Category Archives: Livestock

Guest Lecture: Dan Severson

On October 21st, Dan Severson came into our class to talk about an overview of livestock. I found Dan’s humour to be really great and I think it helped drive his lecture. I found that a lot of what Dan talked about I had already known about, mainly from studying for the first exam. Dan has a lot of small ruminant animals such as goats and he also has pigs. 

First, he talked about Delaware’s farms. Delaware has 2,500 farms, 500,000 acres of farmland, and $8 million of product. The biggest expense for farms, specifically animal related farms, spend most of their money on feed for the animals. Delaware is the largest producer in lima beans but 29% of the farmland in Delaware is for corn and soybeans. 

Next, he talked about US history and how it relates to US agriculture both back then and today. After World War 1, the number of farms went down because a lot of children who worked on farms went to war instead. Yet after World War 2, the number of farms went up, but many of those children, now young adults, returned to work in the assembly line. Although we have fewer farms, we still grow a lot. With newer innovations, we can now grow more with less. 

Guest Lecture Dan Severson

On October 21st Dan Severson came into class to talk about the livestock industry in Delaware. He began by talking about farms in general in Delaware. specifically he talked about the size of Delaware farms. Around 40 percent of land in Delaware is farmland and around 98 percent of farms are family-owned, Then he moved onto to talk about the livestock industry in particular. He talked about how Poultry is becoming more popular while other types of meats are becoming less popular. After going in detail about each of the more popular types of meat he shifted to talking about dairy production. Dan compared how production differs between different size farms, one big difference was how the herd size increases for larger farms. At the end, he talked about how marketing and labeling can deceive consumers. He spoke about finding products in the grocery store labeled as non-GMO when the products don’t contain ingredients that could be GMOs.

Guest Lecturer Dan Severson & Mislabeled Product

On Monday, October 21st, Dan Severson came to the class to talk about predominately livestock in the state of agriculture today. He talked about a wide range of things, such as the normal meat animals (like cows, chickens, and pigs) and more obscure topics in livestock (like bees, and show animals).

An interesting thing was the statistic that he mentioned where the consumption rates of nearly every livestock animal went down except for poultry. This comes to no surprise to me for two reasons. The first being that poultry is arguably the most cost effective form of meat. The second is that poultry is generally viewed to be more lean and healthy, and there has been a recent rise in health consciousness in the western world.  The decreases in the other forms of meat are not surprising either, especially the decreases in consumption of veal and lamb. Alongside the rise of health consciousness came a shift in ethical standards with many people switching to vegetarian diets because they view eating animals as unethical. It goes without saying that this shift also put a slight taboo on eating young animals like you would when eating veal and lamb.


For the mislabeled product, I found a jar of peanut butter that was labeled gluten-free and vegan even though peanut butter is naturally gluten-free and vegan. This is just a case of advertising and appealing to a certain group of people through clever use of words. I do not think it’s unethical for companies to do this because they are not lying, however this type of advertising does get a tad bit annoying.

Livestock Industry Guest Lecture

I really enjoyed Dan Severson’s lecture. He made the lecture intriguing by getting the class involved, as well as he presented a lot of different information that I had not previously known or thought about. It was interesting to be able to talk about all the different aspects of raising certain animals and why some people might prefer to raise one animals vs another. The fact that 98% of Delaware farms are family run really surprised me because this shows that these farms aren’t big corporations and they actually care about the consumer and what they think. One more interesting fact that I learned was the versatility of goats and what can be produced from them. Overall this lecture was very informative and it opened my eyes up to many different trends in the livestock industry that I had not previously considered. Also it was nice to be able to have someone talk about this topic who does not only do this for a living but actually has a few of his own animals that he raises because he was able to throw in person experiences throughout.

