Friday, August 2, 2013



Submitted by:  Eve H. Honeycutt Extension Livestock Agent
Lenoir and Greene Counties

Another pest to be on the lookout for is the Armyworm.  They are most active during late summer and early fall.  They can devour a field of forage overnight (or during the day). 

Keep your eyes out for:
  • Fall armyworms laying on the ground surface on the hayfield -- they like to "rest" here.
  • Stripping of leaves and eventually stems
  • Increase in birds in the field may be an indication of armyworms

Here is a picture of a fall armyworm:
Worms can range a little in color (young versus adults)--some may look more brown.

They especially like bermudagrass but they are not picky when the pickings are slim -- they will eat fescue, soybeans, and small grains too, as well as other plants. They may be repeat offenders -- you may see them now and again before the end of the season. There are a number of labeled products but here is a list for your convenience on bermudagrass/rye/pasture/hay (some are restricted use). Read and follow labels carefully and follow precautions and restrictions:
  • Diflubenzuron (Dimilin 2L)
  • Methomyl (Lannate)
  • Chlorantraniliprole (Rynaxypyr R) (Prevathon)
  • Spinosad (Tracer, Entrust)
  • Zeta-permethrin (Mustang Max)
  • Carbaryl (Sevin)

Control them when you see them and tell your neighbor.  Chances are they are eyeing his fields for the next meal.

Bermudagrass Leaf Spot


Submitted by:  Eve H. Honeycutt Extension Livestock Agent
Lenoir and Greene Counties

Bermudagrass leaf spot is caused by a fungus from the genus Helminthosporium and the disease has been informally called Helminthosporium leaf spot, Helminthosporium leaf blotch, or Leaf Blight.
Leaf spot is a fungal disease that is brought on by constant wet conditions, especially when the forage is tall and cannot dry thoroughly between rain storms.  We saw a lot of leaf spot last year because of the same weather pattern in late summer.  On the grass itself, leaf spots are more numerous near the collar of the leaf blade. Leaf lesions are irregularly shaped and brownish green to black in color. Infected plants may occur in irregular patches. Extensive damage occurs when the pathogen attacks crowns, stolons and rhizomes. Severely affected hayfields may become brown and thin.
The good news is that leaf spot will not hurt your animals, though it does make the grass less tasty.  The bad news is there is very little you can do about it.  There are no fungicides approved for forage crops.  The best thing you can do is manage your stand of bermudagrass as best as you can.  Leaf spot will reduce yields and will continue to spread as long as the conditions remain moist.  One of the best preventative measures is to make sure your soil has adequate potassium levels (as shown on your soil sample analysis).  Potassium allows the soil and the plant to be healthy enough to fight fungal diseases like leaf spot.  Potassium is supplied in the form of potash, and the soil typically needs 75% as much potash as nitrogen EACH season to maintain adequate fertility and disease resistance. 
Keep an eye on your fields through this rainy weather and watch for irregular discoloration or thin yields.  If you do get leaf spot in a field, the frost this winter should kill it and it should come back next year.  Be sure to monitor your soil sample and follow the recommendations for all the nutrients, not just nitrogen. 

Block and Tub Supplements for Grazing Beef Cattle


Submitted By Eve H. Honeycutt, Extension Livestock Agent, Lenoir and Greene Counties
Adapted from the Texas Agri-Life Extension Publication E-178

Block supplements are a convenient mechanism for delivering supplemental nutrients
to grazing beef cattle. As the labels on most blocks or tubs state, they are meant to
be used as supplements, not feeds. Success or failure of a block/tub supplementation
program will depend on the availability of forage. If forage is limited or of poor quality,
self-fed blocks or tubs cannot make up the nutrient deficit and are not formulated to do so.
Blocks and tubs have become increasingly
popular because:

• They are easy to store and handle.
• They are easily accessible.
• They require little labor.
• Minimal equipment is required.
• Consumption is self-limiting.

Blocks are particularly appealing to owners of the smallest herds of cattle (fewer than 50 cows) and owners of large operations of more than 300 cows. Many small producers have off-ranch employment and like the convenience and comfort of knowing supplement is continuously available. Large operators use blocks because they save time and labor. 

As with other supplements, blocks and tubs can vary widely in their cost, ingredient
composition, nutrient content, storage requirements and consumption characteristics.
Blocks and tubs generally can be divided into three categories based on the manufacturing method used.
Pressed blocks- these blocks are usually the least expensive.  The can soften in moist and humid environments, leading cattle to eat more than necessary.  Mature cattle generally consume 1-4 pounds per day, depending on the hardness of the block.
Chemically hardened blocks- these usually have a high mineral content, which can cause objectionable flavors.  They can also deteriorate during prolonged inclement weather, especially if they are packaged in cardboard.  Mature cattle normally consume 1-3 pounds daily.
Low moisture (cooked) tubs- These are the most expensive of the three types however due to their uniform consumption, the cattle tend to eat less, ranging from 0.5-1.5 pounds per animal per day.  These tubs will absorb moisture from the air, so the container must be rigid and kept upright.

