from August 28


     KLA members attending Kansas State University home football games are invited to the pre-game tailgate function hosted by the K-State Department of Animal Sciences & Industry. KLA and KLA Environmental Services are co-sponsors of this event, held before every home game starting with Saturday’s (8/30) game with Stephen F. Austin at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
     The tailgate, held under a tent in Cat Town (located west of Bramlage Coliseum), opens two hours before kickoff and closes 30 minutes before the game time. Stop by for great food and fellowship!


from August 27


     If the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) proposal goes into effect as written, farmers and ranchers will need government permits to conduct some routine practices. As examples, KLA Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs Aaron Popelka told ranchers attending the Beef Fest Producers’ Seminar in Emporia they could be forced to obtain a 402 permit to apply manure and commercial fertilizer or 404 permits for building stock ponds. In addition, when the proposed rule’s expanded jurisdiction is coupled with EPA’s new interpretive rule governing agriculture exemptions, producers would need to seek Natural Resources Conservation Service approval for common activities like prescribed burning, grazing cattle and building grass waterways.
     He said EPA basically is expanding a regulation that since 1993 has been twice invalidated for being too broad by the U.S. Supreme Court. It would dramatically expand the definition of “navigable waters” that fall under EPA jurisdiction in accordance with the Clean Water Act. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is projecting classified stream miles will increase from the current 30,620 to 134,338 under WOTUS.
     “EPA claims there are exceptions to the rule, but the exemptions defined in the proposal are worded to provide little or no benefit to agriculture, and many of the terms are undefined, leaving it up to EPA to fill in the blank as it pleases,” he said.
     Popelka encouraged ranchers to provide input to EPA on how the proposal will specifically affect their businesses. KLA has simplified the process for ranchers, regardless of whether they are KLA members or not. Click here to submit comments



from August 26



     Presentations ranging from backgrounding economics during herd rebuilding to the environmental impact of small growing yards are on the program for the Kansas State University Beef Stocker Field Day, September 25 in Manhattan. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m., with the program getting underway at 10:15 a.m. The event will be held at the K-State Beef Stocker Unit, located on West Marlatt Avenue.
     Program highlights will include a panel of stocker operators talking about their receiving and nutrition philosophies. There will be a discussion about the economic and supply implications of herd rebuilding for stocker operators. Other topics to be covered will include parasite control, livestock watering options and evaluating the impact of growing facilities.
     The cost to attend is $25 if paid by September 15 or $35 at the door. More information or online registration is available here.  


from August 25


     The Ag Marketing Service (AMS) is accepting comments until November 13 on possible revisions to USDA quality and yield grading standards. USDA is seeking input due to changes in the cattle and beef business since the current standards were created years ago.
     Quality grades are determined mostly by marbling and maturity. The grades of Prime, Choice, Select and Standard reflect differences in flavor and eating satisfaction of cooked beef. Significant changes such as grass feeding regimens, instrument grading, management and export requirements have taken place in the beef industry since the current quality grade standards were adopted in 1997. AMS is seeking input from cattle producers, packers, the public and other sources before revising grades to better reflect beef available for consumption domestically and internationally.
     Yield grades are used to predict the percentage of a carcass that should yield boneless, closely trimmed retail cuts. These grades are important in determining value of both live cattle and beef carcasses. The beef yield grade standard and equation were developed 50 years ago.
     AMS also is requesting comments on a review of USDA’s beef instrument grading program in response to a report by USDA’s Office of Inspector General. The review and resulting recommendations were made by the American Meat Science Association.
     NCBA will assemble a special working group to study the grading standards and the review of the beef instrument grading program. This group’s conclusions will be the basis for formal input provided by NCBA on behalf of cattle producers. 


