Free Webinar: Disaster Preparedness for Horse Owners September 16th

September 12, 2014 in Advice and Tips, Educational Programs, Uncategorized

EXtension logoSeptember 16th- 7:00 pm EDT

When disaster strikes, a horse’s instinct and its owner’s preparation is the horse’s best chance for survival. Disaster preparation includes training your horse to load in a trailer under stressful circumstances, having an animal evacuation plan, and ensuring your horse can be identified with proper paper work. Join My Horse University and eXtension Horses FREE webinar on Tuesday, September 16th at 7 PM EDT to learn about Giving Your Horse the Best Chance During Disasters. Register for the webcast. You must register by September 15th.  A link to the meeting will be emailed to you once you register.  Presenters: Karen Waite, Michigan State University and Scott Cotton, University of Wyoming.

 

Karen WaiteDr. Karen Waite, PhD | Michigan State University

Dr. Karen Waite is an Equine Extension Specialist in Michigan and teaches and advises Equine students in the MSU Department of Animal Science. In her Extension roles she coordinates the Adult Equine Extension program, the Michigan Equine Survey, and is the Director of Leadership Development for My Horse University. In addition, she oversees the Youth Equine Extension program and is active with eXtension Horse Quest.

 

Scott CottonDr. Scott Cotton | Extension Disaster Education Network

Scott cotton is a University of Wyoming Area Agriculture Educator and Extension Disaster Education Delegate. His experience of working over two decades with three various land grant universities is combined with his previous experience as a Deputy Sheriff, Firefighter and EMT to lead him to an active role in managing animal and agriculture disaster response efforts on a number of regional and national wildfires, floods, and severe winter storms. With a family background of raising horses since the mid- 1880’s, his perspective blends research-based principles with actual field experience helping horses and livestock survive disasters.

Presentation Summary: Participants in this webcast will learn practical things a horse owner should know, and can do, that will reduce risks to horses during fires, floods and storms.

This webcast is presented by My Horse University and the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN).

Is it Time to Think About Planting a New Pasture of Hayfield? Part 5: Planting the Crop

September 11, 2014 in Advice and Tips, Ask the Expert, Uncategorized

Part 5:  When Do I Plant and How Much Seed Do I Use?

In the earlier posts in this series, I discussed some of the decisions and planning that need to be taken ahead of planting hay and pasture fields.  For this article, we have entered the ideal planting time for forage grasses and legumes.  However although we are in the ideal window for planting, there will be areas that have received enough rainfall to recharge the topsoil with moisture as well as areas that have not received enough rainfall for a successful seeding.  For those areas that remain dry until mid- to late-October, the best decision is likely to postpone planting until next year.

Some species have specific requirements that limit how late in the fall you can plant.  For example, reed canarygrass requires at least six weeks between planting and the average date of the first frost; otherwise, the crop could be winterkilled or severely weakened over the winter leaving the crop unable to compete with the usual spring flush of weeds.  Other species, such as Kentucky bluegrass, just take a very long time (21 to 28 days) to germinate and should not be planted late in the fall.  Before deciding to plant a species or mixture, be sure to study the species in question to avoid missing the ideal planting window.

In areas that have received enough rainfall to replace soil moisture reserves, planting can begin.  Early planting can lead to well established forage seedlings that are able to survive winter temperature extremes and get off to an early vigorous start next spring.  Early planted stands are better at competing against weeds next spring and often produce higher yields as well.  Work by Dr. Marvin Hall at the Pennsylvania State University showed significant yield decreases for all forage species tested as the date of fall planting was delayed with higher losses occurring the further north the site was located.

If planting into a prepared or tilled seedbed, be sure that all weeds have been killed during soil preparation and that a good smooth (clod-free), firm (your shoe should not sink deeper than the sole level) seedbed is prepared for planting.  Seed is then broadcast on the seedbed and firmed or pressed into the soil with any number of devices.  Seed of small seeded forages should not be buried more than 1/8 to ¼ inch deep.  Covering the seed is ideal since seed in contact with moist soil readily absorbs water but is not quickly dried again by the heat from the sun.  Seed can also be planted using a Brillion seeder followed by a cultipacker or roller or seed can be placed in the soil using a drill with packing wheels that firm soil over the seed.

Since drills (no-till and conventional drills) place the seed in rows from 4 to 8 inches apart, depending on the drill, I generally recommend that you drill at half the recommended seeding rate and run the drill twice over the field at about a 45 degree angle.  This will help new seedlings to cover the soil surface more quickly and reduce the chances for weed seed to germinate and compete with the new forage crop.

