To save the planet, scientists figured out how to fix cow farts–The secret to “climate-friendly” cattle

By Marlene CimonsNexus Media 4 hours ago


Moo-ve over, methane


Raising cattle contributes to global warming in a big way. The animals expel large amounts of methane when they burp and fart, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide. U.S. beef production, in fact, roughly equals the annual emissions of 24 million cars, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. That’s a lot of methane.

Researchers think there may be a better way. Rather than ask people to give up beef, they are trying to design more climate-friendly cattle. The goal is to breed animals with digestive systems that can create less methane. One approach is to tinker with the microbes that live in the rumen, the main organ in the animals’ digestive tract. These tiny organisms enable fermentation during digestion and produce the methane released by the cattle.

Scientists in the United Kingdom last year found that a cow’s genes influence the makeup of these microbial communities, which include bacteria and also Archaea, the primary producers of methane. This discovery means cattle farmers potentially could selectively breed animals that end up with a lower ratio of Archaea-to-bacteria, thus leading to less methane.


Cattle raised for beef


“The methanogens — or Archaea, which produce methane — are totally different from bacteria, so we could determine their abundances in the rumen samples,” said Rainer Roehe, professor of animal genetics at Scotland’s Rural College. Roehe studied the composition of microbes in sample animals and established that the host animals’ genes were responsible for their makeup. “The higher the Archaea-to-bacteria ratio, the larger the amount of methane emissions,” he said.

His study, which appeared in PLOS Genetics, recently won the journal’s prestigious genetics research prize. The journal called the work “the first step toward breeding low-emission cattle, which will become increasingly important in the face of growing global demand for meat.” The research identified specific microbial “profiles,” that is, combinations of microbes, which could help determine which cattle digest their feed more efficiently, and emit less methane.

“These can then be used as selection criteria to mitigate methane emissions,” Roehe said. “The selection to reduce methane emissions would be permanent, cumulative and sustainable over generations as with any other trait, such as growth rate, milk yield, etc. used in animal breeding.” This, over time, “would have a substantial impact on methane emissions from livestock,” Roehe said.

U.S. methane emissions by source. Enteric fermentation (i.e. cow farts) is the second-largest source of methane emissions.

U.S. methane emissions by source. Enteric fermentation (i.e. cow farts) is the second-largest source of methane emissions.

Environmental Protection Agency

He predicted the approach not only would reduce the environmental footprint of beef production, but it would also enable farmers to produce meat more cost effectively. It also likely would improve animals’ health and improve the quality of meat, since rumen microbial fermentation enhances the production of omega-3 fatty acids, he said.

He and his colleagues tested 72 animals — eight descendants from each of nine sires — in order to predict the effect of their genes on the microbial community, Roehe explained. “The only common factor of these progenies was its genes inherited from its sire,” he said.

“Archaea and bacteria are available in the rumen of all ruminates,” he said. “What we determined are the abundances of these Archaea and bacteria in the rumen of each animal and then calculated their ratio, which was correlated to methane emissions.”


Cows aren’t great for the planet


They analyzed the samples and found that inherited genes “influenced significantly methane emissions [and] the Archaea-to-bacteria ratio,” he said. They determined that more than 80 percent of the methane emissions could be explained by the “relative abundance” of 20 genes, he said. Even with different diets and different breeds of cattle, the outcome remained the same. “That means that the animals’ genetics shapes the composition of its own microbial community,” he said.

There also likely are biological factors involved, including salvia production, which influences pH in the rumen — “and thus the living conditions of the rumen microbial community” — the physical size, structural differences and contraction of the rumen, which affects the rate at which digested food passes through the rumen, and even “crosstalk” between rumen microbes and other cells, he said.

In practice, breeders would need rumen samples from many animals to determine their genetic makeup. While the research still is in the experimental stages, Roehe said, “we are working with breeding organizations together to prove the efficiency of the system under practical conditions.”

Marlene Cimons writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture.




 by Karen Davis, PhD

This article derives from an impromptu comment I posted on September 8, 2017 following an article in Animals 24-7:“What is ‘the dairy industry’?”

A calf being licked by her mother.

