Need fascinating farm facts? – Editorial Notebook

In this week’s issue, we bring you the answer to the great Gummi Bear riddle: how many gummi treats can be produced from the gelatin yield of one cow?

The surprising answer is on page 60 and the entire story, written by Camrose-based reporter Mary MacArthur, shows the success of a teaching model adopted by University of Alberta professor Frank Robinson. The agriculture instructor espouses the 4-H model of learning to do by doing.

His students, in turn, are actively researching the reasons why yak’s milk is pink and why eggs, despite their mode of egress, are sparkling clean when delivered by the chicken.

Has the gummi bear question weighed heavily on your mind? Probably not, but if the answer is offered, why not snap it up? You never know when it might come in handy.

Facts, of course, are the foundation upon which newspaper readership is built.

Around here, we spend our days collecting them and verifying them and compiling them into news stories. Yet some facts, however fascinating, don’t fit seamlessly into the week’s worth of news involving markets or policy or politics or production.

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Like ribbons after the Christmas gifts are opened, they’re scattered around, separated from the package, but still worth saving for future use.

And so, in keeping with the season of giving, here are a few agricultural facts, from a variety of reliable sources, to fill the farm stocking.

An average dairy cow produces 200 to 300 litres of saliva per day from eating and chewing her cud. (WP)

The average bee makes only one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. (Alberta Agriculture)

Roosters cannot crow if they cannot fully extend their necks. (United States Department of Agriculture)

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Chickens that lay brown eggs have red ear lobes. (USDA)

A Holstein’s spots are like fingerprints, with no two patterns exactly alike. (USDA)

About 85 percent of the methane produced by one cow is emitted from the front end. (University of Alberta)

Alpaca fleece grows naturally in more than 20 different colours. (USDA)

More than half of all species on Earth are parasites or bacteria and viruses that act like parasites. (University of Utah)

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Former WP librarian Judy Ferguson was a wizard at finding facts such as these. Judy retired a few weeks ago and her replacement is the equally helpful Lila Zentner. Give her a call if you need a copy of a story or photo, or if you need a fascinating fact.