Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course set for Aug.1-3

After a historic run in beef cattle prices, producers are left with many decisions regarding the future of the cattle market, consumer demand and long-term weather projections, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle expert.

These topics and more will be discussed at the 62nd Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course Aug. 1-3 at Texas A&M University in College Station.  The 62nd Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course is scheduled Aug. 1-3 at Texas A&M University in College Station. “We’ve had quite a run over the past two years with regards to high cattle prices,” said Dr. Jason Cleere, conference coordinator. “Cattle prices fell considerably last fall and ranchers are concerned with where they will go in the future. While a lot of folks have enjoyed healthy bottom lines over the past few years because of high prices, margins are smaller this year and producers will have to manage costs to maintain profitability.  This year’s short course will focus on controlling costs while improving productivity of the ranch.”

The short course is the premier beef educational event in Texas, attracting more than 1,400 attendees annually, Cleere said. It features 20 sessions covering basic practices, new technologies and other important industry topics.  These sessions provide participants with an opportunity to choose workshops based on their level of production experience and the needs of their ranch.  “Concurrent workshops will feature information on forage and beef cattle management, nutrition and reproduction, record keeping, genetics, purebred cattle and much more,” he said.  In addition to classroom instruction, participants can attend one of the program’s popular demonstrations on the morning of Aug. 3, Cleere said.

“There will be demonstrations on brush control, chute-side calf working, cattle handling, bull fertility testing, brush management and beef carcass value determination,” Cleere said.  “The goal of the short course each year is to provide the most cutting-edge information needed by beef cattle producers. We think we have information for everyone to take home and apply to their operations.”  Participants can earn seven Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide continuing education units if they are already licensed, Cleere added.

An industry trade show, featuring more than 120 agricultural businesses and service exhibits, will be held during the event.

“And the famous Texas Aggie Prime Rib Dinner is always a highlight of the short course,” Cleere said.  Registration is $180 per person before July 25 and $220 afterwards. It includes educational materials, a copy of the 600-page short course proceedings, trade show admittance, admission to the prime rib dinner, lunches, breakfasts and daily refreshments.

*****Registration information and a tentative schedule can be found on the short course website at  Producers can also register on the website or by contacting Cleere’s office at 979-845-6931.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Making Homemade Ice Cream

Next week, we as a nation will celebrate the 240th anniversary of the singing of the Declaration of Independence. Celebrations come in many forms, with fireworks and food surely included.  Homemade ice cream would be a great choice as one of the foods on the menu. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month. He recognized ice cream as a fun food that is enjoyed by a full 90% of the nation's population.
If you are planning to celebrate ice cream month with a batch of your favorite homemade ice cream it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the danger of possible Salmonella infection by using a homemade ice cream recipe made with a cooked egg base, made without eggs or made with commercial pasteurized egg substitutes. Egg mixtures used in making cooked bases for ice cream are safe if they reach 160 degrees F when tested with a thermometer. At this temperature, the mixture should coat a metal spoon.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration you can still enjoy homemade ice cream without the risk of Salmonella infection by substituting a pasteurized egg substitute, or pasteurized shell eggs for the raw eggs in your favorite recipe. Egg substitutes, which may be liquid or frozen, contain only the white of the egg, the part that doesn't have fat and cholesterol, and are readily available at most supermarkets.
Even when using pasteurized products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advise consumers to start with a cooked base for optimal safety, especially if serving people at high risk. Additionally, you should ensure that the dairy ingredients you use in homemade ice cream, such as milk and cream, are pasteurized.
If you are watching your weight and have put ice cream on your “don’t eat” list, think again! Instead of a big dish of ice cream topped by a handful of strawberries, enjoy a bowl of fruit topped with a small scoop (1/2 cup) of ice cream. One cup of strawberries provides about 50 calories and a generous amount of fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants. A half cup of light ice cream adds about 100 calories, as well as calcium. With a total of around 150 calories for the fruit plus ice cream, your taste buds and your waistline can be happy.
For more tips and tricks on preparing homemade ice cream, contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 6 cups half-and-half
Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Blend in 2 cups milk and 2 cups of the half-and-half. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Beat the eggs. Stir a small amount of the hot cornstarch mixture into the beaten eggs; then stir the eggs into the remaining cornstarch mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Chill thoroughly. (This is essential for a smooth ice cream.) Stir in vanilla and remaining 4 cups of chilled half-and-half. Freeze in a gallon ice cream freezer using 1 part salt to 6 parts crushed ice. Yield: about 3 1/2 quarts or 28 half-cup servings.
Nutrient Analysis Per 1/2 Cup Serving (using whole milk): 152 calories, 3 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fat, 58 milligrams cholesterol, 76 milligrams calcium, 64 milligrams sodium.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Should I be Taking a Vitamin and Mineral Supplement?

