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

This Month in Ag Connection
Cost-Share Practices for the Livestock Producer
Managing Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle
Composting Dead Animals
AgrAbility Program Continues to Help Farmers with Disabilities Get Back to the Land
Tweedie Commercial Ag Farm near Carrollton
Metrics - Coming Soon to a Source near You
July 1997
Volume 3, Number 7

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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.

MailboxComments 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.

Cost-Share Practices for the Livestock Producer

Conservation Cost-Share Practices

  • Permanent Vegetative Cover — usually only fields coming out of row crops or with extensive drought damage will qualify.
  • Permanent Vegetative Cover Enhancement — designed to improve the productivity of existing pasture by no-tilling legumes (80 acres maximum).
  • Woodland Protection through Livestock Exclusion — helps producers keep livestock out of timber and woodland areas. Line fences are not eligible.
  • Planned Grazing Systems Practice — helps producers put a Management Intensive Grazing system in place. There are several common-sense requirements to meet. Maximum reimbursement is $45/acre up to 100 acres.
  • Alternative Watering Sources for Planned Grazing System — developing watering systems, in cooperation with Missouri Department of Conservation, to help keep livestock out of creeks and streams.

You may be aware of Soil and Water District (SWCD) cost-share practices such as terraces, tile outlets, and waterways. The SWCD office in your county may also be a source of cost-share/incentive payments for management practices to help you with your forage and livestock production.

Pasture establishment, pasture improvement, watering systems and fencing (cross fencing, riparian and woodland protection) are practices which livestock producers may find useful. These practices are all incentive-based and come with some constraints. They are worth looking into.

Contact your local SWCD office for complete details on the soil conservation practices listed at right. Each local SWCD board sets its own docket of practices. Therefore, all the practices listed may not be available in your county.

Author: Mark Stewart, Livestock Specialist

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Stress Categories

Alert (THI of 75-78)
A forecast of temperature and humidity conditions in this range at time of handling, loading, or before animals reach their destination calls for an “alert.”
        Additional precautions may be needed to avoid excessive losses or to prepare for higher THI.
Danger (THI of 79-83)
Temperature and humidity readings in this range are not only dangerous to confined livestock but there is a need to adopt additional measures to avoid severe losses.
Emergency (THI of 84 and higher)
A severe situation has developed. Consider changing livestock handling and shipping plans. If plans cannot be changed, at least these four suggestions should be followed:
  1. Keep all handling stress at a minimum.
  2. Keep animals in position for free circulation of air.
  3. Provide shade if at all possible.
  4. Make water readily available for drinking.

Managing Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle

Summer heat stress causes many problems in the dairy cow. Heat stress reduces feed intake, decreases milk production 20 to 30 percent, and drops butterfat content along with total milk solids significantly. It also reduces cow activity during estrus, making heat detection more difficult.

This stress can be estimated using the “heat index” developed for humans by the Weather Bureau, also known as the “temperature-humidity” index (THI), Livestock Heat Index, or the “humidity-temperature” index (HTI).

A dairy cow begins to show heat stress when the THI is above 72 (approximately 75 F, 60% humidity). With heat stress, cow body temperature can elevate to 106 F and respiration rates increase to 120 per minute (normal temperature is 101-102 F and normal respiration rates range from 30 to 60 per minute). At this point the cow’s body is more concerned with survival than producing 80 pounds of milk!


Daily water consumption can increase from 15 to 40 gallons per cow. Dairy cows require approximately 3 to 4 pounds of water for each pound of milk produced. Factors limiting water intake include a high salt content, high iron or sulphur, and stagnation. Some blue green algae are even toxic.

Management practices that improve water intake include:

  1. Locating the cows’ water near the feeding area. Placing a small water tank in a corner of the holding pen has increased milk production 2 to 4 pounds per cow.
  2. Shading the water tank. Researchers from Texas A&M observed that when cows were offered cool water versus warm water, cows drank more, consumed more feed, and milk yield increased 4.8%.
  3. Providing adequate watering space — at least one watering space or 2 feet of tank perimeter for every 15 to 20 cows.


Properly constructed and maintained shades are effective in reducing heat stress. A north-south orientation with 30-40 square feet per cow will provide adequate shade. Shades should be a minimum of 10 feet high and no more than 30 feet wide to allow for drying underneath.

A portable shade can be constructed using nylon mesh which blocks 70 to 90% of the sunlight. The advantages of the mesh screens are that they allow for air movement and drying underneath, and only cost approximately 25 to 30 cents per square foot.

Freestall Barn Management

A correctly designed and managed freestall barn can provide relief from heat. Design criteria should include a roof slope of 4/12, eave height of 12 feet, and a ridge opening relative to the width of the building. Freestall barns should be constructed with curtains on the sides so that the barn can be opened to improve air movement.

Air Movement
Fans can greatly enhance evaporative cooling and cow comfort. Locate fans above the freestall. Large fans should be 3 to 4 feet in diameter, providing 500 to 600 CFM (cubic feet per minute) per cow. A rule of thumb for effective air movement for a fan is ten times the diameter in feet, ie., a 3-foot fan will move air for approximately 30 feet.

Freestall Beds
Straw is hot — sand is cool. If bedding with sand, be sure to place at least 4 inches in the stall and add sand every 2 to 4 weeks. Sand should not be used with some types of waste handling systems. A sand or rubber filled mattress is another option. Sprinkle a little bedding on the mattress to keep the surface clean.

Sprinklers can help with evaporative cooling. It is important to thoroughly wet the hair coat. This enhances the evaporative cooling of the cow. Sprinklers should be installed above the cows over a hard surface area, ie., near feed bunks or feeding alley. Suggested on:off time is approximately 15% on, 85% off, controlled with a timer. Sprinklers should be located approximately 8 feet above the cow at 4 to 6 feet from the feeding area; water pressure from 10 to 25 PSI with nozzles delivering 1 to 4 gallons per minute.

