Cows as a Biological Monitors of Surface Coal Mining Contamination of Biological Systems by Micro and Macro Element Toxins

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Virginia Tech. Powell River Project


The focus of this project is to demonstrate efficient and profitable production of beef cattle on surface mined land in southwestern Virginia. A herd of forty-five beef cows and ten replacement heifers owned by Penn Virginia Coal are being maintained at the Powell River Project demonstration site in Wise County. The owners have provided pasture; day to day care and management, supplemental feed as needed, and labor to care for the cattle. Virginia Tech, through the co-investigators, has provided advice and assistance with breeding and health management, marketing, maintenance of pasture productivity, record keeping, selection of sires as needed and strategies for obtaining replacements over time. The overriding goal is sustainable beef cattle production with minimum inputs so that costs can be kept low enough to generate profit. The phase of the project here reported deals with an investigation into the healthiness and healthfulness of cattle raised near a mining site on reclaimed strip-mined pastures.