Another method of seeding is to use a no-till drill following an herbicide burn-down program.  This is especially useful when perennial weeds with underground rhizome systems are present.  Examples of these weeds are hemp dogbane, Canada thistle, and horsenettle.  Often several herbicide applications will be needed to get these weeds under control so plan a weed control program well ahead of seeding.  One of the best times to apply a translocated herbicide is in fall when weeds are sending carbohydrates (sugars) down to underground storage organs (rhizomes).  If a systemic herbicide that can move inside the plant is used, it will be taken with the sugars down to the rhizomes and help kill the meristem buds that are next year’s growing sites for the weed.  Read the herbicide label for the exact interval between treatment and seeding.  Generally for Roundup® or glyphosate you should wait several weeks after herbicide application before planting.  Since the herbicides used for control of these perennial broadleaf weeds will kill legumes that often are included as a component of pasture mixtures, it is best to work on controlling these weeds a year or two before spending the money to establish a new seeding or to renovate an existing stand.

In all cases I’ve talked about, be certain to calibrate your seeding equipment and make sure the drills and other equipment are clean and functional before entering the field.  These days forage seed is quite expensive so make the most of the money you spend by accurately calibrating your equipment.  This involves the following procedure:  weigh out some seed to add to the planting equipment, determine the width of area covered with seed by the equipment (in feet), run it for a certain number of feet (the length—say 50 or 100 feet); multiplying the two numbers together to get the number of square feet covered by the seed; divide that number by 43,560 (number of square feet in one acre); and finally weigh the amount of seed remaining in the equipment.  Subtract the final weight from initial weight and divide that number by the number of acres you covered (usually this will be a number such as 0.15 or even 0.015 or other very small number).  If your seed weights were in pounds of seed then the number you calculate at the end will be in pounds per acre or if you had access to an egg scale or something that measures in grams then divide the number of grams of seed used by 454 (grams per pound) to obtain pounds of seed and then divide that number by the number of acres planted in the calibration test.  If all else fails, email me or give me a call and I’ll help you do the calculations.

In summary, I’ll list some of the key points to keep in mind.

  • Make adjustments to soil fertility well in advance of seeding or renovating.
  • Have all perennial weeds under control before establishing a new seeding or conducting a major renovation in a field.
  • Monitor soil moisture levels to be sure an adequate reserve of soil water is available to establish the crop.
  • Understand the requirements for the forage specie or species chosen especially as it relates to fall planting date.
  • Start with a weed-free seedbed whether for conventional tillage or no-till.
  • Unless the site is known to be very low in available soil nitrogen (N), allow the new seedlings to develop 2 to 3 leaves before applying N in the fall.
  • Don’t delay planting; try to hit the optimum planting window.
  • Ideally, cover the seed with just a little soil but at the very least press the seed into the soil to ensure good soil to seed contact.
  • Most seeding rates really refer to the numbers of pure live seed (viable potential seedlings) that should be planted per acre so do the proper calculations to plant the correct amount especially when using coated seed.
  • If using preinoculated, lime-coated legume seed as a component of the pasture/hay mix, you should check to be certain the seed has been stored away from heat and high humidity and is not more than a year old, otherwise fresh legume inoculant should be applied to the seed just prior to planting.
  • Many small seeded species now come with a range of coatings (lime, moisture control compounds, etc.) that can halve the weight of pure live seed in the container so you should be sure to account for this when calculating the correct seeding rate.

In the last installment of this series, I’ll discuss how to manage new pasture and hay fields for long-term healthy stands.

This article was submitted by Dr. Richard Taylor, Extension Agronomist, University of Delaware.  Dr. Taylor can be reached at rtaylor@udel.edu

First WNV Positive Sentinel Chickens for 2014 Identified in Delaware

September 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

West Nile virus (WNV) has been detected in Delaware in blood samples taken from DNREC’s sentinel chickens that are monitored for mosquito-borne diseases. The samples are collected as part of a statewide surveillance program conducted by DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section. No cases of West Nile virus have been found in horses or humans so far in Delaware this year, with two cases found in wild birds in August.

The virus-positive chicken results were reported to DNREC by the Delaware Division of Public Health Laboratory. The chicken was sampled at a monitoring station along the Delaware River in southeast Wilmington on Aug. 25, according to Mosquito Control Section Administrator Dr. William Meredith of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Based upon these positive virus findings, Mosquito Control will increase its mosquito population monitoring activities in this area and take appropriate mosquito control actions.

