Planting Season and Farm Vehicles

  • Planting season presents special dangers for farm workers and motorists. Drive slowly and cautiously during spring planting season, says MU Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch.

Drivers should pay special attention as they travel rural roads and highways during spring planting time, says University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch.

It’s the time of the year when the rural roads are filled with tractors pulling farm equipment. Slow-moving farm equipment presents special dangers for motorists, Funkenbusch says.

The most common accident occurs when a slow-moving farm vehicle turns left. Large farm equipment needs to make wide turns to line up with a gate or driveway.

Slow down on rural roads, she says. A car traveling 55 mph requires 224 feet to stop on dry payment, assuming average reaction time for braking. At 55 mph, it takes a car just five seconds to close the length of a football field and overtake a tractor moving 15 mph.

Stay back from farm equipment. Use caution and patience, Funkenbusch says. Noise from the equipment’s motor and tires may make it difficult for the driver to hear approaching vehicles.

Dusk, sunrise and blinding sunlight compromise the driver’s vision. Keep an eye on traffic behind you that may also attempt to pass. Pass only when the road is clear and vision is unobstructed. “Getting to your destination safely is the main goal,” Funkenbusch says. “A few extra minutes may save lives.”

Most farmers make every effort to be courteous and safe, she says. Many will pull equipment off the roadway when road shoulders permit to let motorists pass safely. Watch for hand signals from the farmer.

Farmers may rush as they face weather-related deadlines. They want to get into the fields to till and plant. Practice patience during the small and temporary inconvenience of your food being produced, Funkenbusch says.

Funkenbusch also recommends that parents talk to teen drivers in their household about additional dangers presented during farming season. Hired farmhands also should review safe practices.

Funkenbusch offers additional recommendations for farmers:

  • When driving farm machinery on a road or highway, display a red flag measuring 12-14 feet high atop a pole so that the machine can be seen even when hidden by a rise or curve in the roadway.
  • When rounding a curve, stay to the right-hand side of the road as much as possible. Avoid soft or steep road shoulders, which may cause the tractor to tip.
  • Take extra precautions when driving in the early morning or early evening hours, when visibility is often impaired by sun.
  • If traffic lines up behind you, pull off or let traffic pass when it is safe to do so.
  • Railroad crossings, especially those without gates, present a special hazard. Never take a safe crossing for granted.
  • Use hand signals, electronic signals or both to indicate intentions to turn. Avoid wide turns.
  • Turn your headlights on, but turn off rear spotlights, which can be mistaken for headlights.
  • Avoid the roads during rush hour, in bad weather and at night.
  • Use pilot cars if going a considerable distance, and hang a flag out the window of these vehicles or use a slow-moving vehicle emblem.
Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Read More

Un-complicating firearm and captive bolt euthanasia

While never the preferred outcome, humane euthanasia plays a key role in animal care and veterinary medicine. For bovine practitioners working in the field, euthanasia of cattle often involves using a firearm or a captive-bolt device. Recommendations for placement of the bullet or bolt can, however, create some confusion and potentially affect efficacy of the procedure.

During the recent Academy of Veterinary Consultants conference, Iowa State University veterinarian Renee Dewell, DVM, MS, presented a simple way to determine the optimal point of entry for euthanizing cattle with a firearm or captive-bolt device.

Dewell credits a team including Dr. Eric Rowe and Mr. Wolfgang Weber from the anatomy division at ISU, Dr. Dee Griffin from the University of Nebraska, ISU Extension veterinarian Grant Dewell and Mr. Doug Bear, Iowa BQA Coordinator, for working together to provide a rationale and validate an easier way to describe the ideal entrance point for a bolt or bullet.

Dewell’s team suggests that the operator simply aim the bullet or captive bolt towards the base of the tongue at the midpoint of a line drawn between the base of each ear.

Dewell said the project was initiated after several members of the group related incidents where they  observed those responsible for euthanasia struggling with firearm or captive bolt euthanasia because of difficulty in rapidly and correctly locating the point of entry. “Veterinarians and others responsible for euthanasia are tasked with dispatching an animal as quickly and humanely as possible.  A method to rapidly and accurately locate the optimal point of entry for a bullet or captive bolt may simplify the procedure and result in less stress for both the person conducting the euthanasia procedure as well as the animal.” Says Dewell.

Dewell acknowledges there are several existing descriptions to locate the optimal point of entry, all targeting the brainstem. While Dewell and her group don’t dispute the validity of  them, the group contends that some techniques to determine the point of entry may be difficult to remember, require multiple steps, need to be adjusted based on breed type, and may be challenging in polled cattle when the suggested protocol uses horns as a landmark. Dewell also noted that the recent PRRS (swine) and HPAI (poultry) outbreaks have invigorated efforts within the cattle industry to plan for a swift and effective response during a disease outbreak. Dewell stated that depopulation would likely be considered in some disease scenarios as part of a response effort and emphasized that preference should be given to the use of depopulation techniques and strategies that are most likely to minimize human psychological stress and support animal welfare.

