Friday, June 29, 2012

My deodorant comes from where???

This summer I had the opportunity to help with the Fun With Foods Camp organized by the Food Science Department at MSU. Kids ranging from 3rd-6th grade had the chance to spend the week on campus learning about food preparation and how food gets from the farm to their table at home. During the camp, the kids visited an array of destinations around campus including the cheese and dairy plant, a grocery store, the dairy, and the beef unit to name a few.

I was able to interact with the campers when they came to the beef unit. We had a variety of activities planned and started out by explaining the difference between beef and dairy cattle and had some beef breeds on display in the barn for them to learn about. From there we talked about the production cycle of the cow by using the illustration developed by Explore Each camper got their own copy of the beef cycle along with the story explaining the illustration to take home. The "story" takes the reader through all the stages of the production cycle beginning with the cow-calf operation and the birth of the calf and ending with the beef on their dinner table at home or cafeteria lunch at school. We also talked about how Zinc, Iron, and Protein can power them through their day and help them them grow big and strong.

After reading through the cycle, we had a large scale that was big enough for multiple kids to get on and measured how big the calf would be a each stage. We started with a newborn calf having only one camper on the scale and ended with a market ready calf at 1200-1400 pounds. At that point we had over half the campers on the scale! This was a good way for them to be able to visualize the size of the calf throughout the cycle.

The kids on the scale for the market ready calf at 1295 pounds!

After talking about where their hamburger came from, we went on a little scavenger hunt to discover all the products that come from a cow other than beef. We hid about 30 items around the barn and let this kids find them. We had everything from chalk and jello to a tennis racket and deodorant! Once they found the items they used a big poster to figure out what part of the cow it came from. This part was very humorous - one camper, after discovering that part of the ingredients in deodorant come from fat, exclaimed, "Deodorant comes from fat??? It's a good thing I don't wear deodorant!" This is when I knew they were actually listening to what I was telling them! 

The last activity we did with them, and probably their favorite, was letting each camper make their own "hamburger cookie". To do this, we used mini vanilla wafers (for the bun), mini oreos (for the patty), died coconut (for the lettuce), and yellow and red frosting (for ketchup and mustard). These were really yummy and the perfect snack to have out at the beef unit. While everyone was taking their turn making their burger, we talked about each component of the hamburger, where it comes from, and that every part of the burger comes from a farm! Who knew?? :) 


Step one: Put ketchup and mustard on the bun.

Step 2: put a "patty" on one bun and dip the other bun in the bowl of "lettuce".

Step 3: Mush the two buns together and wahlah - you have a cookie burger!

I thought the cookie burger was a really cool idea. It would be a cute demonstration for a beginner 4-Her. He/She could talk about each component of the burger, where it comes from, and the nutritional benefits of BEEF! This would be a good way for a youngster to promote agriculture! Would also be good for Ag in the Classroom and even cooler for a youngster to present this to their class and everyone make their own cookie burger. Many kids are unaware of where their food comes from and this is a handy dandy little tool to use to get that message across!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Time to heat up the grill for the 4th of July: Two-Bite Burgers

One of my favorite parts about late spring, summer, and fall is eating tasty dishes that come off the grill! Some of my all time favorites are steaks, jalapeno poppers, grilled fresh veggies, steak and veggie kabobs, and of course, the all-American burger! Some of you may or may not have watched Rachel Ray's segment on the hamburger. I want to start out by saying that in the beef industry we strive to provide a wholesome, safe, and nutritious product through every facet of the production cycle. Beef is very healthy for you and your family and provides essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins.

Zinc - helps to create a healthy immune system and heal wounds
Iron - helps carry oxygen in the blood to all cells and muscles to prevent fatigue
Protein - helps to build a strong and healthy body
B-complex vitamins (including vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6 and riboflavin) - helps release energy from food.
There are 29 lean cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean such as the Tenderloin, T-bone steak, and 95% Lean Ground Beef.
More on the health benefits of BEEF

When cooking beef at home, it's important to handle, cook, and store beef correctly. By using a meat thermometer you can ensure that your ground beef is cooked correctly - the internal temperature of hamburgers should reach 160 degrees F before consumption.

Here is a new burger recipe I received today from BEEF It's What's for Dinner. It looks delicious and I cannot wait to give it a try. This would be a great idea for the 4th of July. I know when celebrating with my family, we always have TONS of food so these bite size burgers would make a great appetizer.

