Farm Life

A look into livestock and agriculture in the midwest

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This was taken a couple of months ago during an afternoon four-wheeler ride. What a pretty sight!

This was taken a couple of months ago during an afternoon four-wheeler ride. What a pretty sight!

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Harvest Safety Tips

I received this list in an e-mail earlier today, and I thought it would be a good thing to pass on. 

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Harvest Safety Reminders

Tom Dorn - UNL Extension Educator

Harvest is in full swing and is one of the busiest times of the year for farmers. Long hours and dangerous working conditions are accepted as a normal part of the life of a farmer but no one should become a statistic for the sake of getting done a day or two earlier.

 

Safety Tips For Farmers

Stay alert. Take breaks - get out of the cab and walk around every few hours.

Shut down before working on a machine. If the combine becomes clogged, shut off the motor, not just the header, before attempting to unplug it by hand.

Know where your co-workers are. Visibility is poor around large machinery. Many deaths are the result of bystanders being run over or crushed between machines.

Never trust hydraulic systems when working under a machine. Always use a safety prop if you must work under a header or other heavy equipment.

Never step over a rotating PTO. A few extra steps to walk around the tractor isn’t worth losing your life over.

Never stand on grain that is being moved. Every year people “drown” in grain carts and grain bins that are being emptied.

Keep grain auger grates and shields in place.

If you must move machinery on a roadway after dark, have working headlights and flashing front and rear warning lights.

 

Safety Tips For Rural Residents

Remember to be watchful on county roads during harvest. A car going 50 mph coming up behind a farm implement moving at 15 mph closes at a rate of over 50 feet per second.

Don’t pull out in front of farm vehicles. Heavily loaded trucks and grain trailers can’t stop as quickly as a passenger car.

Watch out! Trucks and farm equipment may be entering the roadway from field lanes in places where you wouldn’t normally expect them.

Give them room. Eight-row headers are over 25 feet wide and take up nearly all of the roadway. When overtaking a combine, give the farmer time to see you and to find a place where he/she can pull over and make room for you to pass. Never try to pass a combine or other implement on the shoulder of the road and never attempt to pass until the driver is aware of your presence.

Harvest activity can disturb deer causing them to be on the move during times of the day they are usually lying down. Be especially alert for deer during harvest.


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USDA releases more CRP land for haying and grazing purposes

According to a press release by the Farm Service Agency of South Dakota, the USDA announced on August 2 that they are releasing more Conservation Reserve Program acres for the purpose of haying and grazing throughout this time of national drought.

"The inclusion of these acres under the CRP emergency haying and grazing provisions allows livestock producers access to forage on approximately 460,000 CRP acres in South Dakota that are devoted to wetland and farmable wetland practices," said USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Craig Shaunaman. "USDA, along with Federal, State, and local partners collaborated to support the release of these additional acres in response to livestock feed needs that are prevalent as a result of the wide spread drought conditions across the continental United States," he said.

Much of the nation is considered to be suffering through drought conditions with the lack of much-needed precipitation since the beginning of the year. Although corn conditions were excellent at the start of the summer, the humidity could only help crops for so long in 90+ degree weather. 

Although much of South Dakota has seen at least some precipitation in the last couple of weeks, it’s a little too late to revive much of the crops. Many producers are salvaging what they can out of their crops and are utilizing the current CRP privileges for haying and grazing. 

On July 11, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced CRP program improvements to deliver assistance to famers that were being affected by current drought conditions. 

"Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy and it is increasingly important that USDA has the tools to act quickly and deliver assistance to famers and ranchers when they need it most," said Vilsack. "By amending the Secretarial disaster designation, we’re creating a more efficient and effective process. And by delivering lower interest rates on emergency loans and providing greater flexibility for haying and grazing on CRP lands, we’re keeping more farmers in business and supporting our rural American communities through difficult times. With these improvements, we’re also telling American producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood."

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Poor corn. As much of the areas to the north and south of us have been seeing at least a little rain, we haven’t. This drought has really taken a toll on farmers/producers throughout the state and consequently the consumers as well.

Poor corn. As much of the areas to the north and south of us have been seeing at least a little rain, we haven’t. This drought has really taken a toll on farmers/producers throughout the state and consequently the consumers as well.

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These are the newbies on the farm. They were raised in western South Dakota and purchased from a farm in Balaton, MN. The previous owners walked their pen for an hour everyday, making them some of the tamest cattle we’ve had. They are so much fun!

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Supplement to AI Video

A closer look into the process of artificial insemination using estrous synchronization

           A cow’s estrous cycle must be closely monitored while using artificial insemination without synchronization. Because no vaccinations or other hormones are being put into the cow’s system, she goes into heat whenever her body naturally does so.

         According to The Bovine Estrous Cycle written by South Dakota State University Extension Beef Reproduction Management Specialist George Perry, “During each estrous cycle, follicles develop in wave-like patterns, which are controlled by changes in hormone concentrations. In addition, the corpus luteum (CL) develops following ovulation of a follicle. While it is present, this CL inhibits other follicles from ovulating. The length of each estrous cycle is measured by the number of days between each standing estrous.”

        Although there are several general signs of when a cow is in standing estrous, also referred to as standing heat, the only conclusive sign is when she allows other animals to mount her. Other signs are a roughed up tail, restlessness and a mucus-like discharge from the vaginal area.

