Thursday, June 8, 2017

Safety Considerations for Hay Baling Season By Kent McGuire, Ohio State University June 07, 2017

As we progress into summer, hay baling moves to the forefront of things to be done on the farm. Hay baling season can come with its own set of hazards that can cause injuries. These include equipment hazards, working in hot temperatures, lifting injuries, and even the stress of getting hay down, dried and baled in a narrow window to beat the weather. Some guidelines to use to prevent injuries this hay baling season include:
• Review the owner’s manual and warning labels of the equipment prior to operation.
• Make sure that all guards and shields are in place for the tractor and hay harvesting equipment.
• Ensure that safety locks are in place when working on the baler while the bale chamber is open.
• Make sure twine is properly threaded and the knotter system and twine arm are in good working condition. Do not feed twine by hand into the baler.
• Equip the tractor with a 10-pound dry chemical (ABC) fire extinguisher.
• When operating the baler, do not leave the tractor seat until the power take-off (PTO) is disengaged and the flywheel or other moving parts have completely stopped.
• Stay clear of power take-off, pick up area, auger or feeder forks while a baler is in operation.
• Maintain proper settings and speed. Travel at a speed that allows the baler to handle the size of the windrow.
• NEVER try to unplug the baler until the power take-off is disengaged and the tractor’s engine is shut off.
• Make sure wagons are securely hitched to the drawbar by using a safety pin and a safety chain.
• When baling on uneven or hilly terrain, travel slowly and avoid holes, drop-offs and ejecting bales that may roll down a slope.
• Avoid sudden movements when operating the tractor. Workers can be thrown or fall off the wagon platform and be run over by the machine.
• Make sure workers do not ride on top of the wagon stack.
• Keep the bale close to the ground when moving bales with a front-end loader.
• When hauling bales with a wagon or trailer, use a tractor or truck large enough to handle or stop the weight of the load.
• When transporting bales on a public roadway, properly secure the bales on the wagon or trailer by using straps.
• Tractors, harvesting equipment and all wagons should be equipped with a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem.
• When assisting with hitching wagons, keep visual contact and communicate with the operator at all times. Leave yourself an escape route.
• Chock the wheels on wagons that could move or roll.
• Be aware of the stack condition, bales falling off the stack can strike a worker and result in a serious injury.
• Be aware of workers throwing the bales. Bales can bounce or roll striking another worker.
• Use proper lifting techniques when lifting, carrying, or stacking bales.
• When working in hot temperatures and haymows with no air movement, take several breaks and stay hydrated with water.
For more information about the OSU Ag Safety visit or contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at or 614-292-0588.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

EPA Sends WOTUS Withdrawal Notice to OMB By American Farm Bureau Federation

The Environmental Protection Agency earlier this week sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget a proposal to withdraw the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, setting in motion an OMB review. Following the interagency review, a proposed rule to withdraw WOTUS will be published in the Federal Register, with a deadline for submission of public comments.
EPA’s action comes a few months after President Donald Trump issued an executive order to ditch the rule. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said Trump’s action was a “welcome relief to farmers and ranchers across the country.”
“The Environmental Protection Agency failed to listen to farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns when drafting the rule and instead created widespread confusion for agriculture. Under the rule, the smallest pond or ditch could be declared a federal waterway,” Duvall said in a statement regarding the WOTUS executive order.

Farm Bureau supports EPA’s withdrawal of the 2015 rule and is urging the agency to replace it with one that conforms to the regulatory limits approved by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Scimetrics Ltd Corp withdraws Texas registration of Kaput Feral Hog Bait

News provided by
Scimetrics Ltd. Corp.
24 Apr, 2017, 17:07 ET

WELLINGTON, Colo., April 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Scimetrics Ltd. Corp. has withdrawn its registration of Kaput Feral Hog Bait in the state of Texas. We have received tremendous support from farmers and ranchers in the State of Texas, and have empathy for the environmental devastation, endangered species predation, and crop damage being inflicted there by a non-native animal. However, under the threat of many lawsuits, our family owned company cannot at this time risk the disruption of our business and continue to compete with special interests in Texas that have larger resources to sustain a lengthy legal battle.
The Kaput Feral Hog Bait label has been approved by the U.S. EPA, which requires meeting stringent testing and documentation requirements. To meet these high standards, many years of work have gone into developing and proving the safety and effectiveness of Kaput Feral Hog Bait. We had hoped to provide this valuable new resource to the farmers of Texas, whose crops and land have been devastated by the estimated 2.5 million feral hogs in the state. We had also hoped to alleviate the risk posed by the many diseases these hogs carry being transmitted to both the livestock and the food supply of Texas, by offering an alternative solution to current programs that cannot keep up with the quickly growing feral hog population.
Unfortunately, we have discontinued our attempts to provide this resource in Texas at this time. We are grateful for the support we have received from the agricultural community of Texas.