Block and tub supplements are an effective way to supplement nutritional needs in cattle, but they are not a forage substitute.  Forage must be available in adequate quantity and quality for any supplement to produce the desired results.  Supplements should be made available as soon as protein or energy deficiency is suspected and before noticeable loss of body condition.  Blocks and tubs should be moved around within a grazing area and placed near water or loafing areas to encourage consumption.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Think Pink- For a Healthy Lagoon

By Eve H. Honeycutt
Extension Livestock Agent, Lenoir and Greene Counties

Even though we are in the dead of winter, it is never too late to think about maintaining a healthy lagoon.  It will be spring before you know it and many of you will be ready to use some of those stored nutrients.   While you are planning for the spring, plan for your lagoon too.

First a few words about the life cycle of a lagoon.  As solids build up in your lagoon, anaerobic bacteria also builds up.  These bacteria do not need oxygen to survive, so please don’t ever let anyone talk you into aerating your lagoon.  As these aerobic bacteria multiply, they “breathe” and release carbon dioxide, which we see as tiny bubbles on the surface of the lagoon.   Soon after the bubbling begins, the purple sulfur bacteria come to life.  These purple sulfur bacteria are named that because of the characteristic purple color they release as part of their digestion and the sulfur gases that give the lagoon it’s unique smell.  Once these guys are on the scene, you can bet your lagoon is working hard to digest the solids at the bottom.   This bacterial activity is 3-4 times greater in the summer, which is why most lagoons don’t turn pink until the weather warms up.

The key now is to maintain the anaerobic party going on and keep your lagoon from building up solids too quickly.  However the tricky part is keeping all of them “happy”.  Your bacteria can become “unhappy” and die off for many reasons.  Washing down the house with a disinfectant, overloading the lagoon with liquids or solids, heavy rain, and extreme temperatures can all affect the pH balance in your lagoon.  Collecting accurate and reliable waste samples is a great way to monitor your lagoon- especially the pH.  A good pH for a lagoon is about 7.5.  If the pH is too low, you can bring it up by adding lime at a rate of 1 pound per cubic foot of liquid.

If you find yourself with a lagoon that is collecting a lot of solids, black in color, or low bubble activity, you should take some action to improve it.  Lack of good management on your part can result in an expensive lagoon cleanout sooner than you may be ready for.  One good management tool is an agitator.  Using an agitator regularly, especially in the summer, can suspend the solids in the lagoon and allow for increased bacterial activity.  I have seen this method work very well for lagoons on more than one occasion.  If you are going to use an agitator, remember to sample the water AFTER you agitate since you will be releasing more nitrogen and phosphorus with the movement.  You also want to let the solids settle down a bit before  you pump so you don’t wear out your equipment. 

A little management and planning can go a long way.  Contact your local Extension office if you have any other questions.  Lagoons are a vital part of a hog operation, and they demand your attention.  Think Pink!

Heifer Development Considerations

Information compiled from 2011 Requirements for “Show-Me-Select” Program and Sales, and Impact of Heifer Development on Reproductive Success, D.J. Patterson, Ph.D., University of Missouri
Submitted by Eileen Coite, Extension Livestock Agent, Wayne County 

On December 6th, many of us attended the Eastern Carolina Cattlemen’s Conference in Clinton and learned about many topics useful to cattlemen, with one very unique presentation on heifer development.  Dr. David Patterson from the University of Missouri shared with us details of the Missouri “Show-Me-Select” Replacement Heifer program.  Objectives of this program are to: 1. Implement a Total Quality Management (TQM) strategy to on-farm heifer development, 2. Enhance marketing opportunities for and add value to Missouri raised heifers, and 3. Provide a reliable source of quality replacements based on management, reproduction, and genetics. 

When I think of these objectives and what Missouri has accomplished with the “Show-Me-Select” heifer program, I wonder if we should look towards adopting a similar program in North Carolina.  Let me tell you more about it, and give you something to think about too. 

There are several “requirements” to participate in the program.  To be an eligible producer with eligible heifers for the program, the following steps must be taken.  First, a producer must officially enroll, pay a $5 enrollment fee, and join one of the nine regions of Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers, Inc. across the state of Missouri.  Next, producers must have owned the heifers enrolled in the program for at least 60 days prior to breeding, and they must be owned by residents of Missouri in order to sell in a sanctioned Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Sale.  All heifers must have a pre-breeding reproductive evaluation, specifically including measurements of their pelvic area six weeks prior to breeding. Additionally, all heifers must be included in a herd health vaccination program starting at weaning or before, under the guidance of a veterinarian.  Vaccinations for respiratory and reproductive diseases are a must, at very specific stages of their development.  Finally, a pregnancy examination must be done on bred heifers within 90 days of the breeding season.  Breeding dates, identification records, and fetal age must be recorded, and those that remain open or lose a pregnancy become ineligible for the program.