All I ever had to see of the dairy industry to hate it were images of calves torn from their mothers to be isolated, tremblingly, in solitary crates and hutches. All I ever had to hear were the mothers crying for their stolen newborns. This is not just big dairy operations; it is dairy farming. I remember back in the 1970s being taken by a friend to a small dairy farm in Pennsylvania and seeing the cows and the mud and the cement milking “parlor” and the milking machinery. That was my first glimpse of a bizarre and sickening business considered by everyone I grew up with as “normal.” In fact, it wasn’t “considered” at all.

Whenever possible, I post comments to food section articles in The Washington Post and elsewhere pushing back against claims that the mammary milk stolen from mother cows and goats is “necessary” for human calcium; in reality, interspecies mammary milk is not even digestible by the majority of the human population. Even if it were, the business would be what it is, ugly. Despite the machinery, packaging and other things between themselves and the cow or goat, consumers of mammary-gland products are essentially sucking the nipples of a nursing mother robbed of her baby and her baby’s birthright.

I’m one of those people who never realized for the longest time that in order to produce milk, a cow, like all mammals, has to be pregnant. Reading “The Cookbook for People Who Love Animals” in 1983 turned on a light bulb in my brain. That cookbook described how dairy cows have been genetically manipulated to produce such an unnatural amount of milk for human consumption that their udders drag on the milking parlor floor and workers tramp on those swollen, dragging udders without a thought.

The cows, meanwhile, are drained of the calcium they need for their own bones, which are being depleted in order to produce milk for cheese pizzas and anything else it can be poured into for profit. Like hens manipulated for excessive egg shell production, dairy cows develop osteoporosis and painful lameness. They develop mastitis, a painful infection in their udders that leaks pus into their milk. A man who grew up on a family dairy farm in Maryland once told me that they sometimes inserted large antibiotic syringes directly into the cow’s udders to treat the infection.

The bodies of dairy cows are disproportioned by the weight and drag of their abnormal udders, and the cows have to be gotten rid of as soon as they no longer pay their way. Like hens bred for egg production, the cows’ bodies are mere envelopes for their ovaries; after that, they’re done with.

In her book Slaughterhouse, Gail Eisnitz writes that every hamburger contains about 100 “spent” dairy cows. Think about that the next time you pass by the wormy messes in the meat display counter.

Book cover: Slaughterhouse

Slaughterhouse was first published in 1997. Twenty years ago, Gail Eisnitz bore witness to events that are the same today as they were then: Your worst nightmares are “normal agricultural practices.” (See my review of Slaughterhouse.)

Articles I’ve read in agribusiness publications about cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs and other farmed animals being locked in a building in which a fire broke out, quote the “humane” family farmer: “At least no one got hurt.” I recall an article about a small dairy farm’s cows – those who did not die in the barn fire but were suffering badly from smoke inhalation – being held without help on the farm until the auction truck came to take them away.

Farmers are not sentimental about “their” animals, and this is a source of pride with them. Yet they have no problem creating smarmy, cloyingly sentimental and dishonest ads on TV and elsewhere about their “wholesome” enterprise and their “humane” animal care – anything to anesthetize the public. Each time I see one of these “dairy pure” types of ads with a farmer holding an inert newborn calf (just taken away from his or her mother), I want to puke and weep with sadness and disgust.

I want all forms of animal agribusiness to be abolished forever asap. I support whatever will make that happen. I will never stop working for an animal-free food supply and for animals themselves until I die trying.

Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns

Cows in glass tanks help to reduce methane emissions

August 30, 2016
Natural Resources Institute Finland
In the future, the breeding of the climate-friendly cow can be sped up by using genetic information. A recent study identifies areas in the cow’s genotype which are linked to the amount of methane it produces. Cows subjected to study did not unnecessarily chew their cuds when being placed in glass

Of the greenhouse gases produced by humans, 16 per cent consists of methane, of which one third originates in cattle production: more than one billion cattle graze the planet, and each of them emit around 500 litres of methane every day, thereby warming up the climate.
Credit: Image courtesy of Natural Resources Institute Finland

In the future, the breeding of the climate-friendly cow can be speeded up by using genetic information. A recent study identifies areas in the cow’s genotype which are linked to the amount of methane it produces. Cows subjected to study did not unnecessarily chew their cuds when being placed in glass cases.

Of the greenhouse gases produced by humans, 16 per cent consists of methane, of which one third originates in cattle production: more than one billion cattle graze the planet, and each of them emit around 500 litres of methane every day, thereby warming up the climate.

