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message 1: by Clare (last edited Aug 12, 2018 03:31AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Sometimes we don't really appreciate domestic livestock.
Goats for instance, have evolved to cope with eating some quite noxious weeds.

Please post more fascinating facts here!

message 2: by Clare (last edited Aug 12, 2018 03:31AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
And who knew we can make butter from so many different animal milks?
Butter: A Rich History
Butter A Rich History by Elaine Khosrova

message 3: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Animal husbandry goes back well into prehistory. Here is a science look at some ancient cheese found in an Ancient Egyptian tomb. Surprising mix of milks were identified.

message 4: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Here is Ireland we buried butter in bogs to preserve it. The cool water kept it from running and separating, bacteria could not thrive, plus if your home was raided - it was the Iron Age - enemies would not find your stores. But some stores got overlooked and we still find them today. I've seen a large lump of butter in a museum.
One theory is that some butter barrels were left as a tribute to nature gods.

message 5: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Here's a nice book on Scottish island people rearing cattle for market; the market was a few days' walk away so drovers came around and collected the cattle. A bygone era.

Walking With Cattle: In Search of the Last Drovers of Uist
Walking With Cattle In Search of the Last Drovers of Uist by Terry Williams

message 6: by Brian (last edited Aug 18, 2018 07:22AM) (new)

Brian Burt | 465 comments Mod
I've always been amazed by Joel Salatin's rotational grazing at PolyFace Farm. The cattle graze (but don't denude the pasture), their manure offers a feast for chickens which break it down into more effective fertilizer, the grass regrows and the land thrives. Magical circle of life with free-range critters... and as a bonus, healthy grass-fed beef and eggs. Domesticated animals and farmers living in harmony with the environment. Very cool!

Rotational grazing for maximum fertility and soil health

Joel Salatin

message 7: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Sounds good, except that grazers break down stream banks so streams should be fenced. That aside we are seeing more projects about grazers, as in Siberia.

message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2251 comments Without fences animals seek their own equilibrium with the world. Put in fences and property lines which having nothing to do with reality and everything goes out the window.

message 9: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
You can always leave a ford for them. Just protect the majority of the banks and trees, which hold the banks intact.

message 10: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Radiant: Farm Animals Up Close and Personal
Radiant Farm Animals Up Close and Personal by Traer Scott
Portraits of farm animals in a sanctuary.

message 11: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Hens rescued from a battery egg farm were flown to sanctuaries. I have previously read a hen owner's account of rescuing hens and letting them re-live as backyard chickens.

When fur farms were still legal in Northern Ireland - but not in Ireland - there was a fur farm next to a battery egg farm. The old hens were ground up and fed to the minks. When the minks were killed only the fur was useful so the body was ground up and fed to the chickens. That is where the battery eggs came from.

message 12: by Clare (last edited Oct 25, 2018 03:37AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
A nice book about a goat sanctuary.

Peace, Love, Goats of Anarchy: How My Little Goats Taught Me Huge Lessons about Life
Peace, Love, Goats of Anarchy How My Little Goats Taught Me Huge Lessons about Life by Leanne Lauricella

The author says she became a vegan on the instant of reading about factory farming on her phone.

message 13: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
If anyone is not sure whether a book would suit them / an intended gift recipient, I recommend going to Amazon, and on the book's page, clicking on the cover. This will provide you with a look at ten percent of the book. In some cases this is the first ten percent and in others the author has curated the offering.

message 14: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Some nice photos of a springer spaniel carrying a bottle to feed lambs. This is on a rare breeds farm in Devon, England.

message 15: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
I found some really nicely written posts about dairy goats on this blog. The account hasn't been updated in some time. I hope all went well. Maybe a few more hits would encourage the lady to come back and tell us more.

message 16: by RbbieFrah (new)

RbbieFrah | 19 comments oH !!! what nice blog !!

message 17: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Isn't it!

message 18: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Another book on livestock; this lady writes about philosophy and how we think about - and treat - the animals we use. Some nice photos but mainly it's for university level readers.