SOURCE Scimetrics Ltd. Corp.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

BeefTalk: Zero Tolerance for Bad Cows By Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University Extension April 17, 2017

I apologize if the following words are too harsh, but they are true.
Unfortunately, some know the feeling all too well. The beef business has risks, and one risk is bad-tempered cows, cows that want to kill you.
Most cows respect their caregivers and have only goodwill. But for those of a different temperament, get them out of the pen. You should have no room in the pen for killer cows.
While calving time brings out maternal behaviors, acceptable behaviors always must include respect for the producer, the primary caregiver. Never, never assume a cow will not harm the very person who cares most for the cow - you; no exceptions.
The truth is the same for bulls, but at this time of year, the cow is the one which we, as producers, are interacting. Once again, never, never assume a cow will not harm you.
I was reminded of this the other night as I turned the corner to walk past the local recreational facility. I was met by several massive tigers. Fortunately, they each were in their cage. Long story short, I walked away. But I still was thinking that if a cage door had come open, what would I do? Let me repeat, they were big, full-grown tigers.
The tigers reminded me of how small I was and no match for a tiger or cow. The outcome would be the same.
An issue today is how we visualize the critters of the world. We view animals on electronic devises - cellphones, television or many other various monitors - in the safety of our home. The hazards are minimized on the devices and we can become haphazard, or take our safety for granted.
Through time, one develops a feel for the rogue cow or calf with a quick look or maybe an intense stare-down. Early signs exist regarding those animals that you just know are not going to be a good co-habitation experience.
I remember, while working the cows in the solid handling facility, the last cow that came through. She made several attempts to leave, and tried to double-stack the chute, or in other words, push by the restraining gatekeeper and join the cow already in the chute. She indiscriminately and defensively kicked the chute wall.
She was diagnosed as pregnant, so now what? Keep or cull? Oddly enough, that would be debated in many cattle circles. I pondered, “If a producer always sorted into the trailer the last few heifers or cows to come through the chute, would life get simpler?” So, keep or cull? Those with adequate help (who have agility included in their job description) might consider keeping this cow. For those who are more “do it yourself,” the answer sways toward culling.
Ask the business partner; the answer is “maybe.” Ask the emergency response team; the answer is “cull.” Ask the night calving crew; the answer is “cull.” Ask the family; the answer is “cull.” Then ask, “Why is she still here?”
In reality, ornery cattle are just ornery and have no business in the cattle population. They are dangerous.
Is behavior or temperament passed on from one generation to the next? Absolutely. Can producers select for mild-mannered cattle? Absolutely. Can producers control the destiny of their herd’s attitude? Absolutely. Should bull breeders castrate the bull calf with an obvious attitude? Absolutely.
Quit making excuses for bad-tempered cattle. Some say they are just scared and want to get away. Some say the issue is the producer. I say, just work with cattle that work for you, not against you.
The question often asked is what to look for, and the answer is this: Cattle that routinely challenge the producer should be sold. Cattle that are very aggressive and are put in a defensive mode easily should be sold. Cattle that are overreactive to the chute environment should be sold.
Awhile back, the Dickinson Research Extension Center purchased a set of yearling steers for summer grazing that had no love for humans. Even as castrated males, their hatred for people and their desire to do bodily harm was real. And I am not making this up.
Having ultrasounded several thousand cows, nervous, high-strung cattle are obvious. One can obviously feel the tense, nervous cow, rigid on the outside but shaking on the inside. She needs to go.
When buying bulls, ask questions on bull attitude and, for heaven’s sake, don’t buy temperamental bulls that challenge the fitting crew, the handling crew, the sale crew or, in the worst-case situation, the buyers. Bulls with an attitude can be neutered and placed in the feedlot well before sale time.
Mysticism surrounds the concept of conquering the wild and taming the untamable. But let’s leave that to others. Friends and family like us to come home, and so we should, safely.
Of course, you have another side to this story: the overly tame cow, or particularly a tame bull. Respect is still the appropriate response. Remember those rare stories when someone adopts a tiger and assumes the tiger is a big pet. No, it is not.
The “tame” bull has taken too many lives. Always respect cattle; care for them, but be safe.
May you find all your ear tags.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sexed Semen: History and Potential By John Maday, Editor, Bovine Veterinarian December 23, 2016 | reprinted from Drovers Online Ag Journal

