More about Milk Production

The work of Kansas State University animal science professor, Barry Bradford, son of Brad Z Ranch’s Jim and Mary Bradford, was featured in another article – this one in the Midwest Ag Journal. It explains how milk production varies based on whether the cow’s first calf is male or female. It’s easier to understand if you just read the article yourself. And be sure to ask Jim what research he’s going to try to talk Barry into doing next. He’s got a plan.


A Bradford on National Geographic Site

Jim and Mary Bradford’s son, Barry, was recently mentioned in a National Geographic article about the milk production of cattle. It was called “Study of 1.5 Million Cows Shows Daughters Get More Milk than Sons” and began:

For decades, the dairy industry has used data to supercharge the humble black-and-white Holstein cow into a milk-producing machine. Across the US, thousands of dairy farmers keep assiduous records about how much milk their cows produce, and the volume and composition of that milk. All of this information feeds into mathematical models that predict the total amount of milk a cow makes over its lifetime. Farmers use this information every day to decide how to care for and breed their animals. As a result, cows today make four times more milk than they did in the 1940s.

Barry Bradford

Barry Bradford

The articles described how Barry Bradford, a Kansas State University animal science professor, helped provide data that proved that cows produce more milk on average when they have female calves. The article wrapped up:

All in all, a cow that has a daughter first time round makes around 445 kilograms more milk across her first twolactations than a cow with back-to-back sons. That’s a sizeable amount, equivalent to a production boost of 2.7 percent.

The Green Grass of Home

You know how it works on most farms or ranches: one of the adults becomes the main operator while their spouse may play an exceedingly important role, even though that work sometimes goes unnoticed. At Brad Z Ranch, Jim and Mary Bradford have long operated this way. The ranch was Jim’s dream, career and passion, but it has been Mary’s life too. And she has loved living this country life.

We got a reminder of the blessings of life when Mary was discovered in mid-November to have a brain tumor. Within a week, she underwent brain surgery. Luckily, the brain tumor was benign as the doctors had guessed, and the consequences of the surgery itself and a surgery-triggered stroke were moderate to minor considering what might have been. However, by Thanksgiving, shortly after being released post-surgery, Mary was diagnosed with severe pneumonia. It took another month and half before she could be released from the hospital. We don’t know if she was ever so happy to be home after a long two months of almost constant hospitalization. In the few weeks since she has been back, she has regained her strength rapidly and is slowly getting back her old life. We want to thank all of you in our area and in the cattle community who have thought or prayed for Mary in this battle.

Mary Bradford with her just-released book, Green Grass of Home.

Mary Bradford with her just-released book, Green Grass of Home.

To the right is a photo of Mary right before surgery. She had in the preceding months finished writing a book that she had begun long ago. It is called “Green Grass of Home.” In it, she tells the story of her ancestors’ journey from Ireland. As Jim likes to say: Mary, like her ancestors, had a long and difficult road, but has found her way home.