Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guide to Buying a Pedometer

I hope that everyone is organizing their teams of eight in order to participate in our Walk Across Texas 8 week program which begins Monday, March 5. One item that is a must for me during Walk Across Texas, is a pedometer. It helps me stay motivated and accountable.
 Many of us know that Centers for Disease Control suggest that everyone should accumulate 30–60 minutes or more of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, on a daily basis.  But how do we know if we are walking enough? Of course, one way is to plan structured 30–60 minute walks; the focus being on getting these walks on most, if not all, days of the week. We also know, however, that there are health benefits to short bouts of activity accumulated throughout the day. One of the best ways to keep up with short bouts of physical activity is to use a pedometer. Ultimately your long term goal should be 10,000 to 15,000 steps (approximately 5 to 10 miles) per day.
A pedometer has the potential to increase awareness and amount of physical activity. Pedometers act as a tracking device that continuously collects current activity and it gives feedback about how many steps have been taken that day. This feedback can increase confidence and may increase motivation to achieve a certain number of steps per day.  A pedometer can also be used to help people set goals.  And finally, a pedometer acts as a reminder to be active.
Pedometers can be found in many sporting goods stores. You can also buy them directly from the manufacturer.
The most important consideration when buying a pedometer is accuracy. You want a pedometer that counts your steps as accurately as possible. The simplest pedometer that accurately counts steps is the only truly essential feature in a pedometer.
Second to accuracy, you will want to consider comfort. If you only plan to wear the pedometer during scheduled physical activity, comfort will not be as important; but, if you plan to wear the pedometer all day, comfort will be an essential component.
Choosing other features is dependent on your personal preferences. You might want to
choose other features if they help to motivate you or keep your interest in continued physical activities. Just remember that features such as calories burned and distances covered are estimates (based on individual factors input into the device), and therefore have a larger margin of error than steps counted.
When looking at consumer ratings of pedometers, you will often read about a make
and model that is accurate and has the features you want, only to find when you go to purchase that pedometer it is no longer available and has been replaced by a newer model.
To give you a starting place as a consumer, current ratings seem to consider the following brands (particular models in parentheses) to produce consistently accurate pedometers:
Making the Consumer Reports quick picks list for a good combination of accuracy, ease of use, and value were the: Omron HJ-112;  Freestyle Tracer;  Sportsline 330,  343, and 345; and  LifeWise 63-619.5.

Remember, it’s not to late to sign up for Walk Across Texas. The eight week walking program kicks off Monday, March 5.
 Call the Extension office at 940/627-3341 for more information.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pasture Management Workshop

            Pasture management through fertilization and weed control proves to be economical when trying to produce forage.  I know the costs of fertilizer continues to rise; but, without proper nutrition and management, forage production and hay yields will continue to go down. Effective and affordable weed control is the key to realizing the full potential of today’s pastures and range land. Managing weeds maximizes grass yield and quality, which ultimately leads to more cattle weight gain per acre.

            The Wise County Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Livestock and Forage Committee will host a Pasture Management Workshop in Boyd, Texas on March 8th at the Boyd Community Center starting at noon and will conclude at 2:00 p.m.  Cost for the workshop will be $10 which includes 2 hours of General CEU’s for pesticide applicator license holders.  The meeting will include lunch which is sponsored by Boyd Feed Store.

            The workshop will cover topics such as: fertilizer practices and weed management in pastures.  Speakers for the workshop will be Gerald Hobson, Range, Pasture & Crop Protection Specialist with DuPont and Todd Vineyard, Wise County CEA-Agriculture/Natural Resources.

            For more information about the pasture management workshop you can go to the Wise County Extension office website  or call the office at 940-627-3341. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wise County Firemen's Benefit

Please help us support those who work so hard for us. For more information please become a fan on facebook ( or you can always check out the website

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reducing Sodium in Canned Beans — Easier Than 1-2-3