Could it be possible to produce a cow with lower methane emissions through the means available for breeding? The genotype and feed affect a cow’s microbial make-up and functioning. Microbes in the cow’s intestine and rumen on their part play a key role in the functioning of the cow’s entire biological system. “A similar interaction was previously detected in humans,” says Johanna Vilkki, professor at Luke.

As part of a project named RuminOmics, led by the University of Aberdeen and funded by the EU, the Natural Resources Institute Finland, in collaboration with ten other European research institutes, investigated the interaction between a ruminant’s genotype, feed, and the microbial make-up of the rumen, examining the role these factors played in the energy-efficiency of dairy cattle and their methane emissions.

Significant differences in methane production between individuals

Under the RuminOmics project, one thousand cows were examined in different European countries. One hundred Ayshire cows visited a metabolic chamber, located in Luke’s Jokioinen cowshed, in which their methane emissions were measured. In addition, their digestion, production characteristics, energy-efficiency and metabolism, as well as their microbial make-up, were monitored.

Substantial differences in measurement results were found between different farms and countries, as feeding practices, for example, differ from each other a great deal. It was expected that Finnish and Swedish cows would produce more methane than cows in other countries. This is attributable to their feed which is dominated by silage, not by the climate.

“If the methane emissions from cows are to be reduced, a straightforward approach according to which only cows with low emissions are left in the livestock is perhaps not the best solution. On the contrary, the results indicate that many cows with low methane emissions are inefficient due to the fact that they are unable to make use contained in fodder.

Relative methane emissions of a cow per production unit, kilo of milk or beef are reduced if the production level or production age are increased.

Therefore, it makes sense, from an ethical and environmental perspective, to favour cows with an excellent production capability and keep them in production for as long as possible,” Viikki says by way of recommendation.

Genes reveal a cow with low emission

Information available in the near future will indicate whether or not cows with low emissions and a good production capability can be selected for breeding on the basis of genetic data. The study identified areas in the cow’s genotype, the variation of which was linked to the amount of methane produced per kilo of milk produced.

“We will investigate whether these genes affect the variation in the microbial make-up of cows’ rumen or other characteristics of cows such as the size of their rumen, production level of capability to use fodder.”

Reduced emissions and healthier milk

Cows’ fodder contains a great deal of unsaturated fatty acids, but the microbes in the rumen transform them into saturated fatty acids. Therefore, approximately 70 percent of the fats in milk comprises solid fats.

The make-up of fatty acids in the cows studied was measured, and its connection to the microbial make-up of the rumen was examined. Further research will reveal whether a cow’s fatty acid make-up indicates the cow’s methane emissions.

“By changing the feed of cows, we seek to reduce the proportion of microbes causing methane emissions, the amount of which is also related to the amount of saturated fatty acids in milk. Using this method, we can perhaps also change the nutritional make-up of milk in a healthier direction,” Viikki remarks.

More Information

What is a metabolic chamber?

Methane production of dairy cattle is measured in the four metabolic chambers at Luke’s experimental cowshed in Minkiö. Animal well-being has been taken into consideration in the planning of the chambers.

In order to create an agreeable environment for the cows in their chambers of 20 cubic metres in volume, they have been placed in the vicinity of other cows in the cowshed. The chambers have a steel framework with transparent polycarbonate walls, allowing the cows to see the other cows in the herd. To ensure safety, the chambers have an emergency exit which will open if the equipment experiences a power outage or the carbon dioxide level reaches too high a value.

In the course of studies, air intake and outflow is measured for the concentration of carbon dioxide, oxygen, methane and hydrogen using a gas analyser. The volume of air flow is measured using a mass flowmeter.

Cows’ daily feed consumption and milk production is measured and recorded, and the manure and urine produced is collected. This will enable the analysis of the energy metabolism of dairy cattle in addition to methane measurements.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Natural Resources Institute Finland. The original item was written by Ulla Ramstadius. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Tell USDA to Promote Sustainable Diets

Extinction Facts

The American appetite for meat — which is 4 times the global average — is eating away at wild habitat, water and even our climate. Yet while other governments have taken specific steps to recommend diets lower in meat and dairy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to cater to the livestock industry, leaving sustainability out of important policy conversations like our national dietary guidelines.

Think about it: Americans eat 50 billion pounds of meat a year, yet our farms don’t even produce enough fruits and vegetables to meet the 2.5 cups a day recommended in the national dietary guidelines. Something is wrong with this picture.