Two-Bite Burgers                                                            


  1. 1 pound ground beef (96% lean)
  2. 9 whole wheat small hamburger or slider buns, split, divided
  3. 1/4 cup minced onion
  4. 1 egg white, slightly beaten
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/8 teaspoon pepper
          Topping Variations:
  1. Mango-Pineapple Salsa, Spicy Caramelized Onions or Creamy Yogurt-Feta Sauce

  2. Instructions
  1. Tear one hamburger bun into pieces. Place in food processor or blender container. Cover; pulse on and off, to form fine crumbs.
  2. Combine ground beef, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, onion, egg white, garlic, salt and pepper in medium bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into eight 1/2-inch thick mini patties.
  3. Place patties on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 8 to 9 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 9 to 10 minutes) until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160°F, turning occasionally. About 1-1/2 minutes before burgers are done, place rolls, cut sides down, on grid. Grill until lightly toasted. 
  4. Serve burgers in buns with Topping(s) Variation(s), as desired. Close sandwiches.

    Mango-Pineapple Salsa: Combine 1/2 cup finely diced ripe mango or 1/2 cup finely diced drained jarred ripe mango, 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple or 1/3 cup drained canned crushed pineapple, 1/4 cup finely chopped tomato, 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño pepper, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 cup

    Spicy Caramelized Onions: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add 3 cups thinly sliced yellow onions and 2 to 3 medium thinly sliced red or green jalapeño peppers or 6 thinly sliced baby sweet red bell peppers. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Cook 15 to 18 minutes or until onions are very tender and golden brown, stirring frequently. Season with salt, as desired. Makes 1-1/2 cups

    Creamy Yogurt-Feta Sauce: Combine 1/2 cup reduced-fat or nonfat plain or Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup reduced-fat or regular crumbled feta cheese, 2 tablespoons minced onion and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 3/4 cup

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mississippi Junior Cattleman come to campus - Part 2

While the cattleman and women were on campus last week, one of the sessions they participated in was artificial insemination in cattle. This session was one that I had the opportunity to help plan and implement alongside my advisor. We put on an artificial insemination school for producers every fall and spring but this is a 3-day event. We basically took the main concepts from AI school, and transformed them into a short course designed for high schoolers. Since these students hadn't yet had a livestock reproductive class we took a different approach to explaining the estrous cycle. We asked for volunteers and had the students help illustrate the estrous cycle in a skit using props. Each volunteer was a designated "day" of the estrous cycle. We used balls to describe the growth of the corpus luteum and balloons for growing follicles. It was extremely entertaining...I'm sure you can imagine! We also covered the history of AI, different tools needed, female anatomy, semen handling, AI technique, and estrus synchronization.
I had a lot of fun helping organize this session and hopefully we will get to do it again in the future.

Learning about the tools needed.

Estrus Synchronization Skit

Working with the female reproductive tracts. This is a good way for them to practice artificial insemination because they can see what they are doing.

Locating the different parts of the tracts.

Practicing semen handling techniques.

Friday, June 22, 2012

MIssissippi Junior Cattleman come to campus - Part 1

This week, Mississippi Junior Cattleman's members came to campus for a 3-day event called "Making Tracks". "Making Tracks" is an event that is held annually in conjunction with Mississippi State Animal and Dairy Science Department and the Mississippi Cattleman's Foundation. While on campus, the junior cattleman have the opportunity to attend an array of workshops ranging from reproduction to parliamentary procedure and livestock judging. They also participate in a variety of activities including a burger grilling cook-off, cattle sorting competition and farm olympics. Events such as these provide valuable opportunities for youth to get to know other fellow cattleman as well as network and build connections with industry leaders.
I had the opportunity to interact with the junior cattleman in two of the workshops, one of which they learned the technique of blood sampling and about a current heifer development research project being conducted and State; the other was a workshop on Artificial Insemination.
The heifer development research project they learned about was the project I have been working on along with one of the professors at State. You can learn the details about that project in my last post, Summer Research.
Blood sampling is a very useful technique for the junior cattleman to learn because it is a tool they can take home and apply in their own herd. I briefly mentioned in Summer Research that blood sampling can be used for pregnancy detection in cattle. One of the cool things about using a blood sample is that it is a less invasive than other methods such as rectal palpation. In rectal palpation, a veterinarian inserts his hand into the rectum of the cow and uses his finger tips to feel for a fetus. With this method, especially in the first 45 days of pregnancy, there is always a slim possibility that the fetus could be damaged and result in an abortion. Blood sampling can be conducted as early as 28 days post breeding, where as it takes a very experienced technician to diagnose a pregnancy by rectal palpation 35 days post breeding.

Here are some pictures of the junior cattleman learning how to collect blood samples -

Dr. Karisch explaining how the blood collection tubes work.

Blood entering the tube.


