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News Update

July 27, 2012

Blue-Green Algae a Concern for Livestock

Already this summer there have been reports of blue-green algae blooms in Iowa ponds, prompting farmers to pay close attention to grazing and water resource location for their livestock.

Blue-green algae are commonly found in Iowa lakes, ponds, rivers and streams during summer and autumn, and can form dense algal blooms that resemble mats on the water surface. These blooms can be stimulated following storms or heavy rainfall when surface runoff containing phosphorus and nitrogen enters the water. The blooms can be quite bad when storm events are followed by prolonged periods of hot temperatures.

"Because blue-green algae can produce poisonous neurotoxins and hepatoxins, they also are a potential health concern to livestock, pets, wildlife and humans, and can be fatal if consumed," said Steve Ensley, Iowa State veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine clinician.

Ensley and Chris Filstrup, of the Iowa State Limnology Laboratory, explain how to recognize blue-green algae in a one-page fact sheet they have written. The fact sheet also describes potential toxic effects of the algae, proper sampling methods for testing and suggests ways to reduce the incidence of blooms in lakes and ponds.

The Limnology Lab focuses on research and analyses of aquatic ecology in the Midwest, and offers a variety of tests and information on water-based information and resources.

For more information on blue-green algae, click here.

Extension Online Training for Livestock Industry Technicians

Training for technical service providers (TSP) is once more being offered through the University of Illinois Extension and the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE). The online resource is being offered beginning Sept. 11, 2012, and will provide the information necessary to prepare a comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP).

Laura Pepple, a livestock extension specialist in the department of ABE, said, "The CNMP Development Course includes a five-week online webinar series that covers the fundamentals of CNMP development. A new webinar will be released each Tuesday beginning Sept. 11 and running through Oct. 9. The webinars will be prerecorded and available for participants to watch each week at their convenience."

The topics discussed during the webinars will be conservation planning (Week 1); land treatment practices and erosion control (Week 2); manure waste storage and handling (Week 3); nutrient management (Week 4); and feed management, recordkeeping, and regulations (Week 5). For participants interested in receiving TSP certification, attendance at two field days is also required. The two-day, hands-on field experience is scheduled for Oct. 18-19 and will include development processes that cannot be taught during the webinar series, such as RUSLE2, site evaluation, equipment calibration and drafting a sample CNMP.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Family Farmers Are Job Creators

The political talk this summer is all about jobs and job creators. Much of this discussion often seems to focus on urban jobs in manufacturing plants. That focus overlooks the important role agriculture plays in creating jobs in both rural communities and big cities.

Minnesota's farm families created jobs throughout the Great Recession. The strength of agriculture is a big reason why our state unemployment rate remains lower than the national average. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture reports that 342,000 Minnesotans have jobs because of the impact of growing and processing food. Those jobs are part of a total economic impact of $75 billion to Minnesota's economy and a strong contributor to our state's export strength. Minnesota exports of corn, soybeans, wheat, pork, beef, dairy products, poultry and a host of other items bring about $5 billion of additional money into our state each year.

The economic engine that is Minnesota agriculture starts at the kitchen tables of farm families throughout the state. While farming is a big business in Minnesota, the business of farming in Minnesota is family-driven. According to USDA statistics, 95% of Minnesota farms are family-owned.

For the full story, click here.

Former Panhandle Center Director New UNL Extension Dean

Former Panhandle Center Director New UNL Extension Dean
Charles "Chuck" Hibberd, former district director of the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, is the new dean and director of University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) Extension.

The Lexington, Neb., native and UNL graduate will assume the position Oct. 1. Hibberd has been director of extension and associate dean of agriculture at Purdue University since 2007. Previously, he was director of the Panhandle center at Scottsbluff for 13 years.

For more information and to listen to the Ag Minute, click here.

Donations Encouraged for NC Nebraska Fire Recovery

North Central Nebraska livestock producers have been hit with a one-two punch — drought and now fire. The extremely dry conditions, coupled with a fire that is burning tens of thousands of acres of pastureland, have caused a disaster of major proportions.

The fire has consumed hundreds of miles of permanent fence, along with what little summer grass was left for several thousand cows and calves to feed on. The fences that have been destroyed will have to be rebuilt before grazing can resume next year, if weather conditions permit a good growing season.