         "Estrous in cattle usually lasts about 15 hours but can range from less than six hours to close to 24 hours," Perry said. "In cattle, the period of time when a female will stand and allow mounting by other animals is the sexually receptive period."

         Natural hormones in female cattle regulate their estrous cycle. While some cattle producers use synchronization to control the cows cycle, many who use artificial insemination do not - making it more of a risk as to whether or not the cow is actually in standing estrous and whether or not she will become pregnant from the AI.  The following is a list of hormones taken from a table in Perry’s The Bovine Estrous Cycle.

  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone - Recruitment of the group of small follicles from the pool of growing follicles on each ovary.
  • Luteinizing Hormone - 1. Stimulation of the continued growth of follicles following selection. 2. A preovulatory surge of LH results in the ovulation of the ovulatory follicle.
  • Progesterone - Inhibits ovulation.
  • Estradiol - Elevated concentrations in the absence of progesterone cause behavioral changes associated with standing estrous and cause the release of a surge of GnRH.
  • Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) - Causes the preovulatory surge of LH to occur, resulting in ovulation of an ovulatory follicle.
  • Prostaglandin - Induces the destruction of the CL.

         Perry defines the synchronization of estrous as, “…simply manipulating the bovine estrous cycle to cause the majority of cows to show standing estrous around the same time.”

          So, many cattle producers hoping for a higher conception rate and a uniform calving season use estrous synchronization when they AI.

           Joel Koch, owner of Koch and Son’s Farms, Inc. near Elkton, South Dakota artificially inseminates approximately 400 head of cattle. He uses the timed AI program - synchronization.

           He explained the general process of artificially inseminating his cattle as a delicate but overall successful task.

            "Starting on day one, we install the CIDRs in our cattle (a vaginal implant containing progesterone)," Koch said. "These change the blood levels in the female and makes her believe she is already pregnant so she doesn’t go in to heat."

            CIDR stands for controlled internal drug release. According to the University of Wisconsin Madison’s Web-site, and an article written through their animal sciences department, a CIDR is an intravaginal progesterone insert used not only in beef and dairy cattle, but also in goat and sheep industries as well. Progesterone is released at a controlled rate into the bloodstream after insertion.

             According to Koch, on day seven after the CIDRs have been in, they are pulled and the cattle are given a shot of Lutalyse - a prostaglandin hormone. Then, 66 hours after pulling the CIDRs (plus or minus two hours) the cattle are artificially inseminated and given a GnRH shot.

          "When the CIDR is removed at the end of a treatment period, a rapid drop in concentration of systemic progesterone occurs in each animal. Thus promoting a synchronized estrus effect within the herd, and allowing for artificial insemination of the herd to take place," according to U of W Madison’s animal science department.

           Merlyn Sandbulte, a District Sales Manager for the American Breeders Service explained that although these hormones are subsequently being placed into a cow’s body, they are all natural compounds the cow produces herself - breeders just use them to manipulate the reproductive process to their advantage.

            Perry agrees with Sandbulte. “The three hormones a technician or cattle producer use to synchronize estrous all occur naturally in the body - we just make it so they change the timing when the body sees them.”

            There are several different types of synchronization processes when it comes to artificial insemination in cattle - this is just one example. For more information about synchronization and artificial insemination, contact a breeding technician near you or visit the American Breeders Service Web-site.

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Finding my “why”

In a recent unit I read for a class, I realized I had missed a significant point in writing my blog. This particular unit explained the importance of having “auctionable material” for viewers to see and relate to, giving them more of a reason to return to keep coming back and seeing what it has to offer.

Finding your “why” was another thing I took away from the unit. I didn’t realize how much I was missing this aspect in my own blog and other areas of the Internet. After reading about it, I started thinking about what my “why” really is and I came up with a bunch of different reasons why I love working on the farm and all of the reasons I want people to learn about it and see what I see.

I want people to become a “member” of my blog and what I’m trying to market, rather than just a customer. Regardless of practicality, I want people to feel my passion and relate to me on that level. Like the unit said, I am a person who could drive 25 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart and pick up my groceries for cheaper there, or I could drive down the block to our local grocery store and buy there for a little more money. Usually, I like to keep business local. If there is someone selling sweet corn (even if it’s going to cost more) I will buy from them. And, there is a little shop in town that sells crafts and other furniture and decorations that I am constantly buying from - because she does a good job of marketing the store and because I like to keep my business local and personal.

I believe if you are passionate about your work and use life experiences in whatever you do, you will become more successful than those who just try and make it through the day to earn a paycheck. When I was bartending, the more outgoing and friendly I was, the more I put a smile on my face, and the more attentive I was to people, the more they would come back. I received several compliments on my prose and people skills and I think it helped me develop myself into a better, more self-confident marketer.

As I continue forward with this blog, I want to readers to understand why so many people choose to farm and how all the hard work pays off. I want to paint pictures of newborn calves taking their first step out in the pasture next to their mothers. I want everyone to understand the peacefulness of a night out on the farm and the therapeutic atmosphere of riding in the tractor throughout the night with nobody else in site. I don’t want anyone to be afraid to spend an extra buck to support local agriculturalists and producers and let them know they are appreciated.

So, if you take anything away from my articles, please try and put your heart into everything you do. Don’t be afraid to get dirty and take chances and take time to let people know your “why”. I know I will do my best to do the same!