- Author: Megan G Osbourn
The field day kicked off with a keynote address by Congressman, John Garamendi (CA-3), who spoke with students about the roles they will be able to pursue within agriculture and food productution as they chart out their future careers. Garamendi encouraged his audience to think outside of the box when it comes to creating solutions to the many challenges agriculture will face in years to come.
Following this address the students rotated through five hands-on learning demonstrations developed by UC researchers that explored major topics in beef cattle and rangeland management. Dr. Nancy Martin, DVM, discussed health issues in beef cattle with Dr. John Angelos from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine following up by highlighting his research in the development of a vaccine for pink eye in cattle. UCCE Farm Advisor, Jeff Stackhouse discussed the use of technology in managing livestock and wildlife, while Dr. Roberto Sainz of the UC Davis Department of Animal Science explored the ruminant digestive system. Roger Ingram, UCCE Advisor in Placer/Nevada/Yuba & Sutter counties demonstrated principles related to dryland and irrigated pasture management. Students had the opportunity to evaluate soil properties, classify rangeland plants and observe beef cattle grazing behavior.
This event was made possible by the following Sponsors: PG&E, Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau, California Beef Council and Farm Credit West. We are grateful for this generous support. The time donated by FFA leaders and UC staff was instrumental in making the third year of this annual event a major success and a great opportunity for students to interact with ongoing research led by the University of California.
- Author: Mckenna Kane
Over the past several months, Dr. John Angelos of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has been working on a vaccine for one of the cattle industry's most widespread diseases: infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), commonly known as pinkeye. IBK is caused by an infection of Moraxella bovis in the eye that leads to corneal ulcers, scarring and, in extreme cases, permanent blindness.
According to Dr. Angelos, the disease presents an economic loss for the producer due to the cost of labor to treat the infection, the cost of the antibiotic treatment as well as reduced weight gains. He also notes the disease has certain animal welfare considerations; it can be extremely painful for the infected animal. Currently, there is not an effective vaccine to prevent the painful disease, only a costly treatment.
Dr. Angelos has been working on this vaccine since April, but the vaccine has been developing since the early 2000s. This summer, Dr. Angelos is testing the effectiveness of an intranasal vaccine, rather than the subcutaneous version of previous studies. His hypothesis states “calves vaccinated intranasally with Moraxella bovis cytotoxin (MbxA) will have a significantly reduced cumulative proportion of corneal ulcerations associated with naturally occurring IBK versus control calves.”The team collected blood and tear samples from approximately 180 animals at the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center and administered either the vaccine or a placebo assigned to the animal. In order to keep the results unbiased, Dr. Angelos did not know which vaccine he was giving to the animals; they were labeled “A” or “B.”
Each week thereafter, he and several students have examined the entire herd, noting those with active cases of pinkeye. If an animal shows signs of pinkeye, an innocuous stain is administered in the eye to see the ulcer, a measurement and a picture are taken to monitor the ulcer from week to week. At the end of the study, animals with active cases of pinkeye will be given antibiotics to cure the pinkeye.
Ultimately, the goal of the research is to create a vaccine that will prevent the disease from occurring. Dr. Angelos explained that although this vaccine has made great advancements, it will need to have subsequent testing and trials to determine if it is viable in the industry. In the video below, Dr. Angelos explains his research and the role of the Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center in developing a vaccine for infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis.
- Author: Shae McElroy
Clint grew up at the base of the Sierra Foothills in Loma Rica, California. His family has been involved in the cattle industry for five generations, so Clint got his start with cattle from a young age. He grew up showing steers at the local county fair, first through 4-H and then FFA. Aside from livestock showing, Clint was also very active in high school rodeo, competing in calf roping and team roping.
