Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Webinar today to discuss Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs)

To Register, go to

Dr. Dave Notter, Department of Animal Science, Virginia Tech University, will discuss “Using EBVs to Achieve Your Breeding Goals” in a webinar today at 7:00 p.m. CDT. Estimated Breeding Values are a progeny performance prediction based on individual pedigree data compared to breed average. A 2.2 EBV for weaning weight, for instance, indicates an animal’s offspring will likely weigh 2.2 pounds more at weaning than breed average.

It will be a very good program on how to utilize performance data to improve your herds. It will focus on sheep but all the concepts are applicable to goats. The National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) also offers its service to goat producers and will calculate EBVs for goats. More information on the National Sheep Improvement Program can be found at www.nsip.org.

“We started using this last year along with the Goat Herd Improvement Program (GHIP) that I do here,” said Dr. Kenneth Andries, assistant professor at Kentucky State University. “The use of data in goat production becomes more and more critical as we look ahead at ways to improve. It’s the best way to realize value.” 

Today’s webinar will address strategies to use EBVs to achieve breeding goals and manage genetic change in your flock. Topics to be covered include: 1) using direct and maternal EBVs to manage changes in body weights from birth through adulthood; 2) optimizing litter size to maximize ewe productivity; 3) using EBVs to optimize fleece value and the rate of improvement in fleece traits; 4) using scanning information to enhance carcass value; 5) using worm egg counts to enhance parasite resistance; and 6) using EBVs to improve reproductive performance. 

Selection indexes provides a convenient mechanism to combine EBVs for different traits into a single measure and are currently available for each of the main NSIP breed types. The presentation will discuss the value of indexes as tools for genetic improvement and consider how to address limitations of available indexes in specific production situations. 

This webinar is made possible with funding support from the Let's Grow Committee of the American Sheep Industry Association.




Monday, August 3, 2015

Feral hog workshop Sept. 4 in Bryan, Texas

A Feral Hog Management Workshop will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Brazos County Expo complex, 5827 Leonard Road in Bryan, Texas. The program is free, but $15 for a catered lunch. RSVP for the meal by Aug. 28 by calling 979-823-0129. Five Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units will be offered: one integrated pest management, one laws and regulations and three general.

“Feral hogs continue to be a primary issue in terms of damage to pasture and rangeland for landowners across Texas and certainly in the Brazos Valley,” said Dusty Tittle, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Brazos County. “This workshop will help landowners gain a better understanding of feral hog biology, methods that we can incorporate to better control and manage feral hogs on rangeland, plus laws and regulations of hunting the feral hog.”

Other topics to be discussed include population dynamics and research update; water quality in the Brazos Valley, agricultural regulations regarding feral hogs; feral hog control and trapping; feral hog transportation regulations and disease concerns.

Scheduled speakers are:
– Mark Tyson, AgriLife Extension associate, wildlife and fisheries science, College Station.
– Brad Tullis, Texas Department of Agriculture inspector, Austin.
– Nikki Dictson, AgriLife Extension program specialist, Texas Water Resources Institute, College Station.
– Linda Tschirhart-Hejl, Texas Wildlife Damage Management Service biologist, College Station.
– Danny Williamson, Texas Animal Health Commission, Austin.
– Dornell Crist, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden, Brazos County.

The program is sponsored by AgriLife Extension and a Clean Water Act Section 319(h) nonpoint source grant from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information, call 979-823-0129.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Ruminant conference Aug. 20-21 in Grapevine, Texas


DALLAS – The Mid-South Ruminant Nutrition Conference will be held Aug. 20-21 at the Embassy Suites, 2401 Bass Pro Drive in Grapevine. The conference is sponsored by the Texas Animal Nutrition Council and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Presenters include experts from the American Feed Industry Association, Perdue AgriBusiness Animal Nutrition, Cornell University, Cumberland Valley Analytical Services, Texas Tech University and the University of Georgia.
Six continuing education credits by American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists have been approved and five continuing education units by the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners are pending for conference attendees.

The Aug. 20 agenda will begin with lunch from noon-1 p.m., followed by presentations on the implementation of the Food Safety Act, landscape of formulation platforms, high-resolution forage testing and using the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System in formulations. Presentations will be followed by a formulation round table and demonstrations.