It’s time for the USDA to create a plan to address the urgent need for Americans to reduce meat and dairy consumption and eat a healthy, sustainable diet. National guidelines on diets have enormous influence on how people eat, including in schools and government facilities.

Join us in urging the USDA to issue a public statement and plan of action to promote a sustainable American diet.

Taking Life Too Seriously?

Two weeks ago Thursday I had what they call a mild stroke that ended me up in the hospital for five days. It came out of the blue, as 55 seems a young age for that sort of thing. But only now did I learn that this is considered a prime age for genetic history and stress to catch up with a person. I wasn’t aware of any cardiovascular trouble; I’m not a smoker or heavy drinker; I’ve always been physically active–skiing, hiking and other outdoor activities; and I’ve been vegan for nearly twenty years. The only thing I can think of is that since I’ve immersed myself in the plight of animals and the Earth and fully taken on the animal rights cause, I’ve had a lot of unresolved stress. Different people respond to stress differently, and for me it came out as a partial cardiovascular meltdown.

Text and Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

I’m recovering rapidly, but I still feel the effects of this on my left side and sometimes can hear it in my speech. Since it has been recommended that I read aloud, I’m going to read to my typist from John A. Livingston’s 1994 book, Rogue Primate:

“…Nature is complex and multispecific; the human environment is essentially simple and monospecific. True, there may be trees and shrubs and gardens where people live, a scattering of squirrels and starlings and pets, and sun and rain and snow, but the overwhelming presence is that of ourselves and our fabrications.

“This is most easily demonstrated in terms of sensory nourishment we receive in urban concentrations. Virtually everything we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste is of our own making. Worse, most of it is not even delivered to us by people; the bulk of nutrition for our senses is mediated by machines. A teenager sits on a concrete slab, feet resting on asphalt, eyes closed, hands clutching a plastic case, breathing swirling exhaust fumes, a headset piercing and battering both eardrums with screaming, shattering dissonance at a frightening decibel level.

“Everything this youngster sees, hears, smells, touches, and tastes is a human artifact. His unidimensional experiential universe is one of homogenous, monospecific mass, with not the slightest differentiation. His sense organs, blunted as they are, need not be able to discriminate in any case; there is nothing to discriminate between. There is searing colour to be sure, and cacophony, and heat and cold, and there are strange metallic flavours, and surfaces smooth and rough, and there is terrible, unending qualitative sameness.

“Across the street there is a ‘park’ (a rectangle of mown lawn). On a bench lies a derelict, inert, unconscious and oblivious, his empty grail of solace is in its brown wrapper on the grass beneath him. As a child he may have encountered Nature. He may have once been wild. Perhaps he still is. Overlooking him there is a gigantic edifice of glass and steel, with guards and security monitors and air-conditioned seven-dollar-figure condominiums with chrome strips and tinted windows and mirrored walls, and with live beings actually inhabiting them. Behind, in a brick-walled protective enclosure, there is a children’s playground, with brightly painted climbing and crawling structures of metal pipe, padded with something made from synthetic polymers. There are sensate beings here, too. Little ones.

“I have described elsewhere what I call a kind of urban ‘sensory deprivation,’ and the perceptual (and thus conceptual) aberrations that follow from it. When perceptual and conceptual aberrations are shared across a society, they may be seen as institutionalized delusions. There are many of these in contemporary society, but none is more important, or more ironical, than the belief that high-tech urban ‘progress’ (i.e., emancipation from non-human environmental influences) is a major human achievement. R. D. Laing has said, ‘Human beings seem to have an almost unlimited capacity to deceive themselves, and to deceive themselves into taking their own lies for truth.’ It would appear that we have travelled so far in our cultural self-deceit that we actually believe we have no need of sensory stimulation or nutrition beyond that provided by ourselves. No need for experience of any influence that is not of human design and fabrication.

“Our willing (and indeed prideful) confinement within the many-mirrored echo-chamber of technological servitude is a towering irony, perhaps the ultimate in self-deceit. Like the feedlot steer in the dreary monotony of his experiential desert, we have lost all connection with being, all memory of sensibility of life context.”

Unlike the steer, humans have chosen this “life.”


“I’m Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take This Any More!”

