Ag Connection
Your link to the Universities for ag extension and research information

This Month in Ag Connection
Lincoln University Researches Ways to Increase Lamb Crops
Spring Waterers Are a Natural
Fly Tag Control Diminishing
Goodwater Ag Day -- July 25
Swine Feed - Alternatives to Corn
Listservs for Livestock Producers
Improve Pasture Manure Distribution
Scout Now for Potato Leaf Hopper
July 1996
Volume 2, Number 7

Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Publishing Information
Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, UM-Columbia. Editorial board: Maryann Redelfs, Managing Editor; Parman Green, James Rogers, Mark Stewart, Melvin Brees, Don Day and Ron Alexander.

Comments or Suggestions?
Please send your comments and suggestions to Maryann Redelfs, Agronomy/Information Technology Specialist, University Outreach and Extension, 608 E. Spring Street, Boonville, MO 65233, call 660-882-5661, or send messages by e-mail to:

To send a message to an author, click on the author's name at the end of an article.

Lincoln University Researches Ways to Increase Lamb Crops

Two lamb crops per year can make sheep production more profitable by increasing the gross income and decreasing fixed ownership costs per ewe. Lincoln University's (LU) sheep program is researching methods to improve lambing efficiency in sheep.

To lamb twice within a year, a ewe must re-breed within 35 days of lambing. With natural service, ewes bred within this period have reduced fertility rates, limiting the potential for two lamb crops per year. But, research methods have successfully achieved two lamb crops per year.

In a previous LU research trial, ewes bred by natural service 30 days after lambing had a conception rate of 10%. This compared to a 45% conception rate if the ewes were bred at day 40 and 80% if bred at day 50. Ewes in the trial that were intrauterine inseminated at day 30 had a 60% conception rate -- a sixfold improvement over the 10% conception rate realized with natural service. Intrauterine insemination is a specialized artificial insemination technique that surgically places semen in the uterine horn at the junction of the fallopian tube.

After lambing, the uterus and vagina still contain a lot of debris which, over time (50 plus days), either works its way through the vagina and out of the vulva or is reabsorbed in the uterus. This debris may cause the extreme difference between the day 30 conception rates of natural service and intrauterine insemination. During natural service the semen is deposited in the vagina where all the debris has altered the environment. Intrauterine insemination bypasses most of the debris and improves the environment by depositing the semen at the upper end of the uterine horn.

While this method would not be applicable for on-farm production, research is presently looking for practical methods to accomplish these same results.

Preliminary experiments have been conducted in which chloratetracycline (CTC) was fed to ewes from six weeks prior to lambing until the ewes were bred 22 days after lambing. Intrauterine insemination was used to breed the ewes. Ewes which received CTC had a 75% conception rate compared to 25% for the ewes which did not receive the CTC. Additional trials are planned to evaluate the CTC effect on the uterine environment and the practicality of using CTC with a natural service breeding program. (Mark Stewart, Livestock Specialist, Source: David Kiesling, Lincoln University Animal Science Department)

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Spring Waterers Are a Natural

A plentiful supply of fresh water is a necessary requirement for all livestock operations, but building ponds for livestock water can be costly. Cattle standing and defecating in ponds can lead to disease problems. Some producers are finding that the best solution flows right under their feet. They are taking advantage of natural springs and gravity to develop an inexpensive and relatively maintenance free source of water.

Spring development begins by building a spring box or collection structure where the water is accumulated and started down a delivery system. A spring box can be as elaborate as a concrete box or as simple as a perforated pipe. After the spring is collected, the rate of flow must be determined in order to correctly size the delivery pipe. The Osage County Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Soil Water Conservation District (SWCD) usually recommend heavy grade 4" PVC pipe. Special care must be given to the grade of the delivery pipe. To prevent an air lock, the pipe must be laid on a constant downhill grade with no upturns.

Locating the tank is simply a matter of elevation. When the tank is full, the water level must be slightly lower than the water level in the spring. Water won't flow uphill.

Any water tight container can be used as a tank. A used large equipment tire works well and has a long life. Many equipment companies will give these away. The top bead must be cut out of the tire. The tire is then set and leveled. The delivery pipe is brought in and an overflow pipe (2" plastic pipe) is installed. The overflow is usually channeled through 2" pipe to the next tank or into a creek or waterway. Once the plumbing is completed, concrete is used to fill the bottom rim hole and seal the tank. A concrete or gravel pad is recommended around the tank.