Clint attended Feather River College in Quincy, California where he competed on their collegiate rodeo team before transferring to California State University, Chico. Clint graduated in May 2014 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Animal Science and a focus in Beef Cattle. After graduation Clint went to work as an Assistant Cattle Manager for JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding Co. out of their Grant County Feeders operation in Ulysses, Kansas. He spent 2 years there where he gained a variety of experience including riding pens, receiving and shipping of cattle, as well as managing one of the crews. Clint also gained extensive knowledge in animal health and cattle doctoring skills while working in the hospital pen crew; a crew that he later came to manage.
When asked what his goals are as the new herdsman, Clint stated that in addition to managing the cattle herd, it is just as important to him to familiarize himself with the local rangeland and grass species found at SFREC. The more he knows about the grasses, the better he can evaluate and understand the nutritional and supplementation needs of the cattle.
Another goal for Clint is to become familiar with the current beef cattle research projects being conducted at SFREC so he can best help the lead researchers, as well as properly manage the cattle herds being used in the projects. Some of the current beef cattle research projects that Clint will be involved with focus on production & nutrition, such as ionophore supplementation to yearling steers on annual rangeland, supplementation of brewer's grain to cows on native rangeland, the nutritional benefits of feeding rice straw to cattle, and the effects of medusahead on cattle gains. Other projects are focused on cattle health and welfare like the field testing of a foothill abortion candidate vaccine for cattle and the testing of intranasal moraxella bovis vaccine to prevent pinkeye in cattle.
Even though SFREC is primarily a research facility, Clint stresses the importance of staying in tune with the current trends of the beef industry in order to understand the research needs for beef cattle production. He is also looking forward to continuously learning as he goes. Clint's beef cattle background and his dedication to his work will be an asset to SFREC. He is looking forward to the job at hand, and we are very excited to welcome him to our team.
- Contributor: Megan G Osbourn
- Author: Jeremy James
Assembly member James Gallagher, who has strong ties to local agriculture in the Sacramento Valley, kicked off the day with a forward looking key-note address that highlighted the important role the current generation of students will play in addressing California's agricultural and natural resource needs over the coming decades.
Sponsors including Robinson Ranch, Farm Credit West and Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau and the time donated by FFA leaders and UC staff were instrumental in making the second year of this annual event a major success and a great opportunity for students to interact with ongoing research led by UC.
- Author: Dan Macon
One of the most obvious signs of systemic stress, at least to me, are the water levels in our foothill reservoirs. After the first three years of this drought, we went into last winter with depressingly low water levels in most of our man made lakes. These reservoirs are critical for storing water for irrigation, human consumption, and downstream wildlife habitat. In normal years, they allow us to capture snow runoff and save it for use during the dry summer months. The winter of 2014-2015, however, brought virtually no snow to the Sierra Nevada – and consequently no spring runoff. I thought our reservoirs were low last summer; this summer is even worse. Last weekend, I drove across the Parrotts Ferry bridge over New Melones Reservoir (on the Stanislaus River between Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties). I was shocked to see that the water level had dropped below the old Parrotts Ferry bridge – I'd ridden across it as a kid, but didn't think I'd ever see it again once the New Melones Dam was built. Perhaps even more shocking – I could see the Stanislaus River flowing under the bridge.
Closer to home, the oak trees in Auburn and at the Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center are starting to turn color as if autumn were already here. When deciduous trees experience extremely dry conditions, they'll often shed their leaves early as a survival mechanism. The blue oaks and black oaks at SFREC are dropping leaves earlier this year than most of us can remember. Some of the trees are in full color; they make the hillsides seem like we're already in October. In addition to turning color and dropping leaves, we've seen more trees dropping entire branches (and some are even falling down entirely).
According to the National Weather Service, one of the strongest El Niños ever measured seems to be shaping up in the Pacific Ocean. Many in the media are reporting this phenomenon as if it's a sure bet – our drought is all but over! Unfortunately, the impacts of El Niño aren't so certain – Northern California is just about as likely to experience dry conditions as wet weather in an El Niño year. I'll believe we're having a wet winter when I'm still wearing my mud boots next April! In the meantime, I'll keep an eye out for additional signs of stress.