ANR Newsletter - June 2024

ANR Newsletter - June 2024

ANR Newsletter - June 2024

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Russell County Agriculture and Natural Resources June 2024 Newsletter 

In this issue…

•    Off the Hoof: Timely Tips
•    National Weather Service: Tornado Safety
•    Economic Update: Spring 2024 Farm Observations Across Kentucky
•    Recipe: Farmer's Market Skillet Bake
•    Upcoming Events and MORE!

Jonathan Oakes, CEA for Agriculture and Natural Resources

Russell County Extension Office 
2688 S. HWY 127 
Russell Springs, KY 42642 
Phone: (270) 866 - 44 77 I Fax: (270) 866 - 8645  |



Each article is peer-reviewed by UK Beef IRM Team and edited by Dr. Les Anderson, Beef Extension Specialist, Department of Animal & Food Science, University of Kentucky

This month's newsletter includes: 
Timely Tips - Anderson 
A Bullish April Cattle on Feed Report- Burdine 
Greening up the Beef Cow Herd - Lehmkuhler 
Bovine Coccidiosis-Frequently Asked Questions - Arnold 
Going Against the Grain to Work with Mother Nature - Van Valin

Timely Tips 
Dr. Les Anderson, Beef Extension Professor, University of Kentucky 

Spring Calving Cow Herd 

  • Continue supplying a high magnesium mineral until daytime temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees F. 
  • Improve or maintain body condition (BCS 5) of cows before breeding season starts. If necessary, increase energy intake even on pasture. 
  • Bulls should have a breeding soundness evaluation (BSE) well before the breeding season (at least 30 days). Contact your local veterinarian to schedule a BSE for your herd sires. They should also receive their annual booster vaccinations and be dewormed. I often get questions regarding deworming and reduced fertility in bulls. Dr. Phil Prater at MSU and I examined this and found no effect of deworming on bull fertility. 
  • Schedule spring "turn-out "working in late-April or early-May, i.e. at the end of calving season and before the start of breeding season. Consult with your veterinarian about vaccines and health products for your herd.                                                                                                                     

"Turn-out" working for the cow herd may include:

-    Prebreeding vaccinations
-    Deworming
-    Replacing lost identification tags
-    Sort cows into breeding groups, if using more than one bull
-    Insecticide ear tags (best to wait until fly population builds up) 

"Turn-out" working of calves may include:

-    Vaccinate for IBR-PI3, Clostridial diseases and Pinkeye
-    Dehorn, if needed (can be done with electric dehorner and fly repellent during fly season)
-    Castrate and implant male feeder calves (if not done at birth)
-    Deworm                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Insecticide ear tags

•    Consider breeding yearling replacement heifers one heat cycle (about 21 days) earlier than cows for "head-start" calving. Mate to known calving-ease bulls.
•    Record identification of all cows and bulls in each breeding group.
•    Begin breeding cows no later than mid-May, especially if they are on high endophyte fescue.
•    Cows should be in good condition so that conception occurs prior to periods of extreme heat. Consider synchronizing estrus in all cows. Exposing late-calving cows and first-calf heifers to a progestin (MGA feed or CIDR device) for 7 days before bull turn out increases pregnancy rates and shortens the next calving season. Choose the best pastures for grazing during the breeding
•    season. Select those with the best stand of clover and the lowest level of the fescue endophyte, if known. Keep these pastures vegetative by grazing or clipping. High quality pastures are important for a successful breeding season. If using artificial insemination:
    -    Use an experienced inseminator.
    -    Make positive identification of cows and semen used. This will permit accurate records on date bred, return to heat, calving date, and sire.
    -    Good handling facilities and gentle working of the cows are essential.
    -    Choose AI sires that will meet your goals and resist the temptation to get your cows bigger. Using sires with higher accuracy EPDs will reduce risk.
•    Observe breeding pastures often to see if bulls are working. Records cows' heat dates and then check 18-21 days later, for return to heat.

Fall Calving Cow Herd

  • Contact your veterinarian and pregnancy diagnose the cow herd. If a large animal veterinarian is not available in your area, consider taking blood samples for pregnancy diagnosis. Remove open cows at weaning time. 

•    Plan marketing program for calves. Consider various options, such as maintaining ownership and backgrounding in a grazing program, or precondition and sell in a CPH-45 feeder calf sale.
•    Initiate fly control for the cows when fly populations build up.
•    Calves may be weaned anytime now but you can take advantage of the spring grass by leaving them on the cow a while or weaning and grazing.


•    Keep calves on good pasture and rotate pastures rapidly during periods of lush growth. Manage to keep pastures vegetative for best performance.
•    Provide mineral mix with an ionophore.
•    Implant as needed.
•    Control internal and external parasites.


  • Harvest hay. Work around the weather and cut early before plants become too mature. Harvesting forage early is the key to nutritional quality. Replenish your hay supply!
  • Rotate pastures as needed to keep them vegetative.
  • Clip pastures to prevent seed head formation on fescue and to control weeds.
  • Seed warm season grasses this month.

