Tag Archives: K-State Research and Extension

MANHATTAN, Kan. – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kansas State University’s Extension Master Gardener program is planning to offer a statewide online training option this fall for those wanting to join the popular group.

Cheryl Boyer, an associate professor in the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources and interim coordinator of the state’s Master Gardener program, said weekly online sessions begin Sept. 3 and will run through Dec. 17.

The cost for online training is $45 plus any additional fees set by the county – or about $1 per hour of educational content, she said — and can be paid at the local extension office. Some counties may offer an in-person or hybrid training option.

For online training, Kansans must sign up through their local extension office by August 28. More information about the program is available online. Training sessions will be held each Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for 15 weeks.

“This online choice is optional and local units are not required to use this training in place of their own programming plans,” Boyer said. “However, because fall travel is limited for K-State Research and Extension educators, face-to-face training can not be expected or required.”

The K-State Research and Extension Master Gardener program is available to anyone with an interest in horticulture. “If you want to improve your gardening skills and knowledge, and you like to work with people, this program may be for you,” Boyer said.

The program is currently offered in more than half of Kansas’ counties.

Once certified as an Extension Master Gardener, participants are asked to donate time in their community to help others learn more about gardening and horticulture. Boyer noted that in 2019, Extension Master Gardeners donated approximately 99,000 hours for a total value of more than $2.6 million.

This fall’s 15-week training schedule will provide up to 50 hours of training on 13 topics delivered by lecture and hands-on activities. Boyer said the topics include plant growth and development, soils, turfgrass, annual and perennial flowers, landscape maintenance, woody ornamentals, vegetable gardening, insects, pesticide safety, plant diseases, fruit, landscape design and wildlife management.

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Registration is now open for a webinar that will help Kansas beef cattle producers prepare to manage and reduce the impacts of drought and reduced forage availability on cow herds.

The webinar will be hosted by the Kansas State University Department of Animal Sciences and Industry and K-State Research and Extension via Zoom on Thursday, July 9, at noon (CDT).

“As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail,” said K-State beef specialist Sandy Johnson. “This webinar is being conducted to help cow-calf producers evaluate the options they have to make strategic adjustments in response to reduced forage availability. We want producers to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that may arise given current resources, markets and weather.”

The program features strategic reduction of grazing pressure, drought supplementation of cows, early weaned calf nutrition and management, and calf health considerations, presented by members of the K-State beef extension team.

Register for the webinar online at https://tinyurl.com/KSUBeef-Drought-Preparedness or at www.KSUBeef.org. For questions about the event or to register, contact Lois Schreiner, lschrein@ksu.edu, or 785-532-1267.

MANHATTAN, Kan. — A Kansas State University veterinarian is urging cattle producers to beef up their plans for managing heat stress in their herds, a challenge that costs the U.S. cattle industry up to $370 million in losses each year.

A.J. Tarpoff, a beef veterinarian with K-State Research and Extension, said cattle are resilient animals; they will often acclimate to hot temperatures.

But an accumulation of factors – including humidity, solar radiation, the color of their hide, diet and more – can drastically change a cow’s ability to withstand summer’s heat.

“It really is a multi-layer challenge,” Tarpoff said. “Each animal within a group or pen is not affected the same way. Animals with higher body condition scores, or with darker hides, or finisher steers and heifers that are getting ready to go to harvest are at higher-risk of heat stress.”

Tarpoff said heat stress decreases the reproductive efficiency and performance of cattle grazing on pasture. In confined facilities, heat stress often causes cattle to eat less, which also negatively affects their performance.

The human body cools itself on a hot day by sweating, called evaporative cooling. But Tarpoff notes that cattle sweat only 10 percent as much as humans, and panting is their primary way of dissipating heat.

“As temperatures rise and their heat load increases, they will start breathing faster,” he said. “They are dissipating heat through tiny droplets in the respiratory tract.”

Doing so, however, causes cows to eat less, setting them on a path to poor growth and future performance.

“This all has to do with heat load,” Tarpoff said. “The internal temperature of cattle will peak two hours after the hottest point of the day. So our strategy for keeping cows cool needs to be built around knowing that.”

Another factor is that cattle produce heat by digesting food, typically four to six hours after eating. “So if we feed animals within the wrong period of time, we can actually increase their heat load because the heat of digestion and the heat from the environment are building on top of each other,” Tarpoff said. “We want to keep that from happening.”

Tarpoff listed best management practices for helping to reduce heat stress in cows:

  • Handling. Receive, ship or move cattle only during the coolest parts of the day, preferably before 10 a.m.
  • Feeding. Modify feeding times. Feed 70 percent of the animals’ ration as late in the evening as possible, which puts the peak heat of digestion overnight when temperatures are likely cooler. Decrease feeding during the day.
  • Managing heat. Split cattle between pens or reduce stocking density. Maximize airflow by removing obstructions around facilities, including weeds. If feasible, install shade structures, which can reduce solar radiation and reduce the temperature on the pen’s floor. Install sprinklers to wet cattle down at night or early morning so as not to increase humidity.

Then, of course, there is the importance of providing water. Lots and lots of water.

“To put it into perspective, when the temperature goes from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 90 degrees, a cattle will consume about double the amount of water,” Tarpoff said.

As a rule, he said cattle should consume “about five times the amount of water as the dry matter they are consuming.”

“Cool, clean and readily-available water is critical during heat stress events. We may have to increase the water tank capacity within a pen to meet these needs. Producers need to be prepared for that.”

Tarpoff said he follows two sources for help in making a decision when to put a heat stress management plan into full effect.

The U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) maintains a seven-day forecast tool for the United States, taking into account temperature, humidity and solar radiation.

“The other tool I use is the Kansas Mesonet, which provides an animal comfort index,” he said. The Kansas Mesonet, housed at Kansas State University, is a network of observation towers located across the state that updates climate information every hour.

“I know that if we don’t have those night-time cooling hours, the animal won’t be starting each day at thermo-neutral, so they’re more at risk on the second or third day,” Tarpoff said. “That’s when we should start putting in some of these management strategies.”

For more information or assistance, contact your local extension agent.