There are also specific “sale eligibility” requirements for the heifers.  Some of these include:  being enrolled at pre-breeding, be on a parasite control program, free of blemishes, horns or scurs, be a minimum of 800 pounds and be a body condition score in the range of 5-8 on the day of the sale.  All heifers will be inspected by a certified USDA grader for frame, muscle and body condition.  They also must have had a pregnancy exam within 30 days of the sale, confirming that they are “safe in calf” at the time of the sale.  Heifers in individual sale lots are grouped to calve within 45 days of each other based on expected calving dates.  Only heifers meeting requirements of the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program that are tagged and entered in the program database are eligible for certification, and a $10 per heifer certification fee is due as the heifer receives her official tag.  

The Show-Me-Select Program has earned many accomplishments for Missouri cattlemen over time.  Some of them are as follows:  There are nearly 100,000 heifers currently enrolled in the program, with producers being assisted by 205 veterinarians and seventeen extension livestock specialists across the state. Producers are now able to use resources and technologies for their on-farm heifer development that is also beginning to spill over to their cow herd management.  There is an increased interest and success in estrous synchronization and artificial insemination across beef herds, allowing for improved genetics and reproductive management, as well as increased value and sale prices of heifers. The program has provided a means for producers to sell over 23,000 heifers throughout Missouri and seventeen other states since the program began in 1997.

I hope you found learning about the “Show-Me-Select” ™ Replacement Heifers, Inc. program as interesting as I have.  We may want to consider a similar heifer development program in North Carolina someday.  If you would be interested in learning more about the program, details can be found at:

One man’s friend is another man’s farm hand

Submitted by Emily Herring, Extension Livestock Agent, Pender County
   “It’s me again, Hank the Cowdog, Head of Ranch Security.” 
  That’s how each book of the classic Hank the Cowdog series starts. The famous children’s book about a scrawny, bumbling cowdog who interrupts his thoughts more than he thinks them, and always seems to get into more trouble on the texas ranch than he does solving problems of missing cattle, chicken thieves, and coyotes. While this dog is the above average dumbbell, he is like any dog. He is loyal, helpful, honest, and willing to please anybody even if it means going up and beyond the call of duty.
  Though we protect our livestock with the best fences, keeping them in good health, and making sure they are comfortable; we cannot always be with them 24/7. With predators like coyotes, bobcats, wild dogs and other carnivorous animals are on the rise of invasion on account of drought, lack of food, or loss of territory.  Farmers are starting to look for guard animals that can not only defend itself but can fight off wild animals if the need arises. That is where “Man’s Best Friend” comes in handy. Dogs have always been a considered a “working animal” for humans for hundreds of years. Though it takes tons of training and plenty of time; guard dogs have started to make a comeback for farmers who want to stop worrying about their livestock when they are not presently with them.
  Their jobs are quite simple really. The main focus of a guard dog’s job is protection of property and livestock from intruders. Depending on the severity of training on the dog, depends on the number of fatal or near-fatal attacks on livestock. Most farmers train their own dogs to guard while others purchase a dog that has already been trained by professional trainers. Some farmers keep their dogs in the pastures with the livestock so as they will be close-by at all times when there is no one else around. Other owners simply train their dogs to watch and protect along the perimeter of the farm property so not only can they watch livestock, but also let farmers know when cars approach and even protect young children from danger.
  Size is another factor in the livestock protection business. Small dogs like Jack Russell terriers, are mostly used to keep small animals like possums, raccoons, foxes, and rats that are susceptible to diseases away from the livestock; and larger dogs like Rottweiler’s or Great Pyrenees’ are perfect for fighting off larger animals like coyotes or bobcats.
  Though the number of working dog breeds is miles wide, the number of breeders who specifically raise dogs for guarding purposes is very rare in the area. The best way for finding the right dog for your farm is by looking through online websites, magazines, newspapers, and even at your local feed stores where people have posted flyers of certain working dog breeds. If you have a specific breed you are looking for; it is best to do some research on the breed of dog to see if that breed is perfect for your lifestyle and family.
  Guard dogs are not a guarantee that predator invasion will diminish; but they will give you the satisfaction and peace of mind knowing that your livestock, whether cattle, sheep, or goats, will have someone there to help them if any trouble comes. Yes, when it comes to having a guard dog for “Ranch Security”, we can be sit back, relax, and be worry-free. And as Hank would say after a good day’s work,
  “Case Closed.”  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Equine Coggins, Vaccination, & Teeth Floating Clinic

A great event is coming up in Lenoir County at the Lenoir County Livestock Arena on Saturday November 5th.  Livestock Veterinary Services is partnering with our local REINS (Regional Equine Information Network System) volunteers to provide a working clinic for horse owners.  See the brochure below for information on registration and costs.  Contact Dr. Justin Martin at 252-933-1483 or 252-527-4960 for more information.