Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday November 25 Ag News

Preliminary CPC Forecasts Show Few Extremes for Nebraska
Al Dutcher, UNL State Climatologist

The December forecast, released Thursday by the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, shows Nebraska with equal chances for above, below, or normal precipitation and temperatures. However, based on recent trends, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nebraska sees below normal temperatures and normal to above normal precipitation in December.

Nationally, the CPC December forecast is showing below normal temperatures for the northern half of Montana and North Dakota and above normal temperatures for Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, western Texas, western Oklahoma, southwest Kansas, and the southwestern two-thirds of Colorado.

The precipitation forecast for December indicates below normal precipitation for Missouri, western Arkansas, western Louisiana, southeastern Kansas, Oklahoma, most of Texas, and eastern New Mexico. Above normal moisture is projected for the northern two-thirds of Idaho, northwestern Wyoming, and the western four-fifths of Montana. No precipitation trend was depicted for the remainder of the country, including Nebraska.

I have serious reservations about this December outlook and expect it to radically change when the forecast is updated in late November. Current weather models indicate a significant Arctic surge will occur the first week of December and drive cold air south into Oklahoma. If this occurs, models indicate that Oklahoma and the northern half of Texas could see two to three days of precipitation. These overrunning events occur when warm air south of the front gets lifted over the shallow cold layer near the surface. If this develops most of the area currently depicted as dry for December will likely receive a month’s worth of precipitation with this single event.

Additionally, over the past two months we have seen significant cold outbreaks occurring at regular intervals. Generally, the trend has been 10-14 days of below normal temperatures followed by equal lengths of above normal temperatures; however, the cold outbreaks have been slightly stronger than the warm outbreaks.

Here in the northern Great Plains, the cold air has won out, likely due to improved surface moisture conditions limiting the runaway surface heating that was common the past two winters when soil moisture was limited. I expect the below normal temperature forecast for December is very conservative and is likely to extend much further south and east of current projections. I believe Nebraska is likely to see below normal temperatures and normal to above normal precipitation in December.

The Climate Prediction Center also has released its Winter 2013-14 Outlook (December-February), which forecasts average temperatures and precipitation for Nebraska.  Nationally, above normal temperatures are forecast from Arizona east through southern Alabama, with the highest probabilities assigned to the southern two-thirds of Texas. An additional pocket of above normal temperatures is projected for the northeastern US. Below normal temperatures are projected for the northeastern half of Montana, northern half of South Dakota, northwestern third of Minnesota, and all of North Dakota.

The winter precipitation forecast projects above normal precipitation for the northern half of Wyoming and all of Montana. Below normal precipitation is projected for Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas in the southwest and an area south and east of a line from New Orleans, La., to Norfolk, Va.

For the past 18 months the CPC has had a fairly dismal record of accuracy with its three-month forecasts. This is not unexpected as its long-term outlooks are highly dependent on La Nina and El Nino events. When the equatorial region of the Pacific is in neutral conditions, their forecast accuracy is no better than a flip of a coin.

In reality, this winter’s forecast will likely depend on December's weather. If several potent winter storms develop during December and a solid foundation of snow blankets the Corn Belt before Christmas, it is likely to be a cold and stormy winter here in Nebraska.

Free Farm Finance Clinics in December

One-on-one, confidential Farm Finance Clinics are held across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.

Clinic Sites and Dates
    Grand Island – Thursday, Dec. 5
    Fairbury – Thursday, Dec. 5
    North Platte – Thursday, Dec. 12
    Valentine –Tuesday, Dec. 17
    Norfolk – Wednesday, Dec. 18
    Fairbury – Thursday, Dec. 19

To sign up for a clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor these clinics.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture: Giving is Believing in the Future of Agriculture

After nearly a year of developing the structure and components of the new Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (NFB Foundation for Agriculture) it is up and running with a new executive director, Steve Nelson, president of the NFB Foundation for Agriculture, said Nov. 25.

