Floodwaters can threaten cattle
When floodwaters recede, producers must continue to use caution when assessing damage and beginning clean-up procedures on the farm.
According to Amanda Marney, agriculture preparedness specialist with University of Missouri Extension, livestock will be exposed to unique hazards created by floodwaters.
“It is very important that you make sure all animals have a source of clean, uncontaminated water. Animals on pasture may need a different source of water until ponds or creeks clear up,” said Marney.
She says it is also imperative that agriculture producers have their water tested if any part of the farmyard is flooded.
Check all sources of feeds and forages for spoiling and contamination. Floodwaters can contaminate feeds, forages and fields. Watch for molds in the field and in stored feed and forages.
Standing water may have damaged some pastures or parts of pastures. This may have isolated animals and limited forage supply.
“Hungry animals may then eat contaminated or poisonous plants. Therefore, be prepared to supplement feed, when needed, in order to prevent animals from eating contaminated plant materials,” said Marney.
Sources of waterfor cattle studied
Quantifying the differences in cattle performance on good versus poor quality water is tricky, says Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist in Mount Vernon with University of Missouri Extension.
A decade ago, a trial was set up at the University of Missouri’s Southwest Research Center to evaluate the impact of clean and dirty water for grazing beef cattle.
Dirty pond water was hauled daily from nearby farms that had cattle traffic in them for one group of cattle. The clean water supply was from a deep well at the Southwest Center.
“The clean water tanks were scrubbed weekly and the water usually appeared to be clean enough for human consumption,” said Cole.
Water quality tests showed iron tended to be slightly above acceptable levels for human consumption in the pond water among the minerals. Sulfate and nitrate levels were within the acceptable range for both sources of water.
Fecal coliforms were present in the pond water. In some cases the bacterial count was several thousand units above the safe level.
“After the four-year, replicated study, two years with stocker steers and two years with spring-calving cow-calf pairs, no significant difference in animal performance (rate of gain, weaning weight, cow weight, hair scores, water intake, mineral intake) was found,” said Cole.
Rural economy losing jobs
The rural economy is now losing jobs at a faster rate than the rest of the nation, according to a study from the University of Missouri Rural Policy Research Institute.
“This is a much deeper downturn than rural America has experienced for a long time,” said Mark Drabenstott, director of the RUPRI Center for Regional Competitiveness.
U.S. nonmetropolitan counties lost 3.4 percent of their jobs for the 12 months that ended in January 2009, compared to a 2.8 percent drop in metro counties, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Missouri’s nonmetro job losses are running higher than the U.S. average. Statistics gathered by RUPRI show that as of February, Missouri’s 79 nonmetro counties are losing jobs at an annual rate of close to 4 percent.
<img src=" http://www.joplinglobeonline.com/images/zope/monday.gif" border=0> Farm: In brief 05/17/09
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