Spring is here and we know what that means. Trees are budding, pastures are greening, fields are being prepared for planting, soil is being tested, and spring calves are hitting the ground. May I say this... springtime is my favorite time of the year. It's a personal reminder each year of a fresh start and a new look on life. I think far too many times we take for granted the world that we have and the beauty that falls within it. Maybe this spring is a good time for us to just take a brief pause, take a deep breath of fresh air, and enjoy the season around us!
USDA Planting Intentions
Now for an agriculture update. USDA released the Planting Intentions report on March 31, 2017 showing Tennessee farmers intentions on planting. Farmers in Tennessee intend to plant 840,000 acres of corn, 40,000 acres lower than 2016. U.S. corn growers intend to plant 90 million acres for all purposes in 2017, down four percent from last year and two percent higher than 2015. Winter wheat seeded by Tennessee farmers in the fall of 2016 totaled 390,000 acres, down 10,000 acres from previous year. Seeded acreage for the nation was 32.7 million acres, down nine percent from 2015. Farmers in the state intend to harvest 1.8 million acres of all hay, down 15,000 acres from 2016. U.S. farmers intend on harvesting 52.8 million acres of hay in 2017, down one percent from last year.
Biosecurity for your Beef
In the past two articles, we discussed controlling BVD. Farm biosecurity best management practices is an integral part of controlling not only BVD, but any disease that can enter your farm through foreign sources. Biosecurity is the cheapest and most effective method of disease control since vaccinations cannot eliminate disease and treatment can only reduce losses. Most cattle diseases are spread by cattle blood, saliva, manure, urine or exhaled air and special attention needs to be paid to reducing contact from animal to animal or animal to object to animal. This is best done by a combination of animal isolation, control of movement onto and around the farm, proper insect control, as well as and cleaning and disinfection.
You can find Dr. Strickland's complete article, "Biosecurity for the Beef Herd", on the Sumner County Extension website or follow the following direct link:
Lessons of Wisdom from the Farm
Benjamin Franklin once said, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". As a horse kid at heart, you quickly learn the effects of making mistakes. From simple biosecurity measures to vaccination and deworming protocol, farming is certainly a management process. I look back to what Benjamin Franklin said and use that same advice to give to you. Not only is spring a reminder of a new beginning for us, it's also a new beginning for all sorts of things. Flies, ticks, internal parasites, and many other things that affect our livestock all begin their new cycle in the spring as well. As a farm manager, we must do our best to plan a strategy to help defend our livestock. The simplest talk with our local veterinarian to seek advice on vaccine protocol could prevent a complex disaster within our herds.
The Life of the Extension Agent
So, I want to use this area as a "get to know me" section as well. As we continue to build agriculture programs, we will continue to build relationships in our area. So, one of my pride and joys in life is my dog Waylon. He's a two year old Australian Shepherd that loves to get into trouble on the farm. Last Tuesday, as I pulled into the driveway, I knew something was wrong with him. He always would meet me at the end of the drive, but this day, he didn't. Noticing how sick he felt, I rushed him to my veterinarian to see what was going on. The only thing going through my mind was the dollars that I would be spending. My veterinary told me that he had a slight blockage in his intestinal tract, but could be fixed with a little bit of medication. As much as I love my dog, I wanted to do all I could for him. After taking some radiographs, they realized that the slight blockage was nothing more than some small pebbles that he had eaten. A couple hours and a few hundred dollars later we were on our way back to the farm and you could imagine the conversation that I had with my dog (yes, I guess I am that crazy). The lesson to share from this adventure would be that sometimes if we sweat the small stuff (the pebbles in Waylon), we can allow it to have a large impact in our life. Although my wallet may say different, learn not to sweat the small stuff, take one day at a time!
Jeffrey Hester, agriculture & natural resources UT extension agent, Sumner County