 George Seidel, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University and a pioneer in the creation and use of sexed semen in cattle breeding.
 George Seidel, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University and a pioneer in the creation and use of sexed semen in cattle breeding.

While the technology behind sex-sorted semen is relatively new, the tool has become commonplace, particularly in dairy breeding. And as the process for sorting, processing and using sexed semen becomes more efficient, leaving a calf’s sex up to chance could become obsolete.
“Sex is the most important genetic trait,” says Colorado State University reproductive physiologist George Seidel, who recently presented a webinar on the topic, hosted by the Dairy Cattle Reproductive Council (DCRC).
Seidel, who helped pioneer the sorting process and application for sexed semen in cattle, says some of the original research took place in the 1980s at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Scientists there became concerned about possible effects of radiation on workers’ offspring, and their studies of sperm led to discoveries regarding differences between sperm cells carrying X or Y chromosomes. In the late 1980s, USDA researchers found they could segregate X and Y sperm from rabbits, and in the early 1990s researchers in the United Kingdom began experimenting with producing male calves through in-vitro fertilization. In the late 1990s, Seidel and his team at CSU developed a process for creating sex-sorted cattle semen for freezing and use in artificial insemination (AI). Through the CSU Research Foundation, they formed a company, XY Inc., which was later sold to Sexing Technologies, based in Texas.
In 2006, Seidel says, about 1.5% of Holstein heifers and fewer than 1% of Holstein cows in the United States were bred using sexed semen. By 2008, sexed semen accounted for about 14.5% of breedings in Holstein heifers and around 2.5% in cows.

The process

Sorting semen is complicated by the fact that X and Y semen are virtually identical in most respects. Their size, shape, weight, electrical charge and speed are essentially the same, which is nature’s way of providing a 50/50 chance for male or female offspring. Scientists found however, there is slightly more DNA in an X sperm than a Y sperm – about 4% more in cattle. Using a DNA-binding dye, laser light and precise computer analysis, they found they could identify sperm cells based on differences in their fluorescence.
The computer-controlled sorting machinery, which costs about $500,000 for a basic unit, separates semen into microscopic droplets, each ideally containing one sperm cell, and tags X sperm with a positive charge and Y sperm with a negative charge. Sperm that are non-viable or are not clearly identified are discarded in the sorting process. The system can evaluate about 25,000 droplets per second, as they move through the machine at 50 miles per hour. In a given sample, the system typically will sort off about 30% X sperm, 30% Y sperm and 40% unidentified or non-viable sperm.
Purity of the sorted samples can reach 95%, and the industry standard is 90%, but sorting takes considerable time, and the process damages more sperm cells than conventional collection and freezing, adding to the cost of each dose. A conventional dose of frozen semen contains around 20 million sperm cells. Sexed-semen doses typically contain closer to 2 million sperm cells, which provide a reasonable balance between cost and fertility. Pregnancy rates with sexed semen typically are lower than with conventional AI, although well-managed estrus synchronization, with AI timed six to 12 hours later than with conventional semen can help optimize fertility. Higher sperm counts per dose can improve fertility with sexed semen, but not enough to justify the much higher cost of production, Seidel says.
Sexed semen generally costs about $15 more per dose than conventional semen. Lower fertility and less than 100% accuracy also contribute to the overall cost per breeding with sexed semen, Seidel says
Theoretically, as the technology improves, fertility rates with sexed semen in cattle could equal or exceed those with conventional AI, as it does today in sheep. The process already does a good job of sorting off dead or non-viable sperm cells, and could eventually provide more cells per dose at cost-effective prices. Accuracy also could be improved. Current technology can produce accuracy around 95%, but the cost is higher than that for the industry standard of 90%. Those costs could drop in the future.
Currently, dairy producers often use sexed semen to select for heifer calves from their most productive females, sometimes using conventional semen from beef sires to add value to their remaining calves as beef animals. They could eventually use sexed semen to produce female calves for replacements in the milking herd and male calves for beef production. Beef producers could use a similar process, breeding for maternal heifer replacements from their best females while using male sexed semen from terminal-cross bulls to produce feeder steers from the rest of the herd.
Potentially the technology could make the use of un-sexed semen obsolete, Seidel says, adding that depending on the production system, “one sex always is more valuable than the other.