Dan Severson on the Livestock Industry

The class was given a guest lecture on the livestock industry in Delaware and the U.S. Currently, Beef has the highest consumption per capita and 6 million dollars in sales, with cow and calf production, feedlots, stockers, etc. Hogs are in second place, with 2 million dollars in worth, with farrow to finish, where pigs are grown to their harvest weight and slaughtered. Sheep raised are worth 178,000 dollars, normally raised in backyard operations for their wool, hair, and goats are worth 81,000 dollars from direct markets, etc. Dairy cows are worth over 16 million dollars through milk, ice cream, and conventional farming practices. Livestock that is less popular but still used in the U.S. includes bees, bison, alpacas, llamas, rabbits, deer and many more. An important part of the livestock industry is marketing. By knowing the farmer that is raising your meat products and buying local, consumers can get the best quality meats they desire. The topic of organics and farm to table agriculture has become much more popular in recent years because consumers want the healthiest meats they can find, and ways to market can include grass-fed beef that is all-natural with no GMO’s. The future of this industry is to be considered as well. Technology in robotics is improving every day, which makes cultivating these animals much easier for farmers. A problem that is currently being faced is next-generation farming. The livestock and other family-owned farming operations are beginning to die because earlier generations are passing away, while the newer ones are looking elsewhere for work. Climate change is a worry too. Farmers are going to have to provide for a larger population on smaller areas of land when considering the best steps they can take to protect the environment. According to this lecture, the livestock industry has a very labor-intensive workforce that is in need of people to help improve this industry and its productions. Humans need meat after all!

Guest lecture: Livestock industry in DE

In oct 21, 2019, Mr. Dan Severson, a new castle county extension agent, came to my class and lectured my class about the livestock industry in DE. He told us many features that something we know and something we don’t know of Delaware farms. To be consider as a farm, this land should produce and sell $1,000 or more of agricultural products annually, or those products normally would have been sold annually. There are 2500 farms in Delaware, and economic contribution of agriculture to Delaware’s economy is about $8 billion. Farmers’ age average are 5-60 years old. Most of farms are family farms. It is about 98%. The biggest two war in the history, WWI and WWII, affect the livestock production heavily. Over time, all type of meat, like beef, pork, lamb or goat, consumption is decreased except poultry. Sheep and goat industries play a low role in the livestock industry in the US and Delaware. They are most likely to be raise in smaller herd size and backyard.

Dan Severson: New castle County Delaware livestock

This lecture given by New Castle Count Cooperative Livestock agent, Dan Severson, focused on the livestock portion of Delaware’s agriculture industry. Severson broke down the amount of the beef, pork, goat, chicken that is produced and consumed from Delaware. Additionally, he included the amount of products that come from the different animals. Apparently, the highest amount of livestock that was recorded was cattle, which 225 farms, containing roughly 14,000 cattle in the state of Delaware alone. However, Delaware cattle size does not compare to the amount of cattle livestock contained in the entire US, which is 70 million cattle over the span of 711,000 farms. Switching from direct livestock, Dan Severson shared with the class the trends that are commonly found in  the agriculture community, which are # of farms, size of the farm, age of farmer, amount of animals, and diversification. It also seems that as time passes by, there is a growing interest of consumers wanting to know where there food comes from. Unfortunately, that also leads to some individuals sharing false information to people about how their food is processed, especially when it comes to the topics of GMO. However, sometimes stores and some people have ended up mislabeling their product, because they include the GMO free label. The thing is, GMO is mostly used by breeding and not actually injecting something into the food. Another claim is that farmers are putting antibiotics into the products, but since it is illegal to do so, that argument doesn’t hold up. The only registered animal that is allowed to be processed with GMO’s is fish, mainly salmon. Overall, Severson wanted us to know where the food comes from and what actually goes into farming.

GMO Extra Credit

For my GMO research project, I went to the store and found a product called “Outshine: Fruit Bars”. This item is a supposed an all natural popsicle, that used real fruit juice. Its main claim on it’s package is that it’s GMO free. The issue I found with this is that there was another popsicle produced by the same company, which did not also included the GMO free label. The weird thing is that the only difference was it’s flavor being coconut, instead of strawberry. If the strawberry flavored popsicle is supposedly non GMO, then why isn’t the coconut. Artificial flavoring is artificial flavoring, no matter what the flavor is.

