Prevent and Prepare For Barn Fires

Although you cannot completely eliminate the risk that there could be a fire in your barn, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk and be more prepared. ( PORK )

Have you ever considered what you would do if you had a barn fire? How would you protect your animals and all the other assets you have in your barn? What could you have done to prevent it? The thought of a fire is very scary. Although you cannot completely eliminate the risk that there could be a fire in your barn, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk and be more prepared.

Tips for reducing the risk of a barn fire

Contact your local fire department to have them do a “checkup” of your barn and offer more recommendations for your individual situation. The University of Kentucky’s “Preventing Barn Fire: Tips for Horse Owners” recommends the following steps in reducing your chances of having a barn fire.

  • No smoking! Bedding and hay can easily be ignited by a person smoking in or around the barn. Enforce a strict no smoking policy in your barn. Post signs inside and outside your barn.
  • Place a fire extinguisher next to each exit, utility box and at roughly 30-40-foot intervals in your barn. Inspect and recharge each extinguisher every year, and use a ABC (general purpose) extinguisher.
  • Clean off cobwebs and pick up loose bailer twine. By making sure your barn is clutter-free, you are helping eliminate ways for fire to spread.
  • Electrical devices need to be professionally installed and encased in conduit. Pay attention during winter months to water tank heaters and heated buckets—they continue to generate heat even if there is no water present, which can cause the plastic to melt and a fire to ignite bedding and hay. If you are using electrical cords, make sure that they are professional grade, inspected often and are not overloaded. Keep lights caged and only use lights that are designed for barn use.
  • If possible, keep hay and bedding stored away from a barn housing animals. If you only have one barn, like many of us, make sure hay has properly cured before storing it in the barn. Check the internal temperature of curing hay by poking a thermometer into the middle of the bale. If the temperature reaches 150 degrees, the hay should be monitored. If it reaches 175 degrees, contact the fire department.
  • Keep tractors, fuel, other petroleum products and machinery away from the barn. Clear any grass, hay, leaves or other combustible materials from equipment before storage.

Tips for being prepared in case there is a barn fire

Mentally prepare yourself so that you can act calmly and safely in the case of a fire. Remember that human safety is the top priority—ensure your own safety and the safety of others before taking care of animals. The University of Kentucky’s “Preventing Barn Fire: Tips for Horse Owners” recommends the following steps for preparing yourself and being ready if a fire does occur in your barn.

  • Identify and designate a safe place for your animals to go if you can get them out of the barn safely. This location should be away from the fire and allows fire crews enough room to do their jobs.
  • Handling equipment such as halters, leads, etc. should be quickly accessible. Consider the materials these items are made of. Remember that plastic and nylon will melt in heat.
  • Talk about the plan with members of your family and any employees you might have so they can also be prepared in an emergency.
  • Mark gates, pens or stalls with reflective tape or glow-in-the dark paint. This will make it easier to see where you are going in the dark.
  • If you are removing animals, start closest to the exit first and handle animals one at a time or by groups if they are herd animals. Always maintain control of the animals to help reduce their stress, which can prevent other injury risks.

If there is a fire, call 911 and get people out of the barn. Only get animals out if you can do so without risking human safety. Follow the directions from the fire department or 911 dispatcher.

No one ever wants to think about the risk of a fire, but it is best to be fully prepared so that you can react fast and appropriately.

Tips to Keeping Livestock Healthy During Winter Months

Most animals need some shelter during the winter months, however their natural winter coats allow them to endure cold temperatures. ( Drovers )

Winter has arrived in full force in Michigan. Cold temperatures can cause some challenges in our barns, but utilizing some easy techniques on your farm will help you manage your herd successfully during the winter months.

Water

Ensuring your herd has access to fresh, clean water is essential to their health. In the winter, battling frozen water buckets and tanks can be a challenge. By utilizing tank heaters, heated buckets or automatic waterers, water is kept ice-free and at a temperature the animal is comfortable drinking.

Products that utilize electricity, such as tank heaters and heated buckets, should be checked with a voltmeter to ensure there is no current running through the water. Any electrical current will deter animals from drinking from the water tank or bucket. By inserting one end of the voltmeter in the water tank and the other into the ground, you will get a reading that will indicate if there is a problem. Make sure to check this often.

The University of Wisconsin Extension has published a water consumption chart that outlines the amounts of water certain species will consume per day. Ensuring that your animal is consuming enough water each day is critical to their overall health and well-being.

Amount of water livestock will consumer per day
Species Water needs, gallons per day
Cattle 7-12
Goats 1-4
Hogs 6-8
Horses 8-12
Llamas 2-5
Poultry Up to 1
Rabbits Up to 1
Sheep 1-4

Housing

Most animals need some shelter during the winter months, however their natural winter coats allow them to endure cold temperatures. Providing shelter or wind breaks that can be easily accessed by animals is key. Humans oftentimes are prone to making the winter environment for their animals too warm, which is unhealthy for animals.

