Yesterday we left the dairy around 5 pm. The plan was to drive north of Shanghai to a town near the coast called Dafeng. It took awhile to get through/around Shanghai, which is not surprising since 26 million people live there. The Shanghai tower is the second tallest building in the world, at 128 stories. Sorry I could not get a good picture, but you’ve got the internet so no problem. South China is quite pretty with some palm trees, lots of greenery, canals , rivers and lakes. The buildings are a little more ornate than around Beijing where many have flat roofs. Kai says people in south China are rich. It is supposed to be the financial center of China. I said that in the US Shanghai used to be known as the place pirates would take captured sailors and sell them as slaves, and that the expression “..Shanghai-ed” came from this. Dong says that isn’t true and it must be a joke. We said good bye to Dong at the dairy and Kai, myself and a fellow whose name I can’t remember made the journey to Dafeng. It was kind of a hike, perhaps 3.5 hours. When we got into town Kai pointed out a large, very ornate, well lit building by the road. I was brightly lit with different colored lights. It looked like a casino. Kai said it was a company that made cancer drugs. They made a ton of money. The only problem was that their cancer drugs were pretty much fraudulent. The government shut them down. ” That’s an interesting story, Kai, but why is the building still lit up?” I asked. He said the local government did not like it that the central government shut them down so they made sure the lights stay on so nobody notices. Did I mention that this building is very large and probably 20 stories high? Welcome to China.
We ate in what Kai called a “Muslim” restaurant. The food is from a very large province in northwestern China. I found it to be remarkably good. It had some similarities to Indian food, with a touch of middle eastern thrown in. We had a couple lamb dishes, pork, some fish, vegetables, eggs with noodles, you know, the usual light dinner. The pork plate had potatoes and some celery too. I grabbed a piece of celery and was about to put it into my mouth when Kai almost shouting, said “No! Don’t eat that.” I had it half way into my mouth. “Why not? It’s just celery. Even Americans eat celery.” “No, its not celery,’ he said, and he pulled out his phone typed in the word and a picture with the English word showed up. (Kai and I use this app a lot.) It said “scalloins”. “Kai, its just scallions,” I said and I popped it into my mouth, chewed and swallowed. His eyes were big.”What’s wrong?” I asked. “Chinese people don’t eat that,” he said. “Let me get this straight. You eat carp, chicken feet, pig’s feet, pig’s ears, demon eggs, and a whole bunch of other sketchy stuff I have not tried yet, but you don’t eat shallots?” “Yes, that’s right,” said Kai. ” Why not?” “I don’t know,” he said. The good news was that while it was a Muslim restaurant, they did serve beer.
While Chinese beer is really nothing to write home about they are pretty serious about package size. Sixteen ounces is a mini; this one is over 20.
The we walked to the hotel just across the street and hit the hay. I answered a couple of the usual 2 am phone calls, but otherwise got a decent nights sleep. There was a pretty good breakfast buffet with some western food, but I skipped that because I can eat bacon and egg every day for the rest of my life when I get home but I can’t eat demon eggs. I had my first serving of hot orange juice. Not bad, but I still prefer cold. I took this little green packet thing that appeared to be some kind of leaf, like from a corn plant. I studied it a bit back at the table. Kai and Mr. ? were not here yet so I couldn’t ask them so I took a bite. No luck. It was really tough. I looked around to see if anyone else had one , but no help there either. I tried another bite; no way was I going to get through that thing. Then I noticed the little red string. You pull the string and unwrap it. Inside is some kind of rice based paste. Pretty good actually.
So today we’re off to a really big dairy. They have 10,000 cows, or 7,000. It it not a new dairy, but looks nice.
It is owned by the same group as the farm yesterday. We go in and meet the manager, a Ms Jung. We have tea and chat about problems on the dairy and about how we do things in the US. She watched our presentation yesterday (by evening we had over 5300 viewers) and had some questions. For one, she was interested in selective dry cow therapy, which I had written off as something the Chinese had any interest in. I asked why the interest and the answer was that their company had good relations with the Europeans and the Europeans were reducing antibiotic use so the Chinese government thought maybe they should too.
They have three rotary parlors. You get a nice view of one from the men’s bathroom upstairs.
We spent some time in the parlor and then made our way around the farm.
