Thursday, March 30, 2023

Spring Livestock Guardian Dog Field Day set April 14 in Sonora TX

A livestock guardian dog in a lush green pasture surrounded by his charges. The goats graze against a bright blue sky with fluffy clouds.

Livestock Guardian Dogs can provide protection against predators for sheep and goat raisers. The Spring Livestock Guardian Dog Field Day will take place at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Station in Sonora. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo) 

Event to include discussions on predation, ranch tour, workshops

By  Susan Himes 

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Spring Livestock Guardian Dog Field Day will be held April 14 in Sonora.

The Livestock Guardian Dog, LGD, field day will be at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Station in Sonora, 395 County Road 760. The program will start at 8 a.m. and conclude around 4 p.m. Morning refreshments and lunch will be provided.

Registration is $25 for an individual or $40 for a couple before April 7. After that date, the cost is $30 and $50, respectively. April 13 is the last day to register. Advance registration is required through the AgriLife Extension office in Sutton County at 325-387-3101.

A ranch tour of the research station and producer panel will be two of the event highlights. Vendors and LGD breeders will be onsite to speak with producers.

Predation prevention

“The biggest single loss in sheep and goat production is predation,” said Reid Redden, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension sheep and goat specialist and director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in San Angelo. “The problem is not going away and, in many areas, it’s increasing.” 

Redden said the field day will be very helpful to all LGD owners, but especially for those with little or no dog-handling experience.

“This workshop is part of the center’s ongoing effort to help producers adopt the age-old practice of keeping specially bred and trained dogs with livestock as a deterrent to predation,” said Bill Costanzo, AgriLife Research LGD specialist, San Angelo.

Field day topics and speakers

The featured topics and speakers for the field day are:

  • Using LGDs on Small Versus Large Ranches – Redden.
  • GPS Trackers – Thomas Remmert, Lone Star Tracking co-founder, The Woodlands.
  • The Texas Livestock Guardian Dog Association: Information and Updates – Walter Pfluger, association treasurer, San Angelo.
  • Sheep and Goat Predator Management Board – Curry Campbell, board member, San Angelo.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Red clover extract improved food intake of sheep on toxic tall fescue

By John Lovett

University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station


Fast facts

·       Red clover extract fed to sheep on toxic tall fescue improved digestible organic matter

·       Results expected to be similar in cattle

·       Tall fescue toxicosis leads to fewer and lower weaning weights

·       Feed intake decreased as red clover extract levels increased beyond a certain level 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Research conducted by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station using a red clover extract in feed shows promise in offsetting some of the adverse effects of tall fescue toxicosis in livestock, a problem with an estimated $1 billion impact in decreased production.


Many pastures in Arkansas and around the country are planted in Kentucky 31 tall fescue. A toxic endophyte fungus that infects the grass causes constriction of blood vessels in mammals. Decreased food intake is a side effect of what’s called “tall fescue toxicosis.”


Ken Coffey, animal science professor with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, noted that reduction in feedintake is one of the symptoms of tall fescue toxicosis and a major driver in reduced animal performance, which can mean fewer cow calves born and lower weaning weights. Coffey said he has seen milk production in ewes drop when exposed to the toxin to the point their lambs die from starvation.


Studies have shown that across the Tall Fescue Belt, where Kentucky-31 fescue predominantly grows, tall fescue toxicosis has led to a 30 percent reduction in calf births and a 70-pound reduction in weaning weights, Coffey said. 


Effects of red clover

An Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station study has shown a small amount of red clover extract helped offset the effects of tall fescue toxicosis in sheep. But too much red clover extract also decreased feed intake. Coffey expects the impact to be similar in cattle.


"Clover has estrogenic compounds, and over the years, we've seen some positive things with estrogenic compounds," Coffey said. "If you can get clover to grow in your pasture, that's great, but many people can't keep the clovers, so we used an extract as a supplement in the feed for the study."


How the research was conducted

Researchers offered Dorper lambs one of five diets of bermudagrass hay supplemented with tall fescue seed for the study. In addition to a positive control of non-toxic fescue seed, researchers offered lambs diets with toxic fescue seed with no red clover extract or toxic fescue with 0.33, 0.67, or 1 percent of the diet as red clover extract.


In the 2022 experiment station study, lambs offered toxic fescue ate 36 percent less than those offered the non-toxic diet. However, lambs on toxic fescue with 0.33 percent red clover extract consumed 15 percent more overall and 6 percent more digestible organic matter than those provided with toxic fescue without the red clover extract.


Coffey said digestible forage consumed directly relates to animal performance.


But there can be too much of a good thing. Greater concentrations of red clover extract led to less food intake among lambs. 