The NFB Foundation for Agriculture board of directors, a group made up of statewide leaders in Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska agriculture, agribusiness and education, recently hired Deanna Karmazin as its new executive director. She has been the state director of the Agriculture in the Classroom program since 2011.

“Deanna’s experience in agriculture and the non-profit and charitable sector will serve the organization well. She has a strong passion for promoting, protecting and preserving Nebraska agriculture and Nebraska Farm Bureau. Her focus of strengthening the value of agriculture in the state and passing on the agricultural legacy of our members keeps our Foundation on solid ground,” Nelson said.

This position will be largely responsible for the fundraising efforts of the Foundation along with outreach, networking and other development efforts. Karmazin’s first day in her new role will be Dec. 1.

“I am very excited about being a part of the NFB Foundation for Agriculture. This position gives me an opportunity to work hand in hand with our supporters to create legacies that support agriculture programs they care about most, fulfilling our vision of strengthening communities and Nebraska agriculture,” Deanna Karmazin, executive director of the NFB Foundation for Agriculture said.

“The future of Nebraska agriculture and future generations of farm and ranch families will directly depend on our ability to build awareness and understanding about how food is produced on today’s farms and ranches, said Nelson. “This is why we believe the heart of our success with this new Foundation lies directly with our ability to leverage financial support to achieve its mission of creating a greater awareness about agriculture for the people who ultimately buy and use the food we raise.”

The mission of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is to build partnerships and raise awareness and understanding of agriculture through education and leadership development.

"The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture will be the overarching non-profit, tax exempt vehicle that raises funds and manages the Agriculture in the Classroom program and many other programs associated with agricultural education and leadership development,” said Nelson. “This new Foundation will provide people who believe in agriculture a streamlined way to offer financial support to the cause.”

The new Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has been built around five pillars that articulate our values as an organization that represents Nebraska farm and ranch families, Nelson said. Those pillars include:
·   Agriculture in the Classroom – a program that connects teachers with trusted resources to teach students about agriculture, connecting students to their source of food, fiber and fuel;
·   Young Farmers and Ranchers Program – developing agriculture’s future leaders by providing opportunities to learn about the issues that directly impact their lives;
·   Ag Promotion and Education programs – inspiring people to tell the story of agriculture across the state of Nebraska to increase consumer knowledge and to dispel any misconceptions about every aspect of agriculture;
·   Leadership Development – Providing in-depth agricultural leadership training programs for individuals of all ages, preparing them to be future leaders of Nebraska agriculture and;
·   Scholarships and Loans – Providing funds for students to pursue higher education.

“We hope people will donate to the general cause of the Foundation. However, if you are passionate about a specific program, funds can be designated accordingly,” said Nelson.

For more information on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture or how to donate, please call Deanna Karmazin at 402-421-4408. Online donations can be made at in early December.

“The new Foundation will bring stability and longevity to Agriculture in the Classroom and Farm Bureau’s education and leadership programs with a broader goal of strengthening the connection between agriculture and all the people in our great state. Please consider donating today!” Nelson said.

NCTA named Top 10 Vet Tech College

The veterinary technology program at the University of Nebraska-Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) in Curtis was recently named a Top 10 large animal vet tech program in the United States.

“Students in the vet tech program at NCTA can find a number of opportunities to increase their large animal experience and understanding, including by working with animals located in a horse barn and a cattle facility at the school,” said industry reviewer,, on its website.

Barbara Berg, NCTA vet tech division chair, said about 30 first-year and 25 second-year students are currently enrolled in the NCTA’s Veterinary Technology program.  Students complete 76-80 credit hours of coursework to achieve their associate of applied science degree.  Courses which include production animals as well as equine are Large Animal Techniques, Production Animals, Introduction to Animal Science, Animal Management, Nursing I and Nursing II. 

