The Central Washington State Fair (see Fair photos here) has been showcasing Valley agriculture since 1892 with grange displays and livestock, including prize dairy cows. Valley dairy producers and the 35-member Yakima Valley Dairy Women’s organization provide dairy education displays and an ice cream parlor in the fair’s 108-year old Agriculture Building.
The Golob family has been dairy farming near Granger for more than 70 years. Long time Central Washington State Fair Association supporter Robert ‘Bob’ Golob and family were honored at the dedication of the ag-building dairy parlor that will get a “facelift’ this year in advance of the fair’s 125th anniversary in 2017.
When LaVonne Boogerd isn’t working on the Spring Creek Dairy in Prosser with husband Jim, she’s working with the Yakima Dairy Women’s group, from helping organize the state Dairy Ambassador program to getting ready for the Central Washington State Fair, where she sets up a dairy education and ice cream parlor that serves up soft serve ice cream treats including their signature, ‘Holstein Sundae’ – a waffle-cone bowl filled with soft serve ice cream, and topped with chocolate syrup and crushed Oreo crumbs. LaVonne ‘camps out’ at the fairgrounds during the ten day event.
“It takes about 80 volunteers to staff the booth during the fair, including all of our members plus about 50 community volunteers, from bankers to seed suppliers,” she says, “They all pitch in to answer questions about dairy farming and healthy dairy products, or serving up our wonderful Darigold ice cream soft serve waffle cones, milk shakes and our signature Holstein Sundaes. All the proceeds go to support our Dairy Ambassador scholarships and ongoing programs.”
Yakima Valley dairy producers work closely with livestock nutritionists and veterinarians to develop feed combinations that the cow’s body will use to supply energy, with as little as possible left over to be released in the form of manure or emissions. Farmers can reduce cow manure emissions by not putting feed into the cow that the cow doesn’t need or use. Basic nutrition and efficient manure management come from understanding the cow’s physiology and how they use feed nutrients.
Dairy producers look to cow nutritionists, who apply the Cornell (University) software model for feed formulas aimed at different categories of cows. The Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System (CNCPS) predicts feed requirements based on the cow’s digestion and metabolism, feed utilization, milk production and manure output.
Dairy cow nutritionists apply modeling software to create feed formulations that increase milk production while minimizing nutrients lost in urine and manure. Valley nutritionist Ryan Etter says the “Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System software helps predict optimum nutrients needed for dairy cows based on data such as their environment, location, stage of pregnancy and levels of production. The nutritionist develops formulas based on computerized feed modeling that increases productivity while reducing emissions.”
“We use the models to avoid over-feeding protein by targeting specific amino acids, while still meeting the health needs of the cows,” Etter says. “We look at the protein and carbohydrates available to the cow’s rumen, or how the cow breaks down and digests the feed consumed. From this, we calculate the proper amount of protein for every type of cow. An important part of this is feed quality and consistency. We want rations mixed and delivered the same way, every day.”
Local activists must be scratching their heads in response to more science that points to the respiratory benefits for children who grow up in rural environments – specifically on or near livestock farms.
While dairy opponents offer their “opinions” about “toxic” air coming from dairy farms as “facts,” I’ll just stay with what the scientists and researchers say and with what I know Valley dairy producers are doing to improve Valley air quality and comply with their individual Dairy Nutrient Management Plans.
The latest research comes from The New England Journal of Medicinewhere 21 scientists, researchers and medical doctors* confirmed how microbes — from farm animals carried in dust — helps prevent asthma in children. The study supports what researchers repeatedly find and now call the “hygiene hypotheses.” It is the idea that during the first few years of life, children exposed to “barnyard” microbes have fewer respiratory problems than children who grow up in “cleaner” environments.
Quoting Dr. Talal Chatila, an immunologist at Harvard Medical School, about the new study: “Of particular interest is the protective effect of traditional farming exposures — where children are reared in close proximity to farm animals and their sheds, increased exposure to the microbial products found in these environments are protection against asthma.”
Air quality in agricultural areas is complicated. The “Innate Immunity and Asthma Risk in Amish and Hutterite Farm Children” study included 30 Amish children on small dairy farms where the kids played in the barns and sheds. To compare immune cells in the blood, researchers compared 30 Hutterite children who live on larger farm operations where exposure to the animals is limited.
Quoting Dr. Carole Ober, chairwoman of the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago, “We never thought we would see a difference,” she said, “but to our astonishment we saw whopping differences with very, very different cell types and cell numbers. None of the Amish children had asthma.”
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