Most of the farms I have visited this time use recycled manure solids. They dry them after digestion. You can see the smoke above the barn on the left. Every time I suggest that someone maintain their stalls beds by keeping the bedding levels higher they tell me bedding is too expensive. I always ask they “Why? Do the cows charge too much for it?” Not sure anyone has gotten the joke. Perhaps Kai doesn’t get it so who knows what he tells them. All I know is they don’t even smile. It is a pretty nice material, far better than wet manure solids in my book.
We came upon these mixers during our walk.
I thought it odd that there seemed to be no feedstuffs nearby. There was a payloader, but I just couldn’t imagine how someone could get enough feed over to these things without an army of payloaders. I asked Kai how they did it. Dismissively, the assistant manager said “We don’t use them.” and walked away. The other assistant manager pointed down to the floor and said something which Kai translated as “off the wheels”. I looked down and saw this:
Yeah, that’s railroad track. The other one is about 10 feet away. If you look carefully at the pictures of the mixers you can see that they are on train wheels. So they moved these things all around the dairy on tracks, down the barns, across the ends, all overs. I would guess once around the whole site, going through each barn would be maybe 3-5 miles. I had noticed the tracks before in the barns.
So apparently they couldn’t keep the wheels in the tracks. I never did figure just how or what pulled these things around. Now they have mixer trucks and a nice big building that has a sign that even a westerner can read:
TRM in Mandarin is “TMR”. Apparently the tracks were the government’s idea, according to Kai. So if your looking for five, largish, gently used stationary TMR mixers, (probably can be adapted to be mobile with a few modifications to your farm) let me know and I can get you the number. You pay shipping.
Based only on what I have seen so far, the concept of mastitis being caused by different organisms with different characteristics that require different control methods seems to be poorly understood in China. When I ask about what pathogens are causing mastitis or are in the bulk tank I get a variety of answers that I lump together as ranging from sketchy to questionable to unbelievable. I used to take the answers as gospel, but now I know better. I also think it is odd that every dairy tells me their somatic cell count is 120,000 but some have pretty low rates of mastitis and some have very high rates. I have decided that the government must decide what the SCC is supposed to be by year. For 2019, that number is apparently 120,000. Maybe next year will be a bad year at 250,000. No lie, I have stopped asking that question.
I was impressed that one dairy had their own mastitis lab. When dairy told me the results of clinical mastitis cultures. from their lab, I leaned over to Kai and said” I don’t believe it.” That got a laugh. At home I would have whispered, but here I can even shout and it doesn’t matter because not a soul has any idea what I am saying. It is kind of liberating. They had 90% coliforms. I asked about Strep ag, because it seems to be common here. Nope. Other Streps? Nope. Interesting. After our walk through we met for a couple of hours where I presented my findings and we had a nice discussion. They showed me a very professional culture report for bulk tank milk, with the farm logo on it and everything. Some things did not look right here either, and nobody could adequately explain why, but you can only work with the hand you have, so we did. Later the woman who ran the lab came in, and when I kept asking for explanations about the report she brought me some plates. She was doing all her identification off of blood plates with no further testing, which someone who is very skilled could do, in a pinch, but in this situation it meant the results were a crap shoot. I don’t believe they had Streps because they did not know how to recognize them, and regarding Step ag, who knows? If it were my dairy I would sure want to know, right now. Kai and I talked about this on the way back and he says that nobody in China really knows how to culture mastitis organisms correctly, so there is really no place they can go to learn.
Oh, a bit about lunch.. On our table at the dairy cafeteria were some cold dishes: “river shrimp” (crayfish, I think) , something that looked like pretty much slabs of sliced fat, a bacon-like dish that appeared to be pickled instead of cooked, so the fat here was bright white, chicken feet, and sliced pig’s ears. I am thinking this might have to be a light lunch. Is this all there is? N b0dy is eating, which is good, because I don’t want to offend by not eating anything when everyone else is fighting for the plumpest chicken foot. Turns out this were just the appetizers. There were a bunch of hot dishes, including very small clams, another kind of fish, eel in vegetables, and some ribs, pork perhaps. The eel was quite tasty, but I chose to avoid the cold fatty things and the pigs’ ears. I asked Kai if they ate cow ears, but he said no, just pigs.