Many of you may recognize that title as a line from a movie. It was one of the two great movies I’ve seen in the past few days, which seem to go together yet are completely different in style and content.

The first was an excellent documentary, Cowspiracy, which just came out in streaming1442633447556 Netflix form, in addition to DVD as well as a downloadable version on their website. This absolutely-must-see is not just an expose of the kind of cruelty that the human species is capable of and complicit in toward animals on a daily basis (as if that weren’t enough). It mainly focuses on the massive carbon footprint of animal agriculture (51% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions) and the fact that no one—not the powers that be, not the industry chiefs and spokesmen, not the current cattle flesh-food purveyors, not even the heads of major corporate environmental, household-name, supposed green groups, like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, NRDC or the rainforest action group—is willing to take a stand on or even acknowledge it. They were all too busy laying the blame for climate change on unstoppable oil companies, pinning all their hopes on renewable energies for everyone—all 7.4 billion and counting.

But as one interviewee pointed out, those energy sources won’t see the light of day in a big way for at least 20 years (sorry, we don’t have 20 years, people) and not until after 43 trillion dollars have been invested. Yet all we have to do, as this movie shows us (through the words of ex-rancher Howard Lyman and others) is stop eating animals today. (And stop breeding, I might add.) Problem solved. Then we just have to wait for the feed-back loops to play themselves out and hope that Mother Nature forgives us for our avariciousness in reducing all other animal life to fodder for our one-species-takes-all, suicidal free-for-all.

The issue of hunting was quickly laid to rest with the statement that back when humans may have been “sustainably” killing other species for their sustenance, there were only around 10 million people. Now there’s over 500 million on this continent alone. This is no time for a resurgence in popularity of the mindset that got us into this mess in the first place. We need to move forward, not back.

Meanwhile, a mouthpiece for the fishing industry tries to deny the ongoing collapse of fisheries across the globe by invoking a feeble economic analogy, hoping we’ll believe that every time they kill thousands of fish, they are replaced by even more new fish as if by some miraculous, infinite, deep-sea upwelling—like they’re only taking the interest, not the principal. The fact is, climate change is already warming ocean waters so fast that toxic algae blooms are rapidly replacing the traditional, edible phytoplankton—the basis of the ocean’s food chain. At the same time, run-off from animal agriculture is creating dead zones wherever once-fresh water meets the sea.

The other movie I saw recently (although it came out in 1977), Network, was also inspirational, in its own way. It summed up how I felt after watching Cowspiracy. Worked into the middle of the script were the lines of a newscaster run amok, who was trying to get the brain-washed, brain-dead sleepwalkers riled up by telling it like it is. It was the kind of shaking into reality that people need about what’s really going on nowadays.

Here are is a sequence from the movie wherein Howard Beale, a network anchorman played by Peter Finch (in an Oscar-winning performance), has mysteriously disappeared before he’s scheduled to go on the air with the evening news. He shows up just in time, stepping in from the pouring rain, wearing only his pajamas under a raincoat………………………………..

Still of Peter Finch in Network (1976)Still of Peter Finch in Network (1976)Still of Faye Dunaway in Network (1976)Still of Faye Dunaway and Peter Finch in Network (1976)

“—and, suddenly, the obsessed face of Howard Beale, gaunt, haggard, red-eyed with unworldly fervor, hair streaked and plastered on his brow, manifestly mad, fills the monitor screen.

HOWARD (on monitor):

I don’t have to tell you things are bad…shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter, punks are running wild in the streets, and there’s nobody anywhere that seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breath and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit and watch our tee-vees while some local newscaster tells us today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We all know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything’s going crazy. So we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we live in gets smaller, and all we ask is, please, at least leave us alone in our own living room. Let me have my toaster and my tee-vee and my hair dryer and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything, just leave us alone. Well, I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to write to your Congressman. Because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and inflation and the defense budget and the Russians and crime in the street. All I know is first you got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more. I’m a human being goddamn it. My life has value.’ So I want you to get up now. I want you to get out of your chairs and go to the window. Right now, I want you to go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell: ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!’

[This is going out live to 67 stations across the country.]

HOWARD: (on monitor)

Get up from your chairs. Go to the window. Open it. Stick your head out and yell and keep yelling—First, you have to get mad.

(They’re yelling in Baton Rouge.)