Dan Severson Livestock Industry Overview

This guest lecture was very interesting and informal. I’m glad we can have someone like Dan Severson who gets to explain to us about livestock. He is very knowledgeable about not only livestock but about the rest of the agricultural industry. My favorite part of his presentation was a brief part but it’s when he talked about the rising of bee keeping. I’ve only scraped the surfaces about beekeeping and hardly know anything at all. It is a topic that has always intrigued me, it especially does now with the drastically decreasing bee population throughout the world. Knowing that it is a increasing industry it makes me really happy to hear that it shows that people are starting to get the picture that bees are important to this world. Another thing which might make me sound a little dumb is that with show animals I always thought that they were judged on appearance not by the cut of beef or pork. But, it definitely makes sense that they are judged that way and it will change the way I view show animals now when I head up the the Farm show in Harrisburg.

For the Product review I picked All-Natural Biodegradable Kitty Litter. I don’t go to the grocery store to much unless I need things for a specific recipe I am making (which is not an efficient way to go to the store). This product is made by the company The Good Earth on the front of this Litter it says Non-Gmo. It is made of 100%  American grown grass which is pretty cool I guess. I don’t think it would make a difference to the cat really if the grass was genetically modified or not. I mean I know my cat wouldn’t care for my cat we use a newspaper thing call yesterdays news its made out of newspaper pellets and its easy to clean and holds smell in pretty well. It also breaks down in water very easily.

Guest Speaker Dan Severson: Delawares Livestock Industry

“You are what you eat” (Dan Severson). Dan Severson, a New Castle County Agricultural Agent, discussed with the University of Delaware’s students about Delaware’s Livestock industry, the different types of livestock and the number and size of each type of livestock farm and their comparison to the size of farms across the United States. The livestock industry, unlike many industries, is an industry which includes the raising of animals such as cows, poultry, sheep, and goats for the processing of the animal products for consumers.

Within the state of Delaware, there are 2,500 farms, each contributing the U.S, economy which amounts to 8 million dollars from agricultural products, some of those products being from the livestock industries of beef and dairy cattle, poultry, sheep, and goats; with the poultry industry being the highest. In Delaware, there are 235 beef cattle farms and 14,000 beef cattle, 55 hog farms and 3,500 pigs, 89 farms with sheep and 1758 sheep, and 91 farms with goats and 1201 goats and an exceeding amount of poultry farms and chickens. Essentially, with these numbers in both in the number of farms and animal, Mr. Severson said that they will increase as they are calculated throughout the U.S. making this industry very large and very important in our economy locally and worldwide in the future and current day time. Additionally, from this presentation, many things about the livestock industry can be learned which can help myself and the other students develop a better understanding of the industry itself; and learn something that grabbed my interest which is that Delaware is larger in crop production then the production of livestock but continues to feed 1/3 of the U.S. population with crops and the main livestock producing industry which is poultry.

Dan Severson Guest Lecture

Last Monday, Dan Severson gave a guest lecture on the livestock industry in Delaware. The average annual consumption of beef, pork, lab, goat, and veal has been declining for decades, while the consumption of poultry has been steadily increasing. Food is more affordable in the U.S. than most other countries, with the average American devoting around 9.7% of their household expenditure to buying food.

Of beef cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, diary, and other livestock, beef cattle is the most common in Delaware. Beef cattle in Delaware comprise 14,000 cattle on 235 farms. The second most numerous livestock animals in Delaware are hogs, with 55 farms raising around 6,000 hogs. Approximately 3,000 sheep and goats are raised on 180 Delaware farms. Dairy has shrunk to a mere 21 farms with 4,500 dairy cows. Delaware’s dairy industry is on the decline, with many small family farms trending towards closure. Other livestock raised in Delaware includes bison, alpacas, llamas, rabbits, water buffalo, bees, deer, chicken, turkeys, and emus.

Dan also discussed modern marketing strategies and labeling, such as non GMO, gluten free, organic, antibiotic free, and all natural. Dan finds most of these labels unnecessary, as in the case of salt being labelled gluten free.

