Doc’s Blog

It Costs Too Much

    People occasionally tell me that they like the  concept of the cafeteria style mineral program but it costs too much.  This automatically triggers my mental  rebuttal - “Compared to what?”   

   When I have the chance to actually engage them in a conversation about price their responses range from a forceful - “I, (or someone they know) tried, it but the animals  ate so much of a couple of items that it was more than I could afford”--- to a timorous - “Well, … well … well, it just does cost too much!”  Rarely have I encountered anyone who knew the approximate cost per head per day of any mineral program. 

   It is difficult to arrive at an average cost as there are   many variables that influence both need and consumption of minerals.  In my experience, when properly presented under normal conditions, the cafeteria style self-select mineral program  is no more expensive than conventional feeding practices - and probably a lot more economical in the long run.  Being fixated on cost alone overlooks the more pertinent question; “Is it cost effective?” - a much better gauge of value than price. 

   Animals will eat minerals and vitamins to meet their needs.  If they are eating what appears to be excessive amounts it is almost always the result of poor nutritional management, environmental variations, or both.  For example, high protein rations, feeding urea or other non-protein nitrogen, water or feed that is high in nitrates, all tie-up Vitamin A. Feeding old hay, usually deficient in Vitamin A, contributes to the problem.  The resulting Vitamin A deficiency also causes stress which increases the need for B Vitamins. The end result is that the animals will need and eat larger amounts of Vitamins A and B.     It can become expensive — but not as expensive as ignoring the problem.  Attention to the underlying nitrate problem will lower consumption

   The real issue is not what it costs to use it, but what it costs if you don’t use it.

The Stable

 I wrote this little essay in the early 1970’s. It was published in the local newspaper - The Chillicothe Missouri Constitution Tribune - around Christmas time of that year.

     In the summertime my stable hibernates. Its life-floe is at low ebb. Seemingly dead, it is kept barely alive by the flutter of swallows swift wings, the scurry of mice, and the occasional intrusion of a stray cat. Except for these interruptions, its sleep is sound. The horses won’t come in, for to them the summer stable means saddles, sweat and separation from their beloved shade tree next to the pond in the upper pasture. The cattle stay away because…well, cows are beyond comprehension…they are very independent when their bellies are full of good green grass and their udders are full of sweet, rich milk to nourish the fat little darlings at their side.

     Nature can change all this in only a few hours. Her tools are snow sleet, blizzard winds, and temperatures that drop as quickly as a skier on a steep, snowy slope. Science tells us that activities slow down as the temperature falls, but then they may never have visited a stable on the magic night of the first cold snap of winter.

     Tonight was such a night. My stable was suddenly alive and I knew it even before I opened the door. I hesitated as I groped for the light-switch and stood in the dark for a moment or two to savor the scents and sounds of a stable returning to life. I listened to the soft whicker of remembrance as the horses acknowledged my entrance - my nose sensed the acid-sweet aroma of cattle’s breath. Even the penetrating odor of fresh manure was a refreshing signal that life had returned. 

    I turned on the light! The suspicious calves kept darting in and out, as if unable to decide if their dam provided security enough to protect them from the unfamiliar glare of lights. The older cattle were arrogant in their unspoken demands for something to eat besides the bitter, frosted grass in the now snow-covered meadow. The soft, brown, blinking eyes of the horses were almost apologetic as they begged for sugar, or oats, or anything to show that they were forgiven for a summer of rebellion.

     It was good to have them back.  After a pat for some, a soothing word for others, and a handout of feed for all, I started back to the warmth of my living room fireplace. The northwest wind was bitter cold. Even the normally boisterous Collies were well behaved as they pranced at my side. I think they sensed, as I did: “What a perfect place a stable is for the Son of God to enter his Kingdom!”


Minerals Are Team Players

A fellow approached me with a question about one of ABC’s products. His nutritionist had recommended he add some B vitamins to his rations.  He was wondering if the BVC-Mix would be suitable. I think I shocked him  when I told him that there were probably other and better choices. I went on to explain the BVC-Mix was not designed to be a stand-alone ration additive.  It was formulated to be one part of a specialized group of minerals and vitamins to be separately self fed to livestock in a cafeteria setting. The BVC-Mix was specifically designed not only to provide a source of B vitamins but also to provide other ingredients that support the production of essential vitamins in the gastrointestinal tract of the target animals.  It is part of the team - a team with up to 15 other players.  The players on the team, work together, to supply balanced vitamins and minerals to the animals.   

   Consider Mulder’s Wheel. This mineral wheel shows interactions of of some 21  minerals - out of a total of 118 that have been identified.  Any change to one element affects at least 2 more and each of those affects two more etc. Deficiencies or excesses of some elements alter the availability of other elements. These are individualized with regard to what the animals eat on a daily basis and further modified by individual variations in daily requirements of each separate mineral.  I doubt even a modern computer could sort it out but an animal, with the help of a team of minerals and vitamins can make the adjustment to its daily requirements.  

                                         Go Team !

   What would happen if you pulled a couple of members from a baseball or basketball team?

  What would it sound like if you silenced every 12th instrument of a concert orchestra or every 12th singer in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?

   What would happen if you disconnected the wires from 2 or 3 of the spark plugs in the motor of a  @1930’s V16 Cadillac?

   What happens to animals when they do not have the 12 or 16 member mineral and vitamin team available to them?    

Why Organic?

   Kudo’s to the staff of Acres, USA for another great conference held at Omaha Nebraska from November 30 to December 2. It was gratifying to see and visit with old friends and acquaintances we have known and worked with for many years.  It was inspiring to feel the positive energy of the group. It is enlightening to visit with folks who have been involved in the organic movement as well as those just getting started.. 

   When meeting new folks at these meetings I like to find out what prompted them to join the organic crusade —- what was the turning point or the catalyst that influenced their decision.

   As you could imagine, the answers to my questioning are varied, fascinating, and covered a wide spectrum. Many of the younger set grew up on an organic farm.  Some folks made the switch because of bad experiences with toxic farm chemicals. A common thread is the concern about the quality and purity of our food supply.  Most are committed to the concept, originally promulgated by Dr. Wm Albrecht, that it takes healthy soil to have healthy crops, and healthy crops to have healthy animals and people. 

   Unfortunately, some admit to being in the organic market just for the extra money.  I believe that is the least desirable reason.  Without a strong dedication to basic natural principles it is easy to ‘fall out of the boat’ when financial tides get a little rough. 

   I can remember back in the early 1970’s when I first encountered what we now call “organic” production.  Some of these old-timers were ‘organic’ because they had never bought into the NPK fiasco and its related rescue chemicals. Some tried chemical farming for a while and then quit early on as they saw the deleterious effects on soil, crop, and animal health. The lower inputs and increased animal health experienced by these early natural farmers resulted in profitable enterprises even though they competed, without premiums, in the same market as conventional farmers.

 Magazines such as Acres, USA, Organic Gardening and Farming, and The Mother Earth News were a great help to those transitioning to a better way.

   Why are you organic?