The North Central Development Center in Ainsworth has set up a fund to take monetary donations to help with the cost of the fire. Donations may be made online through PayPal, click here.

Donations of wire and post may be delivered to the Farmers and Ranchers Co-op in Ainsworth, 224 South Main St. Contact is Rocky Sheehan, plant manager, 402-387-2810.

RFD-TV Makes Record $1 Million Cash Donation
to National FFA Organization

A record-setting, unrestricted cash contribution of $1 million was given to the National FFA Foundation Thursday by RFD Communications.

Patrick Gottsch, founder and president of Omaha, Neb.-based RFD Communications, presented the donation to National FFA President Ryan Best at the FFA State Presidents' Conference at the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"When RFD-TV was launched in December 2000, our stated mission and charter was dedicated to serving the needs and interests of rural America," Gottsch said. "Our association with FFA has been such a rewarding experience and contributed much to the success now being realized at RFD-TV. We are so proud to be in a position to raise our level of support for the FFA, and we hope this contribution will encourage others to take note of the National FFA's outstanding track record with youth and the importance of investing in our future."

The National FFA Foundation is the fundraising arm of the National FFA Organization, which provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 540,379 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,489 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Since its inception in 1944, the foundation has raised more than $216 million to support FFA and agricultural education.

"This gift will provide FFA members with enhanced access to leadership programs, assist in efforts to establish new chapters and encourage new students to join FFA and support initiatives such as the Agricultural Career Network connecting students to career opportunities in agriculture," said Best, an agricultural education major at New Mexico State University. "RFD-TV has demonstrated through its actions that FFA is valued."

Disease Prevention is Good for the Pocketbook
and the Health of your Herd

Cattle producers are no strangers to price volatility. Between drought and disease concerns cow-calf producers have run the gamut. But analysts say that with the effects of drought lingering, sharply reduced cow numbers and a strong demand outlook, 2013 is lining up to be one of the best years ever for cow-calf producers.

The first thing any cattle producer should do to maximize profits is make sure every calf is as healthy as possible at weaning. David Schafer, director of the University of Arizona's V Bar V Ranch near Rimrock, Ariz., echoes that statement.

"It doesn't take much more than the loss of one or two of your calves, and you've paid for a preventive health program," says Schafer. "So, whether you retain ownership or sell your calves, you will see the benefit when you go to market."

Travis Van Anne, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. (BIVI) professional services veterinarian, agrees. "Cattle producers should want to produce quality calves that perform well in the feedyard and beyond, giving the cattle industry a positive image and producers a marketing advantage."

Schafer has seen the benefits of implementing a sound herd health program firsthand. "It's important for us to have a good vaccination program. And, the thing I have seen make the most difference for us is bringing those calves in 30 days prior to weaning and giving them that extra [respiratory] shot."

He adds, "We were having a lot of issues in terms of cattle not performing and getting a lot of pulls at the feedlot. We added that vaccination program, disease dropped dramatically, and it made a big difference."

A sound health program should protect your herd against both diseases and pests. Van Anne recommends administering a clostridial product at birth or turnout (1-3 months of age), followed by a second dose three weeks before weaning. A five-way modified-live viral vaccine with pasteurella should also be given at turnout and a revaccination preweaning. It is also important to control parasites with a good deworming product so cattle have the best opportunity to mount an effective immune response.

Charles Embry from Cave City, Ky., knows the devastation disease can wreak on a calf crop and the difference a preventive approach can make. "We had a huge outbreak a few years ago, and it cost us. By the time we started treating, it cost up to $50 to $60 dollars per calf to treat," he explains. Since then, he's implemented a sound herd health program to safeguard his herd. Embry markets his calves as part of the Barren County Beef Group, and a strong health program is key to the group's success.

Embry now vaccinates both cows and calves prior to turnout in the spring, and follows up with a second round of vaccines in the calves before weaning. "By vaccinating the calves in the spring, I feel comfortable that everything is good. I can go about my business and not worry about the cattle as much."

Van Anne recommends that cattle producers work with their local veterinarian to formulate a sound herd health plan that fits their operation, environmental conditions and management needs


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