Foot Management

Foot problems resulting from summer heat stress may be due to lack of effective fiber in the diet, abrasive concrete surfaces and hairy heel warts. Under wet conditions, cows are even more prone to foot troubles. Dairy producers may wish to use a 5% copper sulfate foot bath (11 gallons water plus 5 pounds copper sulfate) once per week.

Author: Barry J. Steevens, State Dairy Specialist, UMC

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Composting Dead Animals

Do you need to update your method of disposing of dead animals to comply with Missouri Dead Animal Law? The law requires that a dead animal carcass be properly disposed of within twenty four hours.

In Missouri there are five acceptable methods of carcass disposal. The Missouri Dept of Agriculture lists this order of preference: 1) rendering; 2) composting; 3) approved landfill; 4) approved incineration; and 5) burial with restrictions.

Composting has proven to be a safe and convenient method for disposing of swine and poultry carcasses. Some farmers have also successfully composted larger animals in a sawdust composter. With this system, large animal carcasses need to be cut open or quartered.

Sawdust is an excellent carbon source for the composting process. Another property of sawdust is its insulation value. With good management it will maintain the proper composting temperature of 130 to 160 F during the winter.

For more information, ask for guides WQ0216: Composting Poultry Carcasses in Missouri and WQ0351: Composting Dead Swine at your University Extension Center.

Author: William Buehler, Farm Management Specialist

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AgrAbility ProjectAgrAbility Program Continues to Help Farmers with Disabilities Get Back to the Land

Many people working or living on the farm have disabilities or limitations which affect their productivity and quality of life. Thanks to the AgrAbility Project, farmers with disabilities may not need to park their tractors permanently.

The Missouri AgrAbility Project (MAP) has recently been refunded to continue coordinating an array of services for agricultural workers and their families with disabilities that allow them to remain active on the farm or in an agricultural-related occupation.

The AgrAbility Project was authorized through a provision of the 1990 Farm Bill, and funded by Congress in 1991. AgrAbility was created to assist the more than 500,000 people with disabilities employed in agriculture, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Washington, D.C. For the past six years, grants have been awarded to selected Land Grant University Extension Services that have linked with nonprofit disability organizations to provide outreach, education, training, information dissemination, and technical assistance to agricultural workers and family members with disabilities. The Missouri AgrAbility Project was first funded for a three year period in 1994.

The MAP provides needed education, assistance, and support to disabled farmers and their families. Through the combined dedication and expertise of the University Extension System and services provided by nonprofit disability organizations during the past three years, the MAP has helped hundreds of Missouri farmers overcome barriers that confront them as they seek to continue in their chosen professions in agriculture.

Funded for an additional four-years by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under special project number 97-EDFA-1-0116, this unique program is a partnership between The College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, Departments of Occupational and Physical Therapy, as well as the Extension county offices and Regional Specialists, and the nonprofit disability organization, Services for Independent Living.

The objectives of the MAP are to: provide direct education and assistance to individuals with disabilities who engage in farming and farm-related occupations; provide specialized education programs to enhance the professional competencies of rural agricultural, rehabilitation, health care, and vocational professionals; assess machinery, agricultural work sites, operations, and living environments and suggesting modifications; mobilize and coordinate rural volunteers, community-based service providers, peer counseling, and support groups.

The project will target agricultural families affected by disabilities, extension specialists, rehabilitation professionals, independent living specialists, service providers, and others committed to assisting those families.

Any Missouri resident who is engaged in farming, ranching, or in an agricultural-related occupation with a disease, disability, or disorder can participate and receive services from the Missouri AgrAbility Project.

Additional information is available by calling the toll-free number set up through the office of Agricultural Engineering Extension, University of Missouri-Columbia, 800-995-8503 or you can visit our web site at

Author: Willard Downs, Extension Agricultural Engineer, UMC

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Tweedie Commercial Ag Farm

Web Site for Missouri Commercial Agriculture Program

Central Missouri has another University Extension/Commercial Ag demonstration and research project. University Extension has leased 39 acres from Tommy and Garnet Tweedie, strong supporters of University Extension. The Tweedie Commercial ag Demonstration/Research Farm is located three miles south of Carrollton, on the east side of highway 65. The demonstrations and information generated from research from this farm will be of particular interest to farmers operating in the Missouri River bottoms.

Tweedie Projects for the 1997 crop year include:

Central Missouri Extension staff with primary responsibility for demonstrations and research on this project are: Ron Alexander, Parman Green, Dale Watson, Mark Stillwell and Darin Starr.

Author: Parman Green, Farm Management Specialist

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Metrics — Coming Soon to a Source near You

As economies and communication become more global, metric measurements and weights are appearing with increasing frequency in educational, scientific, and governmental literature. The following is a collection of metric to imperial conversion equivalents which you will find helpful.

1 hectare (ha) = 2.471 acre (A)
1 kilogram (kg) = 2.205 pound (lb)
1 kilogram/hectare (kg/ha) = 0.892 pound/acre
1 metric ton (mt) or 1,000 kg = 1.102 ton (t)
1 metric ton (mt) or 1,000 kg = 36.73 bu (60 lb)
1 metric ton (mt) or 1,000 kg = 39.36 bu (56 lb)
1 meter (m) = 1.094 yard (yd)
1 centimeter (cm) = 0.394 inch (in)
1 liter (L) = 1.057 quart (qt)

Author: Parman Green, Farm Management Specialist

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University ExtensionAg Connection - July 1997 -- Revised: July 1, 1997