Thursday, October 29, 2015

Beekeeping In The City

Banned in the city limits of Los Angeles since 1879, beekeeping is returning to the nation's second largest city after the Los Angeles City Council voted this month to repeal the old law. New York City made beekeeping legal within its jurisdiction in 2010.

While legalization of urban beekeeping may be trending positively, Homegrown Honey Bees author Alethea Morrison cautions beginning beekeepers to check with local authorities before setting up a hive. "Many municipalities regulate beekeeping or prohibit it outright. Find out what the rules are where you live, ideally from your local bee association."

Talk to your neighbors before setting up a hive, Morrison suggests. She blames much of the public's fear of bees on yellowjackets, or wasps, which have similar coloring and are considerably more aggressive. Educating them on the differences can help make urban beekeeping less frightening.

An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Beekeeping
by Alethea Morrison
Storey Publishing, 2013

Artwork: Yellowjacket Eating a Bee
Here's How To... Control Yellow Jackets
Homegrown Honey Bees
Animal Husbandry and Livestock Books

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Calming Separation Anxiety

"Fearful dogs who are very insecure are more prone to separation anxiety. With these dogs, the dog becomes so afraid of being alone that he panics," writes Peggy O. Swager in her book "Rescue Your Dog from Fear: Tried-and-True Techniques to Help Your Dog Feel Secure."

"Dogs who panic will sometimes eliminate in the house while you are gone, even if you just put the dog outside. Some will tear holes in the couch or chew a favorite item such as a shoe. Some dogs are more silent sufferers and may pant and pace while the owner is gone. Punishing any unwanted behaviors can increase the anxiety the dogs has, making a separation anxiety event all the more likely the next time."

While specialized training may be needed for some dogs, Swager suggests that the confidence building techniques outlined in her book will help most dogs feel better about being left home alone. Owners should try to keep their arrivals and departures low-key and try to desensitize their pet to cues that signal the separation.

A separate DVD, "Separation Anxiety-A Weekend Technique," teaches owners an "I'll Be Back" technique that alleviates their dogs' fear.

Tried-and-True Techniques to Help Your Dog Feel Secure
by Peggy O. Swager
Lyons Press, 2015

Artwork: Anticipation
Separation Anxiety-A Weekend Technique (DVD)
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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Chocolate Poisons Pets

A chocolate bar can send a person's taste buds to heaven. But for dogs and cats, consuming even a little bit of chocolate could send them to the emergency room.

The trouble with chocolate is that it contains theobromine and caffeine, both methylated xanthine alkaloids. While not harmful in small amounts in humans, these chemical compounds can be deadly in dogs and cats. They stimulate the sympathetic - "fight or flight" - branch of the nervous system, causing release of a chemical called epinephrine (commonly known as adrenaline).

In small doses, adrenaline gives humans and animals extra energy to react in potentially harmful or emergency situations. But toxic doses of methylxanthines lead to the over-stimulation of this system.

A pet that ingests a harmful amount of methylxanthines may breathe rapidly and become very restless and overheated; its heart rate and blood pressure may increase drastically, possibly culminating in cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat). The pet may also vomit, have diarrhea, and drink and urinate more than usual.

Ingesting chocolate could ultimately lead to seizures or even death without appropriate veterinary care.

The concentration of methylxanthines vary by the type of chocolate, ranging from the least in white chocolate up to the most in cocoa powder. Cocoa bean mulch, a commercial product for gardens, is especially harmful to pets.

The more chocolate a pet ingests, the more likely there will be significant symptoms. Also, the less a pet weighs, the more likely exposure will bring severe effects.

When a pet has ingested a toxic dose of chocolate, veterinarian will explore treatment options that include induced vomiting, treatment with activated charcoal to prevent intestines from absorbing the methylxanthines, or treatment with intravenous fluids and medication to prevent seizures.

Dr. Sandra Yi, assistant professor of toxicology, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana, Illinois; 217/333-2907

Artwork: Theobromine Molecule

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Raising Livestock Without Antibiotics

Anyone who has raised livestock commercially knows how important antibiotics have been in maintaining the health, well-being, and productivity of their animals. But times are changing, and antibiotics are on the way out.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the Guide for Industry 209 (GFI 209) that stated the intention to phase out the use of antibiotics in animal feeds or water for purposes of growth promotion. (Ionophores and bacitracin are not included in the GFI 209.)

The FDA has given producers a deadline of December 2016 to institute these changes, so now is the time to discuss these changes with a veterinarian and prepare for them.

The restrictions are focused on preventing antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause diseases in humans.

Randy Wiedmeier, livestock specialist, University of Missouri Extension, (417) 256-2391

Artwork: Friesian Bull, 1895
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Feeding Cornstalks Cuts Cow-Calf Costs.

Feeding co-products and cornstalk residue in the winter can save cow-calf producers up to $1 per day per cow as compared to feeding hay.

With feed comprising 60 percent of a producer's costs, any measures producers take to minimize expenses can make the difference between profit or no profit at the end of the year.

Most feed costs occur in the winter when cows can't graze and utilize pasture. Typically, cow-calf producers feed large round bales because they are easy, but that can be pretty expensive. Feeding harvested and stored feeds is a common practice, but it's also costly.

As ethanol production increases, so has the availability of corn co-products. More corn residue such as cornstalks is also being used as an energy source.

Cornstalk bales are an adequate source of energy, but they are low in protein and need to be supplemented, especially when fed to cows in early and peak lactation.