Options for Managing Winter Manure Nutrients on Cattle Operations By Jim Isleib Michigan State University Extension December 25, 2016 |

An over-wintering, cow-calf beef herd produces manure—quite a lot of it. In one day, the average 1,250-pound beef cow produces 75 pounds of manure and urine. This manure has approximately 0.31 pound of nitrogen (not all of this is retained), 0.19 pound of phosphate and 0.26 pound of potassium. The feeding method beef farmers use to deal with this nutrient resource can have a positive impact on their forage and other crop production system. Care should be taken to not overfeed in an area. Too great of an accumulation of wasted hay and manure can have a negative impact on forage yield next year.
There are four basic approaches to feeding the cow-calf herd over the winter:
  1. Dry lot feed yard. Confining and feeding cattle in a dry lot pen from October through April, or later. Cows are fed daily and nutrients accumulate in manure/straw pack over the winter.
  2. In-field bale feeders. Bale feeders are placed in a field with frequent relocation of the feeders to better distribute manure and waste feed nutrients and avoid sod damage.
  3. Bale processing. Unrolling or grinding and spreading one large round bale at a time in a windrow on the ground, or packed snow, out in a field. The feeding site is moved each time to allow waste feed and manure to be evenly distributed across an area.
  4. Bale grazing. Bales are set in place in a field in the fall. They can be pre-arranged by forage quality. Cattle are allowed gradual access to the bales on a planned schedule by moving      temporary electric fencing.                          

Winter field feeding site using bale unrolling. 
What becomes of the nutrients from cattle manure and wasted feed under each of these systems? According to University of Wisconsin Extension’s publication, “Guidelines for Applying Manure to Cropland and Pasture in Wisconsin,” as much as 50 percent of the total nitrogen and phosphorus and 40 percent of the potassium may be lost from manure on an open lot through volatilization, runoff or leaching. Up to 40 percent of the nitrogen and from 5 to 15 percent of the phosphorus and potassium may be lost during daily hauling and spreading. Much less of the nutrients are lost when cattle are winter fed in-field.
Bart Lardner from the Canadian Western Beef Development Center conducted research on this issue in 2003-2005. His paper, “Winter Feeding Beef Cows – Managing Manure Nutrients,” states there was a definite difference in capture and utilization of manure nutrients between beef winter feeding systems. His conclusions include:
“Significant benefits can result from winter feeding beef cows on preselected sites due to increased capture and utilization of manure nutrients. Deposition of nutrients with cows versus machinery indicates more efficient cycling of nitrogen for subsequent pasture growth. In this study, economic calculations favored infield feeding. Cow cost per day was lower for field feeding than wintering cows in dry lot pens. Feed costs were similar between the systems, but field feeding had savings in machinery use and manure handling costs. Results also indicate that benefits from wintering cows on feeding sites can be managed to reduce daily costs with minimal impacts on cow performance.”
In effect, the most desirable winter feeding systems with regard to manure nutrient retention and recycling (in order of efficiency):
  • Bale grazing
  • Bale processing
  • Dry lot feeding
In-field bale feeders were not included in Lardner’s study as a separate feeding system type. It is reasonable to assume the effect on manure nutrient retention would be better than the dry lot feeding system if the bale feeder was moved frequently over a large field area.
There are certainly some cow-calf farmers who feed their herds over winter in dry lot settings and do not scrape, haul and spread the accumulated manure in spring. This practice results in wasting manure nutrient resources and may present a situation posing risk to nearby surface and groundwater resources. Investment in machinery (e.g., manure spreader, bucket loader) to facilitate scraping, hauling and spreading dry lot manure should be considered.