“Several team members had already been successfully using the ears to help determine the point of entry and we had discussed this concept with others but none of us was aware of any scientific support for this idea.”  In addition, she says she and several team members had observed packing plant personnel use the ears as landmarks when stunning. “Packing plants may process more than 350 head per hour. Rapid and accurate stunning is absolutely critical to protect human safety, support a high standard of cattle welfare, and maintain the projected kill rate. Plant personnel who are responsible for stunning use a captive bolt far more than veterinarians or other cattle caretakers.  Even though the captive bolts used in packing plants are non-penetrating, the intended point of entry is comparable to that for penetrating captive bolts and firearms.”

The team is confident that their suggested technique is both reliable and broadly applicable to the bovine species because of the relationship of cranial nerves between the brainstem and external acoustic meatus as well as the comparable brain size in cattle regardless of maturity. Dewell expressed gratitude for the expert anatomical input provided by Rowe and Weber as well as the fact that bovine cranial nerve and head skeletal anatomy have already been well documented in the literature. These established anatomical parameters are common to the bovine species regardless of age, gender, presence/absence of horns, or breed type. They used this existing knowledge to explain the suggested protocol and then demonstrated it using specially prepared prosections.

Dewell summarized the presentation by emphasizing the importance of appropriate ammunition and equipment, proper animal restraint.  She also reminded us that the AVMA’s Euthanasia Guidelines strongly recommended a reliable and humane adjunct method be used following the use of captive bolt.




Credit Iowa State University

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Read More

Land O’ Lakes implements nationwide base plan

This story originally appeared on Farm Journal’s MILK

Milk production in the U.S. has grown substantially over the last 10 years. From 2000 to 2014 the amount of milk produced in America has grown 23.1%. Combined with production increases around the world, supply is outpacing demand and milk prices have fallen.

In response to the glut of milk, Land O’ Lakes will have a nationwide base plan fully implemented this year.  “By instituting a Base Program, we are acting as an industry leader to implement more structure and discipline and be in a better position to capture market opportunities to maximize the value of member production,” officials say.

Details on the base program have not been disclosed; however, Land O’ Lakes officials say they have had similar programs in place for California members since 2008 and for Bismarck, N.D., members since September 2006. The co-op introduced a Base Program in their Eastern and Upper Midwest regions earlier in 2016.

It is unknown at this time if other co-ops will follow suit. Dairy Farmers of America, the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, says it doesn’t intend to implement a nationwide program this year.

“At this time, DFA does not have any plans to establish a national quota/base plan for our membership,” says John Wilson, Senior Vice President and Chief Fluid Marketing Officer. “As the movement of milk is very regional, supply management decisions are handled region by region.”

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Read More

The Holstein Dairy Cow

History of dairy cow breeds: Holstein

Holstein cows are the most recognized breed of dairy cattle with distinctive black and white or red and white markings.

Have you ever looked at a dairy cow and wondered about the history of the breed? This new series from Michigan State University Extension will explore the history of the seven major breeds of dairy cattle in the U.S. First in the series is the Holstein.

Holstein cows are perhaps the most recognized breed of dairy cattle and are the most common dairy breed in the U.S. The have distinctive black and white or red and white markings. The red and white coloring is a recessive gene that appears when both the dam (mother) and sire (father) are carriers or exhibit the trait themselves. The Holstein breed is known for high milk production but has less butterfat and protein based on percentage in the milk, compared other breeds.

Holstein cows originated in the Netherlands approximately 2,000 years ago. Two breeds of cattle, black animals from the Batavians (present day Germany) and white animals from the Friesians (present day Holland), were crossed to create a new breed of cattle. This crossbreeding led to a high milk-producing animal that was able to do so on limited feed resources. Originally, this breed was known as Holstein-Friesians but is now known more simply as Holsteins. Friesian cattle still exist today but are separate from the Holstein breed. There are Friesian breeds from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Holland and these animals tend to be smaller bodied than Holstein cattle.

Holstein cattle were initially brought to the U.S. in 1852 by a Massachusetts man named Winthrop Chenery. There was a growing market for milk and a need for cattle, so dairy breeders looked to Holland for animals. Chenery purchased the cow from a Dutch sailing master who had a Holstein on board to provide fresh milk to his crew during the voyage. Impressed with the cow’s milk production, Chenery imported more cows in 1857, 1859 and 1861, and soon many other breeders followed suit to establish lines of Holstein cattle in the U.S.

