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Montana Range Riding Aids Ranchers, Mitigates Conflicts

As silvery moonlight washed across the Montana meadow, it sent long shadows over the grass. Tonight, I didn’t need the gentle clang of the grazing bell to tell me where the horses were feeding. My leggy quarter horse was as brightly silver-white as the full moon. The distant lowing of cows across the meadow confirmed that all was well. Somewhere in the distance, a wolf pack was probably making evening rounds, but tonight they likely wouldn’t visit this meadow. I swung up into my horse trailer’s tack room and wriggled into my sleeping bag as my dogs made way for my arrival. The next morning I’d rise at daybreak and head toward the sound of the cattle.

Beefing up Cattle Research to Meet Climate Demands of Today and Tomorrow

In recent decades, cattle production and ranch profitability have been declining in the desert southwest. Especially during drought conditions, thirsty beef cattle have had to remain close to sources of water (it takes 1,590 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef), greatly reducing the area over which they can graze and causing overgrazing in parts of fragile rangelands. This loss of productive range capable of supporting cattle is one reason why the cattle industry in New Mexico is suffering.

Idaho’s Bovine Bonus

According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture conducted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Idaho had an inventory of more than 2.4 million head of cattle and calves in December 2017, ranking 12th among all states. In comparison, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Idaho’s population to be around 1.7 million in 2017, which means there were over 700,000 more cattle than people in Idaho that year.

Racing for alternatives in the age of antibiotic resistance

This week is World Antibiotic Awareness week and ‘Get Smart About Antibiotics’ week. Learn more about how USDA works to ensure antibiotics remain effective to treat both people and animals when necessary and the alternatives available to traditional antibiotics.”

For billions of years, microbes such as bacteria and viruses have been in a struggle for survival in the face of naturally occurring antimicrobial substances. This struggle has continued in nature and into human society, where humans, plants, animals, and microbes themselves constantly ward off disease-causing microbes. The plight for adaptation and survival is not unlike the Red Queen’s race in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, where it takes all of the running one can do to remain in the same place. 

California's Clean Energy Pioneers Come in Black and White

California has a pioneering spirit. Rural folks there have been on the frontier for generations. That frontier may have been gold mines and cattle grasslands in the past, but today that frontier is the very air, soil and water of California itself. Climate change is transforming California like it’s transforming our globe. But Californians are leading the pioneer charge to transform, with pragmatism, ingenuity and a commitment to rural communities.

Just recently, I visited a small dairy farm in Elk Grove, California, the site of an anaerobic digester. Case Van Steyn’s operation of around 700 cows produces manure, and the Maas Energy digester, secluded in an unobtrusive red shipping container, uses the manure to produce methane. That methane creates enough electricity to power 125 homes—and enough to sell electricity back to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, or SMUD.

FAS Opens Up New Market Opportunities for U.S. Dairy Cattle in Pakistan

U.S. dairy cows are back in Pakistan for the first time in 17 years. More than 300 heifers arrived in Punjab Province on March 2, thanks to the efforts of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). It’s hoped the shipment will be the first of many from the United States and will provide a better breed of cow for the rapidly growing Pakistani dairy industry.

Most of the dairy cows have been purchased by commercial dairy farms, but 73 Holsteins in the shipment will be delivered to a new model dairy farm that FAS has established to support the rapidly growing Pakistani dairy industry and create new opportunities for U.S. exporters.

Missouri Dairyman Benefits From Happy, Healthy Cows

Polk County dairy farmer Nelson Hostetler can think of a ton of reasons to like his new dairy shed and animal waste system. The most obvious reasons are documented in Hostetler’s daily production log. It shows that the 100 cows that formerly resided in a couple of pastures are producing about 2,000 more pounds of milk each day since they were brought in the shed less than a year ago.

“NRCS’ interest is in protecting the quality and healthfulness of the natural resources that everyone needs,” said State Conservationist J.R. Flores. “Situations like Mr. Hostetler’s in which actions taken to protect the environment also improve his operation are great, because everyone benefits.”

Rangeland Restoration Benefits Cattle and Prairie Chicken

Cattle and lesser prairie-chickens both need healthy rangeland to thrive. Through voluntary conservation efforts, farmers and ranchers in the southern Great Plains can restore habitat for this iconic bird while strengthening working lands.

The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI), a partnership led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), works to enhance lesser prairie-chicken habitat one ranch at a time. A number of the initiative’s successes are highlighted in a new report called the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative: Conservation across the Range.