from August 22


     A real-life case study in farm and ranch succession planning was the featured topic for the 110 people who attended last week’s KLA/Kansas State University Ranch Management Field Day at Delphos. Field day hosts Dana and Marcia Hauck, who founded Pike Trail Cattle Company in the mid-1970s, and Taner and Leanne Litton, the new owners, described their experiences in transitioning the business to a younger generation who would operate it for years to come.      The Haucks started discussions about succession of the Pike Trail business in about 2005. When it became obvious life had taken their daughters, Michelle and Angie, in other directions, they began to look outside the family for someone who could sustain a business the Hauck’s had worked a lifetime to build. Dana, who is about to turn 65, said they were lucky to find the Littons.      “I had great confidence they would continue to improve things and that means a lot to me that what I worked to build won’t just grow up in weeds,” Dana Hauck said.      Now in the fourth year of the transition, Taner, 28, said he was glad the Haucks “put their faith in us.” He took over a business that was viable, with the backgrounding yard full and good relationships with landlords from whom Hauck rented ground that was part of the business. Taner and Leanne agreed another factor in the success of the transition has been Dana’s daily presence as an “invested” employee who offers advice when asked, but gives Taner enough distance to let him find his way in the business.      Star Seed Area Sales Representative Dale Strickler was on the field day program to explain how using cover crops can improve cattle performance. He said ranchers need to identify gaps in their grazing program, then select forage strategies to fill those gaps. Many can be grown between cash crops on farmland.
     Bayer Animal Health and the Farm Credit Associations of Kansas sponsored all of the 2014 KLA/K-State ranch field days, including the one at Delphos.    


from August 21



     A beef producer seminar, ranch rodeo, barbecue contest, ranch horse competition, grass cattle show and awards banquet will be highlight events at the 28th annual Flint Hills Beef Fest, which starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday in Emporia. Beef Fest is a celebration of the grass cattle industry in Kansas.     
     NCBA Vice President Tracy Brunner from Ramona, Kansas State University Associate Professor of Livestock and Meat Marketing Glynn Tonsor and KLA Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs Aaron Popelka will speak about cattle and beef issues during the WIBW Beef Producers Seminar tomorrow (8/22) morning. The Friday evening ranch rodeo will feature top teams that have placed at other events in the surrounding area.
     Saturday morning will feature both the ranch horse competition and live grass cattle show. That evening, the banquet and awards ceremony will take place. Jay Hendren, America’s funniest farmer, will perform following dinner. A dance with the Ricky Fugitt band will close out the evening.
     For more information, click here. To purchase tickets for various events, call (620) 528-3444.   


from August 20


      The final stop in the 2014 KLA/Kansas State University Ranch Management Field Day series will take place today (8/20) at Pike Trail Cattle Company near Delphos. Dana and Marcia Hauck founded Pike Trail as a stocker cattle starting and backgrounding yard in northwestern Ottawa County. It currently is undergoing a transition as part of the succession plan between the Haucks and Taner and Leanne Litton, who are operating it as a custom growing and heifer development business. The two couples will talk during a panel discussion about their experiences in the succession process. K-State Extension Farm Management Specialist Gregg Hadley will join the panel to explain why a succession plan is important and provide a list of the basic components it should include.
     Another component of the educational session will focus on how cover crops can benefit livestock producers. Star Seed Area Sales Representative Dale Strickler will provide information on a number of unconventional crops that can help fill the void during times when cool-season and native grass pastures are dormant or unavailable for grazing.
     The Delphos field day will begin at 4:00 p.m. with registration and conclude with a free beef dinner at 6:30 p.m. Directions to Pike Trail are available by clicking here. Bayer Animal Health and the Farm Credit Associations of Kansas are sponsoring the event.



from August 19


     About 200 producers attending yesterday’s KLA/Kansas State University Ranch Management Field Day near Uniontown participated in a discussion on managing endophyte toxicity in fescue. The event was hosted by Lafe, Linda and Eric Wilson on their commercial cow-calf operation.        K-State Extension Agronomist Doug Shoup told ranchers most tall fescue pastures in Kansas are infected with the endophyte fungus to some degree. Its presence helps the plant during times of environmental stress, such as drought. However, the endophyte does produce a toxin that has adverse side effects on cattle performance. According to Shoup, when cattle have fescue toxicity or “summer slump,” the animals show poor gains, reduced conception rates, intolerance to heat, failure to shed the winter hair coat, elevated body temperature and nervousness. He suggested several strategies to offset these effects, including keeping fescue vegetative by clipping pastures at the onset of the reproduction stage, limiting nitrogen, interseeding with legumes and supplemental feeding.
     In addition to Shoup, field day host Lafe Wilson and local ranchers John Gaither and Gale George participated on a panel to discuss optimizing cattle performance on fescue. Gaither, a stocker operator from Columbus, said he utilizes a split-application method of 40 lbs. of nitrogen in the spring and 40 lbs. in the fall to help minimize endophyte toxicity and increase quantity and quality of fescue throughout the year. To renovate fescue pastures with high endophyte levels, he kills the grass with herbicide and no-tills soybean into dead fescue pastures in mid-May and harvests the crop in September. This provides an opportunity to use the land in the months prior to reseeding with “clean" fescue seed. George and his brother, Dale, graze stockers and have both spring- and fall-calving herds. George said his stocker cattle do not graze fescue, as it is fed in hay form along with wet distiller’s grain or silage for best performance. According to Wilson, first-calf heifers he purchased from a native grass ranch have not performed as well as he would have liked on high-endophyte fescue.
Other topics highlighted at the field day were the Kansas Sunflower Supreme Heifer Program and options for stock water development. The KLA/K-State field day was sponsored by Bayer Animal Health and the Farm Credit Associations of Kansas.


