Sunday 31st of May 2020


less methane...

HOW do you feel after imbibing a bit of red wine? Euphoric, excited, or perhaps simply cheery? Or are you one of those drinkers prone to suffering a nagging feeling of guilt, combined with an uncomfortable sensation inside your head?

Well now, thanks to new research by Victorian scientists, you could instead simply feel content that you are doing your bit for the environment, as well as for the nation's dairy herd.

New research has found a convenient and practical use for the leftover material from wine-making that will help two sometimes fiercely competing worlds; the environment and agriculture.

When fed the stems, seeds and skins that were left over from making red wine, material known as grape marc, the methane emissions from dairy cows dropped by 20 per cent.

The study, conducted at the Victorian Department of Primary Industries dairy research centre, also found that the cows' milk production increased by 5 per cent, while the healthy fatty acids in their milk also rose.

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farting like a car...

In terms of methane emissions, he said, beef cattle and sheep would respond the same way to grape marc as dairy cows. Each year, a dairy cow emits about the same amount of greenhouse gases as a family car.

While the study was conducted using grape marc left over from making red wine, Dr Moate said he expected that cows fed grape marc produced from making white wine would probably record a similar reduction in methane emissions.

The study was funded by the Victorian DPI, federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and Dairy Australia.

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tipplers and livestock...

Japan’s Kobe cows were the original tipplers, known to indulge in the occasional frothy beer to stimulate their appetites. Some southern Japanese farmers even used booze as a superficial primer, dabbing their cows’ hides with sake to improve the skin’s appearance and softness.

But now, the boozed-up bovines have a new challenger – from the French, thanks to a winemaker in the south of the country who wondered what a few glasses of wine each day would do for the quality of beef from local farmers. Languedoc-Roussillon winemaker Jean-Charles Tastavy decided to experiment after learning of studies in Spain and Canada that highlighted the merits of keeping animals happy to yield better meat, the AFP reports.

Tastavy partnered with farmer Claude Chaballier, who had a surplus of cows on which to test the wine theory.  Starting in 2011 after the fall grape harvest, three cows were fed the pomace, essentially the remainders of pressed grapes, washed down with water. Then they chose to feed the cows the real deal: locally produced wine from Saint-Geniès des Mourgues. “The cows appreciated the menu and ate with enjoyment,” Tastavy said.

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the butter(fly) effect...


US milk and butter prices have reached record levels in recent months. A confluence of global factors, from droughts in New Zealand to a growing demand for pizza in the Middle East, are costing US dairy devotees.

This year in the US, milk futures leapt 26% and butter prices 62%. The rising cost of milk can affect thousands of products, including yoghurt, ice cream and even cheeseburgers.

The cause of the price surge is far from straightforward, however. The world is currently engaged in a delicate dairy dance, with the whims of one nation causing significant changes for all the others.

It's the butterfly effect, but with butter.

Here are five international factors influencing US milk prices:

Global dairy deregulation

Until about a decade ago, dairy markets were largely insular, with US companies making products mostly for domestic consumption.

Back then, says Alan Levitt, spokesman for the US Dairy Export Council, US and European governments stored excess dairy products in good times and sold them in lean times, effectively shielding the market from a great deal of volatility.

As a result, there was usually an oversupply of milk products on the market, Levitt says.

But in recent years governments quit the dairy business - largely due to costs - and dairy regulation decreased, driving a new incentive and ability to trade with other nations.

As a result, the dairy market tends now toward undersupply.

This makes prices much more erratic. When there's a glut of dairy on the market, prices go down. When there's a shortage, prices go way up.

"Dairy is a global market now," Levitt says. "It's very fluid... everything triggers something else."

China's children

China has traditionally accounted for 15-20% of world dairy imports, says Levitt.

But from December 2013 to February 2014, Chinese demand grew to 20-25% of all global dairy imports, with much of the supply coming from the US and New Zealand

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life is not easy if you're a cow...


About 11,000 cattle have been left stranded after a West Australian based livestock export company, Carpenter International, went into voluntary administration.

The cattle are now in feed lots or agistment as an administrator tries to work out who they belong to.

The cattle, most of which are dairy heifers, were bound for China under contract before the trouble began.

Accountancy firm Grant Thornton has been appointed to try and clear the mess which involves cattle from Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales.

Grant Thornton's Matthew Donnelly said administrators were trying to match each cow with their former, or current, owners.

"Regulatory issues in China prohibited the customer from fulfilling its obligations under its contract , that is to pay before the cattle were on the boat," Mr Donnelly said.

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See toon and story at top...


a cow without papers...

Animal rights activists are urging Brussels officials not to slaughter a pregnant Bulgarian cow that may be put to death after visiting a pasture in neighboring Serbia and crossing back to the EU without the necessary paperwork.