Livestock Industry of Delaware

October 21st, 2019 Dan Severson talked to the class about the overview of the livestock industry in Delaware. Delaware has an economic impact of 8 million dollars. Delaware has 2,500 farms. 40% of Delaware farms are land area, and 29% of that land area is corn and beans. The Agriculture products sold to consumers make up 3.5 million in profit. 174,000 acres of farm are enrolled to Agriculture Land Preservation District, and 134,000 land is preserved. Delaware ranks first in U.S value of Agriculture production per acre, leaving California to rank second. Go Delaware! We are number one in lima beans. 98% of Delaware farms are family-owned. We spend 9.7% of our income on food. Poultry is the one food production that has increased over the years, the rest like pork, beef, lamb, and goat are less. Delaware has 235 cattle farms. We have about 14,000 cows in the whole state, making a 6-million-dollar profit. We have 55 pig farms, making that 3,300 pigs total in Delaware, making that a 2-million-dollar profit. There are 89 sheep farms, and about 179 sheep’s total in Delaware. In Delaware there are 91 goat meat farms with 1201 goats, 34 goat milk farms with 320 goats, and 5 angora with 15 goats. That makes about 81,000 in profits. In Delaware there are only 21 dairy farms with 4.500 dairy cows. Dairy production is dropping tremendously, even in the U.S. In Delaware we have four creamery’s that make ice cream with dairy. Learning about the livestock industry is so fascinating, to know how much animals can really affect us.

Livestock Lecture by Dan Severson

Dan Severson is the New Castle County Cooperative Extension agent and on 10/21 he came and lectured about the Livestock industry in Delaware. He started off by talking about Delaware farms, number of farms, and how much they produce. He spoke about Delaware’s Agriculture Land Preservation Districts and how the farmers sell their land rights to the government so that they don’t build on that land. He discussed how WWII affected livestock production and why spikes in livestock production happened. Beef and pork consumption is down since 1985 but chicken and poultry are up since then. Pigs, Cattle, Goat and Sheep numbers in Delaware have gone down. The number of livestock is being shipped out to other countries and other states to be produced. Lastly, he talked about trends and marketing. Niche markets, like lotion from goats or ice cream from the milk of cows work for small markets in order to be successful and make money. For our homework, we had to find something in the grocery store that is labeled as “Non-GMO”. I found a caramel dipping sauce that was labeled as “Non-GMO” even though caramel is essentially butter and sugar condensed down.

Guest Speaker 1: Georgie Cartanza

On Monday, September 8th, Georgie Cortanza came to our class to give a guest lecture. The Saturday before, our class had visited her poultry farm to learn a bit more about the organic poultry industry. She came to our class to give a more in depth lecture about the organic poultry industry. She went over the history of the poultry industry. In 1862 the Morrell Act was formed to establish land grant colleges. In the 1850s railroads were built in Delmarva to transport crops and animals around the northern east coast, and in 1916, the Dupont highway was built to make it even easier to transport goods. 

In Delmarva, there are 3 states, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, made up of 3 counties in Delaware, 8 in Maryland, and 1 in Virginia. There are 9,000,000,000 chickens produced in the US each year, and 825,000,000 of those are produced in Delmarva. That’s a lot of chicken. Georgie also talked about how many processing plants there are in Delmarva and how Perdue was the first family to ever brand their chicken. Now all we see in grocery stores is branded chicken. Georgie emphasized that when you have opinions, you should always look deeper into why you have those opinions and you should keep an open mind to other opinions.

Ms. Georgie CARTANZA – Evolution of the Delmarva Poultry Industry

Graced by Ms. CARTANZA’s presence yet again, she both repeated and elaborated on some of the finer points she had made on the field trip.

Having had extensive experience in the poultry industry as a field supervisor, waking up anywhere from 4-7am and working 50 hours a week minimum, to working as an employee at Mountaire teaching people how to build two times bigger, better chicken houses, Ms. Cartanza still had a wealth of knowledge to impart.

Working as an organic poultry contract farmer, for Perdue’s organic Division Coleman, Ms. Cartanza shared some of the logistic and political issues surrounding the operation of her farm and organic poultry farms in general.

