- Author: Maddison Easley
On February 22nd, community members, local farmers and ranchers, professionals, high school students, non-profit groups, and regional leaders in the ag industry will be gathering in Browns Valley for a forum on The Future of Farming and Ranching in the Sierra Foothills. This event has been in the making since summer when committee members helped lay the foundation for a useful and exciting day about the opportunities and challenges of agriculture in this region.
Speakers will be sharing their personal experiences and knowledge about getting started in agriculture and reaching goals. Topics about resources needed, tools available, and strategies to stay in business will be discussed. High school ag students will present information learned from visits with local farms/ranches and other important areas researched. Multiple non-profit groups will be displaying information and resources as well. There will be a delicious lunch, sourced from local farmers and ranchers (some of which will be present). The cost to attend is $10 per family. Register through our website at http://sfrec.ucanr.edu/
- Author: Dustin Flavell
Forage growth through the end of January at SFREC set an all-time low of 98 pounds per acre. Typically we should be around 515 pounds per acre this time of year. Forage composition is also leaning pretty heavily towards broad leaf species like filaree which can dry up pretty quick. The chances of having an average or above average forage year this season seems highly unlikely based on history, but there is still hope to have a decent below average year. In the 1990-91 forage production year forage production values through February indicated 162 pounds per ac and we reached 2,565 pounds per ac at peak standing crop, which was 86% of average, this was the year of the "Miracle March”.
Making the forage year look more optimistic, SFREC received over 5 inches of rain over the weekend brining our totals up to about 9.3 inches. While we should normally be around 17 inches this time of year it is a big step in the right direction.
- Author: Jeremy James
For ranchers in most parts of the state the 2013-2014 drought is shaping up to be one of the most serious forage situation in memory. As an example, forage data at UC SFREC showed that dryland range at the Center only produced about 40 pounds per acre through fall and the end of December.
In response to these serious forage conditions, the University of California Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center, in cooperation with UCCE Advisors, UC Davis faculty and industry partners, are putting the final touches on the January 29th meeting that will discuss practical tools and strategies for reducing drought impacts on ranching enterprises.
Drought management and mitigation is a complex topic and this day-long event takes a comprehensive look at a range of linked issues including making the most of what you have on dryland and irrigated pasture, the economics and nutritional aspects of supplementation, animal health and making culling decisions, tax, NAP and insurance. Registration is close to capacity but will remain open until capacity is reached. For those that cannot attend in person, the program will be broadcast on the web. You can register to attend (here) and see the updated agenda (here).
- Contributor: Maddison Easley
- Author: Jeremy James
- Author: Maddison Easley
Small black dots can be seen from afar amidst the Lower Ranch fields at the Sierra Foothill Research & Extension Center. Upon closer inspection, those spots morph into fuzzy, knob-kneed, curious little calves that are sure to insight many cries of “Awwwwe!” from visitors.
However, to a seasoned rancher those cute calves are a testament to the worthwhile blood, sweat, and tears that were shed leading up to a successful delivery. A healthy calf is the ultimate goal of any cow-calf manager, but once those critters finally do take their first breaths, the work has just begun…again.
In the Sierra Foothills, healthy calves signify a greater achievement - the triumph over a bacterial disease called epizootic bovine abortion (EBA). Extensive research has been conducted on this economically devastating problem, with annual losses in the range of 45,000 to 90,000 calves in the state of California alone.
EBA is commonly termed “foothill abortion” due to the regional outbreaks affecting only foothill, semi-arid and mountainous ranges of California, parts of Nevada, and southern Oregon. Through studies and research efforts by scientists associated with UC Davis, known information and management strategies have made slow, yet very significant progress since the recognition of EBA in the 1960's. For example, the culprit of EBA has been identified as the soft-shelled tick Ornithodoros coriaceus – explaining the climatic limitations of the disease so far.
Faculty and site conditions at SFREC have provided the ideal atmosphere for useful data collection. Staff Research Associate Nikolai Schweitzer is charged with the task of checking the irrigated fields daily for signs of aborted fetuses.
“It's important to be highly aware and check the fields at least twice a day. The scavengers in this area move in quickly!” said Schweitzer.
All aborted fetuses are transported to UC Davis for additional lab tests to accurately determine if EBA was the cause of death. Infected cows do not show signs of the disease during pregnancy because the bacteria is transmitted to the immature fetus where it proliferates and results in a late-term abortion.
Fortunately, the outlook for the candidate vaccine is very promising. The release of an effective EBA vaccine in the future will save ranchers countless hours of disappointment and headaches, while beefing up their worn wallets! This will be another significant feat for the cattle industry, SFREC, UCANR, and animal scientists in the West.