Livestock: Food, Fiber, and Friends
Livestock Food, Fiber, and Friends by Erin McKenna

message 19: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Just occurred to me while reading that one, that nobody these days seems to know that in ecology terms, cattle are browsers, not grazers. They have more in common with deer than they do with sheep.

message 20: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Would we be happy with the increased automation of farms? Even for livestock feeding? Watch this robot feeder.

And this is a trailer which feeds 30 or so calves milk replacer at once, in the field. Cleaned in three minutes.

A general look at how tech and increased automation will change farming - including family farms which may be more viable and attractive, but would require sunk costs.

message 21: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
An unusual sheep; a unicorn sheep.

message 22: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Brazil now sees cattle as big money; as macho culture; as easy and scientific wealth. The Brazilians are major exporters of beef and are on track to double their output.
The cattle don't look quite like the ones I'm used to, because they were crossed with the humped Indian Zebu cattle.

This is an article and photoessay from a year ago. Well worth a look.

message 23: by Clare (last edited Jun 08, 2019 03:12AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
When cattle are required, to pay for brides... and some people are suddenly enriched by foreign money, so they can pay for more cattle… and throw plentiful military guns into the equation, brought home from war...

This is South Sudan.

message 24: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 465 comments Mod
My oldest son shared this with me. I find it a thought-provoking analysis of the "suffering index" associated with different kinds of domestic animal protein sources in the human diet. Food for thought (pun intended ;-):

How Much Direct Suffering Is Caused by Various Animal Foods?

message 25: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Get to know sheep better and they may well surprise you, according to this nice article.

Not mentioned, the black sheep was not popular with shepherds as its fleece could not be dyed. Also, the black or brown sheep got hotter on a sunny day than white sheep, so it would move to shade, maybe becoming hard to spot and keep an eye on, or maybe looking as though it was unpopular or a loner.
That's where we get the term 'black sheep of the family'.

message 26: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
A page devoted to Highland Cattle - that's the shaggy, broad-horned beasties - from Visit Cairngorms.

message 27: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
My author blog on Goodreads this month covers the Royal Dublin Society Farm and Forestry Awards.
The message is for sustainable and better quality farming, with sustainable and more biodiverse forestry.

message 28: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Gene editing can produce the hornless or polled bull.

message 29: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
A sheep dyke warden is now a paid position on a Scots island. The stone wall keeps sheep on the shoreline to eat seaweed.

message 30: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Quintuplet lambs born on an Irish farm. The ewe has had 11 lambs in three years.

message 31: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
I don't know what mental image you have of dairy cows getting milked. This image wasn't the one I had.

message 32: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Goodnight Moo
Goodnight Moo (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery #2) by Mollie Cox Bryan

I've just read this book about a micro-dairy and organic artisan cheese. Lovely!
Christmas Cow Bells
Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery #1) by Mollie Cox Bryan
This was first in the series and the author has also written other non-farming mysteries.

message 33: by Clare (last edited Jun 08, 2020 05:27AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
A Streak of Bad Cluck (Bought-the-Farm Mystery #3) by Ellen Riggs
A Streak of Bad Cluck

This will be the next in a series which already includes

A Dog with Two Tales (A Bought-the-Farm Mystery #0.5) by Ellen Riggs
Dark Side of the Moo (Bought-the-Farm Mystery #2) by Ellen Riggs
Dogcatcher in the Rye (Bought-the-Farm Mystery #1) by Ellen Riggs

message 34: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
The RDS Farm and Forestry Awards have been postponed this year due to pandemic lockdown. However, the RDS is kindly keeping me informed about Irish organic farmers, and I am placing the info on the Organic Farming threads.

message 35: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Livestock includes fowl. I just want to put items in this thread so we can appreciate the creatures, so let's keep discussions of stocking conditions etc. separate.

Guinea fowl have long been domesticated and in this case they are being used to help understand dinosaurs.

"The work involved filming several guineafowl with high-speed cameras as they walked across a variety of surfaces, from hard to granular to firm and semi-liquid so that the action could be seen in slow motion. The researchers also X-rayed the tracks left behind by the birds."

message 36: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Other than the medium used for tracks, this research looks identical to the 2014 version in which the bird walked through poppy seeds. The same comparison with dino gait is made.

message 37: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Livestock are being monitored to see if they really do predict earthquakes. Famously, elephants react ahead of earthquakes or tsunamis, but livestock are easier for scientists to observe.