We retired to the conference room, had a short rest and then I gave a presentation of my findings. The main concern here were clinical mastitis and digital dermatitis. I think we made some progress on both fronts. They told be they imported digital dermatitis with a cow they bought from Chile. I suggested they put her back on the boat and send her back, which did get a little laugh. Most dairies seem to buy cattle from New Zealand or Australia; if not there then from South American countries. Not sure why not from the US, but perhaps we charge too much. I have been telling everyone that we are currently running a big sale on US heifers, pretty much a “buy one get one free” deal, and they should get in on it while the getting is good. So far no takers. This farm had a pen with a bunch of VES fans and lots of sprinklers off of the traffic lane. It was copied from dairies in Israel. It is a cooling pen, where cows are brought for one hour each day during the hot season. I have a picture but I can’t upload it right know due to the sketchy internet at the moment I will see if I can load it later.
As I said, this part of south China is full of canals, rivers, ponds and lakes. There are miles and miles of these shallow ponds like you maybe can see in the crappy picture below (It was raining). I assumed this was for rice buy Kai and Mr. ?? said no, those are for crabs. These crabs have a body about three inches in size and are brown. They are pretty expensive I guess but very popular. There are plenty of fish pounds around too.
I see a lot more what look like single or maybe two or three family homes down here. I asked Kai about this but as or yet, have not managed to phase the question in such I way that he can understand me, but I will try again later. I miss Hao.
We drove for about and hour and a half to a train station. Here we boarded a “medium speed” train. Top speed is a measly 220 km/hr. It was one of the first generation high speed trains introduced into China hence the tortise-ly pace. It pretty much looks like the others, but just slower. Next door there is a track with a very old looking blue train on it. Looks like 1960s vintage. Kai said poor people use it because ours was too expensive. We took the train to Nanjing, or Nanking for old folks like me who were taught the western version. “Jing” means capital; Nanjing was the capital of China until 1949 when Beijing was named as the capital.
Nanjing is a bustling city of about 8 million people with a very old walled part in the interior. Our hotel was in the center of the downtown, and it reminded me of Times Square.
I have a couple of pictures, but will load them later. On our street I see, Chanel, Burberry, Tiffany’s, Cartier, Louis Vitton and more. There is a remarkable amount of wealth in this country. If you google “why did China get so rich” – well you can’t actually google it here – you get several answers including: there are a lot of people, there is a culture of working very hard and advancing yourself, lots of manufacturing and export to other places around the world, high rates of saving and investment, holding debt for other countries, and lots of investment in foreign property. “Printing money” was another. I am too old and stupid to understand how this works, but essentially I think it is OK to do that if you have something to back it up, and the Chinese government has a lot of something. For example, apparently land values are skyrocketing here in the cities, and as you know, the government owns all of the land. I don’t get how land values can change at all since there is only one buyer/owner, but what do I know. Supposedly a new billionaire is minted in China every 14 days. It is curious to me that the communist government allows such incredible accumulation of wealth by some individuals. Were I one of those rich guys I would sure worry about the government changing its mind some day.
It also seems to me that there is a real effort here to be environmentally friendly, and even improve the state of the existing environment. Like I mentioned there are miles and miles of trees. There are also ornamental shrubs in the center of the highways and flowing trees on the boulevards, and this can go on for miles and miles too. The shrubs are trimmed. The farms have strict controls on their manure, though I have not gotten a clear explanation of the details yet. For example the farm site at Shanghai was completely surrounded by canals. I don’t believe any waste leaves the site. I suspect that after the manure is digested, and the solids removed for bedding, the remaining liquid is treated to get it to a clean state just as one would do in a city sewer plant. There are sign all over about reducing waste, conservation and environmental consciousness. I suspect even the sometimes maddening light switches in every single hotel room is are there for that reason, because you can’t leave the lights on when you leave you room, unless you leave your card in the slot. Indeed, in many of the rooms, all the power shuts down when you pull the card, so you can’t charge your computer while you are gone. There are all kinds or rules on cars, including whether you can have one and what the license will cost, and whether it will be gas, CNG, or electric. We were talking about Harley Davidson the other day and one Hao pointed out that you don’t see any here because it is very difficult to purchase a motorcycle with a motor with over 150ccs. He said it is for safety, but I suspect it mostly to control emissions They have a long ways to go in some ways, and the crazy rapid growth and building boom works against them, but I have little doubts they will get there based on what I see.