The “Rock” on my Family Farm

Yesterday was a day that as a country we stopped to remember and thank those Veterans that had fought, served, and died so that we may live in a land that is free. Because of them we are able to graze our cattle on our green grassy pastures, rope the newborn babies on breezy sunny days, and most importantly live under the American flag flying high in the sky knowing that we are able to happily raise our beef cattle hand in hand with family and friends by our side. We have those brave men and women whom fought for our freedom to thank!

We all have someone that has been a part of our life and passed before us that have helped shape us into who we are today. From their bravery, encouragement, endless lessons and support, having them as a part of our lives have proved to be a blessing.

Yesterday was not only a day that as a family we honored and remembered the fallen soldiers, but also a day to remember and honor my grandma who would have been 75 years old, but passed away three years ago. As a farming and livestock family there is always one person who is the backbone of the farm and family, who you know you can always count on to have a watchful eye or give the right advice when times are tough. For my family, that was my grandma.

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A fantastic and beautiful women, my grandma, whom my brother and I called ‘momo’ always had a smile on her face!

My grandma grew up in the city, married my grandpa who milked cows, and then became the wife of a dairy farmer. Talking to my grandma as a young girl, I always remember her saying she would not have had it any other way and loved looking out the kitchen window seeing the cows laying in the pasture. Whether having dairy or beef cattle on the farm, she was always the rock that held our family together.

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My grandma showing her cow at the county fair in 1972. From milking the cows, feeding the baby calves, to showing, she enjoyed being a part of every step of the cattle production.

As cattle producers it is important to have that one person in your family that can always find the good in all situations. My grandma always saw the glass half full rather than half empty and had endless love and faith in her Christian beliefs. It was important to her that we gave thanks for our blessings and being able to grow crops and produce livestock in a free country. Whether it was early mornings, late nights, rainy days, or the long hours spent at the county fair, her love for her family and producing cattle ran deep.

Producing cattle and crops on the land of the free is a blessing that we should not take for granite. As many of us as beef producers are, I am very thankful for being able to live a life producing a product so that others may eat. With the love and support from my grandma as the family “rock,” it is easy for me to be thankful growing up on the farm with the many life lessons she, as well as farm life has taught me.

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One of the last pictures that was taken with my grandma after a cross country meet. She was one of my biggest supporters throughout all my different activities, including farm life and sports.

So as the business and hectic lifestyles return after this holiday weekend, let us continue to show gratitude to those that have passed before us; those that have allowed us to produce on the land of the free, and those that have had a hand in shaping how we live and produce our beef cattle on a day-to-day basis.

Happy Birthday Momo and thank you!

~Demi~

 

Labels Part II

Last week, I began discussing labels. As you continue reading the label of a package of beef, you might see words such as natural or organic. Most consumers (and even producers!) do not know the difference between the two.

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Most beef is natural, meaning that it does not contain any additives and is not more than minimally processed.

Certified organic beef must meet USDA’s national organic program standards. Organically raised cattle must be fed 100% organic feed, and they may not be given hormones to promote growth or antibiotics for any reason. Organic beef may be either grass or grain finished. Organically produced food does not differ in safety or nutrition from conventionally produced foods. The reason organically produced food is more expensive to purchase, is because this food is more expensive to produce.

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All beef choices are a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins like protein, zinc, iron and b vitamins.

According to USDA, natural means that a product is minimally processed and contains no additives. By this definition, most beef in the meat case is natural. Natural beef does differ from “naturally raised beef.” Naturally raised beef is from cattle raised without added hormones to promote growth or the use of antibiotics to prevent disease.

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No matter what kind of beef you choose, you can be confident that you are feeding your family a safe and savory product!

When it comes down to it, the type of beef your purchase for you and your family is a matter of personal preference. If purchasing beef that has been organically raised is important to you, then you are more than welcome to purchase that product. For more information on the beef choices available in today’s market, please click here.

