Month: April 2020

11 Apr 2020

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Supporting the community through education and preservation are foundational values of the Greenacres Foundation and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. With values so closely aligned, it is only natural that these organizations trade ideas, support each other, and have coexisted for over 30 years. Because of this strong relationship, when Greenacres saw their neighbor in need, they were quick to respond.

“While Greenacres was making the decision to donate $1 million to support local organizations during this crisis, the Zoo was high on our list.” said Carter Randolph, Greenacres President. “They hadn’t asked us for help, but we knew that a potential shutdown order was going to have a major impact on their business and would drastically impact their revenue, but the cost of maintaining the animals would not change. Our founders, Louis and Louise Nippert, believed in the Zoo’s mission and offered support whenever it was needed. So we asked ourselves “What would the Nipperts do?”.

The answer was obvious and within days of Governor DeWine officially declaring a stay-at-home order, Greenacres donated $150,000 to the Zoo. It was a much needed surprise for the Zoo as they were just starting to seek assistance in managing their upkeep costs. “Greenacres was the first to give a gift to support our Emergency Operating Fund. It was a shot in the arm that inspired us to move forward and garner support from other groups.” said Cincinnati Zoo Director, Thane Maynard.

Brighter Days Ahead

Both organizations have had to cancel or postpone in-person field trips and events until at least May, but are adjusting to the changes by offering educational opportunities and experiences via digital outlets. “Our world changed and we have to find a way to continue to transform and enhance the lives of the 30,000 children who visit Greenacres annually without in person visits. Virtual learning opportunities are being developed by our staff and while they provide a great resource nothing can replace the impact on a child of a walk through a Beech Maple forest, collecting warm eggs from under a chicken, standing within a few feet of a mother cow or expressing their impression of the wonders of Greenacres through a song.” said Randolph. The two organizations look forward to welcoming visitors back as soon as the public health risks subside and to many more years of working together.

07 Apr 2020

Protecting the safety of our Animals

Protecting the safety of our Animals

Protecting the safety of our employees and animals has always been a priority at Greenacres. Although we are taking every precaution with our staff, with the current news of a tiger at the Bronx Zoo testing positive for Coronavirus, we need to make sure we do everything to protect our animals to the same standard. It is believed that an asymptomatic zoo employee transmitted the infection and it is confirmed that animals can contract the virus from humans.

In order to ensure animal safety, please remember that Greenacres is CLOSED with the exception of essential employees which includes our animal care personnel and garden personnel.

Our property is beautiful and may be tempting to hike or walk your dog, but we ask that you refrain and keep in mind that it is private property and cannot be treated like a public park. During normal times we appreciate having invited visitors, but for now, we must absolutely limit who is on the property.

We appreciate your help and respect in the matter and look forward to having school groups back soon.

For more information about the tiger and how the disease can potentially spread from humans to animals:

01 Apr 2020

Grass Fed Beef Production Methods – Consumer Implications

Grass Fed Beef Production Methods – Consumer Implications

In 2016 Greenacres partnered with Dr. Jason Rowntree and Michigan State University (MSU) to gain a better understanding of the nutritional quality associated with grass-fed beef.  The results of that partnership was a 3 year study culminating in Greenacres’ first two peer-reviewed manuscripts.  The MSU partnership also led to some interesting and unique findings compared to the existing literature.  Not all beef labeled as “grass-fed” comes with the nutritional halo that one might expect from a grass-fed product.  Grass-fed beef is advertised as a good source of vitamins A and E as well as having a more favorable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (most often reported as 2:1), compared to grain-fed beef.  However, the data we collected from over 750 grass-fed beef samples sourced from across the U.S. suggest that nutritionally speaking, not all grass-fed products are created equal.  Our findings showed that some grass-fed beef contained untraceable amounts of vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids and had omega-6 to omega-3 ratios in excess of 28:1, almost 3 times the amount one would expect from grain-fed beef.

What was the driver behind these variations?  The answer is not so easy.  The data we collected on production methods were based on an online survey, filled out by producers who submitted samples.  However, not all participants agreed to fill out the survey.  In addition, surveys can be unreliable sources of information.  After analyzing the survey data there were some potential culprits, namely harvested forages (haylage and/or bailage) as well as grain by-products, such as soy hulls. During the “finishing phase” (the period in the last 60-90 days when the cattle convert energy into intramuscular fat) not all grass-fed animals eat grass on pasture.  Some grass-fed protocols allow for producers to use feeds other than fresh grass.  This could include harvested forages that are dried (hay) or fermented (haylage) or other types of roughage.  As long as the cattle do not receive the grain of a plant (e.g. soybean hulls, which are ground up soybean plants but do not include the soybean itself) they can still be marketed as “grass-fed”.   Even when these products were indicated in the surveys, they did not always correlate to nutritional variations.  This left us scratching our heads.

Discovering the drivers of the nutritional quality of grass-fed beef has important implications for both producers and consumers alike.  Producers want to produce a premium product that is desired by consumers and grass-fed beef consumers might count nutritional density as a factor in their purchasing decisions.  Identifying what factors impact the nutritional quality of the product could lead to recommendations for producers to improve their product as well as an increase in consumer acceptance.

To gain a better understanding of the root of the nutritional anomalies, Greenacres is partnering with Dr. Rowntree and MSU for a second time.  This study will be conducted at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station over the 2020 and 2021 production seasons.  During this study we will be providing different types of “grass-fed” feeding regimens to groups of cattle.  These treatments will include: 100% fresh forages on pasture; fresh forages + hay supplementation; fresh forages + soy hull supplementation; and harvested forages fed in confinement to represent the “feedlot grass-fed” model.  Each treatment will be randomized and replicated to ensure scientific rigor.  The findings will be peer-reviewed and published at the conclusion of the study.

–Chad B.