Mosquito Control operates 20 monitoring stations with caged chickens statewide. The sentinel chickens are humanely kept and tended in the field. Sentinel chickens bitten by mosquitoes carrying WNV or eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) – both of which can affect humans and horses – develop antibodies that enable them to survive. Their blood is tested every two weeks for these antibodies, which indicate exposure to these viruses.

The first indications of mosquito-borne viruses in Delaware for 2014 occurred earlier this summer in wild birds, involving two WNV-positive crows collected in August, one from north Wilmington and the other from the Hartly area in northwestern Kent County.

“So far in 2014, mosquito populations and occurrence of mosquito-borne illnesses have been a bit below normal, probably due to a relatively cool and dry summer,” Dr. Meredith said, noting Delaware’s numbers are similar to what’s happening across the country. Nationwide through Aug. 26, 2014 the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 297 WNV human cases with 12 deaths, with California, Louisiana, Texas and Arizona having the most cases, he said. In the mid-Atlantic region this year, two WNV human cases each have been reported in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with one death, plus one WNV human case in the District of Columbia, and no human cases in Virginia.  Maryland reported its first WNV human case last week.

The worst year on record for WNV was in 2003, with 9,862 human cases and 264 deaths nationwide. That year, the worst West Nile outbreak in Delaware also occurred, with 17 confirmed human cases and two fatalities, plus six equine cases. In 2012, there was a resurgence nationwide of WNV involving 5,674 human cases and 286 deaths, with nine WNV human cases in Delaware and one death, but no horse cases due to equine vaccinations. Last year, nationwide numbers declined to 2,469 human cases.

Dr. Heather Hirst, State Veterinarian with the Delaware Department of Agriculture, said effective equine vaccines exist to protect horses from WNV and EEE. “I am urging horse owners to assist with prevention efforts by making sure their horses are vaccinated against both WNV and EEE,” Dr. Hirst said. “Initially, two doses of the vaccine are necessary for immunization. After the initial two vaccinations, a yearly booster is needed. Horse owners should consult their local veterinarian for advice on vaccination protocols. If horses have not been vaccinated or have only recently been vaccinated, owners should keep horses inside during peak mosquito times, i.e., dawn, dusk, and throughout the night.”

There are no approved WNV or EEE vaccines for humans. The majority of humans infected with WNV typically have symptoms similar to a mild flu, if they show any symptoms at all; 20 percent develop a mild illness which includes fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting and rash. A very small percentage of patients, usually the elderly, develop severe neurological disease resulting in meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), or acute flaccid paralysis, and sometimes death. Symptoms may include sudden onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion and muscle weakness. Individuals with these symptoms should see their physician immediately.

“Most people bitten by an infected mosquito won’t get sick,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Division of Public Health Director. “Others are not as lucky. The risk of severe disease, such as meningitis and encephalitis, increases with age resulting in the elderly being at higher risk for complications.”

“This finding of West Nile virus in Delaware serves as a good reminder for people to take common-sense precautions against mosquito bites,” Meredith said. These include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors in mosquito-prone areas, applying insect repellent containing 10-30 percent DEET in accordance with all label instructions, and avoiding mosquito-infested areas or times of peak mosquito activity around dusk, dawn or throughout the night.

“We know that insect bites are not only annoying and sometimes painful, but can be dangerous as well,” Dr. Rattay said. “It’s better medicine to prevent insects from biting you at all. Use insect repellant whenever outdoors.”

To reduce mosquito-breeding, Meredith said people should drain or remove items that collect water, such as discarded buckets or containers, uncovered trash cans, stagnant birdbaths, unprotected rain barrels or cisterns, old tires, upright wheelbarrows, flowerpot liners, depressions in tarps covering boats, clogged rain gutters, downspout extenders, and unused swimming pools.

“The possibility of mosquito-borne disease transmissions won’t subside until cooler autumn temperatures set in, usually in mid-October and sometimes even later,” Meredith added.

To help determine when and where control services are needed, Mosquito Control encourages residents to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes by calling the numbers below. Staff answers phones between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after business hours or during weekends or holidays should leave their name, phone number, address and a brief message.

  • Glasgow Office, serving New Castle County and northern Kent County (including the Dover area): 302-836-2555
  • Milford Office, serving Sussex and southern Kent Counties: 302-422-1512

Source: September4, 2014 News Release from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

For more information on WNV in horses, please visit our previous post http://extension.udel.edu/equine/2013/08/23/protect-your-horses-from-west-nile-virus/

Is It Time to Think about Renovating or Planting a New Pasture or Hay Field? Part 4: Planting Method

September 3, 2014 in Advice and Tips, Ask the Expert, Uncategorized

Part 4: How Should I Plant My Hay Field or Pasture?

