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Life Science


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


A Cow's Life: The Surprising History of Cattle and How the Black Angus Came to Be Home on the Range by M. R. Montgomery (Walker & Company) Cattle have been domesticated since the Neolithic era, and most people in the world are within a half-day's drive of a cow. And yet, what do most of us know about one of our oldest and most common domesticated animals? Montgomery, a newspaper writer with an interest in cows that began at his cousin's ranch, traces the history of the domestication of cattle from the extinct, giant aurochs of Europe to its pinnacle (at least in his mind) of the Aberdeen-Angus. The author synthesizes what is known about how our remote ancestors tamed and bred for smaller size the more than 4,000-pound aurochs, and then how this resulting new species--cattle--changed the human world. Until Darwin wrote The Origin of Species, however, no one quite understood what was happening; early farmers created many different breeds of cattle, and Montgomery tells a lively tale of how various cattle traits came into being, as well as the methods for keeping and fattening these resultant breeds. Finally, several chapters look at the feeding, breeding, herding, and popularity of cows. Nancy Bent Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From Publishers Weekly: The adjective "bovine" gains unexpected overtones of dynamism and charisma in this poky but engaging treatise. Montgomery (The Way of the Trout, etc.) traces the evolution of domesticated cattle from the huge, fierce aurochs of prehistory, notes cows' contributions to the rise of civilization ("a more complex culture was able to emerge, when mankind was nourished... by the milk and meat of the cow"), compares the cow cultures of Britain and the United States and celebrates the 19th-century emergence of bovine perfection in the form of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. Beloved of Queen Victoria, these hardy, tasty beasts apparently have personalities—Angus cows, Montgomery says, can be "egotistical," "charming" and "insouciant"—and great breeding animals are remembered by name through the generations. Montgomery travels to his cousin's Montana cattle ranch to observe the animals' daily life, delving into their bloodlines, charting the intricacies of herd behavior and offering an intimate look at their sex lives. He pauses now and then to chew the cud over cow genetics, eye the shifting fashions of cattle shows and defend the beef industry against charges of unsafe and environmentally unsound practices. Montgomery ably conveys a wealth of cattle lore with a fine eye for the details of life and landscape. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Dairy Modernization by Roger W. Palmer (Thomson Delmar Learning) The dairy industry throughout the world has experienced significant changes, resulting in fewer but larger dairies. New technologies allow managers to successfully operate larger dairy herds. "Dairy modernization" typically refers to existing dairy producers changing from one type of production system to another. For example, producers move from a "traditional dairy" system, in which cows are housed and milked in a stall barn, to a system that may include freestall housing, TMR (total mixed rations), and milking parlor. No single system is best for everyone; therefore, producers must understand the available options and evaluate the merits of each for their operation.

The profitability of a business directly influences the quality of life of its owners and workers. Profits can be used to purchase facilities, equipment, and services, which improve working conditions and support family living. Since family living expenses constantly in-crease, the number of animals or the profit per animal must increase to support growing family needs. Increasing product value or decreasing production costs can influence profit. Mod-ern technologies allow producers to enhance labor efficiency, increase profits, and improve quality of life for both dairy owners and workers. Quality-of-life enhancements help preserve health and safety and often lead to better working conditions, such as more time away from the farm.

These same modern technologies, however, often require larger herds—to decrease the investment per animal and better utilize assets. The optimal herd size varies with the operator's goals and available resources. Each producer must select and incorporate technologies that allow milk production—now and in the future—at a competitive price, and choose the management system and herd size that best provide a profitable and sustainable business.

This text covers those subjects relating to dairy modernization that a producer and decision-support staff must understand when considering building a new dairy or modernizing an existing dairy. Previously, no text book gave comprehensive coverage of the areas involved; this book was written to fill that gap. It is designed for use as a textbook in the classroom

and as a reference guide for producers and those in the industry who work with them during the decision-making process. Because it gives comprehensive coverage of the available options and the advantages and disadvantages of these options, it is ideal for bankers, builders, consultants, and others to use as a training tool and reference guide. The dairy industry is constantly evolving—new equipment, facility, and management options are being developed all the time. This book will give readers the basic understanding that will allow them to assimilate new ideas and approaches as they are developed and to form the basis for decision making now and in the future.