HOWARD: (on monitor)

Things have got to change. But you can’t change unless you’re mad. You have to get mad. Go to the window, stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell: ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Right now.

(A distant thunderclap crashes somewhere off and lightning shatters the dank darkness. In the sudden hush following the thunder, a thin voice can be heard shouting.)

THIN VOICES: (off screen)

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!

HOWARD: (on TV set)

…Open your window…

(An occasional window opens and from his apartment house, a MAN opens the front door of a brownstone—)

MAN: (shouting)

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!

(OTHER SHOUTS are heard.)


I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”


Now, substitute Howard Beale’s name for mine and exchange whatever he’s mad about for the issue we should all be talking (SHOUTING) about: the selfless message of animal rights and the conspiracy of silence that keeps 70 billion cows and other animals captive, as slaves, constantly bred and butchered as products of an industry that won’t even fess up to their enormous carbon footprint. To paraphrase Howard Lyman, it’s time to change—or else.

But first, you may have to get mad. If you’re not already mad—as hell—watch Cowspiracy.


Cows Killed in Washington Fires

SUNDAY, AUG. 30, 2015

Ranchers face loss of livestock, livelihoods in Washington fires

Doug Grumbach, a fourth-generation Ferry County rancher, stands Wednesday in the charred Colville National Forest near the Canadian border, where the Stickpin fire killed 12 head of his cattle. This cow became wedged between two trees trying to flee the flames. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Doug Grumbach, a fourth-generation Ferry County rancher, stands Wednesday in the charred Colville National Forest near the Canadian border, where the Stickpin fire killed 12 head of his cattle. This cow became wedged between two trees trying to flee the flames. (Tyler Tjomsland)

DANVILLE, Wash. – The burned carcasses blend into the scorched landscape, just more black and ash among the haunting outline of trees. “There she is,” rancher Doug Grumbach says, pointing up the steep slope near his ranch. “It looks like she was trying to run and froze in that mode.”

The cow is now obvious: A perfectly shaped head, a body covered in skin that’s become cured leather – taut and solid like a drumhead. She’s upright, wedged between two burned trees, ribs exposed, a flurry of maggots working furiously. Her calf lies in a heap nearby.

Grumbach is silent. He rubs his jaw and points to another carcass farther up the hill on the grazing land in the Colville National Forest, just south of the Canadian border. The land recently burned in the Stickpin fire.

Grumbach, like cattle ranchers across fire-ravaged north-central Washington, isn’t sure of his total losses. The devastation includes not only body counts but hundreds of miles of fence, grazing land and water sources on his family’s fourth-generation ranch. So far, he knows of eight dead cows and four calves, a loss of about $35,000. Thirty more of his Angus herd is missing. In his corrals at home are a cow and several calves with burned hooves.

Livestock toll still ‘a wild guess’

For some ranchers, this is the second year of hardship – first stemming from drought and now another round of deadly fire.

Chris Bieker, of the federal Farm Service Agency in Spokane, doesn’t know how many cattle died in the fires. There are places livestock owners haven’t been able to get into because of fire and road closures.

“At this point, anything is just a wild guess,” he said.

That’s especially true about the numerous ranches located in the Okanogan Complex of fires in north-central Washington. Together, the Okanogan Complex has burned about 475 square miles and is considered the largest wildfire in state history.

Cattle production is Washington’s fifth-largest commodity with about 1.1 million cows and calves valued at $706 million in 2013, according to the Washington state Department of Agriculture. Behind wheat, hay is the state’s second-most-productive field crop.

Bieker said the Farm Service Agency still is trying to process payments for lost livestock from last year’s brutal Carlton Complex fires in the Methow Valley, which was until this year the largest wildfire recorded in Washington. More than 1,000 cattle burned along with 500 miles of fencing. Some fear this year’s losses are worse.

Bieker added that it’s important for ranchers to report their losses within 30 days, under the federal Livestock Indemnity Program – an often difficult task when they still are digging fire lines and trying to rescue cows. That program, part of the 2014 Farm Bill, allows cattle owners and others to recoup 75 percent of the market value of livestock that died because of “adverse weather.”

Desperate Cow Does The Unthinkable To Escape Slaughter

This steer was ready to die for his freedom. They still wouldn’t give it to him.

The heartbreaking episode happened earlier this week when the frightened animal escaped from his handlers at an Australian dock. He was about to be loaded onto an export ship bound for Vietnam, where he would be slaughtered.

