The State of Arkansas has been able to keep our swine herds free of the emerging swine disease caused by Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). But because this time of the year show swine are purchased and imported into Arkansas from other states, AR Livestock and Poultry and Swine Industry representatives are concerned. Other states’ swine herds have seen significant death loss in piglets because of this disease. The commercial swine herds in Arkansas are already practicing biosecurity to keep out PEDv, but now everyone from Arkansas that goes to other states to purchase show swine have the potential to bring PEDv into Arkansas. Everyone that imports swine into Arkansas should be aware that the Arkansas State Veterinarian (Pat Badley, DVM) has enacted new regulations to prevent the incursion of PEDv.
Arkansas show swine exhibitors should be aware that it is their responsibility to obtain a valid Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI) and a permit to import swine into Arkansas. No one wants to be the person responsible for bringing this disease into Arkansas and cause the State of Arkansas great financial harm.
John Jennings – Professor, Extension Forages
It has been some time since winter temperatures were cold enough to cause concern for injury to bermudagrass pastures and hay fields, but this winter’s weather is in that category. Cold injury to bermudagrass is hard to predict because soil moisture and snow cover interact with temperature to increase or reduce cold injury. In general, moist soil conditions during the cold temperature period reduces cold injury and dry soil conditions during extreme cold increases potential for cold injury. The water in moist soil tends to hold heat better than dry soil. Think of it this way – dry, cold conditions tend to freeze-dry plants and roots. The longer the cold, dry weather lasts the more potential for cold injury. Snow cover insulates the soil and protects plants from extreme temperature fluctuations. Conditions are very dry statewide and as of this writing, 50 counties are under burn bans. That along with the repeated cold temperatures plunges will likely cause cold injury to some bermudagrass fields.
Assessing cold injury can’t be done in the field until the bermudagrass begins breaking dormancy. Very cold-sensitive varieties may suffer complete winterkill whereas others may exhibit slower and later greenup than normal. This will increase weed pressure and reduce season-long yield. Low soil fertility increases cold injury potential especially low soil potassium levels. The relatively mild winters in the upper south over the past several years have allowed varieties of moderate freeze tolerance to escape injury that will occur with a cyclic return to more severe winter conditions. Fewer cold-tolerant seeded varieties are available than cold-tolerant sprigged varieties. Some of the best bermudagrass varieties grown along the Gulf Coast are prone to winterkill and winter injury in Arkansas.
Some cold sensitive varieties planted from seed include Arizona Common, Jackpot, and Giant. These are commonly included in seed blends to provide quicker cover and first year yield, but tend to winterkill over time leaving the more cold-tolerant variety of the blend. Giant bermudagrass is very cold sensitive and winter kills easily. Jackpot has shown poor cold-tolerance on several farms in north Arkansas. Common survives well in the southern half of Arkansas, but may likely show winter injury this spring across north Arkansas. The most common cold-tolerant seeded variety is Wrangler. It’s cold tolerance is on par with many of the cold-tolerant hybrids grown in north Arkansas. Other commonly grown seeded varieties with moderate cold-tolerance include Cheyenne, CD-90160, and KF-194. All three have lower cold tolerance than Wrangler, but have been grown successfully in north Arkansas. The two numbered varieties are used in many seed blends sold in recent years.
When grown in colder climatic areas, varieties with moderate to low winter hardiness can be expected to begin growth later in the spring and require time to re-develop the sod density they had prior to the winter injury. This delayed spring growth makes them susceptible to weed invasion that will negatively impact their ability to reform the sod cover. Cold sensitive varieties are at greatest risk the 1st winter after seeding. Thereafter, they tend to be less susceptible to winter injury, probably because of better developed root and rhizome systems. The winter hardy Wrangler will perform better than moderately winter hardy varieties in colder climatic areas but will not perform as well when winter injury is not a factor. Research in Haskell, Oklahoma in spring of 2001 following a cold winter showed much slower greenup of Cheyenne, CD-90160, and KF-194 than for Wrangler.
The best rated sprigged bermudagrass varieties for cold-tolerance include Midland 99, Ozark, Tifton 44, and Greenfield. Newer varieties such as Vaughns #1 and World Feeder also have shown good cold tolerance. Each of those six varieties are grown in north Arkansas with little cold injury. Some sprigged varieties that are cold-sensitive include Coastal, Russell, Alicia, Jiggs, and Tifton 85. These varieties are grown only in south Arkansas. But the northern limit keeps creeping northward. Jiggs was included in trials at Booneville and commonly suffered severe winter injury. Tifton 85 is the highest yielding and highest quality variety grown in the deep south but has lower cold tolerance than Coastal. Forage specialists from Georgia, Texas, and Louisiana suggest it’s northern limit is near Shreveport, LA, but it is being grown in southern Arkansas.