It was hot out but they still had a great time!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Research

This summer I have been helping one of the professors at State with her research project. She has been looking at how feeding heifers whole cottonseed may or may not effect the age they reach puberty. My job in this project is to take blood samples from the heifers every 10 days and then analyze those samples for the amount of progesterone they contain. When a heifer begins cycling and reaches puberty, progesterone levels increase. You might recognize progesterone as the hormone that maintains pregnancy in humans and animals. Progesterone also plays a key role in the estrous cycle of the heifer. Along with collecting a blood sample, we record the heifers weight to see if they are gaining weight during each 10 day interval.  We also look at the overall health of the heifer by checking her eyes and watching her as she exits the chute to make sure she is healthy. A chute is used when collecting blood samples to make sure the heifer and the person collecting the blood is safe. It also gives us a chance to get a good look at the heifer up close and make sure she is in tip top condition.
Collecting blood from a heifer is just like a person going to the doctor and having blood drawn. We collect the blood in a sterile tube, that is kept cold until we get the sample back to the lab for analysis.
Blood collection in cattle is used for more than just research. There are now pregnancy tests available for cattle where the producer can take a blood sample from the tail vein, just like Katie and I did, and send the sample into a lab. They analyze the sample for a protein, Pregnancy Specific Protein B, and if the protein is detected the cow is considered pregnant! This is a great option for producers who may not have access to a veterinarian for the cattle to be tested for pregnancy by ultrasound or palpation.
Here are some photos that were taken the past week -

Our patient. The heifers are very calm in the chute and usually will wait patiently until we are done. While we are collecting the blood sample, the guys will look her over to make sure she is in good health.

Katie collecting a blood sample from a vein that runs on the bottom side of the cows tail.

The blood entering the tube. This is usually a very fast process.

We record the weight of the heifer.

Katie and I, the blood collecting team. It's a dirty job by the time we get through with all the heifers. I have never been very good at staying clean! Maybe Mike Rowe could come out and do a show? 

A blood collection day is never complete without Shipley Donuts for our morning snack! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ATTN YOUTH: Want to BEEF up your Animal Care knowledge?


Kansas State University BCI (Beef Cattle Institute) is offering FREE online Youth Animal Care Training for high school age youth and younger. There are several different training programs offered including Beef Quality Assurance, Beef Industry Food Safety, Dairy Animal Care and Quality Assurance, and Youth Human Equine Management. Each training consists of a set of videos, followed by a quiz, and the the fun part - printing your certificate!

This is a great opportunity for 4-H and FFA members involved in either beef, dairy, or equine projects. With record books right around the corner, this is great way to add another project meeting and training to your book!

Visit the link above for contact information and more information pertaining to the online training.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The perfect way to relax after a long day!

One of my favorite places to go on walks here is at the beef unit. There is nothing better than going on a walk and passing by pastures of cows. It's a perfect way to end the day! Here are some pictures from our walk the other day...
The dogs might like walking out there more than we do. They LOVE having space to run and play!

Katie, Kieler, and Kobe

Tori and Darby

Katie loves Mississippi and the cows :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Katie's gourmet pizza...

One thing I can say about all my friends in the South...they know how to cook! Everyone has their own specialty. Jonathan makes awesome boiled shrimp, meat snacks, and italian dishes. Tori makes a great bruschetta. Susan is best known for her dips. Heather makes some pretty good desserts and has been perfecting a chicken pie. Adam is our cajon cook (even though he is from Wisconsin). Landon LOVES all things food so he can whip up just about anything (for real...). And Katie's specialty is homemade, gourmet pizza.

Bake in preheated oven at 425 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.

Jay's Signature Pizza Crust (for directions)
2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
1/2 t. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. warm water (100 degrees F)
1 t. salt
2 T. olive oil
3 1/3 c. all purpose flour

Sauce: (heat on stove, season to taste)
1 small can tomato paste
1 small can tomato sauce
minced garlic
italian seasoning

fresh mozzarella cheese
fresh basil
fresh sliced tomatoes

Slice fresh mozzarella cheese in thin slices.

Slice fresh tomatoes.

Wash basil leaves, clip off stems, and pat dry with a paper towel.

The secret ingredients in the sauce!

 Make the yeast according to the directions on the yeast packet and Tony's Pizza Crust recipe.

Stir in flour.

Spread dough in (greased) pan. We used a pan with sides to eliminate a mess in the oven!

Spread on sauce.

Rinse basil and clip the stems off. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place fresh basil on the top of the sauce.

Place sliced tomato on top of the basil leaves.

Finish off the pizza by placing thin sliced mozzarella cheese on top.

Bake in preheated oven at 425 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.

And wallah! You have a tasty, gourmet, made-from-scratch pizza!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Adventures with Katie and Lyndi...

This week, Katie and I went on a photography adventure to make a special gift for someone who has helped us out a lot! However, the recipient didn't know anything about this gift so that required us sneaking out to the pasture to get a few good pics of the cows. Luckily, we have connections and were able to get a "pasture guide" complete with a Ranger to take us out to get some pictures. It always pays off to know the right people! Here are some of our favorites: