Delaware Ag Week 2019

Plan to attend the 2019 Delaware Ag Week at the Fairgrounds in Harrington, DE starting on 1/14.  There is plenty to see and do.  Here is a link to the Web page: https://sites.udel.edu/delawareagweek/

The beef session is on 1/14 at 6:00  p.m.

MD/DE hay and pasture session is on 1/15 – all day

The small ruminant session is on 1/15 starting at 6:00 p.m.

Be sure to check out the web page for accurate schedules.

Thanks

Be a Good Hay Shopper

When shopping for a new truck, you don’t buy just because the salesman says it’s a good deal. Most shoppers do their research, looking at body style, fuel mileage, towing capabilities, included options and a vehicle history. Shopping for hay should also be carefully researched because making the correct purchase can drastically affect your bottom line. Have you ever met a person that can tell you the value of a truck just by looking at the exterior? Or someone that can tell the quality of hay based on a physical evaluation alone? While a physical evaluation can help us determine several characteristics about the hay, it cannot tell us nutrient content or other potential problems, like nitrates. The only way to know the quality of the hay is by having a forage test done. Knowing the nutritional value of the hay not only helps determine if supplementation is needed, but also will save you money and hopefully avoid any headaches.

Nutrient/Energy Requirement

Knowing what quality of hay you need to purchase all begins with understanding the nutrient requirements for your livestock. Nutrient requirement is the amount of nutrient an animal needs to perform a specific task, or their energy requirement. This is determined by weight, sex, age, growth rate and stage of production. From this we can break down that animal into four nutrient priorities:

  1. Maintenance
  2. Growth
  3. Lactation
  4. Reproduction

The largest shift in nutritional requirement is the transition from pregnant to lactation. Animals fed differently from their nutritional requirements will either lose or gain excess weight. Something else to remember is that the energy requirement for livestock increases during the winter, 1% for every degree under 32°F. Your county extension agent can help you determine your livestock’s nutrient needs.

Forage Testing

A forage analysis is the only way to assess the quality of the hay. The quality of the forage is focused on the value of each pound versus the total of pounds consumed. There is a physical limit to how much livestock can consume. Digestibility is the ability of the livestock to extract the nutrients from the hay. The primary nutrient found in hay are protein, carbs, sugars, pectins and fiber. When purchasing hay, ask for the forage test results. If a forage test has not been performed on the hay, it something you can do yourself through your extension office. For more details on how to take a good hay sample refer to Ray Hicks’s article in this edition of the newsletter.

Reading the Results

After you receive your forage report, there are some numbers that you want to focus on. Always look at the dry matter levels, not as sampled. The dry matter level is best for comparing forages, ration balance and economic value. Most producers go straight for the protein content, but this is Crude Protein and based on nitrogen levels in the sample. So a sample that is high in nitrates can have a high Crude Protein. Protein is important, but many times is overemphasized. The Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) is a measurement of digestible energy. This allows you to compare
forages of the same species and compare them to the needs of the livestock. The Relative Forage Quality (RFQ) predicts the energy base based on fiber quality and intake. RFQ allows for comparisons across forage species. We have also been able to link ranges of RFQ to meet the energy requirements for livestock at different stages. This does not mean that a RFQ at that range will automatically provide all the nutrients needed, but provides us with an approximation if the forage will provide a cost-efficient base.

Nitrates are also important to look at. Nitrates over 4,500 ppm need to be fed at restricted rates. As the nitrate levels increase, so does the restrictions on feed until 18,000 ppm when it is considered lethal.

Storage

Another factor that effects forage quality is storage. Hay bales should be stored to protect from rainfall and weathering. Loss from storage can range from 20%-45%. Before hay is stored it should be properly cured. Round bales should be allowed to dry to 15% moisture and square to 18%. Improper curing of hay can result in fires. The best way for hay to be stored is in a hay shed, but if bales have to be stored outside its best they are orientated north/south, the bales are dense and they are elevated. Net wrapping also distributes moisture better than bales wrapped in twine.

Buy by Weight

Finally yet importantly, consider the weight of a hay bale. Whether you are buying square bales or round, consider buying by weight instead of by bale. Humans are not good at estimating the weight of a bale and usually overestimate the weight. So if you can put some bales on a scale and get a good estimate of the lot weight, see if the producer will sale by weight. It will save you some money in the long run.

Summary

  1. Consider your livestock nutrient requirements
  2. Forage Test
  3. Read and understand results
  4. Compare your forage options
  5. How was the hay stored
  6. Buy by weight (if possible)

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.

Survey Shows Consumers Misled by Plant-Based Beverage Marketers

In a survey done by IPSOS and commissioned by Dairy Management, Inc., 73% of consumers queried believe almond milk has as much or more protein per serving than milk from cows. It doesn’t. In fact, dairy milk has eight times more protein.

Another 53% believe plant-based beverage marketers label their products as ‘milk’ because it has similar nutritional value.

And the misinformation was even more common among those consumers who only bought plant-based beverages. Of those, 68% strongly or somewhat agreed that plant-based ‘milk’ beverages have the same nutrition as dairy milk.

Milk labeling “is much more than a sideshow over whether consumers can tell the difference between an almond and a cow,” says Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO. Consumer confusion can, and may be, leading to an increasing number of children suffering from nutritionally-inadequate diets, he says.

“The Food and Drug Administration needs to immediately end the application of the term ‘milk’ to non-dairy products,” says Mulhern. That will help consumers distinguish between nutrient-rich milk from cows and water-heavy, nutrition poor imitators, he says.

 

Want more on this subject? Read:

 

Staying Up When the Market is Down

Low milk prices, depressed demand and changing consumer preferences have collectively exerted a heavy toll on the industry and its people. ( freeimages.com )

It’s hard to stay positive through a long stretch of red ink, even in an industry you love. Or, maybe, especially in an industry you love.

Virginia Tech University Professor Emeritus David Kohl has worked with farmers for several decades, and through more than one economic downturn. In a recent video message provided by Compeer Financial, Kohl offered words of encouragement that included the following advice:

  • Surround yourself with positive people. “One of the things I find is that people’s net worth and self-worth often are equated and correlated to the type of people they stay around,” said Kohl. “Do the people with whom you spend most of your time see the cup half empty, or see it half full?”
  • Shut down the social media and TV. Be selective and limited in your use of media, as they often depict extremes. These over-hyped or highly passionate portrayals can be emotionally draining, even if they are extreme examples.
  • Rely on the wisdom of elders. “Sometimes we need to shut down our technology and have a talk with Grandma or Grandpa, or an older person in the community who has been through many of these economic cycles in the ag industry,” advised Kohl. “Their wisdom and philosophy can be reassuring, particularly in these down cycles.”
  • Invest in yourself. Leave the farm for some educational seminars, particularly those outside of agriculture. You are more than your profession – don’t allow your identity as a farmer be the only thing that defines you. Dedicate time for exercise, and take time for reflection as well.
  • Embrace opportunities to serve others. Spending time in service to those less fortunate can provide valuable perspective and help heal your own anxieties. “A friend who recently returned from a mission trip to Guatemala said it was an incredibly uplifting experience,” said Kohl. “There also are many ways to give back right in your local community, especially during the holidays.”

The end of one year and start of another is the perfect time to take a step back and assess business and personal goals, as well as take stock in your blessings that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

New USDA Rule Allows Flavored Milk to be Served to 30 Million Children

Working to supply 30 million children in 99,000 schools with healthy and appealing meals, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that the Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements rule has been finalized.

The rule provides the option to offer flavored, low-fat milk to children participating in school meal programs, and to participants ages 6 and older in the Special Milk Program for Children and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Additionally, the law requires half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich and will also provide more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.

“USDA is committed to serving meals to kids that are both nutritious and satisfying,” Perdue said in a press release. “These common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals, while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.”

Milk consumption in schools has decreased over the past eight years as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, according to U.S. Reps. G.T. Thompson (R-PA).

“If schools have more options, students are going to drink more milk, which was once a staple in the diet of our student populations,” Thompson said. “I applaud Agriculture Secretary Purdue for taking this important action to ensure students are receiving meals that are both nutritious and satisfying.”

The ruling has been praised not only by schools, but by producers and dairy cooperatives as well.

“This is great news, not only for dairy farmers and processors, but also for schoolkids across the U.S.,” says John Rettler, president of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative. “This is a step in the right direction in ensuring that school cafeterias are able to provide valuable nutrition in options that appeal to growing children’s taste buds. Their good habits now have the potential to make them lifelong milk-drinkers.”

AVMA Calls for More Action on Veterinary Shortages

John Maday

The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal. The opinions expressed below are the author’s own.

Many veterinary students who are interested in rural, food-animal practice face a dilemma, with student loans, lower pay and other barriers discouraging them from pursuing that goal. Research from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and elsewhere generally shows that U.S. veterinary schools produce enough graduates, even those with food-animal specialties, to meet demand on a national level. Distribution however, remains a problem, with isolated rural areas facing ongoing shortages of veterinary services.

The USDA has recognized this problem, and each year works to identify shortage areas and provide economic incentives, through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), for DVM graduates to set up practice in those areas.

Last week, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) announced that 74 food animal and public health veterinarians will receive educational loan assistance in exchange for a three-year service commitment to practice in a USDA-designated veterinary shortage area.

“The VMLRP is one of the best tools available to help address veterinary shortages, and we’re grateful Congress recognized its importance by providing a $1.5 million increase in funding for the program this year,” says AVMA President Dr. John de Jong. He adds that VMLRP has become more important to agricultural communities as veterinary student debt now exceeds $140,000 on average, or more than $167,000 for veterinary students who graduate with debt. Compounding the problem, rural salaries are often lower than those for veterinarians practicing in urban areas.

Past recipients of VMLRP grants often credit the program with helping them establish viable rural practices. “Our local veterinarian owned the only large animal clinic in town and was desperate to retire, but he couldn’t find a younger veterinarian to take his place,” says Dr. Kaki Nicotre, a 2015 VMLRP award recipient based in Clifton, Texas. “The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program made it possible for me to take over his practice and continue caring for the community’s livestock and pets. Now, I’ve settled down in Clifton and I’m looking forward to treating local animals for years to come.”

Dr. David Brennan from Ashland, Ohio, utilized the VMLRP to get started in rural practice in 2008. After 10 years, he purchased the practice in what he calls a natural progression. The VMLRP, he says, provides a double win, enabling young veterinarians to establish themselves in rural practices where their services are needed while also benefiting those communities.

Brennan says while some areas are under-served, there is no real shortage of food-animal veterinarians. In order to attract young associates, rural practices need to stay up to date and provide opportunities for young veterinarians to practice a full range of skills. He stresses that the role of rural veterinarians has changed, with more emphasis on consultation services including designing and monitoring protocols, analyzing performance data, evaluating facilities for cattle health and welfare, nutritional services and others, rather than “fire-engine medicine.”

According to the AVMA, the VMLRP has helped place veterinarians in more than 415 federally designated shortage areas across 45 states since its inception in 2010. However, more than 113 shortage areas remain unfilled this year.

In order to fill these areas of need and expand the VMLRP’s effectiveness and reach, AVMA is asking Congress to pass the VMLRP Enhancement Act, which would lift a 39 percent income withholding tax on the program’s awards. By ending this tax, which is covered by USDA, Congress could effectively expand the program’s reach without needing additional funding. AVMA encourages the veterinary community to contact Congress on this issue.

For more on this topic, see these articles on BovineVetOnline.com:

NIFA Awards Nearly $10 Million to Address Veterinary Shortages

USDA Solicits Nominations for Veterinary Shortage Areas

Bovine Practice Well Positioned for the Future

Help Wanted: Rural Veterinarians

Additional information on the program can be found on NIFA’s website.

CALFeteria Menu Changes for the Winter

As the weather turns colder there’s been a more frequent addition to our daily lunch menu from the Miner cafeteria: hot soup! On those colder days I’ve seen a lot more people enjoying a cup of soup to help warm them up after being out in the cold. Similarly, as it gets colder you might observe that your older calves are eating more of their starter to help meet their energy requirements. But what about your youngest calves?

Calves less than 3 or 4 weeks of age are probably not consuming enough starter to really contribute to their energy requirements. The youngest calves on your farm are completely dependent on the nutrients consumed in their milk or milk replacer. As the temperature drops it becomes more challenging to meet nutrient requirements for not only growth but also their basic maintenance requirements.

The thermoneutral zone of a calf under 3 weeks of age is between 59 and 77°. Below this and the heat that a calf produces is equal to the amount of heat lost and the calf experiences cold stress. Therefore, to maintain body temperature, the calf must either consume more energy or the calf will be forced to use what limited body reserves it has for this purpose. This prioritization of nutrients will always go first to maintenance (thermal regulation, immune and stress responses and then toward growth.)

Capture

The requirement for maintenance in a calf is quite substantial. Depending on your feeding program the calves on your farm could easily consume enough nutrients to meet their maintenance requirements. However, if you feed 4 to 6 quarts of milk or milk replacer per day then it becomes more challenging to meet maintenance requirements for the youngest calves during cold weather. As an example, the table above estimates the amount (in quarts) of whole milk or milk replacer (20% protein; 20% fat) required to meet the maintenance requirement of an 88-pound calf.

For calves being fed whole milk, if the environmental temperature reaches 23° or below the majority of a 4 qt. allotment is mostly going toward maintenance, leaving little to no nutrients for growth. For calves fed a more conventional milk replacer, the amount required to meet maintenance requirements per day is greater relative to whole milk. Below 41°, much of a 4 qt. allotment of a 20:20 milk replacer would be used for maintenance. As the temperatures drop below 14° almost 5 qts. or more are required for maintenance alone.

Meeting the maintenance requirement becomes more challenging when temperatures fall below 0°, which it often does in the North Country and in other parts of the Northern U.S. Although there are different ranges of feeding levels and milk replacer formulations, the big takeaway is making sure you’re meeting the needs of the calf so that she can meet her maintenance requirements and also continue to grow.

How can we achieve this in cold weather?

  1. Increase amount of milk or milk replacer fed per day. This can be achieved by increasing the quantity, either through an extra feeding or more milk during normal feedings.
  2. Supplement milk replacer with added fat or additional milk solids. With increased solids it is crucial to provide free-choice water.
  3. Switch to a more energy dense milk replacer that is formulated with higher fat concentrations.
  4. Increase starter intake. Make sure you are feeding a palatable starter. It is also very important to continue to provide water during the cold because starter intake is linked with water consumption.

Increasing starter intake is most likely the most challenging task in the youngest calves, so focus on the first three methods to maximize nutrients for maintenance and additional growth. Other calf management practices to keep in mind are to provide deep and dry bedding, calf jackets, minimize drafts, and make sure milk or milk replacer is fed to the calf at or above body temperature at time of delivery.

Now the big question: how are you planning to make changes to your “calf”eteria this winter?

Twitter’s @DFaber84 Finds the Funny in Lousy Milk Prices

@DFaber84 admits it’s hard to stay funny when facing financial challenges, but he says Twitter is how he escapes the worry. ( Farm Journal )

He’s a farmer, father and quickly becoming one of the funniest farmers on Twitter. Dwayne Faber’s Twitter following climbed to over 30,000 this year. It’s humor that helped him gain traction by followers, and it’s that daily dose of humor he hasn’t veered away from yet. The funny tweets continue to flow, despite the many challenges he’s battling as a dairy farmer in Washington State.

“Definitely milk prices, that topline revenue” said Faber, when asked about his biggest challenge. “That’s been the hardest part; milk prices just aren’t there.”

It’s not just the price he and other dairy farmers are getting for their milk that’s an obstacle. It’s also finding enough labor to do the work in a very labor-intensive business.

“Labor has always been an issue; that’s continuing to be an issue,” said Faber. “Living in the Pacific Northwest, anybody with a pulse can go to Seattle and make $25 an hour, and we’re having to compete with that.”

It’s those challenges that can mute anyone’s outlook. After several years of grueling prices, some farmers are becoming jaded, as financial burdens chip away at optimism in farming. Faber says he chose a different route, opting to use Twitter as the place he can escape, ultimately choosing humor over negativity.

“It’s tough, said Faber. “You do look for outlets, and for me Twitter is an outlet. It’s a way to separate a little bit.”

He’s hopeful milk prices will turn around in 2019. He said the optimistic piece today is dairy farmers already faced four straight years of low milk prices. He said at some point, the markets are going to flip, he’s just hoping the turnaround comes soon.

It’s that turnaround that some analysts project could happen in six months; a glimmer of hope Farm Journal’s MILK editor Mike Opperman has been following.

“I think if we pick up on the demand side – both globally and domestically – we’ll help take up some of that supply that’s out there,” said Opperman. “I think that demand starts to come around, and we’ll start to see milk prices start to jump.”