Features of This Edition


This text provides comprehensive information on a full range of dairy management issues, including evaluating an operation, strategy development, business and facility planning, animal handling and housing, freestall barn and bedding options, site selection, and milking centers. It also covers the feeding of the dairy herd, manure handling, animal acquisition, heifer raising, labor requirements and scheduling, labor management, record keeping, contracting for services, and, finally, fitting all the pieces together.

Each chapter begins with a list of major objectives and a list of key terms that will be encountered. Each key term is highlighted in bold type when it is first used. Review questions at the end of each chapter provide an opportunity to test comprehension of the chapter objectives.

This text provides the framework for all or part of a dairy herd management class and provides the information needed to teach students the planning process. On-line case studies and field trips can be used to enhance student understanding and to tailor the class to local conditions. The development of exercises using computer-based decision aids and current local benchmark databases will help the student apply the principles presented in the text.

This text is also a valuable tool for the training of industry support people who will work with producers considering the modernization of their operations. Reading the text, answering chapter review questions, and consulting the on-line case studies will provide the trainee with an understanding of industry terminology and facility and management systems options.



Muscle Development of Livestock Animals: Physiology, Genetics, and Meat Quality by M. F. W. Te Pas, M. E. Everts, H. P. Haagsman (CABI Publishing) Well-developed and functional muscle tissues are a prerequisite for healthy meat-producing animals. Good muscle development leads to improved meat quality. Hence modern breeds of livestock animal have been selectively bred for better conformation, increased muscle size and increased muscle-to-bone ratio. This book describes all aspects of muscle development research, and contains contributions from leading research groups around the world.

Meat is a major part of human nutrition containing essential protein components. Before muscle becomes meat (i.e. while the animal is alive), skeletal muscle tissue fulfils the important task of maintaining body stature and locomotion. Furthermore, as muscle tissue constitutes over 40% of lean body weight, growth and development of skeletal muscle tissue is a major component of body growth. During the lifetime this highly plastic tissue can adapt in many ways to its function and activity. Exercise in particular can change muscle appearance and physiology dramatically. Therefore knowledge about (livestock) muscle development is of great importance. This book describes the development, growth and adaptation of livestock muscle tissue in various ways, ending with the description of skeletal muscle-specific factors affecting post-mortem meat quality. Therefore the book is divided into three sections: Physiology, Genetics and Meat Quality.

The Physiology section first describes the mechanism of muscle fibre development in the mammalian fetus and the importance of high muscle fibre numbers for muscle mass and meat quality (Chapter 1), followed by the different morphological appearances of postnatal muscle fibres (Chapter 2) and possibilities for influencing the development of higher numbers of muscle fibres prenatally (Chapter 3). This is followed by a number of chapters covering factors affecting postnatal changes to muscle tissue: growth and exercise (Chapter 4), general nutrition level of the animal and specific essential amino acids (Chapter 5), and minerals and micronutrients (Chapter 6). Systemic regulation of skeletal muscle function by hormones affecting energy status (Chapter 7) and growth (Chapter 8) and mechanisms of remodelling the tissue (Chapter 9) conclude the Physiology section. The Genetics section starts again with prenatal skeletal muscle development, but this time at the genome level (Chapter 10), followed by a description of methods to describe the skeletal muscle transcriptome (Chapter 11) and the chromosomal localization of genes affecting skeletal muscle tissue development and meat quality (Chapter 12). The new field of proteomics for skeletal muscle is covered in Chapter 13 and the section ends with a description of two genes that have major effects on muscle tissue mass by affecting skeletal muscle fibre numbers (Chapter 14) and skeletal muscle fibre size (Chapter 15). Many of these chapters also cover specific effects on components of meat quality. The book ends with a short section describing specific aspects of general Meat Quality: intramuscular fat (Chapter 16), post-mortem skeletal muscle protein breakdown (Chapter 17) and water-holding capacity (Chapter 18).

We expect that this book will become a standard work for those interested in skeletal muscle biology and meat quality.

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