“Students here at Curts are very fortunate in that each instructor understands the importance of setng up the class labs in a manner which allows students to pursue their partcular area of interest and yet ensures each and every student has the same opportunites to learn the skill sets so important to the real world job,” Berg notes. “Students do not just watch a veterinarian or technician demonstrate the skill. They actually have the chance to practce and perform the skills themselves.”

NCTA’s two-year technical program, long touted for its hands-on application with an extensive array of animals, livestock and horses, as well as expanded facilities which include surgical operating theater, laboratories, six X-ray bays, and new animal housing and a vet teaching clinic/hospital, is one of few from the Midwest making the Top Ten.

Top 10 Large Animal Vet Tech programs:
- The University of Nebraska-NCTA, Curtis, NE
- Northeast Iowa Community College, Calmar, IA
- Colorado Mountain College, Glenwood Springs, CO
- Alfred State, Alfred, NY
- Vet Tech Insttute, Houston, TX
- Bradford School, Columbus, OH
- The University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
- The University of Michigan, East Lansing, MI
- La Guardia Community College, New York, NY
- Pierpont Community and Technical College, Fairmont, WV

“NCTA’s vet tech program may be unique in that it is one of the oldest in the U.S. to continually receive accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association, since 1973, in fact,” reported

Campus renovations at the vet tech division in the past three years feature new animal housing, a teaching veterinary clinic and classroom laboratories, all providing extensive hands-on learning for students.

“A skilled, well-trained animal health industry is a critcal component of Nebraska agriculture.  Our farmers, ranchers, livestock producers and animal owners rely heavily on educated graduates, well-prepared at NCTA and the University of Nebraska Insttute of Agriculture and Natural Resources,” said Ronnie Green, IANR vice chancellor.
Next fall, NCTA will launch a new, 2-year Veterinary Technology program in Omaha with an emphasis on comparative medicine.  It will be based at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
In Curts, the 100-year-old insttuton also ofers an Associate’s degree or Associates of Applied Science degree in agribusiness, agriculture producton and hortculture.  More information is available at 1-800-3CURTIS or online at

Nebraska Farmers Union 100th Annual Convention Agenda Released

“Proudly Serving Family Farm & Ranch Agriculture Since 1913” is the theme for the 100th annual Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) state convention.

John Hansen, NeFU President said, “This year’s convention will be a celebration of 100 years of our organizations accomplishments and service to family farm and ranch agriculture and their rural communities while we also gear up for the challenges facing us next year.  This historic convention will take a look back at the fascinating history of the state’s 2nd oldest general farm organization.  NeFU accomplishments include organizing over 440 cooperatives, establishing Nebraska’s unique 100% public power system, authority for community colleges, putting the strongest anti-corporate farming restrictions in the country in the state Constitution, and pioneering the development of ethanol and wind energy. 

Friday morning highlights include hearing from Craig Larson, CEO of the Nebraska Rural Radio Association; Dr. Daryll Ray, Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy, Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, University of Tennessee; and Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President as they analyze the financial risk and volatility of commodity prices and the status of the income safety net used to manage risk.  Governor Dave Heineman will be the Friday noon luncheon speaker along with National Farmers Union Historian, Tom Giessel, Larned, KS.

Friday afternoon speakers include Nebraska FSA Executive Director Dan Steinkruger and NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson who will discuss their agency programs, activities, and challenges; Michael Stumo, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Prosperous America will discuss how a better trade policy could be used to create a prosperous economy;  NeFU members will report on their participation in the September NFU Fly-In; and there will be a panel of health care experts that focus on navigating our new health care system that consists of Mark Intermill, Associate State Director & Director of Advocacy for AARP of Nebraska, Scott Jensen, Deputy Director & Human Resource Director of Central Nebraska Community Services, & Stephanie Ridgway, Health Care Navigator with Central Nebraska Community Services.

The Friday evening banquet keynote speakers will be National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson, Tom Giessel, NFU Historian, and nationally syndicated agricultural journalist Alan Guebert.