Near the end of the 1800’s, there were enough cattle and dairy farmers interested in the breed that the Holstein-Friesian Association of America was formed in 1885 to maintain herdbooks and record pedigrees of cattle in the U.S. In 1994, the association changed its name to Holstein Association USA, Inc.

Here are a few more fun facts about the Holstein breed:

  • A mature cow weighs about 1,500 pounds and stands 58 inches tall at her shoulder.
  • There are more than nine million dairy cows in this country and about 90 percent of them are Holsteins.
  • Holstein calves weigh 80 to100 pounds when born.
  • Holstein cows take the top awards in milk production. The average cow produces about 25,000 pounds, or around 2,900 gallons, of milk each lactation or milking, cycle. Each lactation cycle lasts about a year.

Enjoyed learning about Holsteins? Stay tuned for more articles about U.S. dairy breeds!

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Read More

Will dairy base plans be triggered this spring?

With milk production up in New York, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota and processing plants nearing capacity, it begs the question whether dairy co-ops will have to activate base plans to slow milk production.

It’s a real possibility, says the University of Wisconsin’s Bob Cropp. “I haven’t heard of any new big plant capacity coming on out there,” he says.

Plants in New York and Michigan were brimming to overflow last spring, and some had to dump milk after they skimmed off solids. This year, even though we’re not yet through the first quarter, production is up.

Even discounting for leap year, February milk production in New York is up 4.6%, Michigan is up 7.7%, Wisconsin is up 5.1% and Minnesota is up 1.4%. Cow numbers are also up in three of these four states. New York is up 4,000 head; Michigan is up 11,000, and Wisconsin is up 5,000. Cow numbers in Minnesota are unchanged.

At the same time, milk/feed margins are tight, particularly in New York. Because of the large milk supply, dairy processors there are not paying premiums to attract milk and basis is much lower than in the Midwest. “That hurts,” says Mark Stephenson, a dairy economist with the University of Wisconsin.

“Bankers out there tell me there are a few farms that are in bad enough shape that they likely will not be get operating loans,” he says. “That’s not widespread, but if you’re talking about that at all going into spring planting season, if you’re working capital isn’t adequate, that’s tough.”

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Read More

Farmers’ Markets

DOVER — With a record season behind them, Delaware’s farmers’ markets are gearing up for another great year.

Twenty-three community-run farmers’ markets will be opening over the next three months, selling Delaware produce and other farm-fresh goods.

“Farmers’ markets are a great way to connect with the people who grow your food, building relationships and strengthening communities,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “For farmers, they’re a wonderful opportunity to reach new customers and have some great conversations around agriculture’s importance and the strength of our family farms.”

The season begins April 7, with the opening of the Garden Shack Farmers’ Market near Lewes. The Milton Farmers’ Market opens April 22, and the Fresh Friday Farmers’ Market in Wilmington opens April 29. Twelve markets open in May and eight in June.

A farmers’ market directory, complete with locations, hours, and dates of operation, is at the Delaware Buy Local Guide at

The 2015 season set a record, with more than $3 million in sales, up more than $390,000 over 2014 and up ninefold since 2007.

Nine markets are offering Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) transactions, allowing families to purchase local produce and food items as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

All community-run farmers’ markets are operated at the local level, by municipalities, business groups, farmers or market associations, with the Department of Agriculture providing support and marketing assistance.

Farmers and others interested in becoming a vendor, or community groups interested in starting a local market, can contact Department of Agriculture marketing specialist David Smith at (302) 698-4625 or

# # #

Media contact:
Dan Shortridge
Director of Communications and Marketing
Delaware Department of Agriculture

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Read More

Delaware Farmland Preservation

Delaware farmland preservation mandate fails

The goal of the Delaware Farmland Preservation Program is to keep working farms intact instead of having the land developed as commercial or housing lots. (Delaware State News file photo/Andrew West)

DOVER — The Delaware House of Representatives voted down a constitutional amendment that would have mandated the state provide $10 million for farmland preservation annually.

Members were in favor 20-17, with four absent, but the chamber fell short of the two-thirds needed to change the constitution.

In 2005, the General Assembly unanimously passed a bipartisan bill setting aside $10 million from the realty transfer tax collected by the state every year. That sum was intended to go to the Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation to buy development rights and keep land free from construction.

The law says the state “shall” allocate $10 million on a yearly basis, but the farmland program has received the full level of support only twice in the past seven years.

In the current year, $3 million was provided.

Rep. David Wilson, R-Bridgeville, the sponsor of the legislation, said state officials should not break the law “just because we can.”