The race is on to save Penka, a pregnant Bulgarian cow, who, reportedly chased by wolves, broke away from the herd to find herself crossing the European Union border into Serbia last month. The red cow was eventually found by her owner, Ivan Haralampiev, after an intensive two-week search, but now is awaiting execution for violating EU rules.

READ MORE: Muslim man lynched in central India for ‘slaughtering cow’

“My sons were looking for her everywhere. I have notified the border authorities, the police and the mayors of the nearby villages. More than two weeks later, I was told that the cow was in Serbia,”Haralampiev told a local news outlet. “It turned out that one of the inhabitants of Bosilegrad [in Serbia] cared for her.”

Relieved to find the animal alive and well taken-care-of, the farmer rushed to get the cow back home. A Serbian vet checked her health and cleared the animal for release, but once they got to the Bulgarian border checkpoint, Kyustendil authorities notified the owner that they will likely have to kill the animal because of Penka’s entry from a country outside the EU without proper papers.


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The picture, whether of this particular cow or a stock library pic, tells a million words... Read from top.


saved by the cow-bell...

Penka the cow, whose life was left hanging by a thread after illegally crossing the EU border without the necessary paperwork, is to be spared. 

Following a review of her case by the Bulgarian Food Safety Authority, the pregnant cow was shown to be healthy and conformed with all EU regulations. Penka was therefore granted reprieve, and Bulgaria abandoned its original plans to kill Penka for crossing its border with Serbia before coming back.

READ MORE: Activists battle to prevent pregnant cow from being executed for ‘illegally’ crossing into EU

The case had caused international outcry, but its ultimate resolution was celebrated by animal-rights group Four Paws, which said it would be “really cruel to kill all those animals” that randomly wander across the EU border.


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Read from top, especially comment above this one...

milking the milk...

Labor has demanded an explanation from a federal minister who called for a boycott of Coles and Aldi while owning shares in rival supermarket Woolworths.

Key points:
  • David Littleproud has defended his stake in Woolworths and told Coles to "expect more heat"
  • Coles and Aldi refuse to axe $1 milk despite Woolworths lifting its price
  • Agriculture Minister slammed both supermarkets for failing to lift prices


Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Australians should stop shopping at Aldi or Coles if they wanted a sustainable dairy industry.

Mr Littleproud slammed the major supermarkets for continuing to offer milk for $1 per litre, after rival Woolworths announced it would increase its price on budget milk by 10 cents.

But Mr Littleproud's own parliamentary records show he has shares in Woolworths.

His chief of staff, Alison Penfold, also previously worked as a government relations manager for Woolworths.

Shadow minister Joel Fitzgibbon wants Mr Littleproud to provide an explanation in Parliament about his shares.

"Woolworths will be a beneficiary if his call for a boycott is successful," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Mr Littleproud took to Twitter to defend his comments.


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A Queensland dairy farmer has been forced to walk off his farm the same day Woolworths announced an end to the sale of $1-a-litre milk in its stores nationwide.

Robbie Radel, a fourth-generation dairy farmer from the North Burnett, three-and-a-half hours north of Brisbane, said he expanded his business in 2005 to include the Biggenden farm, but the bank forced him to sell the property.

"The banks forced us to sell," Mr Radel said.

"I basically said: 'We don't want to do [that], what are you going to do?'

"They said: 'If you don't do it of your own accord we will do it.'"

Better late than never, but too late for some

Mr Radel's last day on the 97-hectare farm coincided with the supermarket giant's announcement that it would stop selling $1 milk nationwide.

Dairy farmers and industry bodies have been lobbying supermarkets to end cut-price milk since 2011.

The supermarket has committed to selling own-brand milk for a $1.10 per litre.

He said the advent of $1 milk forced farm gate prices down even further.


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Now the question is, does Mr Littleproud owns bank shares as well?

That would be the sour cream on top, would it not?


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GMO dehorning...

Removing the piercing horns of cattle has long been an unfortunate consequence of the world's great demand for dairy products. 

So when American scientists made a gene-editing breakthrough, with the promise that farmers could soon safely breed hornless dairy cows, it generated great fanfare across the globe. 

The cattle became the poster animals for a new era of genetic engineering.

But this miracle was hit by a massive setback.

As Michael Slezak discovered, that didn't end the project.

The next chapter of this scientific fiasco would continue, quietly, in one non-descript paddock just outside Melbourne.





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“Gene technology poses enormous potential benefits, but I believe it also poses enormous potential risks to the environment,” Louise Sales from the environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth says. 

Her group and others concerned about genetic modification lobbied the Federal Government against the loosening of regulations. 

But in 2019 the OGTR made amendments to the rules, potentially making it easier to get genetically modified animals on farms.

Even after those changes, Recombinetics’s hornless dairy cattle would still be classed as GMO in Australia.



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the price of protein..