Any variety with moderate or low cold tolerance, as well as those growing under fertility or other stress, should be checked closely this spring for signs of injury. Some practices that can improve recovery include proper fertility, judicious weed control, and proper grazing or hay harvest. Soil tests should be taken now to determine soil fertility levels. Fertilizer recommendations are specific for hay or pasture so be sure to note the intended use when submitting soil samples. Bermudagrass has very poor tolerance for shade so weed control is critical for winter damaged stands. Aggressive winter annual weeds or even ryegrass can form a heavy canopy in spring that delays bermudagrass greenup. The effect is much more severe on winter damaged fields. Many species of winter annual weeds are easily controlled with recommended herbicides or with properly managed grazing. Scout fields early and often to determine the best course of remediation. For more information, contact your county Extension office.
Dr. Tom Troxel Dr. Michael L. Looper
Antibiotic Use and Resistance
The symposium Bridging the Gap between Animal Health and Human Health was developed by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) and conducted November 12-14, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. The symposium was a continuation of discussions and sharing of information that commenced with the October 26-27, 2011, Antibiotic Use in Food Animals: A Dialogue for a Common Purpose symposium conducted in Chicago, Ill., and A One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Use & Resistance: A Dialogue for a Common Purpose symposium conducted November 13-15, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio.
NIAA is a non‐profit, membership‐driven organization that unites and advances animal agriculture: the aquatic, beef, dairy, equine, goat, poultry, sheep and swine industries. NIAA is dedicated to furthering programs working toward the eradication of diseases that pose risk to the health of animals, wildlife and humans; promote the efficient production of a safe and wholesome food supply for our nation and abroad; and promote best practices in environmental stewardship, animal health and well-being.
PURPOSE AND DESIGN OF THE SYMPOSIUM
The symposium provided a platform where animal health and human health scientists and other experts interacted, shared the most current science-based information as well as their professional insights and created an environment to learn from each other. Adding further dimension to the symposium were presentations by a consumer advocacy organization, grocery retailers, staff members and selected media representing agriculture and consumer advocates.
The goals of the 2013 symposium were the same as the 2012 symposium:
- To lead and engage participants in an open conversation.
- To build relationship within animal, human, and environmental health and gain a better understanding of other perspectives.
- To find common ground and formulate a path forward.
- To focus on continuous improvement and commitment to long-term animal health and human health.
The 20 presentations delivered by antibiotic use and resistance experts representing animal health, human health and public health; a consumer advocacy organization; grocery retailers; staff members; and selected media representing agriculture and consumer advocates resulted in a robust dialogue and exchange of information.
The following points were among those brought forth during the Symposium by the speakers and participants:
1. The science behind the emergence, amplification, persistence and transfer of antibiotic resistance is highly complex and open to interpretation—and sometimes misinterpretation—from a wide variety of perspectives and misuse. If you think you understand antimicrobial resistance, it hasn’t been explained properly to you.
2. The extremely complex relationship between animal health, human health and environmental health is driven by two premises: 1) Antimicrobial resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon that is present with or without the use of antimicrobials; and 2) Anytime an antibiotic enters the ecosystem, it has the potential to contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance.
3. Antibiotic resistance is not just transferred from animals to humans; resistance is also transferred from humans to animals.
4. Antimicrobial resistance occurs not only in food-production animals and in humans but in companion animals as well.
5. Antibiotic resistance is not just a U.S. challenge; it’s an international issue that requires a strategic global One Health approach.
6. Evaluating antimicrobial resistance involves balancing risks vs. needs while constantly recognizing the importance of maintaining an efficacious arsenal of human antibiotics.
7. New tools that address food animal infectious diseases must be developed, whether they are in the field of prevention or new molecules for therapeutics.
8. Although food-borne illnesses are down 29 percent in the last decade, media hits on food-borne illness have increased 150 percent during the same time frame.
9. No antibiotic is guaranteed to kill 100 percent of the pathogens causing an illness.
10. The great majority of antibiotic classes used in human and animal health have very little or no overlap. The two classes with a higher level of overlap are the sulfas and macrolides.
11. Research studies and findings are often viewed through different lenses. Individuals can look at the same study and interpret the study very differently from each other based on their understanding of the science as well as their values and beliefs.