Michigan State University Extension recommends the following factors to consider when evaluating the housing of your animals:

  • Air quality. Is there adequate ventilation to help dispel respiration gasses and manure odor? Depending on the type of barn you have, there are various ways the barn can be ventilated. Ridge vents are more prevalent in newer barns and are based on the premise that heat rises. Older barns may require opening doors or windows to allow for air circulation. Poorly ventilated spaces can cause irritation in the animals’ lungs and lead to respiratory infections such as pneumonia. If you notice condensation on walls or ceilings, that is a good indication your air isn’t ventilating enough for the number of animals occupying the space. You will need to adjust accordingly.
  • Dry bedding areas. Dry bedding provides insulation from the cold ground and helps decrease the amount of energy animals use to keep them warm. There are many options for bedding you can use; straw, wood shavings and with cattle in particular you can use corn stover or similar crop residues for cows and bulls.

Feed

Animals must maintain their energy reserves in order to endure cold temperatures. Before the weather gets cold, asses the body condition of each animal and adjust the nutrition they are receiving to adequately prepare them to thrive in winter conditions. It is critical to continue to assess body condition scores throughout the winter, as it may be necessary to increase the amounts of good quality feed and forages. Supplying adequate amounts of feed is essential in your herds well-being through the winter months.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu.

USDA Calls for Newcastle Disease Vigilance

John Maday

Clinical signs of virulent Newcastle disease include swelling around the eyes and respiratory distress. ( USDA )

Animal health officials have confirmed two cases of virulent Newcastle disease in backyard poultry flocks in southern California, raising concerns the disease could spread to commercial operations. The disease has not been confirmed in commercial poultry in the United States since 2003, according to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

While not a food-safety threat, humans can contract a usually mild form of the disease from exposure to infected birds. In unvaccinated poultry flocks though, the virulent disease can cause up to 100% mortality.

The two California cases, one in San Bernardino County and one in Los Angeles County, were confirmed over the past two weeks in backyard poultry flocks. APHIS now urges poultry owners, especially in southern California, to adopt biosecurity measures to prevent spread of the disease. These include:

  • Wash hands and scrub boots before and after entering an area with birds.
  • Clean and disinfect tires and equipment before moving them off the property.
  • Isolate any birds returning from shows for 30 days before placing them with the rest of the flock. Limit visitor contact with their birds, and do not let anyone else who owns birds come in contact with their flock to avoid potentially sharing/spreading germs between flocks.
  • Report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

Clinical signs of virulent Newcastle disease include:

  • Sudden death and increased death loss in the flock.
  • Sneezing; gasping for air; nasal discharge; coughing.
  • Greenish, watery diarrhea.
  • Decreased activity.
  • Tremors; drooping wings; twisting of the head and neck.
  • Circling; complete stiffness.
  • Swelling around the eyes and neck.

Images of some of these signs are available here.

Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at the USDA’s Biosecurity for Birds website.

Additional cases will be reported on the APHIS website as they are confirmed.

 

UD Extension names new poultry agent

NEWARK, Del. — University of Delaware Cooperative Extension has announced its hire of Georgie Cartanza as the new poultry Extension agent.

The statewide position will be based from UD’s Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel’s Research and Education Center in Georgetown, and the hire was effective Dec. 1.

“This opportunity at the University of Delaware puts me in a different position to really serve the industry that has served me so well and provided for my family,” Cartanza said.

“I am very excited to have Georgie Cartanza join the UD Extension team as Extension agent in poultry,” said Michelle Rodgers, UD associate dean and director of Cooperative Extension “Georgie brings personal and professional knowledge and expertise to the position enhanced with passion and commitment for the poultry industry in Delmarva, making her an excellent fit for this position.”

Cartanza’s experience in the industry is extensive. A graduate of Delaware State University with a bachelor of science degree in general agriculture, Cartanza was recruited straight out of college by Perdue Farms, where she enjoyed an eight and a half year career — three and a half years as a flock supervisor and five as a regional supervisor.

Later Cartanza joined Mountaire Farms, serving three years in their housing department.

Ten years ago, while working at Mountaire, Cartanza invested in her own poultry farm, and built four houses on family property in Dover. In April 2015, she made the decision to convert conventionally grown poultry and become a certified organic poultry farmer.

Poultry is the mainstay of Delaware agriculture and the Delmarva region. As Delaware Cooperative Extension’s state poultry agent, Cartanza will deliver the latest university research and best management practices to approximately 1,500 family farms in the region.