"The proper dose of red clover extract is still not a complete solution, like so many other things that have been tried, but it does offer hope of offsetting a sizeable portion of the toxicity," Coffey's said.


More research is needed

Coffey said that while the study's results are promising, more research is needed to evaluate different red clover extract sources and better define estrogenic compound concentrations. He would also like to see more evaluations of grazing and delivery methods of the red clover extract to ruminants and study the impact of feeding red clover leaves at low levels to sheep or cattle on toxic fescue.


"Research on this issue has been conducted over the past 70 years without the discovery of a complete solution to the problem, indicating its complexity," Coffey wrote in a study impact statement. "Dilution of tall fescue pastures with clovers has been recommended for many years now, but clovers are difficult to maintain in many tall fescue pastures because of the thin, drought-prone soils that much of the toxic fescue thrives in."


The study was conducted on sheep instead of cattle at the experiment station to decrease expense, improve accuracy and shorten the study timetable. As ruminants, sheep and cattle have many physiological similarities that allow research material to translate across species.


Coffey noted that fescue toxicosis mitigation tactics are something to do whenever an animal is on tall fescue because the toxicity and impacts are variable throughout the year.


"If they're on fescue and the forage is toxic, it costs performance. It's just a matter of how much," Coffey said.


Coincidentally, Coffey's research has shown that tall fescue toxicity rises at a critical season between mid-May and mid-June when ranchers reintroduce bulls to the herd for breeding in a spring calving operation. Coffey said that seeds in affected plants are five times more toxic than the leaves. He said that tall fescue's concentrations of ergot alkaloids, the toxic compounds in endophyte fungus, also peak in the fall.


Coffey noted that some tall fescue varieties have a non-toxic endophyte and are safer for ruminants to eat.

Brittni Littlejohn, assistant professor of animal science for the experiment station, has conducted 
studies testing melatonin to offset tall fescue toxicosis. Her research showed that pregnant cows consuming toxic fescue seed have decreased uterine artery blood flow, potentially reducing nutrient supply to bovine fetuses during gestation.


On average, calves in Littlejohn's study were about 90 pounds underweight at weaning. The low weight level continued as the calves grew, and the differences were maintained through the yearling stage. She was able to recover over 70 percent of the loss in weaning weight by treating pregnant heifers with melatonin.


To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Launches Cowgirl Connection Lecture Series


FORT WORTH, TEXAS  – The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is proud to introduce the Cowgirl Connection lecture series. The program was launched on February 16th with artist and 2007 Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree Donna Howell-Sickles speaking about her art, the western way of life, and her upbringing. 

The Cowgirl Connection is a recurring adult program series designed to engage and educate the community through engaging presentations featuring Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honorees, award winners, and leading industry experts. The Cowgirl Connection is held monthly on Thursday evenings at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. This event series is free to attend; however, space is limited, and reservations are required. We invite media and publications to cover this event. 

Jennifer LeGrand, Director of Special Events stated, “We are so excited to launch the Cowgirl Connection lecture series this year. This free, monthly program provides our community with a unique opportunity to learn about the inspirational women featured in our Hall of Fame, from leading industry experts, and allows us to continue sharing their remarkable stories and experiences.”

Spring and Summer Schedule:

March 23   Sherry Wolfenbarger Cagan – philanthropist, sculptor, and 2022 Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree

April 13      Barbra Schulte – author, horse trainer, and 2012 Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree

May 11      Mother-Daughter Tribute – exploring generations of excellence with our mother-daughter Honorees. 

June 29     RADM (Ret.) Christina Alvarado Shanahan – U.S. Navy rear admiral and 2019 Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree

Fall programming to be announced at a later date. For more information, please contact Jennifer LeGrand, Director of Special Events, at


About the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame 

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience and independence that helped shape the West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire. Established in 1975, the Museum is considered an invaluable national educational resource for its exhibits, research library, rare photograph collection. In 2019, the Museum opened the Kit Moncrief Galleries and It’s Never Just a HorseTM exhibition. Located at 1720 Gendy Street Fort Worth, Texas 76107. Hours of operation are Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon – 5 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults (12+); $9 for seniors (65+) and military; $6 for children (ages 3-12) and children 3 and under with paid admission. For more news and information visit or call 817.336.4475 and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. 

Taxes and USDA Programs


Tax time is a busy time of year for business owners, and this includes farmers and ranchers. Navigating filing your taxes can be challenging, especially if you are new to running a farm business, participated in disaster programs for first time, or are trying to forecast your farm’s tax bill. Receiving funds from USDA through activities such as a conservation program payment or a disaster program is considered farm income that includes a tax liability for farm businesses. 

To better support America’s farmers and ranchers USDA has partnered with tax experts from across the country to connect producers to information and resources related to USDA program payments, asset protection, and the important relationships between federal income taxes and USDA farm programs.