Happy Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

Beef Connection in the World of Ag

Beef producers work countless hours to ensure they are up-to-date on current beef products and practices. Raising their herd of cattle is their livelihood and depends on the current education and seeking out of answers. Beef producers however do not focus just specifically on successful beef production; they are also continuously gaining knowledge about other agricultural realms.

This past week I had the opportunity to travel with the Collegiate Young Farmers Club from The Ohio State University to take a 5-day road trip to Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to tour equipment production headquarters, southern plantations, and crop facility headquarters. At the end of the trip, I was very grateful that I, along with six other OSU students had the opportunity to gain more knowledge about different sectors of agriculture. Being a part of the beef industry and seeking out continuous education is important, but the world of agriculture is combined through many different pieces and parts.

One of my personal favorites was touring a tea plantation and learning about the tea making process, different equipment used to harvest, as well as the history. Although making tea does not directly correlate to beef production, production methods and innovation is directly compatible between tea production and beef production. As a tea plantation, it is most important to start the new cuttings, or seeds, off with the upmost care for production, which correlates to starting off a baby calf, making sure that it receives the appropriate nutrients and vitamins to grow healthy.

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The tea harvester ‘combine’- unique to only the production of tea.

Another educational part of the trip was the Phosphorous Mine. As an important part of growing crops all around the world for people and livestock alike, phosphorus is a needed nutrient. While at the mine we had the opportunity to learn about the mining process, as well as see the process in action while in the mine. Spending the morning at the mine learning about the process of mining and why phosphorus is so important to the world of agriculture proved to me the connection between phosphorus, crop production, and beef cattle. Without phosphorus being mined, crops would not yield a product and beef cattle would lack food and nutrients.

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Phosphorus Mine in North Carolina

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The phosphorus mining machine that scooped up the phosphorus ore

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The part of the mine that loads the phosphorus onto both train and barge.

Learning about the world of beef cattle and beef production as well as promotions and educations is important to me and something that I continue to strive for through learning. However, being a part of agriculture means more than just feeding my cattle, it means understanding the world of agriculture and how different aspects, systems, and other lines of production all correlate and work in conjunction with beef cattle and beef production.

Monsanto

As a final stop of the trip, we toured Monsanto company and had the opportunity to learn and ask our questions about biotechnology corn and soybeans as a grain for livestock, including beef cattle.

 

.Demi

The Show Ring

“You do what to those cattle?!”  This is a phrase I’ve often heard when explaining to consumers about the show cattle side of beef production. They are often surprised that we not only bathe cattle, but blow dry, clip, condition and work hair on these animals, let alone put them on a halter and show them!

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My first heifer, Bella, inspired me to keep raising cattle and start my own cattle company

 

Not every producer is involved in showing, but there are some that make a living out of raising show cattle, and others that just want to occasionally showcase the quality of the animals they breed.  Still others are involved through youth programs like 4-H and FFA that teach members about raising these animals and often inspire them to pursue careers within the beef field.

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FFA helped me to develop my own start-up company, Ace Club Calves. We now exhibit our own cattle and have done well.

 

I’ll be very honest when I say that I would not be here if it weren’t for programs like 4-H and FFA.  I am a product of the show industry.  It is where I found my passion for cattle and learned innovative ways to raise them.  Without showing, I know that I would have never taken an interest in beef cattle nor found the passion I have for representing and advocating for this amazing group of people and their livelihoods.

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Making a bond with your calf is an important part of showing. Remmy was a very special calf that I truly enjoyed

 

The show industry is a great program in which youth can be exposed to raising cattle and what it takes to do so, and helps them to earn a little money that they can either save or spend as they please.  It teaches responsibility, commitment, compassion and accountability through having an animal rely on you to care for it.  Success in the show ring only comes if you work hard and do things the best way possible.  You have to ensure that you and your animal have a mutual respect and love for each other if you are going to get anywhere.