Ultimately, you and your doctor should decide if you need to take vitamin supplements.  However, here are some factors from that you may want to consider before talking with your doctor.
First and foremost, nutritional needs should be met by eating a variety of foods as outlined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In some cases, vitamin/mineral supplements or fortified foods may be useful for providing nutrients that may otherwise be eaten in less than recommended amounts. If you are already eating the recommended amount of a nutrient, you may not get any further health benefit from taking a supplement.
Teen girls and women of childbearing age may need to take an iron supplement if they do not consume enough dietary iron.  Heme-iron from meats is the best source of iron.  Plant foods such as beans and spinach contain nonheme-iron and should be consumed with a source of vitamin C.
Pregnant women and women of childbearing age should talk with their doctor about the need for folic acid.  The best dietary source of folic acid is fortified foods such as breakfast cereals. 
Adults over the age of 50 years may need to consume vitamin B12 in supplement form if they do not consume enough dietary B12.  The best dietary source of B12 is fortified foods such as breakfast cereals. 
Older adults and people with dark skin may need to get their vitamin D from supplements or fortified foods such as milk.  Other questions to consider are:
·         Do you eat fewer than two meals a day?
·         Is your diet restricted? That is, do you not eat meat, or milk or milk products, or eat fewer than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day?
·         Do you eat alone most of the time?
·         Do you take more than three prescription medicines a day?
·         Do you have more than three alcoholic drinks a day?
·         Have you lost more than 10 pounds without wanting to in the last 6 months?
To find science-based information about vitamin and mineral supplements go to:  For additional information concerning health and nutrition contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Importance of Using Booster Seats

Unfortunately, seat belts do not come in one-size-fits-all.  In fact, the seat belt that is designed to save an adult’s life in a crash does not fit a young child.  And, the poor fit of the seat belt can actually cause serious injuries or even death during a crash.  Many parents are under the impression that a child can be moved to the vehicle seat belt system when they have outgrown the weight limits of their child safety seat. Most conventional forward-facing child safety seats have a 5-point harness system that can be used until 40 pounds. However, most children weigh 40 pounds long before they are tall enough to fit in the vehicle lap/shoulder belt.
Children do not fit well in the vehicle lap/shoulder belts that were designed for adults who are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. Instead of fitting properly over the lower hips, the lap belt rides over the soft tissues of the abdomen and can cause severe injury or death. The shoulder portion of the belt hits the child’s neck or face instead of lying flat across the chest. This causes many children to place the shoulder belt behind their back, leaving them with no upper body protection. A booster seat ‘boosts’ the child up so the lap/shoulder belt will fit correctly and provide protection in a crash.
Using a booster seat correctly can protect a child from being thrown around the vehicle or being totally ejected in a crash. In a crash, children who are incorrectly restrained by a lap/shoulder belt are likely to sustain serious injuries to internal organs as well as the head and spinal cord.
Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for children ages three and up. Child safety seats, including boosters, have been proven to be effective in preventing injuries and deaths, yet 43% of children killed in motor vehicle crashes were found to be unrestrained. Studies show that booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 59 percent for children ages 4-7, but children in this age group are the least likely to be properly restrained. Surveys conducted in Texas in 2015 by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that only 34.9 percent of our booster seat age children were restrained.
The law in Texas requires children under age 8, unless taller than 4’ 9” to be in a child restraint system according to the manufacturer’s instructions. According to the law, an 8 year old can legally ride in the seat belt, but only a small percentage of 8 year olds are 4’9”. The average child reaches 4’9” at age 11!  Best practice is to keep the child in a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts fits, which is usually sometime between ages 8-12.
The injury rate and high costs associated with medical care and lost productivity for families is huge. Booster seats are an affordable solution to protecting children in the 4-8+ age group. The cost of booster seats is low–generally between $15-$40.  It is estimated by Safe Kids Worldwide that a $30 booster seat generates $2,000 in benefit to society from reduced health-care expenses.  Booster seats offer a low-cost solution to a high-cost problem.
When is your child ready for the seat belt?
Take the Five Step Test
  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?
  3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to make both the shoulder belt and the lap belt fit right for the best crash protection. Your child will be more comfortable, too! Source: SafetyBeltSafe,U.S.A,
For a free child safety seat inspection contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341 to set up an appointment.