Saturday morning highlights will include a panel of Gubernatorial Candidates, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson’s update on the Farm Bill and other NFU legislative activities, and Seth Harder, General Manager of Husker Ag, Inc will speak on the importance of ethanol to rural communities.

The Noon Luncheon will feature Nebraska Easement Action Team Attorney David Domina, who will give a report on “The Ag Economy” & NFU Historian Tom Giessel on NeFU’s rich history.

Registration cost is $35 and begins at 8:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday mornings.  Convention begins at 9:00 a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday.  As always, all members and the public is always welcome.  More information is available at: or at 402-476-8815.

Iowa Leaders Launch "Protect the RFS" Website

State leaders in Iowa have launched a Web site this week that calls on the Obama administration to reject a proposal to reduce biofuel volume requirements next year under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard.

The website established by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds,, solicits petition signatures and comments that would call on EPA to drop its proposed biofuel rollback.

The site is one of many actions taken by the biofuels industry and its supporters in response to the EPA proposal announced last week.

The Iowa website states: "Washington, D.C. bureaucrats at the [EPA], under the stranglehold of big oil, have issued a ruling hoping to slash the amount of renewable fuel in America's energy portfolio. Not only will this terrible decision from the federal government increase America's dependence on foreign oil, it will also hurt American families by decreasing the value of commodities, increasing prices at the pump, eliminating thousands of jobs and sink the price of corn below the cost of production."

The website says: "It's time to stand against the unelected Washington, D.C. bureaucrats," and asks site visitors to share comments that will be forwarded EPA.

"The EPA's ruling to slash the RFS will have a negative ripple effect through the American economy," Branstad said. "The result of this proposed rule change would mean corn prices would plummet below the cost of production, loss of jobs and increased dependence on foreign oil. Concerned citizens cannot sit on the sidelines and wait for the comment period to open. Now is the time to defend and protect the RFS." will allow visitors to sign a petition urging the EPA "to reverse its ill-advised rule aimed at eroding the RFS," Branstad's office said.

Branstad and Reynolds say it is "critically important for Americans to speak up now to push back on the EPA's ruling." The comments submitted to will be sent the EPA prior to the closing of the comment period."

"Most importantly, this national issue jeopardizes jobs at a time when Americans are seeking stability in their lives," Reynolds said. "The EPA proposal places more than 44,000 U.S. jobs at risk. That is clearly unacceptable."

Iowa leads the nation in the production of biofuels. Forty-two ethanol refineries have the capacity to produce 3.8 billion gallons annually, while three cellulosic ethanol facilities are under construction. The state is also a biodiesel leader, with 12 production facilities with the capacity to make more than 300 million gallons annually.

Iowa Beef Producers on Trade Mission to South Korea and Japan

Concern about the availability of U.S. beef was the message delivered by Asian beef importers at all business meetings held during an Iowa Meat Trade Mission to Japan and South Korea. Iowa beef producers Scott Heater, Wapello, and Kent Pruismann, Rock Valley, represented the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

"We visited with high level executives of the three major Japanese meat companies and they all expressed interest in continuing to buy U.S. beef. A year ago they were waiting for the under 30 months rule to take effect and were concerned with the price of corn," said Heater. "Those concerns are no longer relevant. This year concerns are availability and price of U.S. beef."

Japan remains the top export market for U.S. beef in 2013. Exports to Japan are up 52 percent in volume (183,942 metric tons) and 35 percent in value ($1.1 billion) for the year, accounting for 21.3 percent of the total volume of U.S. beef exports and 24.2 percent of the value.

Price is becoming more of an issue as U.S. beef supplies decline. "Their preference is for U.S. beef, but Australian grass-fed beef is our biggest competitor in Japan," adds Pruismann. "Japan is 34% self-sufficient in feeding themselves, so it is a valuable market we need to continue to support and maintain our relationship."