One of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know, Shannon is a friend that I met through showing

One of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know, Shannon is a friend that I met through showing

Beyond the amazing qualities it helps to develop, some of my best friends have been made around the show ring.  There is just something about sitting in the bleachers watching cattle shows, or helping on another to clip or fit an animal that creates an inseparable bond.  Though we are all from different parts of the country, I know that I can rely on my show friends to always be there if I need advice or assistance.

 

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

Beef All Around the World

Did you know that U.S. beef is being exported to countries around the world because of it’s commitment to quality and safety?  U.S. Beef is in hot demand and helps to add over $300 per head in value to that carcass!  In fact, in 2014 alone, exports set a value record of $7.13 Billion.

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So where is all the delicious beef product headed?  Well, Japan is our number one consumer, followed Mexico, Canada, the Middle East, China and South Korea.  Just last year, exports to Japan were valued at $1.58 billion with Japan having lifted its cattle age limit from 21 months to 30 months old.  Each of these markets has their own concerns and demands, and we are careful to help create a product to not only meet and exceed domestic demands, but foreign, as well!

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U.S. Beef making a splash in Japanese Markets!

 

You might be wondering why we don’t keep this beef to ourselves and not drive up the price in our own domestic markets, but I am pleased to tell you the majority of our exports are actually organ meats or other products U.S. consumers don’t want.  Instead of throwing these away, we now can make a profit off of them and help to keep muscle meat prices lower, and most importantly, increase our sustainability!  Over 90% of the liver, heart and kidney by-products of beef harvest are sent to the Middle East, Mexico and South America.  Egypt is our #1 consumer of liver, in fact, they take nearly all of it!  Stomach and intestine products make their way to Mexico and Southeast Asia to be cooked in traditional meals such as menudo.  Rib Fingers and Hanging Tenders, both products the U.S. consumer does not desire on a large scale, are in high demand in Northeast Asia, along with short ribs.

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Oven Roasted U.S. Beef Liver. Find the recipe here : https://www.usmef.org/international-markets/recipes/oven-roasted-u-s-beef-liver/

 

Exports are a valuable part of American beef production, and are continuing to show their usefulness.  It is also a source of pride for not only me, but for all U.S. Beef producers, that our product is demanded across the far reaches of the globe due to the standards we pride ourselves on!  If you desire to find out more, visit www.usmef.org!

 

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

Calving Season is Here!

Around the country, and at my own operation, calving season is beginning!  Producers usually time-breed their animals so that they will all calve out within a two month period, reducing labor costs and ensuring a uniform calf crop!

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“Little Miss Sass”

 

 

Calving season means two things – lots of excitement and very little sleep!  When it comes down to the week that my cow is due, we watch her carefully for signs of calving – swishing tails, discomfort, mucus, and filling of her udder.  If we see all these signs, we know that she is close to having her calf and will probably calve out within 48 hours!  We get up every few hours every night to make sure she isn’t having any trouble if she does start.  Making sure our cows and calves are healthy and happy is top priority for all producers!

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A full Udder, Restlessness and Mucus around the tail are indicators a calf is coming soon!

 

After she calves, we separate our cow into a different pen to make sure she gets plenty to eat and her calf isn’t bullied by the other cows.  Not all operations do this, but because we are so small, it’s possible for us!  We check to make sure the calf is nursing, as it needs to receive all the “good stuff” such as immunoglobulins, and easily digestible nutrients contained in colostrum.  If the weather is bad, we will make sure that the calf is warm and mom and baby have shelter to stay out of the storm.  It is very important to make sure the cow has easy access to water, as she will be very thirsty and tired after the long process of calving.  The most important part though is to make sure everyone is doing okay and then to leave the cow alone.  We want her to bond with her baby and not cause her any stress.

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Our cow wanted to make sure the camera was safe to have around her calf!

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Receiving colostrum is important to the future growth potential and immune system of that calf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, we eartag our calves for identification purposes and give them another once over to make sure they are still nursing and look healthy.  Calving season is one of my favorite times of the year!  Spending time with the babies (given that Momma is okay with this) is lots of fun, and for show cattle is an integral part of making them good show calves later on in life.

