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Volume 12, Number 4 - April 2006

This Month in Ag Connection

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Storage Considerations For Wet Distiller's Dried Grains

In last month's newsletter, we discussed the use of distiller's dried grains (DDG) in beef cattle diets. As you know, DDG is available from Central Missouri ethanol plants at varying moisture levels. Wet DDG may be available, but there are factors to consider before wet DDG is purchased. These include price per unit of nutrient on a dry matter basis and storage of wet DDG. Inclusion of DDG, either wet or dry, in the diet may need to be restricted due to the levels of fat, protein, phosphorus and sulfur contained in the DDG and the resulting finished diet.

Storage of wet DDG can obviously be a problem. It is generally recommended that wet DDG needs to be used within 3 to 4 days in the summer and within a week in the winter to minimize spoilage. This generally means a narrower and deeper horizontal silo to enable more rapid feeding.

Wet DDG has been successfully ensiled in bunker silos or in silo bags. If using bags, be careful not to overfill them to prevent the bags from splitting. It is also important to patch holes promptly to prevent air from entering the bag and causing excessive spoilage.

Researchers at South Dakota State University have successfully mixed and ensiled wet DDG with corn silage, soybean hulls, wet beet pulp or crop residues. All of these methods create a storage method for the DDG. In the case of the corn silage, the inclusion of DDG increased the aerobic stability of the silage at feedout. Missouri conditions are often warmer and more humid than those in South Dakota so we may experience more rapid spoilage.

The major problem with mixing DDG and any of these feeds is ensuring adequate mixing of the ingredients being blended. Ensiling with crop residues has the added challenge of reducing the particle size of the crop residue enough to get adequate air exclusion when the mixture is packed.

DDG, either wet or dry, can be an excellent ingredient in livestock diets. Care must be taken to develop appropriate feeding programs and storage methods in order to successfully use the products on the farm. Your livestock specialists are available to assist you with ration formulation using DDG or any of the other by-product feeds available in Central Missouri.

(Authors: Gene Schmitz, Livestock Specialist and Don Day, Natural Resource Engineer)

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Clarifying Synchronization Protocols

Editor's note: Two articles in the February issue of BEEF detailed estrus synchronization (ES) protocols in beef cattle ("Using MGA," page 28, and "Head To Head," page 50). Regarding the ES topic, BEEF offers this clarification.

Extra-label use of approved reproductive drugs for ES is a challenge for practitioners and producers due to the exclusion of reproductive drugs from the regulations enacting the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act (AMDUCA). Efforts to clarify the extra-label use of approved reproductive drugs have been hampered, as little economic incentive exists for drug companies to pursue expanded label claims on already-approved products.

Drugs currently used in beef cattle ES protocols include prostaglandin products, MGA, CIDR and GnRH products.

An important issue to be addressed is the complexity of ES protocols, the combination of drugs within various protocols, delivery systems, and timing of administration of integral protocol components. Numerous protocols have been published that many times are further revised to meet specific production adaptations.

Selecting a protocol can be difficult as there are many production-system variables to consider. These include economics, proper administration of each component, client compliance and Beef Quality Assurance compliance.

Sometimes veterinarians are uninformed on these protocols and ill equipped to help clients choose the best program. Thus, producers often turn to university researchers with specific training in ES and breeding. However, they may not be aware of laws regulating drug use in specific classes of animals. Therefore, it is important that producers, animal scientists and veterinarians work together for the success of the breeding program and the good of the livestock industry.

There are no legal, extra-label uses of feed additives for beef cattle. The feeding of MGA is specifically approved for estrus suppression and ES in heifers only.

Though 35 years of feeding MGA to beef cows has demonstrated MGA is safe, effective and economical, the feeding of MGA to adult cows isn't an FDA-approved label claim and is thus prohibited by FDA. It's unfortunate the MGA label doesn't include all reproductively mature beef cattle.

(Authors: Mark Stewart, Livestock Specialist and Dave Patterson, State Livestock Specialist)

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Taxation Tidbits: Monitor Your Eligibility For Social Security Disability Benefits

The majority of husband and wife farm couples report all of the farm income under the name of one spouse, typically the husband. If the marriage will or has lasted for ten years, the concentration of earnings in the name of one spouse may be a good strategy for Social Security retirement benefits. Forty quarters of earnings credit under Social Security qualifies you and your spouse "for life" relative to Social Security retirement benefits. However, qualifying for Social Security disability coverage is quite different.

To be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, each spouse must qualify based on their own work history and be fully insured for disability benefits. Generally, you need to have received credit for 20 quarters of earnings within the last 40 quarters. These quarters are based on earnings - for 2005 it required $920 to earn a quarter of credit and for 2006 it requires $970 to earn a quarter of credit. But note - the maximum quarters that can be earned per year are four.

