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Animal Science: Today and Tomorrow

July 3, 2013

Dr. Tom Troxel                                                                              Dr. Michael L. Looper

Arkansas 4H Members Place Well in Mid-America Grassland Evaluation Contest

Evaluating a grazing system, wildlife habitat, soils, and identifying plants are some of the things that Arkansas 4H members had to learn to compete in the 14th annual Mid-America Grassland Evaluation Contest held June 5 in Springfield, Mo. Arkansas 4H teams from Cleburne, Fulton, Randolph, Madison, and Van Buren Counties competed in a field of 25 teams from Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana. 

To qualify for the Mid-America Grassland Contest, each team had to place in the top five of the Arkansas Grassland Evaluation Contest. The students have to complete four sections in the contest including Grassland Condition, Wildlife, Soils, and Plant ID. For the Grassland Condition section, the students must assess current grazing conditions in the field, determine fertilizer and weed control recommendations, calculate how much forage is needed in spring, summer, fall, and winter for an example herd, and make recommendations for improvement – all in 25 minutes.

For the wildlife section, students must evaluate the field habitat value for quail and rabbits, make recommendations to improve the habitat, and answer 20 questions on wildlife management. In the soils section, students must locate the contest site on a soil map, determine the correct soil, answer questions evaluating the soil, guess the slope of the field, and determine suitability of 10 forages for that site. In the plant ID section, the students must correctly identify 25 pasture plants from a list of 75 possible species. An extra twist is to receive points for a correct plant ID; each plant’s life cycle has to be answered correctly as well. At first glance the contest appears overwhelming, but after some study, students and agents learn the flow and logic to the material. Many county agents and vo-ag teachers from several states have commented that it is probably the most real-life contest available.

Arkansas 4H teams competed very well in the 2013 Mid-America Grassland Evaluation Contest taking second, third, fourth, and fifth place individual honors and second and third place teams in the 4H Division. Cleburne County took second place team and was coached by Cleburne County staff chair, Michelle Mobley. Mobley’s teams have won the Arkansas contest and placed second in the Mid-America contest each of the past three years. Team members were Matthew Hipp, Aaron Wilson, Rachel Wilson, and Isaac Feil. Aaron Wilson and Matthew Hipp tied for fourth place individual. It took two tie-breakers according to contest protocol to separate the tie with Wilson taking fourth and Hipp taking fifth place.

Fulton County took third place team and was coached by county agriculture agent Brad Runsick. This was Runsick’s third year to qualify a team for the Mid-America contest. Team members included Perri Huett, Leah Wasson, and Luke Huett. Perri Huett took second high individual and Leah Wasson followed closely taking third high individual.

The Randolph County team was coached by Randolph County staff chair Mike Andrews. Andrews has qualified a team for the Mid-America contest for 13 of the 14 years since the contest began. Team members included Jesse DeJournett, Jacob Kelly, and Jacob Wilkerson. The Madison County team was coached by Madison County 4H agent Jerry Jo Hamm and included members Lesleigh Beer, Cheyenne Walkingstick, Mitchell Nelson, and Tanner Burks. Hamm has had a very consistent program with both junior and senior 4H members in the Grassland Evaluation Contest.

The Van Buren County team was coached by Van Buren County staff chair Danny Griffin. Griffin has been coaching grassland teams for eleven years. Team members included Bryce Sawyer, Clay Evans, Casey Deckard, and Brooklyn Smith. Congratulations to these young people for competing and for learning about managing grasslands and forages (reported by John Jennings – Professor).

USDA and EPA Launch U.S. Food Waste Challenge

USDA, in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, calling on others across the food chain – including producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and other government agencies to join the effort to reduce, recover and recycle food waste.
   

Food waste in the United States is estimated at 30 to 40 percent of the food supply. In 2010, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people’s stomachs. The amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at almost $390 per U.S. consumer in 2008, more than an average month’s food expenditures.

Big Cows May not be Economically Efficient

 

In a recent study at Auburn University looked at the influence of body weight of cows on 205 day weaning weight of calves and cow efficiency from small to medium frame and medium to large frame. Cow efficiency was defined as ratio of 205-day adjusted weight of calf per unit of cow body weight for each cow-calf pair. Data on 373 calves weaned during 2006-2012 and body weight of their respective dams selected for frame size in respective lines, small to medium frame (n= 225) and medium to large frame (n=148) were analyzed.

  • Means for 205-day adjusted weight of calves (medium to large frame = 487.1 vs. small to medium frame = 497.5 lb) and for cow efficiency in small to medium frame line (40.5%) were higher compared to the medium to large frame line (39.7%).
  • An increase in body weight of cows by 221 lb would increase the 205-day adjusted weight of calves by 10.8 lb.
  • Influence of sex of calf on 205-day adjusted weight and cow efficiency were significant.

Larger cows may wean heavier calves but the unit of increase of 10.8 lb/221 lb increase in BW of cow may not be economically efficient.

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