Using beef fat as a cholesterol-fighting tool? Tim Carr, a researcher at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has developed a compound he says can lower cholesterol more effectively than commercially available plant-based food additives, and should be easier to incorporate into foods.

The raw materials in Carr's compound come from soybeans and beef tallow. Preliminary results indicate the combination works at least as well as currently prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

The plant substances, called sterols, can only be used to lower cholesterol in high-fat foods. Sterols can't dissolve in water, but mixing them with oil or fat improves their solubility.

Carr's compound contains stearic acid, which is found in beef tallow and is known to lower cholesterol. There are few fats and oils rich in stearic acid, with the exception of beef tallow. Carr mixed the stearic acid-rich beef tallow with soybean-derived sterols. The compound can be made into a powder, which could be added to a diverse group of foods — from breakfast cereal to dairy products.

Carr is testing its effectiveness in animal studies and exploring alternatives for commercial use. So far, the results have been positive. In a hamster feeding trial, Carr compared his compound with commercially available sterol product. The compound lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) by 70%, compared with 10% using the sterol additive.
University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Canadian researchers believe adding two aluminum-based minerals to composting beef manure will reduce odors and greenhouse gas emissions. The new method is being tested at the Olds College Composting Technology Centre, part of the Olds College School of Innovation in Olds, Alberta.

The two aluminum silicate products — zeolite and perlite — are commonly found in industrial applications. Zeolites are used to filter or remove odor and absorb gas. Perlites, glassy volcanic rocks, are often found in plant potting mix.

Seven windrows are being tested in the first year of the study — one is a control, three use varying amounts of zeolite, and three use varying amounts of perlite. Gas emissions are being monitored to measure methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide production. The windrows are turned periodically to ensure aerobic composting.

In the second year of the project, the treated and untreated composts will be applied to fields and pastures to compare it to commercial fertilizers, and to test the maintenance of essential nutrients. The study is sponsored in part by the Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program for Canadian Agriculture.
Canadian Cattlemen's Association

Research suggests supplementing fat to beef cows in late gestation can enhance postpartum reproductive performance. But, a University of Wyoming study involving 155 crossbred mature cows measured the value of adding fat to diets prepartum and found no difference.

The cows were divided up and fed two different prepartum diets. 1) control, no added fat (2.69% crude fat); and 2) added fat (4.63% crude fat). The diets were high-energy, limit-fed and equivalent in total digestible nutrients and crude protein.

The diets were fed 60 days prior to calving. At 60 days postpartum, cows were estrous synchronized and bred by artificial insemination (AI) after heat detection. Cows that again showed heat were again AI'd and turned out with cleanup bulls. After 30 days, cows were pregnancy-checked.

Researchers found the dietary treatments had no effect on calf birth weight or calf vigor. Feeding the additional fat didn't affect final cow weight or condition score at 60 days postpartum. No differences were detected between the control and supplemental treatments in percentage of cows exhibiting estrus within seven days of synchronization. And, first service conception rate didn't differ between the treatments.

Researchers also concluded the lack of response to the additional fat supplements may be due to the relatively high plane of nutrition and body condition score of the cows in the prepartum feeding period. (Small et al. 2003. Univ. of Wyoming Research Report).

Iowa State University (ISU) research shows condensed distillers solubles (CDS) can be fed to finishing cattle without reducing performance or carcass value.

CDS is a co-product derived from manufacturing ethanol from corn. It's a liquid product derived from partially dehydrating thin stillage, which remains after removing the ethanol and wet grain fraction from the fermentation of corn grain.

It's considered a source of energy and protein for beef cattle. Researchers found that feeding it at 4%, 8% and 12% of total ration had no effect on carcass quality or value, or performance measurements of the cattle. CDS can be cheaper to feed than corn, with a relative energy value equal to or greater than dry rolled corn.
ISU Extension News, September 2004