Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Small Grains Off to a Start


You know early grazing didn’t work in our favor this year; however, those of you who were lucky enough to get your small grain fields planted before the rain may have a chance to have an excellent beginning and should be able to graze those fields much earlier than usual.  Of course we don’t need it washed out and we need it to stay warm a little while longer.  If these things fall into place early grazed forage should contain 28-32% crude protein. It is important to remember, each ton of forage harvested by livestock will remove 90-100 pounds of nitrogen. Small grain forage that stands a foot tall will easily yield one ton per acre. That means if you only applied 60 to 80 pounds of nitrogen per acre at planting, most if not all of your nitrogen will be harvested with the first grazing.
Don’t forget Armyworms in your small grain fields.  There is a good chance that you will have them, it is only a question of when.  Scout your fields daily because it can get away from you in a hurry.  Those of you that have wheat up, you should be in good shape with the recent and upcoming rain events.  It is worth your while to scout and spray for worms immediately.
We can also usually expect to see nitrogen deficiency symptoms before the first of the year. If you are able to graze early and remove the forage before then, nitrogen top dressing in December will surely help produce more winter forage. If you delay that nitrogen application until January or February, expect a forage growth loss.
In many cases, hay quality is below average, so a few pounds of nitrogen may allow your winter forage to economically supplement the hay.
According to Noble Foundation research, limit grazing your small grains may be the best bet to extend that small grains grazing and provide the necessary protein. Grazing steers as little as 15 minutes on small grains equals about 2.5 pounds of 20% breeders cube.  Using forage supplementation in place of feed can save money if managed correctly.  Producers should look at all winter feeding options to determine the cheapest source of protein and energy to sustain suitable body condition scores throughout the winter.

Kitchen Gadgets 101


Do you ever wonder if the newest gadgets or appliances in the kitchen will be a good fit for your family? Is an Air Fryer, Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot), or Sous Vide machine on your Christmas list but you just aren’t sure which one? It can be quite a challenge to keep up with the latest and greatest ‘as seen on TV’ item.  With these thoughts in mind our Texas A&M AgriLife Extension –Wise County program area committees and Leadership Advisory Board have been busy planning our first ever Kitchen Gadget 101 program.  Scheduled for Tuesday, November 6, 2018 beginning at 6pm in the Lecture Hall at Weatherford College Wise County, you will hear presentations from real people with samples of food from three alternative methods of cooking.
Before you splurge on another kitchen appliance, join us to learn more about pressure cookers, air fryers and sous vide cooking. We plan to provide information that addresses the advantages, benefits, versatility, ease of use, approximate costs and ways to prepare a healthy meal.
Cooking sous-vide is becoming a popular cooking technique and works by submerging vacuum-sealed food into a precisely heated water bath.   The food cooks evenly at a constant temperature without losing any of its original taste, aroma, color, or fat content.  Sous vide cooking claims to cook perfect meals that will impress your guests with an unconventional way of preparing meat, fish, veggies and even dessert.
Pressure cookers prepare food using steam that is tightly sealed in a special pot. Once the lid is closed, the correct amount of pressure is selected based on the recipe.  Many people eat pressure-cooked food because they believe it’s healthier, tastier, and easier/faster to prepare. Are the end results as great as the claims?
And finally, an air fryer cooks food with hot air instead of a lot of oil. It combines several different cooking methods in one convenient appliance. The convection action converts the small amount of oil you use into a fine mist that coats the food as it circulates making it a very healthy appliance to have in the kitchen. What makes the air fryer a great choice to add to your kitchen appliances?
Join us to find out if one of these products would make a great gift or should be added as a tool in your kitchen! The cost of the program, which helps to cover the cost of handouts and food samples, is $20 per person or $30 per couple. You may register and receive information on how to make payment by contacting the Extension office at 940-627-3341.  Space is limited.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Growth Promoting Implants: Don’t Overlook an Opportunity


          Fall calving operations it’s time to plan for growth promoting implants. I know this becomes quite controversial for some, but for beef cattle producers growth hormone implants are a valuable tool for agricultural producers who raise and produce beef cattle.  For producers, heavier is generally better, at least when it comes to calves at market.  And the easiest way to put on 20 pounds is to use an implant.  Implants are one of the most underutilized technologies.  One reason producers may not use implants is because they don’t know what they are. 

           Hormone implants that are researched and approved by FDA to be safe are implanted into the steer or heifer to help it gain more weight than a non-implanted beef would.  Implanted cattle show a 15 percent to 20 percent gain over non-implanted cattle.

