A technician and
farm manager record plate meter measurements, which are used to estimate forage
yields in cow-calf grazing paddocks. Click the image for more information
story to find out more.
Cattle May Follow Appalachian Trail to Fine
Urban Eateries By Don Comis
New York City restaurants may one day offer lean, natural
William M. Clapham, research leader of the
Agricultural Research Service's
Appalachian Farming Systems Research
Center in Beaver, W.Va., is collaborating on a large project with
universities in West Virginia, Virginia and Georgia to make this happen.
In realistic "birth-to-plate" trials under way, a new herd of 72
Black Angus cattle is marketed every fall. Half eat forage year-round, and half
are "finished," or fattened, in a feedlot. University of Georgia meat quality researchers
conduct meat analysis and taste panels for comparison of the meat from the
cattle. So far, forage-fed beef has been found to be tender and very tasty. The
meat is leaner than feedlot-raised beef, with half the saturated fat and higher
levels of the more healthful types of fat.
Calves born at Virginia Tech
University's farm near Staunton, Va., are weaned each spring and then go to
Morgantown, W.Va., for winter feeding treatments by
West Virginia University. In April, half the
cattle in this third calf-to-market cycle will go to Willowbend, Va., for
pasture finishing by ARS. The rest will go to a feedlot near Staunton, where
they'll eat corn, corn silage and protein/mineral supplements.
Appalachian family farms would raise their pasture-finished
cattle for the "natural beef" market niche, selling directly to retail outlets
and grocery suppliers. The pasture- finished animals would be raised without
supplements or hormones and not given antibiotics unless they became ill.
They'd eat only high-quality forage at all times--as much as they wanted.
Cattle production could follow the Appalachian Trail south to
Georgia if farmers there chose to take advantage of the milder weather to wean
calves in the fall, rather than spring. Then they could supply fresh beef each
Read more about the research in the
February issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.