A spring must be set up as a free-flowing system in order to maintain a continuous supply and stable water temperatures. The tire tanks are generally freeze proof. A producer can create as many tanks as the slope of the land will allow. A spring water system was recently installed at the Edwin Runge farm in Osage County at a cost of $650.00. This included the costs of the backhoe, pipe, and concrete with the producer and field staff providing the labor. Spring waterers have proved to be a less expensive alternative to many traditional watering systems. (Cindy DeOrnellis, Associate Farm Management Specialist, University Extension and Dennis Shirk, Grassland Conservationist, NRCS, Linn, MO)

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Fly Tag Control Diminishing

Our biggest fly problems occur between late July and early September. Insecticidal ear tags currently on the market have an effective life of only three months or so. To give the desired control during these high fly problem months, the University Extension recommendation is to apply insecticidal ear tags during June.

Producers that applied fly control ear tags in April and May can expect a reduction in fly control in late summer. Additional horn fly control can be achieved by forcing the use of a back rubber charged with an appropriate insecticide. Forcing the use of dust bags will increase both face fly and horn fly control. Protecting dust bags from the rain will increase their effectiveness. For more information, refer to the April 1996 issue of Ag Connection. (Mark Stewart, Livestock Specialist)

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Goodwater Ag Day -- July 25

University Extension will be hosting 'Goodwater Ag Day' at the University research site near Centralia, on July 25. Activities will begin at 4:00 p.m. This field day will be an opportunity to learn about current research as well as the water quality results from the past five years of the MSEA project (Management Systems Evaluation Areas).

Tour stops will include:

Other activities at the Goodwater Ag Day:

Free Water Testing -- Persons attending the field day may bring a water sample from home (pond, well, stream) for a free testing for nitrates and pesticides. This testing retails for $90+ per sample. Certain guidelines need to be followed for taking the water sample. Please contact a local University Extension Center for a brochure with detailed water sampling instructions.

Free Toxic Pesticide Pickup -- DNR will be in attendance and taking requests for picking up old toxic chemicals from your farm. Persons with chemicals should bring a list of the chemicals and the approximate amounts on hand. DNR will send someone to the farm and pick them up for free. An excellent opportunity to dispose of chemicals!

Well Closing Demonstration -- University Extension persons will be closing an abandoned well. In Missouri there are an estimated 150,00 to 300,000 abandoned wells. Each abandoned well presents a potential hazard. Information concerning proper methods of closing wells will be available.

Well closing begins at 4:00 p.m.

Tours begin at 4:30 p.m.

Supper will be furnished.

Directions -- From Highway 22 in Centralia. Turn N. on N. Jefferson St. (across from McDonald's) drive about 3/4 mi. Turn East on gravel Mockbee. Field Day will be on the N. side of road. Signs will be posted. (Mary Sobba, Farm Management Specialist)

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Swine Feed - Alternatives to Corn

Milo (Grain Sorghum): Milo is roughly equal in feeding value to corn. Some producers have reported intake problems when bird-resistant milo is used. Most milo in Missouri has a relatively low tannin level and does not generally have an intake problem. Milo is generally recommended as a complete replacement of corn on a 1:1 basis. Milo is the easiest substitution to make among all of the common alternative energy sources.

Dried Bakery Product: Due to the different sources of this product, it is hard to make a generalized recommendation for feeding. Bakery products can be cost-effective; however, it is best to get an analysis of the product (crude protein, salt, and fat) to allow for proper formulation. After an analysis, the diets (usually finisher) should be formulated to assure adequate nutrition. Due to a high salt content at times, this product may be difficult to use at high rates if a salt added "base mix" or "supplement" is used in the formula. Availability of this product is localized.

Wheat Midds: Due to the heat generated by digestion, only modest amounts of wheat midds (5 - 7% of the diet) should be used in the summer. During cooler months, finisher rations may include up to 15% wheat midds. Wheat midds can also be useful in gestation rations. The crude protein, energy and phosphorus content should be evaluated in the formulation process.

Full Fat Rice Bran: Full fat rice bran can be included at up to 20% of the diet for finishing and gestating swine. Contamination of the bran by rice hulls, which are low in nutritional value for pigs, may reduce its usefulness. An analysis for crude protein, fat, and fiber should be done prior to formulation.

Hominy Feed: Hominy feed is a useful product as a replacement for energy feedstuffs but has very poor handling characteristics due to bridging in the feeder. Use at less than 25% of diet to avoid bridging.