As for South Korea, "They have lots of people to feed and are much more price-sensitive. The importers are interested in buying more U.S. beef if the price is competitive," said Heater. While an abundance of domestic supply has driven down all South Korean beef imports by 14 percent since 2011, the United States remains the No. 2 supplier of beef there with 34.5% market share (38% when measured by value), and it is the No. 5 market for U.S. beef exports by value (No. 6 by volume). In addition, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement continues to lower tariffs, making U.S. products even more attractive.

"I was quite impressed with the staff of the U.S. Meat Export Federation in both countries," said Pruismann. "The beef checkoff contributes funds from both the national and state level, so it's good to meet these talented people and see their connections with the meat trade in each country." U.S. beef exports added $249 to the value of a fed steer in September.

Pruismann and Heater represent different areas of the beef checkoff program. Pruismann, a cattle feeder, is one of Iowa's representatives on the national Cattlemen's Beef Board and Heater who raises seedstock, is secretary of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. They were part of an Iowa trade team that included representatives from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, and the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Partial funding for the trade mission was provided by the $1-per-head beef checkoff.

Iowa Hosts Lively Food Dialogue

The Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, in cooperation with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, hosted "Food Dialogue: Iowa" last week at Iowa State University. The event was part of a larger effort by the USFRA to bring together farmers, ranchers, industry experts, scientists, media, and consumers for a dynamic discussion on today's most pressing topics related to food and food production.

The event brought together several experts on food issues including farmers, for a panel discussion on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), organically grown food, and local sourcing of foods.  Panelists included Wayne Humphreys, a crop and livestock farmer, Katie Olthoff, a turkey farmer and CommonGround volunteer; Dr. Wayne Parrott, Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences/College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences from the University of Georgia; John Schillinger, Ph.D. Crop Researcher; Larry Cleverley, an Organic Farmer; and Dave Murphy from Food Democracy Now!

Larry Cleverley, a farmer from Mingo, brought up a key point during the discussion, saying there is room for both organic and conventional agriculture today, but pointing out that he has chosen organic. Katie Olthoff, a turkey farmer from Stanhope, agreed but didn't want there to be sides. She shared very emotional stories about her family farm and their care of their animals, even stating that on Thanksgiving, as we all enjoy our meal, her husband "will be doing chores and working in the barns."

Moderator John Bachman, a former TV journalist, did a good job of assuring equal time to each panelist and had no problem keeping the conversation rolling.

The National Corn Growers Association is a founding affiliate and leader organization of USFRA. Iowa Corn was the first NCGA state affiliate to join the effort.

If you missed the event, you can watch the video at

Fewer Cattle on Feed Will Reduce Beef Production

Tim Petry, Livestock Economist North Dakota State University Extension Service

USDA-NASS released the monthly Cattle on Feed report on November 22. The number of cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the U.S. for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more totaled 10.607 million head on Nov. 1. The inventory was almost 6% below Nov. 1, 2012, and marks the 15th consecutive month with lower cattle on feed numbers than the previous year. And it was the lowest number of Nov. 1 cattle on feed since the data series began in 1996.

Smaller inventories imply lower beef production ahead. The Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) is projecting 4th quarter 2013 beef production to decline about 5.2% from last year. That would result in a 1.5% decline in beef production for the year. If U.S. pasture and range conditions continue to improve, declining cow slaughter coupled with lower fed cattle slaughter could result in 2014 beef production at 6 to 7% lower levels than 2013.

Placements of cattle into feedlots during October totaled 2.394 million head, up 9.8% from last year. That increase may sound surprising to some given a smaller calf crop this year. However, last year the 2.18 million head placed was the lowest on record for October. Drought in much of the U.S. caused early placements so by October fewer feeder cattle were available. A return to more normal weather this year resulted in more placements of cattle in October. The 2013 October placements were still the 2nd lowest on record for that month. The report also indicated more placements in Southern (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas) feedlots compared to Northern (Iowa, South Dakota) feedlots.