Upcoming Webinars

Event: Schedule F (Profit or Loss From Farming)
Date: Wednesday, March 22
Time: 3 p.m. Eastern
The Schedule F is used to report taxable income earned from farming, ranching, and agricultural activities. Join USDA and Guido van der Hoeven, President, Land Grant University Tax Education Foundation, Inc. (LGUTEF), for a line-by-line review of this tax form.

Register in advance for the webinar on March 22, 2023.



Thursday, March 9, 2023

USDA Announces Sign-up for Cost-Share Assistance for On-Farm Grain Storage in Areas with Limited Commercial Capacity Due to Severe Storms


New Program Helps Fill the Need Caused by Damaged Grain Storage Facilities in Kentucky, Minnesota, and South Dakota 

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2023 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that producers in counties affected by eligible disaster events in Kentucky, Minnesota, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, and Tennessee can apply for cost-share assistance through the Emergency Grain Storage Facility Assistance Program (EGSFP). The new program provides cost-share assistance for the construction of new grain storage capacity and drying and handling needs, in order to support the orderly marketing of commodities. An initial allocation of $20 million in cost-share assistance is available to agricultural producers in affected counties impacted by the damage to or destruction of large commercial grain elevators as a result of natural disasters from Dec. 1, 2021, to Aug. 1, 2022. The application period opens later this month and closes Dec. 29, 2023.   

“Weather events in 2021 and 2022 in several states caused catastrophic losses to grain storage facilities on family farms as well as a large, commercial grain elevator, leaving stored grain exposed to the elements and affecting storage and commodity marketing options for many producers,” Vilsack said. “USDA heard from congressional leaders, including Minority Leader McConnell, who identified a gap in our disaster assistance toolkit and used our Commodity Credit Corporation authority to act more quickly than waiting for specific legislation. This new program will provide cost-share assistance to help producers address their on-farm storage capacity needs that are necessary for marketing grain.”  

This assistance from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is designed to help producers affected by the December 2021 tornadoes that passed through 11 counties in Kentucky, as well as producers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Tennessee affected by eligible disaster events in 2022.  The program was previewed last fall and will be made available with the publication of the Notice in the Federal Register.   


Maps showing the location of damaged grain facilities in Kentucky, Minnesota, South Dakota and surrounding eligible areas are available online. These maps depict damaged storage facility locations and the affected counties within a 30-mile radius of these facilities where producers may be eligible to apply for EGSFP benefits if they can demonstrate a need for additional on-farm grain storage capacity.     

Additionally, FSA may determine a need for EGSFP assistance in counties in other states and regions during the application period where an eligible disaster event has damaged storage facility locations. Eligible disaster events include hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, derechos, straight-line winds and winter storms that occurred between Dec. 1, 2021, and Aug. 1, 2022.   

EGSFP helps producers build permanent or temporary on-farm grain storage capacity, restore existing storage capacity, and purchase drying and handling equipment in affected counties.   

The following types of new/used facilities and upgrades are eligible for cost-share assistance and must have a useful life of at least three years:  

  • conventional-type cribs or bins designed and engineered for grain storage  
  • open buildings with two end walls  
  • converted storage structures  
  • asphalt, concrete or gravel floors with grain piles and tarp covering,  
  • ag baggers (including bags) 

On-farm grain storage structures may account for aeration, drainage, and may require loading or unloading augers, drying and handling equipment.    

How to Apply  

Producers must submit the EGSFP Application, form FSA-413, and any additional required forms to their FSA county office either in person, by mail, email, or facsimile starting later this month and by the Dec. 29, 2023, deadline. Form FSA-413-1, Continuation Sheet for EGSFP, must be submitted with the FSA-413 when a group of producers are applying for assistance.   

Payment Calculation  

FSA will use the producer’s self-certified cost of the additional on-farm grain storage capacity or drying and handling equipment needed multiplied by the producer’s share of grain.   

This amount will then be multiplied by the cost share factor of 75% or 90%. An eligible producer who certifies they are socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning and veteran farmer or rancher by filing form CCC-860 with FSA will receive the higher 90% cost share rate.   

More Information   

For more information visit the program webpage or the EGSFP fact sheet. USDA also has an existing Farm Storage Facility Loan Program that can immediately provide low-interest financing for eligible producers who may not be eligible for EGSFP but are in need of on-farm storage capacity.    

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Texas A&M Online ‘Drought Proofing the Ranch’ course now available

  Management, drought mitigation strategies highlighted

MARCH 8, 2023

By  Susan Himes, 

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s course Drought Proofing the Ranch is now available online.

(Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Sam Craft)

The cost is $100 however, the first 100 registrants will receive the course at no cost. The course is two hours, but participants may view it at their own pace. Register at

“Participants will increase their understanding of drought management strategies,” said Morgan Treadwell, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension rangeland specialist, San Angelo. “Drought is an ever-present specter for Texas livestock and forage producers, and this course will help producers create plans for managing livestock and rangelands, specifically, brush and weeds with herbicides, during drought.”

With 8.7 million Texans currently impacted by drought, this course offers timely advice and guidance for those ranchers affected as well as for preparing for future occurrences.

“The course will help producers develop risk management strategies, identify the best risk management tools and recognize the importance of advanced preparation for when a drought occurs,” she said. “The goal is for producers to learn to identify drought conditions and to develop a plan to mitigate losses due to drought ahead of time.”

AgriLife Extension expert instructors, topics covered

The course is taught by Treadwell; Jason Smith, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, Amarillo; Pancho Abello, AgriLife Extension economist, Vernon; and Justin Benavidez, Ph.D., former AgriLife Extension economist, Amarillo.

The topics the course will cover include:

  • Creating a Plan to Addresses Livestock Management During Drought.
  • Risk Management Products for Drought Mitigation: Forage and Livestock Insurance Options.
  • Nutritional and Other Management Strategies.
  • Rangeland Management and Wildfire Mitigation Strategies During Drought.
  • Economic Management Strategies to Minimize Drought Impact.
  • Evaluation Strategies for Feeding Through a Drought and Longer-Term Consequences.
  • Tax Implications for the Sale of a Large Number of Livestock.
  • Stocking Rate Adjustments and their Consequences.


Would you like more information from Texas A&M AgriLife?

Sign up for our Texas A&M AgriLife E-Newsletter

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

As rainfall patterns become more extreme, pasture managers will need to become increasingly proactive


A well-managed farm with buffers goes a long way
of slowing runoff and help infiltrate before
reaching a stream. (Image courtesy Dirk Philipp.)


By the U of A System Division of Agriculture 


Fast Facts: 

  • Rainfall intensity, frequency need to be taken into account when choosing forages 
  • Consider reforesting some areas based on topography 


 FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Average temperatures in Arkansas have risen about 0.5 degrees over the past two decades, according to the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies. One result of this has been more extreme patterns of rainfall and drought. Dirk Philipp, associate professor of forage agronomy for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said these changes in rainfall patterns typically have a variety of effects — particularly on agriculture.  


Based on current climate and weather patterns, Philipp said, these weather extremes may include increased rainfall intensity and extended periods of both higher and lower rain frequency, leading to flooding and drought, respectively — and these changes in rainfall patterns typically have a variety of effects. 


“For example, increased intensity means the rain has a higher impact on soil, which equates to higher erosion potential,” he said. “There’s a higher potential for runoff and dislodging soil particles.” 


Philipp said changes in rainfall patterns may also lead to decreased rainwater infiltration rates, meaning the soil itself will retain less moisture and aquifers will be slower to recharge. And because evaporation rates are high in the southeastern United States, droughty periods will be relatively more severe for plants in that region than in higher latitudes where incoming solar rays are less powerful. 


“Changing rainfall patterns also have biological effects,” Philipp said. “Planting times are affected, because fields may be wetter or drier than in the past during the usual planting times.” 


All of this will put stress on existing forage stands and will have implications for establishing new stands as well, Philipp said. To make pastures more resilient in the long term, he has several key suggestions. 


“Buffer strips in strategic locations go a long way in capturing runoff and helping to infiltrate it into the soil,” he said. “Extended riparian areas will also achieve that. Buffers around 50-100 feet wide can be grazed, as well.” 


Philipp said pasture managers should be conscious of the topography of their land, and should consider reforesting areas that were likely covered in woodlands before farming.  


“This doesn’t have to cover a lot of area, but if you can set aside a few acres, that will go a long way of keeping as much rainfall on your land as possible,” he said. 


Strategic choices
Philipp said producers should be strategic with their choice of forages, making their lands more resilient and lowering their economic risks. 


“For example, native perennial warm season grasses are drought resistant,” he said. “Plant them in areas that may get more affected by drought. Eastern gamagrass works well for wetter areas and is readily grazed by cattle. Placing cool season perennial forages, such as fescue or orchardgrass, alongside riparian zones will provide forage for spring and fall while decelerating runoff.” 


Riparian zones are where land and lakes or streams meet. 


Finally, Philipp said that whatever choices producers make initially, it’s important to remain flexible and realize they will need to further adapt over time. This can mean keeping more residual forage after a grazing event, avoiding prolonged stocking in late winter on cool season pastures and more. 


“Calculate your forage needs for summer grazing, and plan long-term for planting more areas in warm season annual and perennial forages,” he said. 


To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.