Cartanza’s Extension responsibilities include providing numerous educational workshops and webinars on topics such as poultry housing, energy and ventilation management, poultry health, animal welfare, and mortality and litter management.

Her efforts will cross state lines, often working in partnership with industry professionals and Maryland Extension poultry experts, particularly with outreach and matters concerning environmental innovation and nutrient management best practices.

Her experiences as a poultry farmer also motivates Cartanza to educate the public about her profession.

“My hopes are through research and Extension outreach I’ll be able to help people change their perceptions about our industry, but also help the people working in our industry to be more productive and competitive,” she said.

From her earliest college days, Cartanza’s goal was to help farmers. “The poultry industry has taught me so much. I have had tremendous mentors and people who helped me so much, so it’s prepared me to be a good candidate for this position and help as many people as I can,” she said.

– See more at: https://www.morningagclips.com/ud-extension-names-new-poultry-agent/#sthash.PrW4Ir8X.svzNjQLh.dpuf

Free Small Flock Poultry Winter Webinar Series

EXtension logoHealth Problems With the Digestive System of Poultry: Tuesday, January 6, 2:00 pm EST

As the first in a four part webinar series on poultry health, Dr. Frame will start this webinar with an introduction to chicken health programs. The remainder of the webinar with discuss problems with the digestive system. The digestive system of poultry is exposed to a variety of pathogens on a daily basis. Dr. Frame will be discussing how some of these digestive-related diseases are manifested in poultry

Salmonella and Backyard Poultry Flocks: Tuesday, January 13, 3:00 pm EST

The summer of 2014 saw many cases of Salmonellosis traced back to backyard poultry flocks – see CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/live-poultry-05-14/index.html. Dr. Colin Basler of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will be speaking about preventing salmonellosis while maintaining a backyard poultry flock.

Quality of Eggs from Different Production Systems: Wednesday, January 14, 11:00 am EST

When it comes to buying eggs for your family there are many different types to chose from – conventional, brown, white, green, free-range, cage-free, omega-3 enriched, pasture-raised. What are the differences between these eggs? Why do some cost more than others? Which type of eggs would you like to produce for sale. Dr. Jacquie Jacob from the University of Kentucky will be discussing this nutritious topic. Dr. Jacob is a poultry extension project manager with a heavy focus on small and backyard poultry flocks.

Health Problems with the Respiratory System of Poultry: Tuesday, February 3, 2:00 pm EST

The avian respiratory system of birds is very different from that of mammals with a rigid lung, air sacs and extends into the bones (Pneumatic bones). This is the second in a poultry-related health series looking at health problems associated with the poultry respiratory system.

Participation is free and brought to you by eXtension.org but requires a high speed internet connection.  To participate, simply click on the link and enter the virtual meeting room as a guest.  https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/poultry  You will be asked to type in your name.  You may want to attempt to join 5-10 minutes in advance of the start time in case you need to download an abode connect add in or update your software.  These webinars are also recorded and made available through the http://www.extension.org/poultry website when you click on the small flock resource area.

Southern Farm Boy Gets It Done

James H. Baxter, IV

President & Manager

Baxter Farms, Inc.

Georgetown, DE

Distinguished Young Alumni Award for University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Jay graduated from UD with a B.S. Degree in Agriculture in 2002 prior to returning to the family farm.  Jays is the 4th. generation farmer at Baxter Farms.

Jay currently oversees the farms 2,800 acres in Sussex County with support from his grandparents.  The Farming operation was established from a small farm and tomato canning operation when James, Sr. moved from Baltimore in the Early 1900’s.  Today the main crops are corn and soybeans, however, Jay is constantly increasing the acreage to incorporate food grade crops, including sweet corn, lima beans, and edamame.  The farming operation also consists of a 200,000 broiler operation.

Jay has been active in many community organizations as well: Director of the Delaware Farm Bureau, Chairman of the Delaware Soybean Board, founding member of Delmarva Tractor Pullers Association, founding member of Southern Delaware’s Local on the Menu, member of Young Farmers and Ranchers, and the Delmarva Poultry Industry.

Congratulations

Free Webinar- Winter Care of Backyard Poultry Flocks

EXtension logoBackyard poultry owners may be interested in participating in this free, timely webinar on September 25th, beginning at 7:00 pm EDT.  Fall is the time to prepare your flocks and coops for the toils of winter. Dr. Brigid McCrea from Delaware State University will cover the activities that are recommended for such preparations.  Whether this is your first  or fortieth flock, take the time to learn about changes to your management and biosecurity routines so that your flock stays happy and healthy all winter long.  For more information click on  https://learn.extension.org/events/1479#.U_SzLP5OW70 or to connect to the webinar directly, click https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/poultry