Because contract farmers compete for their contracts with different companies, growing their chicken competitively.  Ms. Cartanza’s in a smaller 20acre farm, one of many strewn about the state and the peninsula, but with ¼ of the U.S. population within eight hours of her location, she maintains an edge on the competition.  Delaware is not the leader in broiler production, but it does have the most broilers per square mile, with the largest organic processing plant in the country.

The poultry not only has to generate income for the company, but also pay for the capital involved in producing it- the cost of four chicken houses is much more expensive that the land they’re placed on, coming in at over $1.5mil whereas the acreage was just $20, 000.  The biggest expense Ms. Cartanza said she faced after chicken feed was her mortgage and electric.

She, as a Nuffield scholar having spent time in Brazil as well as Mexico, Cornell, Ireland, & France, had not just a local Delmarva or U.S. perspective on poultry farming, but a global one.

Ms. Cartanza said a lot of the expenses and adjustments she must make around her farm don’t necessarily come from government agencies as a result of scientific study, but from the uniformed masses and their personal feelings on what makes chickens, ‘happy’.

For example, Ms. Cartanza said she has a manual composter that’s worth $12, 000 and is capable of processing 1.5 flocks, while her Canada-made EcoDrum, with it’s inverse-composting can process 5 flocks with less time and effort from the farmer.  The new equipment isn’t really necessary, but it looked good to environmentalists.   Chickens purportedly need 4-8hrs of darkness for melatonin production, but that may not actually help the birds at all.

Another example would be the way chicken houses have been restructured over the years.  Ms. Cartanza pointed out while we were at her farm, that the window sizes on the building had to be upped due to evolving public sentiment around the amount of light chickens require to be, ‘happy’, but not necessarily healthier.  The larger windows decrease the R-value of the overall house, while the transition from curtain-sided to solid-sidewall houses increase the R-value.

Outside the houses, in the pasture area, Ms. Cartanza must provide shade-areas, buffers, and enrichments that can take the form of patches of warm season grasses, like cattails and miscanthus, trees, like hybrid willows, and toys, like ‘bully boxes’ and ramps.  Some of these additions, like the buffers, can help remove harmful particulates from the air, appeasing nearby neighbors, but the grasses can also add to the difficult of managing the chickens environment, creating dense growth that chickens can hide and be lost to the farmer in.

Once the 2-day-old chicks we interacted with reach three weeks old, they will have the option to go outside the chicken house.  Allowing chickens to go outside makes them more at risk for predation and contamination from other birds and their droppings in the pasture that could carry Avian Flu virus.  The chickens will instinctively stay inside at high noon when they are most visible from overhead, but they also seem to be most comfortable in the artificial, but regulated environment of the houses.  The houses are kept at 92degrees F° via large tunnel ventilators that suck out the 8btus of heat that each chicken produces and also blows cool air through the chicken houses, protecting the birds from heat exhaustion by extracting body heat

The organic process also has restrictions on how it maintains the physical health and the environment of the chickens.  Ms. Cartanza is permitted to use substances such as oregano, apple cider vinegar, copper sulfate, boric acid, and liquefied citric acid to care for the chickens.

Technology allows Ms. Cartanza to care for 37, 000 chickens more or less independently, but years ago that would have been impossible.  That relative ease allows Ms. Cartanza to theoretically fed 780, 000 families from the output of her farm.

People who don’t like the poultry industry might be hard-pressed to find fault with the jobs it creates or how it helps the local economy- for every 1 jobs in poultry, 7 are created in the wider community.  Labels in marketing are also used to sway public opinion- ABF or ‘Antibiotic Free’ chickens applies to any U.S. chicken, as the chickens must be cut off of any antibiotics 2 weeks before processing; NAE or ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ sounds good in theory and may appease animal welfare groups, but allowing chickens to potentially suffer for the sake of the label is debatable; and Organic chicken means a chicken is free-range and feed only GMO free feed from organic certified ground, which means additional organic corn and soybeans must be sourced from foreign countries like Argentina and Turkey, increasing the carbon footprint of the organic.  The Global Animal Partnership (GAP), a coalition of vegetarians formed by Whole Foods that can threaten chain restaurants and businesses that don’t sell the type of meat they sign-off on, and other political figures with specifics leanings

Genetics, nutrition, housing, and technology have contributed to increasingly larger chickens.  In 1957 chickens took 56 days to grow 2lbs,- today a modern chicken can reach 9lbs in the same amount of time.   No steroids used- selective breeding makes larger chickens. Maturing in about 20 days, they are able to evolve faster.


