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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

Monthly Archives: November 2016

Many of you have heard that I resigned my position at Tarrant County. It’s true.

Tarrant County has many attributes and I did have the opportunity to develop some great urban agriculture and natural resource programs. However, the ag position included managing, and all the paperwork duties for 4-H livestock validations and major show entries including judging teams, shooting sports, judging card events plus livestock entries. Being solely responsible for the paperwork that could keep a kiddo from an opportunity because of an error on my part overwhelmed me.

Ultimately, the position was not a good fit for me. My goal was to stay in AgriLife Extension; however that option has not materialized. During the two weeks since my resignation, it has heartened me that several job offers have been made. I have accepted the position of Dairy Specialist along the I-29 Dairy Development Corridor in Northwest Iowa.

The opportunity to work with local producers, AgriLife Agents and staff has been a real pleasure and I am grateful to each of you.

I will continue the Ag Outlook blog as the Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlook beginning on January 2, 2017


The poultry industry has done a lot of disease response planning, but manure disposal may be a missing link for backyard flock owners. Biosecurity procedures, which are designed to keep diseases out of flocks, have become a particularly pressing concern since last year’s avian influenza outbreak killed or forced the depopulation of 48 million birds, mostly in Iowa and Minnesota.

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A new Mercaris report has found that U.S. land for organic farming reached 4.1 million acres in 2016, a new record and an 11 percent increase compared to 2014. As of June 2016, the number of certified organic farms in the U.S. reached 14,979, a 6.2 percent increase of 1,000 farms compared to 2014 survey data.

With near-record high temperatures this past week, it is hard to remember that the average “first freeze date” for the Tarrant County area is November 22. For cattlemen that date is important because after a freeze there is the potential for prussic acid poisoning of animals grazing forages in the sorghum family such as johnsongrass, sudangrass, forage sorghums and grain sorghum. Some other plants like chokecherries, wild cherries and mountain mahogany also have compounds that breakdown and result in liberated cyanide, which we commonly call prussic acid.

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TFB Thanksgiving Meal Report shows prices increased

A traditional, Texas-style Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will cost $48.85 this year, up $2.37 from a year ago, according to the special Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Thanksgiving Meal Report.

The survey records the cost of 10 holiday staples—including turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pecan pie. The 2016 report shows the average cost of this year’s holiday dinner rose 5.1 percent from last year’s price of $46.48.

Turkey prices held steady, with a 16-pound frozen turkey ringing in at $19.52.

“The turkey is the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving meal, and the price didn’t increase,” said TFB President Russell Boening. “The turkey is oftentimes the largest expense in our Thanksgiving grocery basket, so it’s nice to not see that ring an increase at the cash register.”

Turkey production has rebounded in recent years, which has helped hold the price at around $1.22 per pound.

Pecans, a Texas staple, saw a significant increase, due in large part to this year’s weather. Shelled and halved nuts were up 17.29 percent, or $1.70 per pound, from 2015 to 2016.

“Mother Nature dealt many Texas farmers and ranchers a tough hand this year,” Boening said. “Most of the Lone Star State received much needed rainfall, but some areas faced significant flooding.”

That had an effect on many crops, including pecans. The wet spring, followed by a dry summer and wet harvest season, led to a shorter crop of Texas pecans.

“It’s supply and demand at this point. The weather had an impact on the overall Texas crop,” Boening said. “Pecans cost more because there are fewer available.”

Of the 10 items surveyed, cubed stuffing, fresh sweet potatoes, frozen pie shells, whipping cream and frozen green beans also saw an increase.

The price of jellied cranberry sauce didn’t show a change, while whole milk and brown and serve rolls showed a decrease.

TFB’s fourth quarter Grocery Price Watch survey, taken in conjunction with the 2016 Thanksgiving Meal Report, also indicated a slight increase for household staples. Results from the quarterly survey of 16 common food products increased from $45.78 in the third quarter to $46.80 in the fourth quarter of this year.

TFB’s Thanksgiving Meal Report and Grocery Price Watch prices were reported by 39 volunteer shoppers at grocery stores statewide from Nov. 3-10. TFB has released its Grocery Price Watch survey quarterly since March 2009.

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With President Obama proclaiming November 13-19 as “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week and the World Health Organization aiming to increase awareness with World Antibiotics Awareness Week, we need to talk about the Veterinary Feed Directives that will come into play on January 1, 2017.

While animal agriculture often gets the blame for the global problem of antibiotic resistance, livestock feeders have been proactive in using the drugs appropriately. In Obama’s proclamation, noted that the nation’s public health is connected to the health of animals and the environment, especially with regards to the spread of disease. He also stated the he hosted the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship to bring together key human and animal health stakeholders to identify successful strategies and opportunities for collaboration.

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Researchers from the University of Bern, in Switzerland, and Texas A&M University, in College Station, are asking more horse owners, trainers, riders, and veterinarians to participated in a study on collapse and sudden death in horses. But the team is opening surveys up  for a few more weeks.

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In its fourth study of the beef cow-calf industry since 1993, the USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) will collect new and valuable health and management information from cow-calf producers in the 24 states, including Texas. Those states will represent 87 percent of beef cows and 79 percent of beef cow operations.

From October through December 2017, representatives from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will contact randomly selected beef cow-calf operators for phase 1 of the study. NASS representatives will conduct personal interviews with all participating operations that have one or more beef cows. For operations that choose to continue to phase II of the study and are eligible to do so, representatives from USDA’s Veterinary Services will visit from January through March 2018 to administer the phase II questionnaire. Representatives will also offer a range of biologic sampling activities in which producers can choose to participate.

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The folks at the VFD News Center remind us that some medications for swine requiring a veterinary feed directive (VFD) are indicated for use alone while others are approved for use in combination with over-the-counter (OTC) medications that don’t require a VFD.

For example, chlortetracycline, which will transition to a VFD medication on January 1, 2017, has several indications for use alone but it’s also approved for use with tiamulin, an OTC medication, for diseases including swine dysentery, bacterial enteritis and bacterial pneumonia.

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“Building margins in agriculture isn’t just about trimming expenses– its about spending money were it will yield the largest returns” says Tarrant County AgriLife Extension Agriculture Agent Fred M. Hall. “And this group of professionals will help any producer learn to selectively maximize their returns on the dollars they spend on fertilizer.” Hall continued. The program will be held on Friday, December 2 at the Tarrant County Resource Connection conference room located at 1100 Campus Drive in Fort Worth.

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