Experiments on a herd of Angus and Simmental cows at the Orr Research Center in Baylis, Illinois revealed ways producers can save money. The cows calved between January and March and were evaluated from calving until breeding.

The first experiment compared new co-products developed from improved fractionation processes. The study compared free-choice cornstalk residue with 14.3 pounds of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), free-choice cornstalk residue with 9.7 pounds of corn bran and 4.8 pounds of DDGS, free-choice cornstalk residue with 11.2 pounds of corn bran and 3.3 pounds of high-protein (HP) DDGS (a low-fat distillers grain with 40 percent or more crude protein content), and free-choice hay.

The study revealed that producers could save about $1 a day per cow when feeding a combination of cornstalk residue and co-products as compared to hay.

Feeding methods and delivery systems formed the basis of a second experiment. Researchers compared free-choice cornstalk residue and 14.3 pounds of DDGS, a total mixed ration of 14.1 pounds of ground cornstalk residue and 14.3 pounds of DDGS, a total mixed ration of 9.9 pounds of ground cornstalk residue and 16.5 pounds of HP-DDGS, and free-choice hay.

In a 50-cow herd, the least expensive winter feeding strategy is to offer free-choice cornstalk residue and handfeed DDGS. If producers use a tractor to feed DDGS instead of buckets, they are better off to feed free-choice hay. Feeding total mixed rations requires more equipment which in turn increases cost for the producer.

In a 100-cow herd, handfeeding with buckets is not the most practical, but it's the cheapest. With this size of a herd, producers can use a tractor to deliver DDGS to the cattle at a more economical price per day than free-choice hay.

The major savings occurs in a bigger cow herd with more than 200 cows. The total mixed rations at $2.33 per cow a day become even more comparable to feeding free-choice cornstalk residue and DDGS at $2.21 per cow a day. In contrast, the free-choice hay is $3.21 per cow a day.

This is a good time to contact area corn producers to identify who will have cornstalk bales for purchase. It's also a good time to price co-products depending on what you have available for storage. Prices tend to go up in the winter, and it's best to have stored feeds in order before the winter sets in.

Dan Shike, University of Illinois assistant professor of animal sciences, 217-333-0322.

Artwork: Corn Stalk Shocks
Animal Husbandry and Livestock Books
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Feed & Hay

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Quality Forage Makes A Difference

High quality forage is essential to beef cattle’s nutrition and beef producers’ bottom lines. Focusing on forage quality helps farmers keep overall costs low.

That means two things:

First, it doesn't cost as much to supplement and provide enough energy and nutrition to the animals that you're trying to feed.

Secondly, and more importantly, it ensures those animals are getting all of their nutritional demands met and have high reproductive efficiency.

Growing high quality forage requires proper management on the beef producer's part. Timely harvest is crucial, as the maturity of the crop is the primary factor affecting the forage's fiber content and digestibility.

The amount of fiber in the forage determines how much of the forage can be consumed. The digestibility of the forage determines how much energy is available to the animal.

Beef producers should sample their forage periodically. This allows the beef producers to decide what quality of forage can be fed to each class of livestock.

Lower quality hay should be reserved for dry cows, while higher quality hay should be set aside for cows with calves. Sampling allows the beef producer to determine the different quality of feed being fed to his or her cattle.

A dry cow doesn't need nearly as much energy as a lactating cow. It doesn't make financial and management sense to feed the same forage to both. One animal is being overfed, while the other is being underfed.

Unfortunately, there's a mentality that all hay is hay, that there's not any differences. In reality, there are a lot of differences.

Source: Dennis Hancock, forage specialist, University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Artwork: Cattle Grazing
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Monday, February 9, 2015

Grazing Livestock on Wheat.

If livestock need extra forage, grazing wheat and taking animals off before the joint stage should be considered.

When you remove livestock from wheat before the joint stage, wheat can still be used for a grain crop. Grazed wheat will usually mature one to four days later than ungrazed wheat. But, studies show that lodging is reduced by grazing wheat.

Wheat can provide excellent quality to meet grazing animal requirements. Wheat produces more leaves and tillers than needed for maximum grain production, making grazing possible. In the vegetative stage, wheat is high in minerals and vitamins, crude protein content can be 20 to 30 percent, and TDN- 80 percent.

When grazing wheat, nitrogen should be split-applied, with half applied at planting and the remainder in late winter or early spring prior to grazing.

Grazing can begin when pastures are 4 to 10 inches tall. Due to the high quality of wheat, time grazing can be used, allowing animals to graze for only a short period. For example, graze wheat four hours per day, then turn animals on to a perennial grass pasture for water and mineral to reduce trampling and damage to plants and to improve the use. Avoid grazing during wet weather and extremely cold weather, (< 15 F) as this can damage plants.

Do not turn hungry animals onto cereal grain pastures, high protein in wheat can cause bloat. If producers are worried about grass tetany, supplement with magnesium and calcium mineral. Supplementing with dry hay can help meet dry matter intake needs as well.

Normally, one acre of cornstalks will feed a cow for 30 days. If conditions are wet and rainy, at least two to three acres will be needed due to faster degradation and more trampling of the residue. Strip grazing will limit trampling if the supply of available cornstalks is low.

Source: Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist, University of Missouri Extension. (417) 682-3579

Artwork: Brown and White Dairy Cattle Grazing in Wheat Fields
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