What’s the best means of seeding fields, no-till or conventional tillage (a prepared, weed-free, firm seedbed)? As with any choice, there are advantages and disadvantages to each method. Both seeding methods allow for weed control activities before seeding but no-till is limited only to herbicide applications. Whenever deciding on an herbicide to use, read the label carefully to be sure there are no rotation restrictions of what can be seeded following the herbicide application or how many days or months must separate the application and seeding activities. Also use the label to determine if a single application will be all that is needed or whether you will need follow-up applications and if you will at what stage of growth must the new seedlings reach before the next application is applied. This latter concern is especially important for perennial and hard to kill weeds such as hemp dogbane, Canada thistle, horsenettle, and others.

No-till drills must be calibrated properly to deliver the correct amount of seed per acre as well as be set to place the seed at the correct seeding depth with adequate soil to seed contact for fast germination and emergence. Never assume that the last person to use the drill set it up properly for your seeding. When you spend a hundred or more dollars per acre just for seed, you need to be sure the seed is being planted as best as possible to ensure a successful establishment. No-till drills also place the seed in rows usually from 7 to 10 inches apart so it often is useful to cover the seeded area in two directions making a cross hatch pattern over the field to help the plants fill in the space quicker. Brillion seeders that broadcast seed over a prepared seedbed and then press the seed into the soil have the advantage of achieving canopy closure much sooner than no-till seeding.

Canopy closure is when the new plants get large enough that they are able to shade the underlying soil and therefore reduce the ability of weeds from germinating and establishing in the field. Fields seeded with no-till drills can be many years (if ever) filling in so that a full canopy exists during normal grazing activity. This is one disadvantage to the no-till drill although it is offset by the soil conservation advantage of no-till when a field has enough slope to allow significant water erosion or enough exposure to allow wind erosion problems if the weather turns dry again.

Which method is best? Since each has both advantages and disadvantages, it will depend on your situation. No-till helps conserve the soil in situations where soil can be loss; it reduces moisture loss since the soil is not disturbed; it doesn’t encourage new weed growth since buried weed seeds are brought to the surface; it does not introduce oxygen into the soil causing the soil organic matter to be reduced via oxidation; and when done correctly it ensures rapid germination and emergence since seeds are placed in the soil and soil is firmed around the seeds. From the negative side, no-till does not allow nutrients and lime to be worked into the soil profile; no-till does not help break up compaction issues from previous grazing or haying equipment use; and no-till seeding is often in rows that can be seen for years in some cases.

Conventional tillage does allow nutrients and lime to be incorporated in the soil; it allows tillage during the summer to help with weed control issues; it allows for the summer establishment of annual smother crops for weed control and to introduce organic matter into the soil; it allows you to rip fields to help alleviate compaction issues; and it allows seed to be broadcast to ensure rapid canopy closure. Some of the disadvantages include the loss of soil moisture during the tillage operation as well as the loss of soil organic matter during tillage. The above lists of advantages and disadvantages are not meant to be exhaustive but to point to some of the important factors you should consider when deciding on seeding method.

This article was submitted by Dr. Richard Taylor, Extension Agronomist, University of Delaware.  Dr. Taylor can be reached at rtaylor@udel.edu

Delaware Equine Council Member Appreciation Day September 28

September 1, 2014 in Events, Uncategorized

The Delaware Equine Council is holding their member appreciation day on Sunday, September 28th at Redden State Forest Headquarters Tract.  Both members and non members are welcome to ride, drive or hike the trails that are suitable for all abilities.  Current members are admitted free and may bring one guest free of charge.  Non members pay $20 and automatically become a member of the DEC for 2015.  A delicious lunch provided by Shorty’s Catering is included and available from noon to 2:00 pm.

Members are welcome to set up a table or tack swap/sale. In addition, a demonstration on “Biomechanics of Balance Saddles” will be offered by Mary Bashtarz with “Riding by Design” at 1:30 pm.

Door prize drawings to win a free hoof trimming donated by Barbara Dixon or a one hour saddle consultation with Mary Bashtarz will be given away

The physical address of the headquarters tract for GPS purposes is 18074 Redden Forest Drive, Georgetown, DE.

Please RSVP no later than September 18th to Stan (302)684-3966 stan22146@hotmail.com or Pam (240)994-2220 or pnebel@aol.com to attend