Agenda items on Aug, 21 include breakfast for those staying at the hotel, followed by a Texas Animal Nutrition Conference meeting at 7:30 a.m. Presentations begin at 9 a.m. with the topic of how early life nutrition impacts health of cattle that may persist later into life. Additional topics include a comparison of sorghum silage versus corn silage and an update on regional Extension research. The conference will adjourn at noon.

Individual registration is $150 postmarked before Aug. 3 and $175 thereafter. The cost for membership in the Texas Animal Nutrition Council is $25. Make checks payable and return to Texas Animal Nutrition Council, Attn: Dr. Ellen Jordan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, 17360 Coit Road, Dallas, TX 75252-6599. For online registration with a credit card, go to http://www.txanc.org. For more information, call 972-952-9201.

Embassy Suites has a special conference rate of $149 per night for conference attendees. The deadline to receive this rate is July 29. For reservations call 1-800-EMBASSY or 972-724-2600 and identify yourself as a member of the Texas Animal Nutrition Council.

Each attendee will receive complimentary lunch on Aug. 20 as well as break refreshments, and one copy of the 2015 conference proceedings.

Additional copies of the 2015 conference proceedings are available for $20 each for U.S. delivery, $30 for Canada and Mexico, and $35 to other countries. To order, use the same address and contact information as for conference registration. Proceedings may also be ordered online from the Texas Animal Nutrition council website.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Red flags raised over food and ag K-12 education

Five Ideas to Better Prepare Next Generation


Washington, DC (July 16, 2015) – A paper released today by AGree describes a disjointed and ineffective system of K-12 food and ag education in the U.S. and identifies needed reform.

The paper, Food and Agricultural Education in the United States, authored by Stephanie Mercier, former Chief Economist of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee and currently with the Farm Journal Foundation, is the most comprehensive summary to date of the current state of play in K-12 food and agriculture education, its evolution, and ideas that could help to focus and modernize instruction.

“Americans are increasingly interested in where their food comes from, yet are also more disconnected from agriculture than ever before. Agriculture literacy is critical; agriculture, food, and nutrition topics should be embedded in how we teach science and technology,” said Deborah Atwood, executive director of AGree. “Our current system is struggling to prepare the next generation for success.”

The paper outlines five recommendations to strengthen food and ag education, laying the foundation for the U.S. food and ag sector to meet the challenges facing the global food and ag system in the 21st century.  

“We need to step up our game when it comes to food and ag education in both rural and urban America, or we will be woefully unprepared to compete in the global marketplace, which is now vital to U.S. agriculture,” said Dan Glickman, AGree Co-Chair and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

Emmy Simmons, AGree Co-Chair and former Assistant Administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said, “Our education system must respond to the growing interest of the younger generation regarding food and agriculture and prepare them to make a difference in food and ag related fields – whether that means working to address the impacts of climate change, improve public health, or strengthen livelihoods in developing countries.”

Jim Moseley, AGree Co-Chair and former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, said, “So much is required of producers today – skills in agronomy, natural resource management, information technology, and business. I’m confident that young people are up to the challenge, but there is much more we can do to prepare the next generation of farmers and ranchers.”

Kathleen Merrigan, AGree Co-Chair and Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, who also served previously as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, calls food and ag education critically important, “Our curricular offerings are disparate and uncoordinated. It’s time to identify the best instructional materials and facilitate their systematic adoption nationwide.”

The paper offers five ideas to improve food and ag education. First, it recommends creating a system that assesses and/or ranks the effectiveness of available curricula in food and ag education. While applauding renewed interest in attracting young people to careers in science and technology, known as STEM disciplines, the paper also suggests that U.S. competitiveness would be well-served by linking food and ag education to STEM programs. Third, the paper recommends the establishment of a “Perkins Plus” program that would offer additional funds to programs deemed to be top performers. Under the Perkins Act, state departments of education submit data on student performance, but the formula funding offers little incentive for school districts to be identified as top performers.

The remaining two suggestions relate to future efforts to monitor and evaluate  food and ag education. The paper suggests a national survey be conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service to assess agricultural literacy. The final idea put forth is the establishment of a committee to review progress in the area of food and ag education. There is precedent, including a committee established in 1985 by the National Academies of Science to assess the contributions of ag education to productivity and competitiveness. Separately, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded a project in the late 1990’s to reinvent ag education.