In North Dakota where I am, fewer calves were marketed in October than last year. Moisture conditions are much better this year and even hindered movement of calves to market in some cases. An early October snowstorm coupled with above average rainfall caused weaning lots to be muddy, so cattle were left on pastures and ranges longer. Good feed supplies with lower prices have also caused interest in backgrounding calves, especially heifers, rather than selling them.

November calf marketings in N.D. have increased seasonally with a couple of noteworthy developments. First, a good demand for replacement quality heifers is evident with prices at or near their steer mates in some cases. Also there has been a resurging interest in buying calves by smaller Northern Plains farmer-feeders with the record corn crop and lower corn prices this year.

USDA Announces Notice of Funding Availability for Value-Added Producer Grants

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of nearly $10.5 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities designed to give them a competitive business edge.

"U.S. agriculture is connected to one in 12 American jobs, and value-added products from homegrown sources are one important way that agriculture generates economic growth," Vilsack said. "Supporting producers and businesses to create value-added products strengthens rural economies, helps fuel innovation, and strengthens marketing opportunities for producers – especially at the local and regional level."

The funding is being made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. Grants are available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. They may be used for working capital and planning activities. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000.

Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Funding priority is given to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, and to small- to medium-size family farms, or farmer/rancher cooperatives.

The Value-Added Producer Grant program is one of many USDA programs that support the development of strong local and regional food systems as part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. Launched in 2009, the initiative strengthens ties between agricultural producers and their local communities, helping meet growing consumer demand and creating opportunities for small business development. Initiatives like this create new income opportunities for farmers, generate wealth that will stay in rural communities, and increase access to healthy, local foods in underserved communities. All of these actions boost local economies.

Today's announcement comes as more than 1,400 communities nationwide gear up to support Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to championing small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. This year's Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30.

Rural Development is encouraging applications from Tribal organizations as well as applications that support regional food hubs. Applications supporting value-added activities related to bio-based products are also encouraged.

Since 2009, the Obama Administration has provided agricultural producers with almost $80 million in Value Added Producer Grant assistance that has supported more than 600 innovative, value-added projects.

It’s all about the details: How does your calf feeding program measure up?

With cold weather looming, calves energy requirements will be increasing greatly in the coming weeks. Calf starter consumption plays an important role in providing your calves with the energy they need, when they need it most.

“To keep calves growing all year long, regardless of the temperature outside, it is important that calf feeders pay attention to the details and closely monitor their feeding practices,” says Christie Underwood, a calf and heifer specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition in the southwest.

Underwood offers some simple tips to help calf feeders make sure that the details of feeding calves don’t fall through the cracks.

Know how much calf starter is actually needed

Measuring calf starter is the best way to ensure that the correct amount is being fed. Calf managers should provide employees with guidelines on how much calf starter is appropriate for a given age. “A simple trick that I’ve used on-farm is marking a feed scoop or other sanitized container with the desired amount,” says Underwood.

Training employees how to read buckets is another critical step in maintaining adequate feed intake. Underwood reminds employees to provide just enough calf starter so that there are no empty buckets prior to the next feeding. “It’s a balancing act between providing the right amount of calf starter and not providing too much,” says Underwood. “As calf feeders develop an eye for how much calf starter is enough and how much is too much, they will be able to help save your operation from costs associated with wasted feed.”

Paying close attention to how much calves are eating allows calf feeders to notice when a calf’s intake is off. This allows for more immediate action to be taken if the calf is sick, notes Underwood.

Calf feeding needs are not universal across all operations. Breed, weather and season, and the amount of milk or milk replacer fed can all affect the amount of calf starter needed to achieve optimal growth. As a result it is important that calf feeders learn and apply what works best on each operation, says Underwood.

Freshness is a must

Simply topping off calf starter buckets without routinely discarding leftover feed is a practice Underwood strongly discourages, as this may lead to moldy feed on the bottom of buckets. Mold can result from moisture in the air, precipitation or even the calf’s muzzle.