from August 18



     The Wilson family will host today’s (8/18) KLA/Kansas State University Ranch Management Field Day near Uniontown. Lafe, Linda and Eric Wilson will describe how they use fescue as a productive forage source for their spring- and fall-calving cowherds in western Bourbon County. Joining Lafe Wilson on a panel to discuss optimizing cattle performance on fescue will be ranchers John Gaither of Columbus and Gale George from Uniontown. Southeast area K-State Extension Agronomist Doug Shoup will complement the panel by highlighting the latest research on minimizing endophyte toxicity and interseeding legumes into fescue.
     Another topic on the program will be developing alternative water sources as a means of improving the quality and reliability of stock water. K-State Watershed Specialist Herschel George will offer suggestions for enhancing water availability and sources of cost-share funding for water development projects.
     Registration for the Uniontown field day will begin at 4:00 p.m. The event will conclude with a free beef dinner at 6:30 p.m. For directions to the Wilson’s ranch, click here. Sponsors for the field day are Bayer Animal Health and the Farm Credit Associations of Kansas.  


from August 15



     Merrill Ranch near Wilmore hosted the first 2014 KLA/Kansas State University Ranch Management Field Day this week. About 110 Kansas ranchers, feeders and industry partners gathered for the educational event.
     Managers Dee and Phyllis Scherich gave a history of the area and an overview of the ranch, which consists of several hundred Angus-based commercial cows and calves. The ranch spans about 17,000 acres of pasture land in the Red Hills that provide forage for the cowherd year-round. Conservation efforts, including cedar tree removal and enhancing stock water sources, are employed on the ranch.
     Field day participants also heard from a panel of specialists on how the lesser prairie chicken being listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will impact farming and ranching practices. USFWS Field Supervisor Heather Whitlaw reassured ranchers there are opportunities available for exemptions from prohibitions brought on by the listing. Two examples are the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) range-wide plan, which was developed by five state wildlife agencies, including Kansas, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative. According to NRCS State Resource Conservationist Dean Krehbiel, who also was a panelist, these programs are designed to increase the abundance and distribution of the lesser prairie chicken and its habitat, while promoting the overall health of grazing lands and the long-term sustainability of ranching operations.
     “What is good for the rancher is good for the lesser prairie chicken,” said Krehbiel.
     For more information on these programs, contact the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism or the local NRCS office. This panel discussion will be further covered in the October issue of the Kansas Stockman.
     Bayer Animal Health and the Farm Credit Associations of Kansas sponsored the KLA/K-State field day at Wilmore.  


from August 14


     All Kansas commercial cow-calf producers are eligible to exhibit in a special show September 10 at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. The Super Cow-Calf Show will feature pairs in pasture condition, with no fitting allowed.
     An entry consists of one cow and her natural calf. No bull calves are allowed. The age of the cow and birth date of the calf must be known and provided by the exhibitor.
     Cows will be judged on type, structure, muscling, natural fleshing and soundness of udder, eyes, feet and legs. The calf at side will be evaluated on the same criteria. Cow weight and the calf's projected 205-day adjusted weight will be given to the judges.
     The grand champion pair will win $600 plus five straws of ABS semen, while the reserve grand champion will earn $400 plus five straws of ABS semen. Third place will be awarded $250, with $150 for fourth and $100 for fifth. Prizes are offered by the following sponsors: ABS, Sandra Utter Levering, Coldwater; Reno County Farm Bureau, South Hutchinson; Valley Vet Supply, Arnold Nagely, Marysville; and Central City Scale, Central City, NE.
     Entry fees are $25 per pair. Entries are due to the Kansas State Fair by August 15. For more information, go to or call the State Fair office at (800) 362-3247.