Rep. David Wilson

“Because the law is not part of the state’s constitution, this funding is vulnerable and is being raided,” he said on the chamber floor.

The University of Delaware has reported the total economic contribution of agriculture in Delaware in 2008 was $7.95 billion.

Participants in the state’s preservation program first enter into agreements where they pledge not to build on their land for at least a decade. Later, they have the chance to turn their property into an easement, selling the development rights to the state.

The state has spent about $114 million on 808 easements covering 116,000 acres since 1996. Of that, 61,000 acres are in Kent, 42,000 in Sussex and the remainder in New Castle.

Of the 16 lawmakers who represent Kent and Sussex counties and were present Tuesday, 15 voted in support of the bill.

Rep. Wilson said afterward he was not surprised, but was disappointed.

“We’ve lost the cars, the chemicals is well on their way out,” he said, arguing for providing greater support to the agricultural industry.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Read More

Farm Succession Planning Education Series continues on 3/16/16

Farm Succession Planning Education Series

Presented by the University of Delaware Extension and Applied Economics and Statistics and the University of Maryland Extension Ag Law Initiative and Nationwide

Farm Succession Planning is a business and risk management practice that is critical to the agricultural industry and to the health of families and farm businesses.

A series of educational workshops will include family communication, business planning, retirement planning, transition planning, goal setting, legal issues, and case study examples. All of these sessions will present farmers with the knowledge to begin or to continue the process of succession planning.

Families are encouraged to attend the workshops together.

2016 Sessions

January 13th, 2016 – Risk Management Session at Delaware Ag Week
1:00 – 3:00 – Retirement Planning
3:00 – 5:00 – Succession Planning

March 16, 2016 – Business Planning 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Kent County Farm Bureau

May 5, 2016 – Financial Planning 7:00 – 9:00 pm
U of DE Paradee Center

November 2016 – Farm Succession Webinar

2017 Sessions

January – Delaware Ag Week
Leases and transition
Mission statements
Presentation of Case studies examples
For more information contact: Dan Severson –, 302-831-8860
Laurie Wolinski –, 302-831-2538
It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Read More

Shropshire Assocation Offers Starter Flock Award

The National Junior Shropshire Sheep Association is pleased to announce that through the generosity and vision of several prominent Shropshire breeders, the third Shropshire Starter Flock Award will be given to a lucky youth in the spring of 2016.

The Shropshire Starter Flock Award is presented annually and helps to establish one new Shropshire flock every year.  The award in 2016 will be a credit voucher of $1,500, which can be used to purchase no less than two ewes in one of the following sales:  Shropshire Classic, Great Lakes, Shropshire Spectacular and The Midwest.

In addition, ewes can be purchased at any sale that has ewe lambs nominated for the Shropshire Futurity.

The National Junior Shropshire Sheep Association will identify a local breeder to act as a mentor to the recipient.  The sheep will range in age from lambs to yearling ewes.  The animals selected will be of sound structure and will maintain good breed type.  If you are interested in winning this award flock, you are expected to write an essay to the National Junior Shropshire Sheep Association.  Be sure to include background information about yourself.  This document6 should illustrate your goals and intentions with the animals should you win the award.  There should also be a budget included in the paperwork that is sent in.  Type your essay and email it to by April 1.  Please include your mailing address and telephone number.  All applicants should be between the ages of 8 and 20.

Winners are asked to give back to the Starter Flock Award Program in some way in the years to come.  The awarded animals are asked to be shown at a county fair, state fair and a regional national show (All American Junior Show, NAILE, The Big E or the Midwest Regional Show).

All essays will be reviewed and discussed by the board members and the winner will be chosen and contacted to make arrangements to receive their award at a spring sale.  Whichever sale you choose to make your purchase, you will have a $1,500 credit which can be used when you pay for your purchases.  You must purchase at least two ewes with this award.  Whether you are looking to add a second breed to your farm or looking to make a start in the sheep business, you are invited to take a chance and write to win.

For more information contact Alan Bruhin, or Becky Peterson,


Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Read More

Delaware 4-H and FFA Spring Dairy Show

DSC_0163The 2016 Delaware 4-H and FFA Spring Dairy Show is April 2, 2016 at the Delaware State Fairgrounds.  The show is open to all Delmarva Residents who are owners or lessors of Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire, Guernsey and Brown Swiss cattle.  The show will include both a Junior Division (age 21 & under as of January 1, 2016) and an Open Division which will run concurrently.

It is strongly suggested that all animals be vaccinated for shipping fever.  Out of state exhibitors will need interstate health papers issued within 30 days of the show.  Maryland Intrastate Health Certificates will also be accepted provided it has been checked and signed at a Maryland show within 30 days.

For rules, a complete class list, and entry form, please visit:

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Read More