           There are three types of implants on the market – low and high dose estrogen, high potency trembolone and estrogen combinations.  Some are sex specific or age specific.

            Implants work in conjunction with the animal’s feed program, working best when they receive proper nutrition.

            For maximum implant benefit, calves should gain at least a pound per day while suckling on their mother. Generally, the faster the calves gain, the greater the implant response. 

         There are several approved implants for nursing steers and heifers and for cattle in the feedyard.  Producers need to read implant labels.  Many implants should not be used on calves less than 30-45 days old.  Implanting prior to that time, such as at birth, has been shown to cause fertility problems in heifers intended for replacements.  No implants are currently labeled for use in bull calves intended for future use as herd sires. 

            At a recent cattleman’s clinic, they demonstrated the best techniques for implanting cattle.  The proper place for implantation is the middle third of the backside of the ear.

            First and foremost, producers need to keep instruments clean.  I recommend using an old paint tray and a kitchen sponge.  Add a small amount of disinfectant and run the needle across the sponge between animals.  A major cause of implant failure is because of improper needle disinfecting.  The sponge may also be used to wipe the surface of the ear clean.  

The second most common reason for implant failure is when the implant gets inadvertently crushed due to forceful administration.  It is best to withdrawn the needle slightly as the implant is deposited to avoid crushing it.  Some companies also manufacture a special implant gun with a retractable needle.

            A third reason implants often fail is because someone gets in a hurry.  Instead of putting it under the skin, they put the needle all the way through the ear and it just shoots out.

            After the work is done, cattle producers should clean instruments and protect any leftover implants.  Implants are degradable.  Keep them stored in an airtight, waterproof bag or container in the house – don’t throw them under the truck seat.

            Additional information on implanting including a complete list of approved implants can be obtained at the local county Extension office.

Ant Control


September and October are the ideal time to apply fire ant bait to your lawn and with the recent rains, mounds are more visible.  During fall months, ants are still foraging, weather may be milder and the slow-acting bait can take effect over the winter while you are indoors.

Since ants do travel from yard to yard, it would be smart to team up with your neighbors to implement a fire ant control program at the same time.  The two-step method gives excellent control, especially in larger lawns and when applied to an entire neighborhood.

The first step is to broadcast ant bait over the entire lawn.  Foraging ants will pick up the bait and carry the particles to all colonies in the yard.  This helps control visible as well as hidden fire ant nests. Baits do not kill fire ants overnight, so be patient.  Products containing indoxacarb, hydramethylnon, and spinosod work the fastest, usually within 2 to 4 weeks.

One second step is to directly treat any ant colony that needs immediate control.  Step 2 treatment options include:  granular products, liquid concentrates, dusts, baits, and naturally derived insecticides. Closely follow label directions.

To get the most from baits, adhere to the following suggestions:  Use fresh baits from an unopened container.  Once the container is opened, baits should be used within a month or two.  Don’t water the lawn after applying baits and don’t apply baits when rain is expected within 8 hours. During hot weather, apply baits only in the evening.

By joining with neighbors, you can reduce costs and improve control.  It takes longer for fire ants to re-infest when larger areas are treated with the two-step method.  Hiring a professional pest control company to treat the neighborhood can ensure the treatments are applied properly and on time.

For more information on fire ants go to http://fireants.tamu.edu.

Food Handler's Course


Foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following simple food safety practices.  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension-Wise County provides a Food Protection Management Training Program that seeks to reduce the risk of food borne illness. 
Food service employees and those who operate a cottage food business can attend a two hour food handler’s class on Thursday, October 18, 2018 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Wise County Extension office in Decatur to learn more about good personal hygiene, cross contamination and time and temperature abuse. The registration fee is $20.00 and covers course materials and an official food handler card. The deadline for registration is Tuesday, October 16.  Space is limited.
The Texas Cottage Food Law requires that anyone who operates a cottage food business have a food handler card.  The food law allows the following list of foods that can be sold: baked goods, jams and jellies, dried herbs, pickles, popcorn snacks, candy, unroasted nut butters, and vinegar. These foods can also be sold at venues outside the home including farmers markets, roadside stands, and fairs. 
For questions concerning the food handler class or the Texas Cottage Food Law please call 940/627-3341 or come by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s, Wise County Office, 206 S. State St., Decatur, Texas 76234. The Food Protection Management (FPM) Training Program is brought to you by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in cooperation with the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the County Commissioners Court Cooperating.