It is now much easier to monitor your Social Security earnings history as the Social Security Administration is mailing an annual report to workers 25 years of age or older, approximately 3 months prior to their birthday. This report lists your entire earnings history and provides an estimate of benefits for retirement and disability. Any errors discovered in this report need to be promptly brought to the attention of the Social Security Administration for correction.

Too frequently a spouse of a business owner (includes sole proprietor farming operations) applies for disability benefits only to discover, while they may have worked in the business, unless they received a wage or reported other earned income, they may not be entitled to disability benefits because they have an insufficient number of quarters within the last 40 quarters.

For additional information, a free publication "Social Security - Disability Benefits" is available by calling 1-800-772-1213 or going online at .

(Author: Parman R. Green, Ag Business Mgmt. Specialist)

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Prairie Voles

With increased conservation tillage and set-aside acres, prairie voles have increased in population in the last few years. In order for prairie voles to thrive they require two things: cover and food. Prairie voles prefer a full canopy cover for protection from predators. Grass and legume fields, field borders, wheat or rye stubble, set-aside, CRP fields and cover crops seedlings all provide an ideal habitat for very high vole populations. Prairie voles also like corn and soybean seed and seedlings. Dense prairie vole populations can reduce plant stands by 80 to 100%. Prairie voles eat a variety of different things, but prefer forage and roots from succulent grasses and legumes. Established stands of alfalfa, clovers and other legumes often develop high vole populations. Feed grains such as corn and wheat are also high on the list of preferred foods. The feeding range of an active vole colony can range from about 100 square feet to a quarter of an acre. There have been reports about fields that were literally denuded by vole activity.

Voles are reddish-brown to gray and larger than a field mouse, but smaller than a rat. Their torpedo-shaped bodies are about 4 to 5 inches long with very short tails. Prairie voles build a network of one to two inch wide runways. In no-till fields, the runways are usually aboveground under the thick mulch cover. In other areas with less canopy or ground cover such as lawns, voles will dig underground runways. All runways connect to shallow, mounded underground burrows.

Fields should be scouted prior to planting for prairie vole colonies. They can often be identified by looking for dark green, high spots caused by vole urine or feces. The presence of fresh clippings and/or fresh feces next to a slick, open hole is a sure sign of vole activity. If 5 or more active vole colonies per acre are identified, damage control should be planned.

Prairie vole populations can be reduced by removing food and cover or by applying a rodenticide. Tillage, low mowing and application of early pre-plant herbicides are all methods for removing food and cover. A two percent zinc phosphide pellets can be used to kill prairie voles. However, since zinc phosphide is a restricted pesticide and extremely toxic to wildlife, it must be used in-furrows.

There are two MU Guide sheets with more information on controlling voles; G4448 - Controlling Vole Damage in No-till Corn and Soybeans: and G9445 - Controlling Voles in Horticulture Plantings and Orchards in Missouri: .

(Author: Wayne Crook, Agronomy Specialist)

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Farming the Sky

At one time our state's rating of wind energy potential was listed among the top twenty. Recent refinement has placed much of Missouri lower. The wind resources in central Missouri are considered low. There are budgets available to determine the profit or loss potential from wind generation of electricity. Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a consumers guide to "Small Wind Electrical Systems" available from: . University of Missouri Extension has a guide sheet, G1981"Wind Energy in Missouri", which can be viewed or downloaded at: .

Much depends on the strength and dependability of local wind resources. The windiest local for a wind generator in Missouri is roughly north of St. Joseph and west of Maryville. Since winds are stronger at higher altitudes, hill tops are better than lowlands. This can be overcome to a certain extent by using taller towers to support a wind generator.

Unfortunately, most electrical generation systems are designed to produce advertised power at wind speeds of 20 to 30 mph. G1981 has a table of annual wind speeds from Kansas City, Columbia, St. Louis and Springfield. These average from a half to a third of the needed optimum wind speed. A map of Missouri's wind is available from DNR and is printed in their guide. Also, Missouri's winds are being currently being evaluated to further refine information on this resource.

Without the economic return potential from wind electrical generation, there are still reasons for an installation. Wanting or needing a sustainable source of electric power that is not dependent on a utility company is one reason. Another is a windy location far away from electric lines that does not have a large power need. Plus, if the cost of a hookup is as or more expensive than a wind generator installation, those reasons may be combined for another justification. Then a wind electrical generator may be a must have item for some people.

An aid in getting a farm or home wind generation system would be a grant. This might make it more easily affordable and justifiable. Sustainable grants usually must show a need and innovative use of the grant funds. Budgets, records and comprehensive reports for public use are typical requirements.

Information for this article came from Rick Anderson at the MoDNR Energy Center (573) 751-5953 and Jim Jarman Agronomy Specialist (573) 642-0755.

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Publishing Information

Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University of Missouri Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Managing Editor: Kent Shannon.