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Volume 18, Number 10 - October 2012

This Month in Ag Connection

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Quality Beef by the Numbers

University of Missouri rolled out the "Quality Beef by the Numbers" program, which allows all producers, regardless of herd size, to be paid prime premiums available from processors. The Quality Beef (QB) program helps producers raise more calves grading USDA prime by using highly proven sires. Only three percent of U.S. beef carcasses currently grade prime.

The QB program will track cattle through feed yards to packing plants, allowing owners to receive premiums. "Cattle that grade prime can add $450 to $500 per head over average market price," said Dr. Scott Brown, MU research assistant professor. QB will help producers learn marketing of premium calves as quality calves offer more profit potential. The keys laid out by program sponsors include using proven superior sires and tracking ownership of calves through feed-yards to processing plants.


Mike Kasten, herd owner from Millersville, MO; was an early adopter of selling steer mates on premium grids. Carcass weights, meat marbling scores, and rib-eye areas of steaks all increased resulting in higher premiums due to proven sires in his herd. Steers from multi-generation use of proven sires resulted in 49% grading prime and 47% grading Certified Angus Beef (CAB); calves from unproven matings had no prime grades.

QB will have guides for breeding, nutrition, health and management to help producers add value to their herds. Many producers do not have access to marketing grids and premiums. With QB, even small herds of quality cattle can compete. Participants will receive carcass cutout sheets on each calf, a key to making herd-improvement decisions. The MU QB data bank will give records on cows and their calves and provide owners with a ranking of their herd.

QB links partners who specialize in quality cattle and marketing of high-quality beef. Feedlot partners include Irsik and Doll Company, Garden City, KS, and Pratt Feeders LLC, Pratt, KS. The three artificial insemination (AI) partners are: Accelerated Genetics, Genex, and Select Sires. The beef marketer is Certified Angus Beef.

Members will pay an annual farm fee plus a per-head fee for calves sent to the feed yards. The program is not limited to producers from Missouri or any one breed. AI providers from the AI cooperatives will be out-of-state contacts. QB will accept applications as soon as forms are printed. Regional MU Extension livestock specialists are local contacts across the state; Mr. Mike Kasten has been named the project manager for the QB program.

Details are available at

Source: Wendy Rapp, MU Extension Livestock Specialist

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Renovating Ponds

Some say, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," and this drought has certainly given us a lot of lemons. One way to turn around a negative effect of the drought is to renovate a dry older pond.

A problem with many older, small farm ponds is their low to almost no water holding capacity due to filling with silt. These old, shallow ponds are often ignored because of the cost and trouble associated with a renovation.


Typically, pond renovation begins with the dam being opened to release the water. The use of drag lines or back hoes to renovate a "wet" or full pond is not nearly as efficient and is usually more expensive than a dry pond renovation. The drought provides an opportunity to renovate without damaging the dam and having to wait for the pond to drain.

Minimum depth should be 8 feet. The dam and sides of the pond should be rather steep (not to exceed a 3:1 slope) to aid in reducing marginal aquatic weed establishment and growth. Typically, the water entrance end is a shallower slope. The 8 foot depth and steep sides should give sufficient water to leave some reserve capacity even during the next drought increasing the likelihood of fish survival.

Silt cleaned from the pond should be placed where it will not wash back into the pond. If there is a clay layer spread over the bottom of the original construction to aid in sealing, this should be preserved in place or saved nearby to be reapplied.

If the dam has trees or shrubs, they should be removed with the roots to guard against future leaking or weakening. Dams typically have been eroded and should be rebuilt. At the same time, damage from tree or shrub removal can be repaired.

Disturbed soil around the pond above the intended water line should also be prepared for mulching and seeding. Wheat can be used hold soil until perennial grasses can be sown.

Once the pond refills, the back side of the dam should be checked for wet spots indicating seepage or leaks. Deep cracks left from the drought, root tunnels or pond seal damage from the renovation can be sources of pond leakage. There is an MU guidesheet, G1555 on reducing pond seepage. It can be found at - or requested from your local Extension Center.

Additional information on ponds can be gotten from the Missouri Department of Conservation and from the "Pond Management Resources on the Internet" web page at:

Source: Jim Jarman, MU Extension Agronomy Specialist

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Horseback Riding Safety: Part 2

Bridling: Before bridling your horse, again ensure the bridle is a good fit for the horse and is appropriate for the work to be done. Undo the quick-release knot in the lead shank. Drop the noseband of the halter off the nose and refasten the headpiece around the horse's neck. While standing beside the horse to the left side and facing the front of the horse, spread the crown of the bridle using your right hand and grasp the bit in your left, then move your right hand with crownpiece slowly up right side of the horse's head. The bit should be pushed lightly against teeth. Using your left hand insert your thumb behind the incisors at the bars of horse's mouth. The bars are an area of the horse's jaw in which there are no teeth. The bit should slip into the horse's mouth. With your right hand continue to move upward toward the ears while holding the crownpiece. Move the horse's ears forward and slip the crownpiece over them. Fasten the throatlatch leaving a three- to four-finger-width gap. The bit should be high enough in the mouth to create one small wrinkle at corners of the horse's mouth. Unbuckle the halter. Never lead a horse with the reins still over his neck, but rather hold both reins together as a lead shank.