 

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Spending time with calves ensures they are used to humans and being handled

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Taking selfies with Ms. Elsie a.k.a. “The Princess of Everything”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Heart of Beef,

 

Alicia 

 

 

 

Bottle Baby Care

This past week, one of my first time heifers calved. Unfortunately this heifer did not have any milk to be a mother to her new baby calf. In situations like this, it is a beef producers’ duty to take care of the calf and make sure that it remains healthy and growing. Because the baby’s mother did not have milk to feed her calf, we now have a “bottle baby” at my farm. It is our responsibility as beef producers to ensure our newborns receive the nutrients and proper care they need, even when their mother does not take care or feed them.

lifeline

Colostrum is important for baby calves to receive with the first 24 hours of their life. As a colostrum supplement, my family chooses to use Lifeline or frozen colostrum from other cows we have milked out to ensure the calf gets the needed nutrients and vitamins to sustain a healthy, quality life.

mixing milk

As a milk supplement, we mix milk replacer and warm water together.

pooring milk

The milk replacer used per feeding is 10 ounces of dry matter with a 4 pint bottle of water. Mix the two together, poor it in a calf bottle, and it is time to feed!

frog eating

Baby “Frog” gets fed 4 pints of milk twice a day. The milk replacer used has needed vitamins and minerals to compliment the same nutrients she would receive if she was drinking milk from her mom.

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Like all newborn babies, once her tummy is full, she is happy and content. We will feed “Frog” approximately one month before introducing her to dry feed-then she will drink milk and eat hay and feed just like all the other baby calves that are still able to drink from their mothers.

Have a happy Tuesday!
Demi

 

 

 

The How To Guide on Buying Beef

 

When you go to the grocery store, do you know how to select the best cut of meat? I was taught from a young age about marbling, but I didn’t know about all the other factors that go into selecting the best cut for your purposes. Here are a few ways to find the best cut for the best price!

 

Marbling is one of the biggest factors when it comes to flavor and tenderness. Marbling refers to the intramuscular flecks of fat within the meat. There are several different quality grades, which are generally posted on the outside of the meat package. The top four are, Prime, Choice, Select and Standard. The higher the quality grade, generally the higher the price per pound goes. No one quality grade is the best, it just depends on your personal taste. I prefer a high choice cut of beef, while some may enjoy the leanness of standard or the full flavor of prime.

L to R: Prime, Choice, Select, Standard

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Color of Lean is another factor to check out in meat. You are looking for a bright cherry red, or even a little darker purplish-red color. If the meat is a purplish-red color, nothing is wrong, it just hasn’t had as much exposure to oxygen and is very fresh! Sometimes, you may find that when you open a package of cubed steaks, or hamburger, there may be brown pieces. This meat is perfectly okay to eat, again it has to do with the amount of oxygen that has reached the myoglobin in the muscle!

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Great Flow Chart to understand why meat changes colors!

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Purple-ish Red, Cherry Red and Brown are normal colors for meat! Green and yellow are NOT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tenderness is perhaps the hardest to judge from looking at the meat counter without any meat science knowledge. There are different types of muscles within the animals, and are generally categorized into two types: Hanging/Support Muscles or Locomotion Muscles. Hanging muscles are muscles that don’t do too much work, like the loin, ribs and brisket. As a rule of thumb, they tend to be more tender, but as you know with the brisket, it can also depend on the type of muscle fibers present in that cut! Locomotion muscles are used to move the animals, like the round or chuck and generally are tougher. There are also claims that are certified by the USDA that will help with tenderness, such as, Dry or Wet Aging, and Electrical Stimulation.

Dry versus Wet Aged Beef. Both are tasty options!

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A very powerful electrical volt passes through the carcass before it is chilled

 

 

 

  

 

 

Shopping for meat should be an easy and hassle free experience, and with this quick guide you can find the best cut for you!