12. Decisions and policy should be grounded in science, and policy should be based on science. The question, however, is who decides what should be considered when making those decisions and policies. For effective interventions to complex problems, the solutions should be developed by including a broad representation of relevant stakeholders and their sometimes-competing perspectives and values.
13. Significant efforts are being led by the public health community to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing in human health and reduce hospital-acquired infections. Agriculture needs to be open to change as well.
14. Change will happen. Open dialogue must continue, with animal agriculture at the table or change will be drastic and by statute and will not be a deliberative policy change.
15. Food animal production should enforce current regulations and address any antibiotic misuse or be prepared for an unfavorable outcome.
16. Solving antibiotic resistance requires collaboration and raises the question, “How does human health, environmental health and animal health work together to address antibiotic use and resistance?”.
For additional information you can contact the National Institute for Animal Agriculture at their website: www.animalagriculture.org
Dr. Tom Troxel, Professor
Calving is one of the most important times on the production calendar. Management decisions made prior to this period can influence success at calving and ultimately profitability of an operation. Calving difficulty (dystocia) is a very important economic problem in the U.S. beef cattle industry.
The last trimester of pregnancy is when the majority of fetal growth occurs. During this period the nutrient requirements of the cow increase accordingly. In particular, the last 45 days prior to calving are a critical time. The best method to assess the nutritional status of the cow is to monitor body condition. Ideally, most cows should enter the calving season with a body condition score (BCS) of 5. However, early-calving cows (January and February) and young cows (2 and 3 year olds) should have a BCS closer to 5.5 or 6. Research has clearly demonstrated that body condition can have a dramatic impact on subsequent reproductive performance. If the cows are thinner than desired, it is advisable to alter the plane of nutrition to add body condition prior to calving. After calving, the nutrient demands associated with lactation make it difficult and expensive to add body condition.
A common misconception regarding pre-calving nutrition is that feeding cows too well results in increased calving difficulty. This is absolutely incorrect! Actually, underfeeding cows prior to calving could increase calf scours and mortality and reduce calf survival. Along the same vein, overfeeding can be a problem as well. Cows that are over-conditioned actually deposit fat in the birth canal which can lead to calving problems.
Some research suggests that calf vigor can be influenced by pre-calving plane of nutrition. Calves from cows on a maintenance or high plane of nutrition got up and nursed more quickly than calves from cows on a low plane of nutrition. Time to nurse is critical in getting an adequate amount of colostrum in calves prior to gut closure.
The focus of pre-calving vaccination programs is to provide immunity to the calf via colostrum. There are several diseases that can be vaccinated for at this time; however, to vaccinate for every possible disease is neither practical nor economically prudent. Consult with your veterinarian to develop the vaccination strategy that is appropriate to your operation.
Timing of Feeding
The Konefal Calving Method was developed by a beef producer in Manitoba, Canada. This method involves feeding cows twice daily at approximately 11:30 am and 9:30 pm. Using this regime, Gus Konefal was able to get 80% of his cows to calve between 7 am and 7 pm. Research at Iowa State University produced similar results. Results of USDA research were not as dramatic, but still showed a 10 to 20% reduction in the number of cows calving between 10 pm and 6 am.
Preparing calving facilities prior to calving is wise. The calving area should be clean and dry and be in close proximity to shelter and facilities needed to assist cows with calving difficulty. Maternity pens with a headgate, crowding gate, and nursing panel can also be quite helpful. Calf shelters and/or warming boxes should also be cleaned and checked (wiring in particular). Once the facilities are prepared, it is always wise to make a list of needed items and make sure they are accessible. Some key items would include: calving jack, OB chains or straps, iodine, tube feeder, rags or towels, light source, tags and/or tattoo equipment, and last but not least…your IRM red book.
Colostrum is critical to survival of the newborn calf. The immune system of newborn calves is not completely developed. Consequently, the antibodies and immunoglobulins in colostrum are a substantial component of the immune protection in newborn calves. Calves should receive 5 to 6% of their body weight as colostrum within 6 hours and again within the subsequent 6 hours.
If the calves are not able to nurse or the cow’s production of colostrum is insufficient, colostrums from other cows or commercial colostrums supplements may be necessary. Ideally, colostrum should be collected from cows within 24 hours of calving and fed fresh. Colostrum can also be collected, frozen and used later. Johne’s disease can be spread via colostrum, so caution should also be exercised when collecting colostrum from unknown animals. Colostrum should only be used from cows known to be Johne’s free.
When collecting colostrum, consider freezing it in “serving” sizes, or one to two quarts per container. Once colostrum has been thawed, it should not be re-frozen. Correct thawing will also help prevent the antibodies and immunoglobulins from being damaged. Frozen colostrum should either be slowly warmed in warm water to a final temp of 105 to 110°F or in a microwave on medium power. In both cases, the colostrum should be stirred frequently.
