anyone wishing to reduce their meat intake given the colossal environmental crisis we find ourselves in.”

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Tesco’s meatless ‘steak’.  (Photo supplied)

How does the public feel about meat alternatives? The website PlantBasedNews.org recently noted that when Britain’s Tesco supermarket chain introduced vegan steaks recently, 40,000 were sold “within days.” Demand for the plant-based product has been “extremely high,” the website noted. Tesco is the world’s first supermarket company beyond Holland to sell this product from Vivera.

And Sainsbury’s, another British supermarket chain, announced earlier this month that it is introducing a range of faux meat items to be presented alongside the real thing in meat cabinets.

The “lookalike” burgers and minced meat making their UK debut in Sainsbury’s on June 27 are made by the Danish manufacturer Naturli’ Foods – a leading developer of plant-based foods since 1988. That company says it has struggled to keep up with demand since their January launch in Denmark.

Line Has “Underlying Meatiness”

The Naturli products are not designed to taste like beef, but have an underlying “meatiness” thanks to the umami flavor of almonds, tomatoes and porcini mushrooms. The burgers contain beets, which helps recreate the color of raw, medium and well-done meat as it cooks, as well as adding a realistic meat “juice” when bitten into.

“Our goal is to contribute to restore the balance between nature and man,” CEO Henrik Lundtold The Guardian. “We’ve developed this product assuming that many people want to eat plants instead of animals, but are afraid of compromising on flavor and maybe even missing out on their favorite dishes such as lasagna or burger patties.”

The range goes on sale after a major study claimed that avoiding meat and dairy products impact on the environment is unforgivably high.

Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, according to the scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet.

Cut Meat/Dairy Consumption, Reduce Farmland Use 83%

The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.

The new analysis shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. Other recent research shows 86% of all land mammals are now livestock or humans. The scientists also found that even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing.

A 2006 report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization noted that the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.
Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the report, said, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”
With increased prosperity, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes (metric tons, each amounting to 2,205 pounds, or 1,000 kg) in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tonnes.
A new report, reported on in The Guardian on May 30, 2018, declares that the global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector. It provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people and contributes about 40 percent to global agricultural output. For many poor farmers in developing countries livestock are also a source of renewable energy and an essential source of organic fertilizer for their crops.
But such rapid growth exacts a steep environmental price, according to the FAO report, Livestock’s Long Shadow –Environmental Issues and Options. “The environmental costs per unit of livestock production must be cut by one half, just to avoid the level of damage worsening beyond its present level,” it warns.
When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.
And it accounts for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.
Livestock, this latest report says, now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.

Given all that, the idea of plant-based ‘fake’ meat doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, does it?

US-based Beyond Meat has been incredibly successful with its line of plant-based meat alternatives. Its Beyond Burgers, Beyond  Sausage, Beyond Chicken Strips and other products are increasingly making inroads into both supermarkets and the likes of TGI Fridays. Helping their advance are such slogans as it “looks, cooks and satisfies like beef” (on the Beyond Burger) and “looks, sizzles and satisfies like pork” (on its Beyond Sausage trio of Brat Original, Hot Italian and Sweet Italian).

Watch this – meat case – space: This is, no doubt, the beginning of a revolution in that department.

 

Cows Killed By Thousands While Many Starve For Protein

cow-nature_newsPhoto: Nature News

 

A web site called Nature News said last week that,

“Four big names in the dairy industry reportedly conspired to artificially inflate the cost of dairy products in the United States. The market fraud occurred between 2004 and 2008 when milk prices increased 66 cents per hundredweight.

The increase was made possible through a pact between several major milk brands that unnecessarily slaughtered a substantial number of dairy cows.

Dairy Farmers of America Inc., Land O’Lakes, Dairylea Cooperative Inc. and Agri-Mark Inc. had more than half a million cows turned into cheap hamburger to increase the price of dairy products, according to Off The Grid News. 

The deal was put into motion with support from the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), an organization established in 1916 that’s responsible for governing the majority the United States’ milk supply.

The group “develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own,” according to its website.

“NMPF provides a forum through which dairy farmers and their cooperatives formulate policy on national issues that affect milk production and marketing. NMPF’s contribution to this policy is aimed at improving the economic interests of dairy farmers, thus assuring the nation’s consumers an adequate supply of pure, wholesome, and nutritious milk and dairy products.”

Other members include Lone Star Milk Producers in Windthorst, Texas; Premier Milk in Ocala, Florida; Swiss Valley Farms in Davenport, Iowa; United Dairymen of Arizona in Tempe, Arizona; Upstate Niagra Cooperative, Inc. in Buffalo, New York; and Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery in Ellsworth, Wisconsin. Click here for a full list of NMPF members.

Some substantiation of and explanation for this action – hardly a rarity, it seems – appears on a website called FreeFromHarm.org, in an article entitled “10 Dairy Facts the Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know”.

Often, the cows the industry intentionally, substantially, shortens the lives of are calves, as well as worked-to-exhaustion milkers, who could, in a natural environment, live to be 20-25 years old, according to the FreeFromHarm.org article. That piece also reported that the dairy industry’s slaughter rate is considerably higher than the 500,000 head Nature News cited:

“Of the 9 million dairy cows in the U.S., 3 million are slaughtered each year at only a fraction of their natural lifespan. (8) Their worn out bodies become ground beef and restaurant hamburgers.”

Stop and think about it: How do you think McDonald’s et al are able to offer burgers, even with cheese, for a dollar apiece? Simple: They’re getting one-time or would-be productive cattle at ‘commodity’ prices – bovines excessively (and artificially produced, sold for far below what would be paid for animals properly aged – at one or the other end of a lifetime.

Meanwhile, thousands of people die daily because they are unable to obtain sufficient amounts of protein and the likes of that inflated-price milk and its nutrients and by-products, including cheese.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems like there’s something wrong there!