"To do so, they attached sensors to the animals in an earthquake-prone area in Northern Italy and recorded their movements over several months. The movement data show that the animals were unusually restless in the hours before the earthquakes. The closer the animals were to the epicenter of the impending quake, the earlier they started behaving unusually. The movement profiles of different animal species in different regions could therefore provide clues with respect to the place and time of an impending earthquake.

Experts disagree about whether earthquakes can be exactly predicted. Nevertheless, animals seem to sense the impending danger hours in advance. "

message 38: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Goats on A Slope is a lawnmowing firm which supplies goats for steep slopes. Getting a fantastic response as people flock to see the flock.

"I’m not alone in my joy, either. Standing by the goats’ enclosure yesterday, I was around dozens of other smiling people of all kinds. We all looked on at the fuzzy animals in awe, tickled by their simplest actions.

“This is easily the best part of my week,” I said to my partner, basking in the goats’ glow.

Cailin McGough, president of the board of Friends of Wyman Park Dell who spearheaded the park’s goat grazing program, said the response to the goats has been overwhelming. The group paid for the goat foresters through a GoFundMe campaign and were easily able to meet and surpass their goal. She said people have flocked to check out the goats since their release and local news has also been quick to pick up the story of the ruminant clean up crew."

message 39: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Cattle are raised on open land in America and often then brought to pens called feedlots where they are fed until they reach the desired weight.
This article looks at the situation and how the cattle, methane and feed are a problem for climate change - one that is being worked on at present.

message 40: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
A computer tracking system can recognise cattle by coat patterns and facial recognition, helping the farmer understand how the animals move around the premises.

This was created in Ireland, I am posting a version from The Register UK here as the Irish Times is subscription based now.

message 41: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Chickenology: The Ultimate Encyclopedia
Chickenology The Ultimate Encyclopedia by Barbara Sandri
Another chicken keeping handbook and poultry breed guide.

message 42: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
This charming tale of cows at Christmas and carols. leads in to explain the environmental and sustainable steps taken by the farmer who supplies cream to Baileys.


"The calming technique is one of several eco-friendly practices that Mr Hayden, a married 60-year-old father of two, employs at his 360-acre farm in the Wicklow Mountains close to the village of Tinahely.

"We play music to the cows and that has been scientifically proven to help the cows to relax," said Mr Hayden, who explains that the tunes release a hormone that lowers stress levels leading to better milk.

"Remember, they are a very, very sensitive creature, they are a beautiful creature.

"I've been working with the dairy herd here for over 40 years and the love relationship is as strong as ever. Like any ladies in our lives - what you give, you get back twice."
"Baileys, a Dublin-based company that has production facilities on both sides of the border, is seeking to encourage more sustainable farming practices as part of a ten-year project to reduce greenhouse emission in its supply chain by 50%.
"These include increasing the days his herd graze on grass to 300 a year; a greater reliance on slurry as a fertiliser; using the natural warmth of fresh cows' milk to heat water used to clean the milking machines; and bringing up cold water from a well to cool the milk.

He says the results are not only good for the environment but also for his bottom line.

Mr Hayden, who in pre-pandemic times welcomed thousands each year to a visitor centre on the farm, says greater reliance on natural methods has increased profits while the improved health of the herd is evidenced by a two-thirds reduction in vet visits."

message 43: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Another of those Australian sheep which led a feral life and never got sheared.

While sheep like this grow massive fleeces, this is because the Merino breed was introduced. A more primitive breed like the Soay sheep has a much thinner fleece which would be pulled off or broken by briars in its native Scotland.

message 44: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
The ancestor of domestic cattle was the aurochs, an Ice Age beast. Here are a couple of articles about their genetic contribution and pictures of what they were like. Also a shepherdess, from Spain.