Without question, the food and ag sector has changed significantly in recent years. AGree sees great benefit in taking steps to ensure food and ag education keep pace, which is essential to the future competitiveness of the sector. The full paper is available at www.FoodAndAgPolicy.org.
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AGree is supported by leading foundations that fund food and agriculture, international development, and health and wellbeing. To learn more about AGree visit www.foodandagpolicy.org or @AGreeAgPolicy on Twitter with hashtag #NextGenAg. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New USDA program allows grazing on CRP land

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that beginning Sept. 1, farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance to help conserve working grasslands, rangeland and pastureland while maintaining the areas as livestock grazing lands.


The initiative is part of the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federally funded program that for 30 years has assisted agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In return, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. CRP has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road.

“A record 400 million acres and 600,000 producers and landowners are currently enrolled in USDA’s conservation programs. The Conservation Reserve Program has been one of the most successful conservation programs in the history of the country, and we are pleased to begin these grasslands incentives as we celebrate the program’s 30th year,” said Vilsack. “This is another great example of how agricultural production can work hand in hand with efforts to improve the environment and increase wildlife habitat.”

The CRP-Grasslands initiative will provide participants who establish long-term, resource-conserving covers with annual rental payments up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land. Cost-share assistance also is available for up to 50 percent of the covers and other practices, such as cross fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife. Participants may still conduct common grazing practices, produce hay, mow, or harvest for seed production, conduct fire rehabilitation, and construct firebreaks and fences.

With the publication of the CRP regulation today, the Farm Service Agency will accept applications on an ongoing basis beginning Sept. 1, 2015, with those applications scored against published ranking criteria, and approved based on the competiveness of the offer. The ranking period will occur at least once per year and be announced at least 30 days prior to its start. The end of the first ranking period will be Nov. 20, 2015.

Later this week, USDA will also announce state-by-state allotments for the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE). Through SAFE, also a CRP initiative, up to 400,000 acres of additional agricultural land across 37 states will be eligible for wildlife habitat restoration funding. The additional acres are part of an earlier CRP wildlife habitat announcement made by Secretary Vilsack. Currently, more than 1 million acres, representing 98 projects, are enrolled in SAFE.

To learn more about participating in CRP-Grasslands or SAFE, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp or consult with the local Farm Service Agency county office. To locate a nearby Farm Service Agency office, visit http://offices.usda.gov. To learn more about the 30th anniversary of CRP, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/CRPis30 or follow on Twitter using #CRPis30.

The CRP-Grasslands program was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

NAILE expands junior meat goat show

The North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisvulle, Ky., will host its meat goat shows on Nov. 17-19 with a few changes planned.
NAILE officials announced that the 2015 Junior Market Goat Show is now open to both wethers and does. In addition, a Junior Wether Dam Goat Show is added to the show lineup.  The entry fee is $25. Show officials point out that does shown in the Junior Market Goat Show are ineligible for the Wether Dam show.
The Junior Market Goat and Wether Dam Showmanship Contest takes place on the evening of Nov. 17. Winners receive NAILE ribbons and belt buckles. The 10th annual Junior Market Goat Show, sponsored by Farm Credit Mid America, takes place the next day and will be followed by the Junior Wether Dam Goat show.
The 16th annual Open Boer Goat Show will be held on Nov. 19. The American Boer Goat Association sponsors and sanctions the show.

Entry Information
Catalogs containing show information and rules are available for download on the NAILE website at www.livestockexpo.org. Printed catalogs and entry forms are automatically mailed to those who have participated in the NAILE the past two years. Catalogs are free, and anyone wishing to receive one should contact the NAILE offices at P.O. Box 36367, Louisville, KY 40233-6367, by fax at 502-367-5299, or by e-mail at KFECNAILE@ksfb.ky.gov.
Entry deadline for Meat Goat Division shows is October 1. Exhibitors may submit entries by mail at any time and on the website beginning September 1.

The 42nd Annual NAILE is produced by the Commonwealth of Kentucky at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky under the direction of the Kentucky State Fair Board. During the Expo’s run November 3 through 20, the facility’s entire 1,200,000 square feet of climate-controlled exhibit space is used. More than 200,000 visitors and exhibitors attend the event annually.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Turning hayfields into pastures

By Jim Gerrish
With the ever-increasing cost of making hay, more and more ranchers are kicking the hay habit and pushing their livestock to graze more days of the year. A lot of those ranchers are learning along the way that their best hayfields don’t necessarily make the best pastures. Historically, hayfields in the U.S. have fallen into three broad categories: alfalfa, N-fertilized grass monocultures or grass-legume mixtures. Of these three options, only the grass-legume mixtures transition easily into pasture. Click here to read more.