 

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia Smith

I Heart Lean Beef Horizontal Color with Powerful Protein Tagline

Surviving the Cafeteria

I live in the dorms, and consequently eat a lot of cafeteria food. If you aren’t careful, it can be challenging at times to incorporate beef into your diet when someone else is determining the menu. Here are my tips for beefing up your cafeteria experience:

  1. Suggestion cards are there for a reason. If you do not like your current options, ask for them to be changed! There is a better chance of change occurring if you speak up about what needs changed.

    Make your voice heard!

    Make your voice heard!

  2. Mix and match. One of my favorite dishes is a steak salad. This is rarely an option from the choices they have. What I do is make a salad at the salad bar, and then grab a steak from one of the stations in the cafeteria and mix them myself. By mixing and matching portions of the menu they have, you can really add variety to your diet.

    Steak and salad are a great combination!

    Steak and salad are a great combination!

  3. Plan your meals ahead of time. At my university, the menus are posted online a week in advance. This makes it very simple to plan what you will eat each day of the week. It also makes it easy to incorporate all of the food groups into your diet because you are more aware of what you are eating.
  4. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Sometimes you might not know what an item on the menu is. Try it! If you find out you do not like it, then you know not to get it again.

    There are usually several options

    Trying new things will help you determine what you like or don’t like!

  5. Snack smart! Sometimes college schedules do not allow room between classes to grab lunch. On those days, one of my favorite snacks to power through my day is beef jerky and baby carrots.

    Beef jerky is great way to get the benefits of beef on the go!

    Beef jerky is great way to get the benefits of beef on the go!

Taking control of your diet can be challenging initially, but it really is worth it.

Happy Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

The Tasty World of Veal!

I don’t know about y’all, but veal is something I’ve always been afraid of. Up until the beginning of January, I hadn’t even tried it!   To my surprise, it was actually pretty good! So how would one go about selecting and cooking veal?

veal-t-bone-10_7Selection

When buying veal, look for meat that is creamy pink in color, with a fine texture. There should be very little outer fat and marbling. Different cuts require different cooking methods, so choose a cut that you are comfortable cooking!

Cooking

Cooking veal is similar to beef, including that it should be cooked to 160 degrees! You can dry rub it, marinate, bread, glaze or even stuff it with cheese! Garlic, lemon, fresh herbs and Italian seasoning make excellent spices to use on veal if you are just starting out and not to sure what to make. Veal is also great when paired with fresh fruit salsas or dried fruit sauces. Traditional sides, such as potatoes, asparagus or even eggplant fit great, as well! To find out more information on specific cooking methods, visit http://vealmadeeasy.com/cooking-methods/.

Here’s a fun recipe I found to try veal:

Veal Picatta

Ingredients

  • 1 pound veal leg cutlets, cut 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon saltVeal-Picata-Less-Pasta
  • 1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Sauce:
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter; at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • Salt

Instructions:

Pound veal cutlets to 1/8-inch thickness, if necessary. Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, paprika and white pepper in shallow dish. Lightly coat cutlets with seasoned flour.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until melted. Place 2 or 3 cutlets in skillet; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until veal is cooked through, turning once. Remove cutlets; keep warm. Repeat with 1/2 tablespoon butter and remaining cutlets.

Add wine and lemon juice to skillet; increase heat to medium-high. Cook and stir until browned bits attached to skillet are dissolved and liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon room temperature butter and capers. Season with salt, as desired. Spoon sauce over cutlets. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 240 calories; 9 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 2 g monounsaturated fat); 103 mg cholesterol; 394 mg sodium; 7 g carbohydrate; 0.3 g fiber; 25 g protein; 9.1 mg niacin; 0.3 mg vitamin B6; 1.0 mcg vitamin B12; 1.3 mg iron; 12.9 mcg selenium; 2.7 mg zinc. This recipe is an excellent source of protein and niacin; and a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, selenium and zinc.

Found here: http://vealmadeeasy.com/recipes/veal-cutlet-picatta/