Commercial colostrum supplements are available and research suggests that calves fed colostrum supplements are healthier than calves that received no colostrum. However, the level of protection was lower than in calves fed frozen colostrum.
Dr. Tom Troxel Dr. Michael L. Looper
Happy Birthday Extension – 100 Years Old!
May 8, 2014, marks the 100-year anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson’s signing of the Smith-Lever Act establishing a nationwide network of Cooperative Extension Services connected to land grant universities such as the University of Arkansas.
The roots of U.S. agricultural extension, however, go back to the early years of our country. There were agricultural societies and clubs after the American Revolution, and in 1810 came the first “Farm Journal.” It survived for only two years, but in 1819 John Stuart Skinner of Baltimore began publishing the “American Farmer.”
The Morrill Act of 1862 established land-grant universities to educate citizens in agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts, and other practical professions. Extension was formalized in 1914, with the Smith-Lever Act. It established the partnership between the agricultural colleges and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide for cooperative agricultural extension work. At the heart of agricultural extension work, according to the act, was:
- Developing practical applications of research findings.
- Giving instruction and practical demonstrations of existing or improved practices or technologies in agriculture.
Smith-Lever mandated that the federal government provide each state with funds based on a population-related formula.
Between 1950 and 1997, the number of farms in the U.S. declined dramatically—from 5.4 million to 1.9 million. Because the amount of farmland did not decrease as much as the number of farms, the remaining farms have a larger average acreage. During the same period, farm production increased from one farmer supporting the food needs of 15.5 persons in 1950 to one farmer supporting 100 persons in 1990. By 1997, one farmer supported the food needs of almost 140 U.S. citizens.
That increased productivity, despite the decline in farm numbers, resulted from increased mechanization, commercial fertilizers, new hybrid seeds, and other technologies. Extension played an important role in extending these new technologies to U.S. farmers and ranchers.
Here are a few facts and dates about the Extension Service:
- The first consumer education network – now known as the Extension Homemakers Council – was formed in Mabelvale in Pulaski County, in 1912, to help families stretch their dollars.
- In 1914, only 24 counties had county agents, and those few agents introduced Extension programs to an estimated 20,000 farm families. By 1939 there was at least one agent in every county, reaching 199,864 farm families
- The years of the New Deal saw the Cooperative Extension Service work side by side with the Rural Electrification Administration to bring electrical power to rural Arkansas.
- During World War II, the youthful members of 4-H produced more than 2.2 million quarts of canned foods, enough for 14,672 soldiers. In addition, Arkansas’ families relied on Extension advice to grow Victory Gardens and improve their quality of life during times of rationed essentials.
- While many projects have changed with the times, the cornerstone values of 4-H remain the same. Youth still show livestock and cook, but are also learning to build robots, use GPS and network with peers nationally through the National 4-H Conference, Citizenship Washington Focus and the National 4-H Congress.
- Field days, a mainstay of the farm demonstration method, have evolved into new forms such as the Arkansas Rice Expo, but it remains firmly rooted in teaching farmers better ways to grow their crops.
- In 2013, the Master Gardener program celebrated its 25th anniversary. Its leaders look forward to building even better leadership programs, maintaining community landscape programs and educating the public about good gardening and lawn habits.
- Extension’s LeadAR program was designed to give Arkansas farmers and other community leaders the skills to become effective leaders at the local, state and even national level. Graduates have gone on to serve in elected and other leadership posts across the state. In 2014, it too celebrates – with its 30th anniversary.
- Extension’s Master Gardener program started in Arkansas in 1988. In exchange for receiving the best in horticulture training, these Master Gardeners give back volunteer time. In 2004, the more than 83,000 hours volunteered had an economic impact of more than $1.2 million.
- The Arkansas Flower & Garden Show is in its third decade, started by Extension faculty to help homeowners learn more about their landscape and the larger environment. The show has grown since its beginning and attracts more than 10,000 people each year.
In Arkansas, Extension is accessible in all 75 counties and many of our extension resources can be found online at http://www.uaex.edu.
Extension work in rural America helped make possible the American agricultural revolution, which dramatically increased farm productivity:
- In 1945, it took up to 14 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels of corn on 2 acres of land.
- By 1987, it took just under 3 labor-hours to produce that same 100 bushels of corn on just over 1 acre.
- In 2002, that same 100 bushels of corn were produced on less than 1 acre.