If mold is present, calf starter consumption may be decreased and may even result in digestive upsets. “Adding more calf starter on top of already wet or moldy feed can negatively affect calf health,” stresses Underwood.

Don’t forget about water

Water plays an important role in calf starter consumption. When discussing the importance of water consumption to calf feeders, Underwood uses the analogy of eating a peanut butter sandwich without a beverage. If calves don’t have enough water to help them consume calf starter, this may hinder their appetite. “Keeping fresh water in front of calves at all times is essential to achieve optimal calf starter intake,” she says.

Calf feeders should be aware that as calves get older, water consumption increases. Lack of adequate water for older calves may lead to slug feeding of grain and subsequent digestive issues. When a calf does not have water or feed, and suddenly is offered either there may be a chance for the calf to consume a large amount of grain at once which may lead to digestive bloat. Free-choice starter and water availability can help minimize the risk of digestive upsets in calves, Underwood notes.

It is no secret that calves are amongst the choosiest eaters on most dairies and they thrive on consistent routines. To keep calves growing and developing to become profitable members of the lactating herd, consider routinely evaluating the operation’s feeding practices and make sure that all employees are on the same page.

For more information, contact Christie Underwood at (806) 640-8045, email or visit

Ram Truck Brand Launches 'The Farmer in All of Us' American Portrait Book Published by National Geographic

Just in time for the holiday gift-giving season, the Ram Truck brand is launching a new photography book with National Geographic titled, "The Farmer in All of Us: An American Portrait."  The book is available for purchase now for $45 at and will be in retail stores beginning late spring 2014.

The 300-page coffee table book is a beautiful and comprehensive collection of original agriculture and farming photography, including many of the images commissioned by the Ram Truck brand for its "Farmer" Super Bowl commercial inspired by Paul Harvey's "So God Made a Farmer" essay. Every book purchase backs a minimum contribution of $25,000 by the Ram Truck brand to the National FFA Organization's "Give the Gift of Blue" program, which donates traditional FFA blue corduroy jackets to members who would not otherwise be able to own one.

"Supporting farmers isn't just about those who till the soil, it's about reminding America who we are and where our greatness comes from," said Olivier Francois, Chief Marketing Officer, Chrysler Group, LLC. "This book truly brings the 'Farmer' story to life, and continues to give back in support of the amazing students of the FFA who embody this spirit every day."

To create the book, ten world-class photographers were tasked with traveling throughout America's heartland over the course of three weeks to capture the essence of the farmer. Paul Harvey's "So God Made a Farmer" speech served as their inspiration. The photographers' original goal was to create the visual backdrop for a television commercial celebrating the "Year of the Farmer." The two-minute tribute aired during Super Bowl XLVII, stopping the nation in its tracks.

The "Farmer in All of Us" book builds on the imagery from the video and creates a compelling photographic poem, including a foreword by Paul Harvey, Jr., and personal anecdotes from the 10 photographers. The book includes more than 240 photos conveying the same spirit as the Ram Truck brand, which celebrates the values of dignity, fellowship and sacrifice through hard work. Just as the "Farmer" television video did, the book aims to inspire the next generation of America's farmers.

"It is so exciting to see a collection of these stunning images together in one book. 'The Farmer in All of Us' truly represents the soul of the American farmer," said Clay Sapp, President of the National FFA Organization. "We are grateful to Ram for supporting the 'Give the Gift of Blue' program and helping ensure each member of the FFA has the ability to own their own blue corduroy jacket."

The Ram Truck brand declared 2013 the "Year of the Farmer" in February when its much-talked-about "Farmer" television spot aired during the Super Bowl. The yearlong initiative was designed to bring national attention to the significance of the American farmer and Ram pledged to donate up to $1 million dollars to FFA for views of the television video on the brand's website. The brand reached the 10-million-view milestone, equating to the $1 million donation, in less than a week and presented the check to the FFA Oct. 30 at their annual convention. The spot has been viewed more than 22 million times to date.

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