"Research involving scientists from the University of A Coruña has succeeded in sequencing the oldest mitochondrial genome of the immediate ancestor of modern cows that has been analyzed to date. The remains, some 9,000 years old, were found next to a woman. Why were they with her if cattle had not yet been domesticated? Do they belong to ancestors of today's Iberian cows?

Humans have maintained a very close relationship with aurochs (Bos primigenius) since their beginnings, first by hunting them and then by breeding and selecting them. This extinct species of mammal is little known in the Peninsula because its skeletal remains are difficult to distinguish from bison. In fact, there have been references to the presence of "large bovids" in many sites because they cannot be differentiated. At a European level, there is also a lack of genetic data.

An international team of scientists has managed to extract mitochondrial DNA from ruminants from different periods in Galicia. They have analyzed the remains of B. primigenius from the Chan do Lindeiro cave (Lugo). These remains were found in a chasm together with the human fossils of the shepherdess of O Courel, "Elba", dated at around 9,000 years old. The aurochs analyzed are not the oldest ones discovered, but they are the oldest ones whose mitochondrial DNA has been sequenced so far. Interestingly, although they were found together, they are genetically very different."

When reading that article it may help to know that during the Ice Age, there was a landbridge between the British Isles and the Continent.
However, a 'fossil' is strictly a mineralised version of a bone with no biological material left, and it looks to me as though the scientists are using actual bone, not fossil.

More information: Marie Gurke et al, Insight into the introduction of domestic cattle and the process of Neolithization to the Spanish region Galicia by genetic evidence, PLOS ONE (2021). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249537
Journal information: PLoS ONE
Provided by Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT)

From 2015:
"The ancestry of domesticated cattle proves more complex than previously thought, reports a paper published today in the open access journal Genome Biology. The first nuclear genome sequence from an ancient wild ox reveals that some modern domestic cow breeds, including the Scottish Highland and Irish Kerry, had wild ancestors that were British, as well as Asian."

More information: Stephen D E Park et al. Genome sequencing of the extinct Eurasian wild aurochs, Bos primigenius, illuminates the phylogeography and evolution of cattle, Genome Biology (2015). DOI: 10.1186/s13059-015-0790-2
Journal information: Genome Biology
Provided by BioMed Central

"An international team involving Hervé Bocherens of the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen has studied the effects of environmental changes in the Holocene on the megaherbivores, i.e., European bison, moose, and aurochs. The researchers concluded that the aurochs was unable to adapt to the altered conditions—the increasing spread of forests and humans—and therefore went extinct. The study was recently published in the scientific journal Global Change Biology.
"The researchers determined the carbon-nitrogen isotope ratio in the bone collagen of 295 fossils from 14 European countries. The results show that all three species of herbivores were forced to alter their feeding habits. According to the study, the European bison was most flexible in this regard, followed by the moose. However, the aurochs with its specialized diet had a hard time coping with the changes.

Bocherens and his colleagues presume that the animals were unable to find sufficient food in the forests, and yet could not leave the woods due to the increasing hunting pressure brought about by the spread of humans. "Ultimately, this led to the extinction of the aurochs in the early 17th century," concludes the scientist from Tübingen."

message 45: by Clare (last edited Jun 19, 2021 01:55AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Ireland had a native breed of sheep which was thought to have gone extinct. But a flock has been found and identified. Work will now proceed as to restore our biodiversity. This shows that it just takes one or two people to halt an irreversible loss.

"It is thought they were kept mainly for their long wool, as opposed to their meat, before the Famine.

But in the 1850s, British breeds were introduced to the mountains, where they thrived, pushing native Cladoir sheep towards south Conamara. They survived around the coast in small numbers.

An agricultural researcher studied them at a research station in Maam in the 1980s, but the small flock was dispersed after he retired. There was no sign or record of them for several years, until a number of sheep were gathered in south Conamara by another farmer, who had made inquiries about the Cladoir breed.

These were bought by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in 2019 and 2020. Now DNA samples have confirmed 56 of these sheep are a distinct breed - the Cladoir.

Efforts are under way to regenerate the flocks by assembling breeding groups.

The NPWS will now try and regenerate flocks by assembling breeding groups. They are seeking the assistance of other farmers in the coming years.