Mounting: A horse should learn to stand still while you are mounting. To ensure your safety as well as the horse's, lead the horse away from buildings and other objects before mounting. Recheck the cinch or girth to ensure it is tight enough to prevent slippage. The reins should be pulled back to remove the slack, but they should not be pulled back so much that horse begins to move backwards. Hold the reins in your left hand, face the side of the horse, and twist the stirrup to face you and place your left foot in the stirrup. With your right hand on the cantle, take one hop on your right foot and rise in the stirrup with your left foot. If your horse tries to walk forward pull back gently on the reins. Stand straight on your left leg while keeping your body close to the horse to allow your horse to prepare for a rider. Raise your right foot and leg well over the horse's rump and be sure not to brush his rump on the way over his back. Place your right foot in the right stirrup and bear your weight in both stirrups before gently dropping into saddle. Mounting from the near (left) side is traditional; however, horses should be trained to allow mounting and dismounting from both sides in case you ever need to use the far side in an emergency. The horse should be trained to stand with a newly mounted rider and wait to be asked to walk.

Riding: Before hitting the range or trail, ride your horse in a familiar area. If a horse is going to buck, it usually occurs within the first few minutes of mounting. If you feel the horse preparing to buck, sit deep in the saddle and do not lean forward. Turn the horse in circles while keeping the horses head held high. This can be achieved by flexing the horse's nose toward your knee as they move around. It is harder for a horse to buck a rider off if its head is high. Once you feel comfortable with the horse you are ready to move off in a new direction. If riding on roads with traffic the Missouri Highway Patrol suggests that you ride facing oncoming traffic. Riders should dismount before crossing pavement. If you choose to ride across paved roads do so at a walk. When riding with a group ride side-by-side if possible and stay together. Horses are gregarious, meaning they band together and do not like to be left alone. If one rider needs to stop (i.e. to close a gate), it is best if the group waits for that rider. If you must ride in a single file be sure to keep at least one horse length between each other. Spurs should only be used by those riders who have experience utilizing this communication aid and should only be used on horses that are familiar with their use. Spurs should not be used by small children. Allow your horse plenty of time to observe a crossing and allow him free rein while crossing something new. Allow your horse to lower and raise his head to judge height and distance and improve his balance with the head and neck. When the ride is over and you head back to the barn it is best to walk, not run, the last quarter-mile to prevent a horse from becoming barn sour.

Post-Riding: When you arrive at the barn, train your horse to stand for a minute or two before dismounting. To untack your horse simply reverse the saddling and bridling process described above, starting with removing his bridle. Always unfasten the rear cinch, if being used, first to prevent an accident. Your horse may panic if the saddle should turn while you are unsaddling and the rear cinch is still fastened. If you have had a hard ride, loosen the front cinch gradually before taking the saddle off, allowing the blood to flow back under the saddle slowly. It is best to brush your horse with a soft bristled brush after you remove the saddle. Be sure to place your saddle and saddle pad or blanket in such a way to ensure they dry out.

Horseback riding is a skill that is learned and can be a rewarding and enjoyable past-time. With a little common sense and an understanding of the horse, your ride can be a great success. Happy trails to you and your companion.

Source: Heather Smith, MU Extension Assistant Livestock Specialist

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Something New to Look for in Soybean Fields: Soybean Vein Necrosis Virus

A relatively new virus disease of soybean called soybean vein necrosis (SVNV) has begun showing up in many soybean fields in various regions of the state. Initially, small light-green to yellow patches develop near main leaf veins. These patches then develop a mottled light green-yellow-brown pattern. This may look similar to sudden death syndrome (SDS) but usually not attacking the whole leaf. As the disease progresses these areas turn reddish-brown with a browning of the veins. The reddish-brown areas may have a scaly or scabby appearance. On more susceptible varieties the brown areas may expand killing larger areas of leaf tissue and giving a scorched appearance to the leaves.

Although these symptoms had been observed on soybeans for several years in Mid-South and Midwest states, it was not until 2008 that Dr. Ioannis Tzanetakis, University of Arkansas, discovered a new tospovirus in symptomatic leaf tissue. This new virus was named soybean vein necrosis virus (SVNV). The first identification of the virus was in a sample from Tennessee and in following years the virus was reported in Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Kansas, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Until this season the reports of soybean vein necrosis in Missouri were primarily from seed production fields in southeast Missouri. But this season, symptoms suggestive of this virus disease can be found in fields throughout the state.

The virus which causes soybean vein necrosis belongs to a group of viruses called tospoviruses which are spread by thrips. At this point the disease is still a relatively new disease and there are more questions about it than answers. It appears that the virus is spread from soybean to soybean by thrips but which species(s) of thrips is unknown. Other hosts, especially weed hosts, have not been confirmed. Varieties seem to vary in their susceptibility to this virus disease and symptoms may vary with varieties. There are many questions related to the disease cycle, possible yield losses and appropriate management strategies.

At this time there isn't enough known about the virus and disease to make effective management recommendations. As more information becomes available on this disease, management strategies can be formulated and recommendations made.

Source: Dr. Laura Sweet, MU Extension Plant Pathologist and Jim Jarman, MU Extension Agronomy Specialist

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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.