Ms. Cartanza stresses the importance of environmental stewardship, saying poultry farmers don’t want their farms to be unhealthy or toxic places- they raise their families on the farm.   They also don’t want suffering or dying birds- lost birds means a loss of money. At the sound of an alarm, a farmer may have to wake up very early, climb a grain bin, run to restore power, or confront a predator or pest- they may have as little as 20minutes to save a flock in the wake of natural disaster of power failure. She mentioned CO2stunning used in a Milford poultry plant to put chickens to sleep before processing- must be alive to process.


Ms. Cartanza says the next big issue facing poultry farmers after the nutrient pollution of waterways will be air quality, though the sustainably of poultry farming itself, whether from an economic or environmental standpoint will be debated as well.  A big part of farming in general is the effect it has on the environment.  Farmers can be easy targets, when only 2% of the U.S. voters farm and of that number most face more strict regulations on how they farm than a golf course owner or someone with a residential property applying a myriad of various chemicals to their properties.

It’s a girl!…

For Ms. Cartanza herself and her farm, her next big challenge might just be eliminating some of her power costs, one of her biggest expenses as previously mentioned, at $5, 000 a month.  With a housing unit for an off-grid 20,000V power generator, Ms. Cartanza may consider going solar next.  A solar power system would take 15 years to pay off an might last for 25-35years.  A part of the farming process is weigh risks, and Ms. Cartanza deemed the risk too great.

Asking questions

Regardless of an individuals approach to poultry farming, or working in general, Ms. Cartanza reminds the class of the importance of maintaining humility and, ‘doing little things well’.  She also reiterates the importance of vetting the news and the science and not discounting another person’s views.  Even though she grows organic, she did it to follow the market and industry’s trajectory towards increasingly organic foods.  Ms. Cartanza did say she will buy and eat conventional chicken and has noticed no difference in quality.  She also states it is impossible to feed the world organically- in 2050, 9bilion people are projected to inhabit the world.

A few items before we leave..

Overall, I enjoyed the trip and the lecture.  Some memorable events include:

  • One chick slated to be euthanized later by ethical/humane cervical dislocation, i.e., ‘wringing it’s neck’, possibly due to an error in the in-egg fertilization process where a needle is placed through the egg shell 3days before the chicks birth which may have caused ‘Star-gaze syndrome’, piercing the birds’ spinal cord
  • Holding a 2 day old chick in my bare hands that could barely stay awake
  • Learning that, contrary to what I had read previously, chickens are still caught by hand and live-hungèmachines were not as successful as hoped
  • Perdue tried for 1yr, but the results still were not as good as the 7man team that can take up to 4 6.5lb birds in each hand & can earn up to $30,00 a year catching poultry 6days a weekèEurope is often a few years ahead of the U.S. as far as tech
  • The Chik-fil-A lunch that followed where I saw a WW2 vet

Field Trip 1: Organic Poultry Farm

On Saturday, September 7th, our class went on a field trip to a poultry farm run by Georgie Cortanza in Kent County, Delaware. She has 4 chicken houses which hold 37,000 chickens a house and 148,000 chickens in total. They weigh 913,900 pounds a flock. A flock is a certain number of birds in one group. She has 5.5 flocks in one year and makes 5,000,000 pounds a year. In total, she feeds 59,808 people a year. Georgies runs an organic farm, meaning that all the chickens there are free range. This means that they get to go outside for a period of time each day. 

Chickens are one of the animals that have a lower carbon footprint. The only one lower is fish! The carbon index for chicken is 6.2 versus cows which is 16.2. A chicken also requires less feed for an outcome, which makes it better economically for the farmer. For every 1 job in the poultry industry, it creates 7 more jobs. 

My favorite part of the field trip was seeing the baby chicks of course. They are very soft and fun to hold.