And in a nod to the breed’s past, fleeces shorn from the sheep will be used to make wool, for local craft spinners and weavers."

Cladoir is an Irish word, so it would be pronounced nearer to Cladoor than the French sounding Cladwire.

message 46: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Feral hogs - as opposed to the wild boar - have given pigs a bad name. They were deliberately released onto Caribbean islands in the days of sail, in order that they would multiply and provide meals for crews in the future. Pig meat grilled on metal grids or boucain gave the name to buccaneers.

Today, the hogs are ubiquitous and causing endless damage to plants and ground-nesting birds, and other wildlife. In general, they are large and troublesome, breed rapidly, and don't have natural predators.

Now science even says the hogs are contributing to climate change.

A previous article on this topic in Florida.

A comment under that article (slightly edited for family friendliness by me) on whether the hogs are edible. As with pork meat in supermarkets, kill parasites by thorough cooking.

"They are very edible. They have a gamier flavor than typical corn-fed domesticated pigs. However, you better cook them all the way through, as trichinosis is no joke. In Texas, you’re required to get the brain inspected before consumption."

message 47: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Lovely story.

"Historic graves have been uncovered at a cemetery in Co Cork after sheep were "hired" to make over the cemetery by eating the overgrowth around headstones.

Last summer Fianna Fáil Councillor Audrey Buckley brought goats in to St Matthew's graveyard in Crosshaven after seeing the potential for "goatscaping" when she was on a trip to Wales.

The usage of goats and sheep is perfect for old graveyards which have delicate headstones. Sheep which are being used this summer recently brought to light the grave of a two-year-old girl who died on 7 October 1872."

A grave is seen with seashells pressed all around the cement cover.

message 48: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
I am currently enjoying A Short History of the World According to Sheep
A Short History of the World According to Sheep by Sally Coulthard

with many fascinating facts.

message 49: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
Cows are being kept in a floating dairy farm in Rotterdam harbour. You just have to read this and look at the photos.

"Among the cranes and containers of the port of Rotterdam is a surreal sight: a herd of cows peacefully feeding on board what calls itself the world's first floating farm.

In the low-lying Netherlands where land is scarce and climate change is a daily threat, the three-storey glass and steel platform aims to show the "future of breeding".

The buoyant bovines live on the top floor, while their milk is turned into cheese, yoghurt and butter on the middle level, and the cheese is matured at the bottom.

"The world is under pressure," says Minke van Wingerden, 60, who runs the farm with her husband Peter.

"We want the farm to be as durable and self-sufficient as possible."

"The Netherlands is one of Europe's largest per capita emitters of climate change gases and faces a major problem with agricultural emissions, particularly in the dairy sector which produces large amounts of methane from cows.

Those emissions in turn fuel the rising waters that threaten to swamp the country, a third of which lies below sea-level, and further reduce the land in one of the most densely populated nations on Earth.

The floating farm therefore aims to keep its cows' feet dry in both the long-term, by being sustainable, and the short-term, by, well, floating.

"We are on the water, so the farm moves with the tide - we rise and fall up to two metres. So in case of flooding, we can continue to produce," says Minke.

In terms of sustainability, the farm's cows are fed on a mixture of food including grapes from a foodbank, grain from a local brewery, and grass from local golf courses and from Rotterdam's famed Feyenoord football club - saving on waste as well as the emissions that would be required to create commercial feed for the animals.

Their manure is turned into garden pellets - a process that helps further cut emissions by reducing methane - and their urine is purified and recycled into drinking water for the cows, whose stable is lined with dozens of solar panels that produce enough electricity for the farm's needs."

message 50: by Clare (last edited Sep 08, 2021 01:09AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6822 comments Mod
There is a firm in America which hires out goats as landscape contractors, to graze sloping land. They are called Goats on A Slope. Now in Ireland, the Old Irish Goat is being brought in by Fingal Council (with a goat herder) to graze the overgrowth in Howth in Dublin Bay, which was increasing the incidence of wildfires. Grazing also opens up opportunities for other plants and animals, increasing biodiversity. These goats will be wearing GPS tracking.

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