Have you been leery about purchasing canned food due to the sodium content? I have to admit that I have had some concerns myself until recently when I found the following information from the Department of Food Sciences and Technology at the University of Tennessee.
When the topic of canned food arises, people are sometimes surprised that nutritionally speaking, many canned foods are comparable to their cooked fresh and frozen counterparts. Studies have even shown that some canned foods yield higher amounts of essential nutrients. In addition, canned foods are available year-round, so people can easily and conveniently use them anytime in their favorite dishes.
These days, many companies are reducing the sodium in their foods. While it may have reduced sodium, the food item may not be “low in sodium.” In any case, it is important to understand where the sodium in a food product comes from by reading the ingredient lists and identifying sodium-containing ingredients (eg, baking soda [sodium bicarbonate], soy sauce, monosodium glutamate [MSG], brine).
Research shows that draining and rinsing are effective ways to reduce the sodium content of canned beans. Overall, draining alone reduced sodium by 36% while draining and-rinsing the beans reduced sodium by 41%. Rinsing beans after they are drained ensures that all residual sodium adhering to the bean’s surface is removed and results in the highest reduction. All brands and all classes of beans tested demonstrated significant reductions in sodium by either draining or draining and rinsing.
Canned beans are full of fiber and rich in nutrients and by draining-and-rinsing, the sodium content of canned beans’ can be reduced. The recipe below is a good example of how we can simply enjoy the many nutritional benefits of canned beans.

Black Bean Country Salsa
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (11-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 large jalapeño pepper, diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime/lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; toss gently. Cover and chill. Serve with baked tortilla chips.     

Yield:  7 cups

Nutrients per servings: 113 calories, 4 g. protein, 4 g. fat. 5 g. fiber, 16 g. carbohydrates,
315 mg sodium


Due to recent rains and favorable growing conditions producers need to be aware of the potential for bloat in cattle.  To top it off because of the rains producers are actually getting excited about putting out fertilizer.  All of these things are very good but at the same time be prepared for your pastures to become too high of quality and cause some potential for bloat in your cattle.  Recently I received the following useful information Wise County beef producers about bloat from Ted McCollum III, PhD, PAS-ACAN, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Amarillo, Texas. 

Foamy or frothy bloat reduces performance and can potentially lead to death of cattle.  Frothy bloat occurs when the gases normally produced during ruminal fermentation cannot be expelled from the rumen by eructation (belching).   At the onset of bloat, cattle may cease eating and the bloat may dissipate.  As the severity of bloat increases, the rumen becomes more distended and the level of discomfort increases.  If no intervention occurs, death can result from respiratory distress and heart failure. 

            Anytime cattle are consuming highly digestible feedstuffs and forages the potential for frothy bloat exists.  Carbohydrates and soluble proteins from these feeds are rapidly degraded and fermented in the rumen. Slime-producing bacteria that degrade soluble proteins and small feed particles produce a slime that can develop into a stable, proteinaceous foam.  Mineral composition of the forage may also affect the stability (surface tension) of the foam.  Bloat occurs when the gases produced by the fermentation become trapped in this foam and cannot be expelled.

Frothy bloat on pasture is usually associated with actively growing, highly digestible forages that contain low fiber and relatively high crude protein (and soluble protein) levels.  Among these forages are small grain forages and legumes such as alfalfa and red and white clover. 

The occurrence of bloat is affected by a number of factors – soil fertility, climatic conditions, stage of plant development, grazing management, and animal predisposition – among others.  Because of the multiple factors, reducing or preventing bloat may require multiple management approaches on a single operation and, the success, or lack thereof, of a preventative measure can vary from year-to-year and operation-to-operation.

Soil fertility practices may influence the incidence of bloat on small grains pastures.  Work in the Rolling Plains suggests that high, single applications of N on wheat increases the potential for bloat.  This and management history on fields may partially explain why bloat outbreaks may occur on some fields but not on others in the locale.

Stage of plant development affects the concentration of carbohydrates and soluble proteins that can provoke bloat.  This again may partially explain why bloat outbreaks may occur on some fields but not on others in the locale.  The forage may be at different stages of development as influenced by planting dates, moisture conditions and other factors affecting growth.

Small grains bloat is typically a problem in the late winter/early spring when the forage is coming out of winter dormancy.  Occasionally fall/winter bloat can be a problem.  With legumes, bloat risk changes with stage of plant development.  For instance, bloat risk on alfalfa decreases as the plant matures and blooms.  Knowing when bloat risk increases and subsides during the grazing season aids the timely application of prevention practices.

For pastures containing bloat-provocative legumes, it is recommended that the legumes comprise no more than 50% of the forage mix.  An alternative is to plant adapted legumes that are less bloat provocative. 

