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News Update

December 29, 2011

AMSA Creates Chris Raines Memorial Fund

Chris Raines’ contributions to meat science in his short career at Penn State University will have long-term effects on the discipline. He was a pioneer in the application of social networking technologies for communication within the meat science community and with consumers. His passion for agriculture and his willingness to confront misperceptions while listening to other positions made him an uncommon advocate for animal agriculture. Proceeds for this fund will be used to support programs of the American Meat Science Association (AMSA) (additional information will be available in January 2012). Click Here to Contribute Online (credit cards).

Checks written to the AMSA Educational Foundation may be sent to:
AMSA Educational Foundation PO Box 2187 Champaign, Illinois 61825-2187

Please indicate Chris Raines Memorial Fund on your gift.

Are Wild Animals Affecting Your Feed Bill?

The practice of self-feeding cattle provides opportunities to supply nutrients without the increases in labor and equipment costs associated with regular feeding. Quick calculations of fuel ($3 per gallon), vehicle depreciation ($0.25 per mile) and labor cost ($9.00 per hour) for feeding a group of 40 head of cattle that are 10 miles away from your home equates to a cost of approximately $0.50 per head per visit. These costs and limited labor availability have enhanced use of self-feeders with combinations of physical restrictions and inclusions of dietary ingredients such as salt to limit feed consumption.

The concern with these types of feeding systems has always been providing proper amounts of supplement, uniformity of consumption across the herd, and efficiency of feed usage. Of the self-feeding situations, creep feeding has received the most research. A summary of 31 studies showed that, on average, creep feeding increases calf daily gains 0.38 pound (lb.) per day at a feed conversion rate of 9 lb. of feed to 1 lb. of gain. At current feed cost, this represents a feed-only cost of gain around $1.45 per pound. A study recently completed at Oklahoma State University (OSU) has indicated that feed disappearance and, consequently, efficiency of calculated feed conversion may be greatly influenced by wild animals.

With a standard creep feeder, feed disappearance was at a rate of 2.1 lb. per calf per day, which would be slightly below the average of the 31-study summary. Feed disappearance from a creep feeder being developed to prevent access from wild animals was at a rate of 0.6 lb. per calf per day. This was in an area around Stillwater where we anticipated minimal impact of wild animals, assuming hogs were the primary problem for feeders. Video surveillance indicated that raccoons and birds were regularly consuming feed out of the standard feeders. In one video, a single raccoon was able to dig out approximately 150 lb. of feed onto the ground in a single visit lasting slightly longer than an hour. This problem is only confounded in areas that have wild hog populations that have been noted to empty feeders within a few days. If tracks or waste of wild animals are present around feeders, low-cost game cameras may be used to determine the extent of a problem.

If wild hogs appear to be a significant problem, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has recently developed a web site ( and directories to pair land owners with hog hunters and trappers. Currently, the directory has more than 500 individuals interested in hunting listed by county. Landowners may view the listings and contact hunters without being placed on the landowner list.

Assuming the difference in feed disappearance in our study was solely related to wild animal usage, approximately two-thirds of our feed cost was expended on wild animals.

Moran Calls for Withdrawal of Rule on Youth Working in Ag

U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska have sent a letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis asking her to withdraw the proposed rule that would limit youth working in agriculture. The senators said the rule threatens the education and training of future farmers and ranchers.

In addition to Moran and Nelson, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts and 27 other senators signed the letter. KLA filed formal comments expressing concern that the Department of Labor would place such broad prohibitions on the type of farm and ranch work individuals under the age of 16 can perform. KLA suggested on-the-job training is the best way to teach the next generation of animal stewards how to properly care for livestock.

“On-the-job training is vital to teaching young people appropriate animal care,” Immediate Past KLA President Ken Grecian wrote in the comments submitted.

For more information visit

Agronomy Day Offers Crop Production and Soil Science Expertise

Farmers will have an opportunity to improve their crop management techniques as experts from both Ohio State Extension and Purdue Extension present at the 2012 West Ohio Agronomy Day on Jan. 9.

The annual workshop offers program sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and again 5:30-10 p.m. at Saint Michael’s Hall, 33 Elm St., Fort Loramie.

“Daytime and evening sessions offer a comprehensive crop production agenda while providing private pesticide applicator recertification credits as well as Certified Crop Adviser credits,” said Harold Watters, Ohio State Extension educator and coordinator of the Agronomic Crops Team.

Topics and speakers are:

Both the morning and evening sessions will begin with a grain marketing presentation, and Extension and other experts will share information on weed resistance strategies, weather data systems, the 4 Rs of fertilizer use and an update on Grand Lake St. Mary’s. Farmers who want to recertify their private pesticide licenses should go online at to either register with a credit card or download the form to pay by check. Registration forms also are available at all Ohio State Extension offices. The cost is $35.

Registration for farmers not intending to recertify will be collected at the door. The fee for those who preregister by Jan. 5 is $5. After Jan. 5, registration is $10. Participants can preregister to Ohio State Extension Shelby County at 937-498-7239, Ohio State Extension Champaign County at 937-484-1526 or to Watters at . After Jan. 5, the cost increases to $10.

All fees include refreshments, lunch or dinner, a free Ohio State Extension publication, a free Purdue Extension bulletin and additional handouts.

Numerous agribusinesses help sponsor the program and will have displays and representatives on-hand to visit with participants.

South Texas Farmers Bracing for Water Shortages

Record water usage and a lingering drought this year could spell water shortages in 2012 for Lower Rio Grande Valley farmers, according to Juan Enciso, a Texas AgriLife Research water engineer at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.

The Valley’s flood-control system barely withstood the massive floodwaters brought on by Hurricane Alex, which made landfall in northern Mexico in late June, followed by a rainy tropical depression, Enciso said. Total water use, which includes municipal use, was about 1.4 million acre feet this year, compared to only 731,000 acre feet in 2010.

Of the 28 water districts in the Rio Grande Valley, some have started warning growers that water may run short next year if irrigation demands remain high. Allocations, or rationing, could begin at some point next year, Enciso said.

Enciso said crops require varying amounts of irrigation, depending on the cultivar, among other variables.

“Corn, for example, requires four to five irrigations, sugarcane seven to 10, grain sorghum only one or two, and cotton requires three,” he said.

Having fewer than the required number of irrigations makes their timing critical, Enciso said.

A cotton field with four irrigations, for example, should be delivered at preplant stage, at first white bloom, at peak bloom and just before the first open boll, he said.

Enciso also said he is working with irrigation districts to set up a series of weather stations throughout the Valley to help growers calculate water requirements of crops.

“These weather stations are state-of-the-art and gather weather information constantly to inform growers via the Internet. They monitor wind, temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, solar radiation or heat units for each crop and evapotranspiration.”

Without inflows from rivers in Mexico to U.S. dams, Enciso said the dams contain enough water for one year, just over 1 million acre feet.

“Municipal water is secure and will always be a priority over water for agricultural uses,” Enciso said, “But it’s always important, drought or no drought, that growers have and use every tool available to better manage their water use.”

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