That increase in productivity has allowed fewer farmers to produce more food. Fewer than 2% of Americans farm for a living today, and only 17% of Americans now live in rural areas. Yet, the extension service still plays an important role in American life—rural, urban, and suburban.
Happy Birthday Extension and many more.
Dr. Mark Russell, Assistant Professor – Equine Extension
Caring for horses during the winter can offer many challenges. The overall health of the horse can be affected by many of the things we do or don’t do on a daily basis. Here are some actions to avoid when caring for horses during cold months.
1. Over blanketing.
If your horse has already grown his winter hair, he will not need a blanket or a sheet. The long hair serves as the warming device for the horse and blanketing them can actually have a reverse effect. If blanketed with a thick hair coat, the blanket will push the hair down, squeezing out the air spaces and the hair isn’t able to insulate the way it’s intended. The thick hair is grown in a natural manner, allowing the horse to have a strong tolerance for cold weather. Additionally, if the blanket gets wet, it can take several hours to dry completely and can potentially cause the horse to get sick. If possible, it is best if the horse can stay dry during winter months. Having a cover for them to get under or a wind block can help the horse feel more comfortable during winter months.
A light sheet is good to put on a horse after a workout. If a horse is sweaty and wet with a long hair coat, it will take longer to dry and restore to outside temperatures, thus resulting in a chilled or sick horse.
2. Keeping a horse indoors only.
Many horse owners enjoy having a heated barn. However, in this area, horses typically do not need additional heating in their barns. In the northern part of the U.S., where temperatures dip below 0 degrees more commonly, it may be something to consider.
If heating is used, it is best if they are above the aisle and stalls and face the inner parts of the barn. A range between 55 and 60 degrees is optimal. Research has shown that horses do not require the same temperatures to remain comfortable as humans.
Care should be taken when heating a barn to insure that fire codes are met and that air exchanges in the barn are maximized. Unfortunately, heated barns usually have less ventilation and, if this isn’t watched carefully, can lead to respiratory illnesses due to excess ammonia and bacteria. If possible, build or modify your barn to have open windows and doors, even in cold weather, are actually the best for the horse.
Even if the barn is not heated, many horse owners are still tempted to keep them in a barn too often. It mostly depends on location and elements. If it is blowing snow and windy, horses are generally better off inside a barn. If it is 20 degrees, but still sunny outside and with little wind, horses are better off outdoors.
Of course the best option may be to offer the horse cover by way of a 3 sided barn, where the horse can walk in and out of cover freely. Having an escape route that the horse can use regularly will help them feel more comfortable about their surroundings and help keep stress levels low. This is the reason many times a horse will stay outside in snow and rain, when they have the option to be under a roof but do not use that alternative.
3. Not enough exercise.
Even if a horse is left outdoors mostly during cold weather, they may not move around much. This can result in leg edema (stocking up). If the snow is light and less than a foot, putting them on a longe line or even hand walking can help with cardiovascular conditioning and help with blood flow.
Exercise can also help the overall mood of the horse. A horse that is active will be less likely to display poor behavior.
4. Allowing water to freeze over.
Horses limit their intake of ice-cold water to only what is absolutely necessary to satisfy thirst, which may not be adequate to maintain optimal hydration. This is why dehydration is just as big of a problem during the winter as it is during the summer.
It is important that horses are given access to an unlimited amount of water (usually 10 gallons or more) that is free of ice at least once a day in sub-zero weather, especially if water is available only in buckets or troughs. If automatic, heated waterers are used, units should be checked daily to make sure they are functioning properly and have not become frozen or have electrical shorts that cause horses to receive shocks when drinking. To help encourage drinking water, a tablespoon or two of plain salt can be added to grain and, if feeding pelleted feeds or hay cubes, they can be soaked in water to further increase water intake.
5. Adjusting feed rations when temperatures dip.
Research shows that forages should be increased by approximately 2% during cold months. Forage (hay) provides an excellent source of calories and protein. Also, the process of digesting fiber (most hays are high in fiber) helps keep a horse warmer. It is best to have your hay tested to determine quality. Higher quality hay can go a long way in keeping your horse warm during cold months. However, forage intake doesn’t have to necessarily be done through hay. It can also be done through winter grazing of rye or wheat grasses.
6. Lack of hoof care.
During colder months, many horse owners will pull the shoes off their horse. While this is a great thing, be careful not to neglect hoof care all together. Hooves still should be trimmed and cleaned regularly. This becomes especially important when snow and/or ice are on the ground. When snow or ice becomes compacted in a hoof, it can cause discomfort to the horse and eventual lameness.