Grazing programs should focus on turn-out practices and forage availability.  Prior to turning cattle onto pasture ensure that the cattle are full.  This will tend to limit immediate grazing activity and forage consumption.  Likewise, if cattle are managed under a rotational grazing scheme, judiciously manage forage availability.  Moving cattle from pastures with a limited forage supply (and hence limited consumption) to fresh paddocks with an abundant supply (and hence increased consumption) may predispose the cattle to bloat.  Adjust the rotation so cattle are not rotated from a limited forage supply to an abundant forage supply.

During bloat risk periods, providing access to hay or other forages may reduce the occurrence of bloat.  Assuming the cattle will consume the hay/forage, consumption of the bloat-provocative forage may be reduced and hence reduce the risk of bloat. 

Poloxalene (Bloatguard) is a mild detergent that reduces the foam in the rumen and hence can reduce the incidence of bloat.  The product is available in different forms – blocks, mineral supplements, liquids, top dresses.  To be effective, the cattle must consume a sufficient amount of poloxalene daily.  Poloxalene in a self-fed form will probably never totally prevent bloat because of the variation in daily consumption by individual animals.  Hand feeding poloxalene in a larger volume of feed will increase the consistency of daily intake.

Surfactants, anti-foaming agents, have been used successfully in some grazing situations. In order for surfactants to be effective, they must be consumed on a daily basis. Water treatments are effective as long as the treated water is the only source of water and the surfactant concentrations are maintained.

Ionophore feed additives may also aid in bloat prevention.  Microbial gas production in the rumen is reduced by ionophore consumption. Studies on irrigated wheat in New Mexico demonstrated that Rumensin dramatically reduced the incidence and severity of bloat.  Ionophores can be delivered in blocks, mineral supplements, pelleted supplements and mixed feeds.  As noted with poloxalene, these feed additives will not totally eliminate bloat.  In addition to aiding with bloat prevention, the ionophores will improve daily weight gain.

Anecdotal data suggests that salt (sodium) consumption may reduce incidence of bloat.  A survey of Oklahoma producers indicated that bloat incidence was lower when salt was available to cattle.  Remember that complete mineral supplements for cattle contain salt.  Oklahoma data has also shown that cattle grazing wheat and consuming a complete mineral balanced for wheat pasture gain more rapidly than cattle consuming salt alone and inclusion of Rumensin further improved gains.  So offering a mineral supplement provides a means of delivering salt as well as an ionophore, both of which may help reduce bloat prevalence, as well as improving performance.

Some cattle are predisposed to bloat.  This may reflect physiological differences, differences in ruminal microbial populations, differences in forage selection and forage intake, or other factors.  If animals are chronic bloaters, the best approach is to remove them from the group.

The only 100% effective means of stopping bloat is to remove the cattle from the bloat provocative pasture. 

Several factors, acting in combination or individually, can lead to a bloat problem.  No one single management practice will be completely effective all of the time.  Knowledge of when bloat occurs and why it occurs can help in developing and implementing a management plan to reduce the occurrence.

Showcase Exhibit

Monday, February 6, 2012

14th Annual Wise County Walk Across Texas

Through a modest increase in daily activity, most Americans can improve their health.  WALK ACROSS TEXAS is a program that persuades and motivates people of all ages to make the most important get started.  It is a fun and flexible way to exercise.  The program is simple, free and safe.  All you need is a team of eight people to get moving, with one person being designated as the “team captain.”  The team who walks farthest “across Texas” will win, but everyone who participates will take home a healthy habit - walking for fitness.
            Team members report their daily mileage to the team captain, and the team captain reports the individual and team total miles on the following web address:  or  to the Extension office at the end of each week by: telephone (940.627.3341), fax (940.627.8070) or e-mail
            Teams are not required to walk or ride together, although they may if they desire.  Teams simply pool their mileage each week to work toward “walking across Texas”.   Members may walk, jog, ride a bike, skateboard, roller blade, tread mill, swim, spin and/or run.  A large Texas map showing the progress of teams will be in Texas AgriLife Extension, Wise County office, and at other various locations.
            So dust off your walking shoes and prepare to join us in this 8 week journey beginning on March 5, and continuing through April 30.    
            Walk Across Texas is sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension. We are looking for captains and team members.  Please encourage organizations in which you are involved to participate in this endeavor.
            Remember prevention works! Individuals can save a lot of pain, worry and money by avoiding health problems. I encourage you to join the Walk Across Texas Program today.
            Call or come by Texas AgriLife  Extension Service, Wise County office, located at 206 South State, in Decatur or call 940-627-3341 to pick up your Walk Across Texas Team Captain Packet.