Corn Gluten Feed: Corn gluten feed can be up to 10% of the diet in cool weather for grow-finish pigs. Diets for gestation can use upwards of 25%, but at this level energy intake may become a problem.

Current By-Product Feed Prices

(Mark Stewart, Livestock Specialist, Source: Mark Newcomb, extension swine nutritionist)

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Listservs for Livestock Producers

Following are listservs that livestock producers may find useful. To subscribe, send a message to the address indicated. For more details on listservs, see the June 1996 issue of Ag Connection. (Don Day, Agriculture Engineering/Information Technology Specialist)

BEEF-L - A beef production discussion list.
Subscription address:
Type: subscribe BEEF-L <Your Name>
BEEFTODAY-L - A forum for cattle producers to discuss issues, operations, and ideas with each other and the editors of "Beef Today".
Subscription address:
Type: subscribe BeefToday-L <Your E-mail Address>
PIGFARM - Discussion on small scale pig production, including their breeding, care, diseases, and other relevant topics.
Subscription address:
Type: Subscribe PIGFARM <yourname>
SHEEP-L - Discussion of all aspects of sheep production.
Subscription address:
Type: subscribe SHEEP-L <yourname>

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Improve Pasture Manure Distribution

Grazing animals retain very small proportions of their total nutrient uptake. Nutrients not retained are redistributed in the feces and urine. A goal of producers should be to uniformly distribute these nutrients through grazing system design and management. Other benefits are decreased fertilizer costs and improved environmental quality.

Manure distribution is influenced by water sites, shade, and topography. Studies have determined that manure pile concentration was three times greater near water, shade, and a mineral feeder in comparison to the rest of the pasture.

Management practices can aid uniform manure distribution. Several strategies suggested by Jim Gerrish of the MU Forage Systems Research Center and other researchers are:

  1. Keep salt and mineral in portable feeders and change locations often.
  2. Place mineral feeders and fly-wipes at sites that otherwise do not attract stock.
  3. Vary locations of supplemental feeding, both concentrates and forages, throughout the pasture.
  4. Do not provide shade on purpose. If shade is present, place water and feed away from the shaded areas.
  5. Increase stocking density as much as possible.
  6. When possible, provide water in each paddock or pasture.
  7. Have nothing at the watering area but water.
  8. Keep the watering area small enough to discourage socializing.
  9. Place rock in the watering area to discourage loitering. (Livestock do not like to stand or lay on rock.)
  10. Do not provide forage in lanes.
  11. When feasible, keep herds away from neighbors' cattle to reduce socializing along fences.

(Cindy DeOrnellis, Associate Farm Management Specialist, University Extension and Dennis Shirk, Grassland Conservationist, NRCS, Linn, MO)

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Scout Now for Potato Leaf Hopper

Scout for potato leaf hoppers (tiny, 1/8 inch long, yellowish green, wedge shaped insects) after each cutting of alfalfa until September. Leafhopper damage lowers protein content, stunts growth and can kill plants. Regrowth following harvest may be slow and stand vigor reduced.

Frequently leaf hoppers are overlooked because they don't eat the leaves, but cause wedge shaped yellowing of the alfalfa leaf tip. Once the stand is heavily infested, plant growth stops. These stands will require harvesting or stubble cutting to start regrowth and then spraying to kill both nymphs and adults. This often results in very low yields of reduced quality forage.

The small size and mobility of potato leaf hoppers make them a difficult pest to scout. The only accurate way of evaluating leaf hopper populations and potential damage is with the use of a 15-inch sweep net.

Control is recommended based on the average leaf hoppers per sweep after 20 sweeps in each of five random locations.

When the height of the alfalfa plant is less than three inches, the treatment threshold is met by an average of 0.2 leaf hoppers per sweep. When the plant height is 8 to 10 inches, one potato leaf hopper per sweep is needed to justify chemical treatment. Growers can often avoid treatment on taller prebudding stands by early cutting, however, regrowth should be evaluated.

For best results, fields should be evaluated for leafhoppers four or five days after harvest, when the alfalfa is beginning regrowth and maximum benefits can be achieved by treatments.

For More Information - A leaf hopper guide can be obtained on the World Wide Web from Ohio State University. The URL is:

(Wendell Roberts, Agronomy Specialist)

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University Extension Ag Connection - July 1996 -- Revised: August 21, 1997