He had already endured a grueling journey, packed onto an overcrowded truck and driven from his home to the busy port, and was stressed and scared by all the new sights and sounds. When officials arrived to recapture him he was “freaking out,” they told Australia’s ABC news.

Facebook/Litchfield Council

They shot the steer with two sedation darts. But the petrified animal refused to let himself be recaptured. “He took one look at us and was like: ‘Oh no,'” Will Green, a ranger who responded to the incident, told ABC.

Instead, the brave steer turned right around — and hurled himself off the 25-foot tall dock into the crocodile-infested water below. Even as the sedatory drugs began to course through his system, he was determined to do whatever he could to escape.

This sad story raises even more questions about Australia’s live export industry, which has attracted growing concern from animal lovers worldwide. Each year the country exports millions of live animals for slaughter — to countries that have little or no animal protection laws.

Facebook/Litchfield Council

More than 2.5 million animals have died over the past 30 years from the terrible conditions during the journey abroad, and those that make the trip face a fate even worse than those of factory farmed animals.

One recent investigation by Animals Australia showed that animals sent to Vietnam, where this unlucky steer was destined for, were being sledgehammered to death; another 2015 investigation revealed that cows sent to Israel were having their throats slit and being strung up while fully conscious.

Unfortunately, this steer didn’t have a better fate. With the help of a local fisherman, officials lassoed the frightened animal. When faced with the option of bringing him back to port or hoisting him onto the export ship, they chose the latter.

So they wrapped the scared steer in a fishing net and dumped his tired body onto the ship that would bring him to his death.

Facebook/Litchfield Council

If you’d like to stop Australia’s live export of animals, you can click here to join the nearly 500,000 people who have signed a petition calling for it to end. You can also donate to Animal Australia’s campaign here.

Gored bullfighter who lost testicle glad ‘nothing vital’ was damaged

Marco Galán, a bullfighter who lost a testicle after being gored, says he is relieved “no serious damage was done”

Spanish assistant bullfighter Marco Galan is tackled by a bull in Madrid

Spanish assistant bullfighter Marco Galan is tackled by a bull in Madrid Photo: REUTERS/Javier Barbancho

Marco Galán, a bullfighter who lost a testicle after being gored at Madrid’s Las Ventas bullring, said on Tuesday he was relieved that “no serious damage had been done”.

Mr Galán, a banderillero, was caught by a bull on Sunday as he was driving two decorated iron-tipped batons (banderillas) into the beast’s shoulders.

“I didn’t want to pull out of the move and the bull caught me; that’s bullfighting,” Mr Galán said from hospital. “But I am happy because things looked bleak there for a while.

“It turns out that the goring is quite a clean one and didn’t touch anything vital.”

Mr Galan during the fight (REUTERS/Javier Barbancho)

He was hoping to leave hospital on Tuesday and return home with his wife to recuperate before returning to the bullring. The couple do not have any children.

Animal rights groups have criticised the battered bullfighter for taking part in the blood sport.

“Banderillero Marco Galán’s injuring a testicle in the bullring will undoubtedly have been a painful tragedy for him personally, but the cruel and bloody spectacle of bullfighting is a national tragedy for the reputation of Spain,” said Wendy Higgins, the European spokesperson of Humane Society International, an animal rights association.

Mr Galán said the Spanish breed of fighting bulls are born for combat in the ring and lead a “pampered existence” in the countryside before their day of destiny arrives.

“But I don’t care what they say. Just let people do what they want and enjoy the art of bullfighting and stop criticising something they don’t know,” he said.



45 cows killed by single lightning strike near Darby


DARBY – A single lightning bolt killed 45 cattle on a Darby-area ranch last week.

The cows, calves and a prize bull were crowded together under some small crabapple trees when the lightning struck, said rancher Jean Taylor.

The incident happened Monday, July 14.

“It was exactly at 10:28 p.m.,” Taylor said. “The clap of thunder woke me up. Some friends told me they felt the shock in their house.”

The Taylors live south of Tin Cup Road.

The family had spent years building their herd of Black Angus cattle.

“They were beautiful cattle,” she said. “It killed cows and their calves and a bull that we had just bought last spring. It’s very sad.”

Local ranchers helped the family dispose of the dead animals.

No one had ever heard of so many cattle being killed by lightning l”