A Bullish April Cattle on Feed Report 
Dr. Kenny Burdine, University of Kentucky 

Cattle on feed reports have not been especially kind to the cattle complex in recent months. Despite fewer cows and a smaller calf crop, on-feed inventories have been running above year-ago levels. Over the last several months, feeder cattle placements have been higher than most analysts would have expected. Weather and high prices likely encouraged some early placements in some regions going back to fall. At the same time, marketings have seemed to be relatively slow. I suspect this has been partly due to expensive feeder cattle and cheaper feed. This combination tends to encourage adding more weight to current feedlot inventory and rising harvest weights seem to be supporting this hypothesis. 

This brings us to the April Cattle on Feed report, which came at the end of a week when cattle markets had gained back a portion of what had been lost since late March. The number that stood out the most was the estimate of March placements, which came in 246,000 head lower than March of 2023. I don't want to read too much into a single report, but this 12% decrease is significant and came in below all the pre-report estimates I had seen. Sometimes it is beneficial to take a bit longer view on something like this. If I look at the entire first quarter, placements were down 4% for 2024. 

This is a number that seems to make sense given feeder cattle supplies. It's also worth noting that the first quarter of 2024 included February 29th due to 2024 being a leap year. 
The April report is also one of the quarterly reports where an estimate is made of the on-feed breakdown between steers and heifers. This can provide some indication of heifer retention for breeding purposes and will be especially impo1tant this year as we may not have the July Cattle Inventory report. As of April 1, heifers and heifer calves accounted for 38.5% of on-feed inventory. For comparison, heifers accounted for 40% of on-feed inventory in October of last year and 39.7% in January of this year. The fact that the share of heifers on feed is decreasing does bear watching in the coming months, but still does not point to significant heifer retention. If one goes back and examines the last expansionary period, the heifer percentage was below 35% for ten straight quarters - from the first quarter of 2015 to the second quarter of 2017. 
Put simply, the most recent cattle on feed report was the most bullish that we have gotten in a good while. Even though total on feed numbers remain above 2023 levels, they were still below trade expectations. Sharply lower placements seemed to confirm that feeder cattle supplies are very tight. And there is still no evidence that large numbers of heifers are being held for replacement purposes. While the volatility in the cattle markets is likely to stay, the supply picture remains encouraging for feeder cattle markets. 

Kentucky Tornado History

Tony Edwards - National Weather Service Charleston, WV 

Here's some Bluegrass state tornado facts that blow your mind - pun intended! 

  • Well over 1,000 tornadoes have hit the Bluegrass State since 1950!  And that's just counting the ones we know about. Many more have occurred but gone unreported to the National Weather Service. 
  • While tornadoes are much more common in central and western Kentucky, every one of Kentucky's 120 counties has had at least one documented tornado                                                 
  • Tornadoes occur most frequently from March through June, but they have occurred in every month of the year.
  • While tornadoes typically occur between 3 pm and 10pm, they have occurred during every hour of the day. The ones that occur during the nighttime hours can be especially dangerous.
  • The longest tracked tornado to strike Kentucky occurred on December 10, 2021. The tornado first struck Obion County, TN before crossing into Fulton County, KY. The tornado, which reached EF4 intensity with peak winds of up to 190 mph, covered a track of over 165 miles in about three hours, claiming 57 lives and injuring over 500 people.
  • The strongest tornado you can get is one that is rated a five on the Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale. There have only been two F5 tornadoes to strike Kentucky and they both occurred on April 3, 1974. One struck Breckinridge and Meade Counties and another occurred in Boone County.
  • Unfortunately, 222 Kentuckians have lost their lives in tornadoes since 1950 with over 3700 injuries and over four billion dollars in property damage!

The good news is that the National Weather Service has meteorologists on staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, keeping a lookout for severe weather and tornadoes. We issue outlooks, watches and warnings that keep you informed of the potential for severe weather. Severe weather outlooks are produced by the Storm Prediction Center and can be accessed on line or in our Hazardous Weather Outlook product on NOAA Weather Radio. Severe Thunderstorm and/or Tornado Watches are issued when environmental conditions are supportive of severe weather and/or tornadoes. You may get the notification that a Watch has been issued and look outside and see the sun shining. However, that Watch is telling you to get a plan in place as severe weather and/or tornadoes could soon threaten. Warnings are issued when severe weather and/or tornadoes are happening or about to happen. Warnings mean to take action and to get to your safe place! 

Forage News

Upcoming Events (see Forage website for details and to register, click on EVENTS) 

  • June 12-Electric Fence Troubleshooting School, Butler County. 
  • June 27-Alfalfa Hay Field Day, Nicholas County. 
  • Sept. 25-26 - Intermediate Grazing School, Versailles, KY. 
  • Oct. 15-Pasture Ecology Workshop, Elizabethtown. KY. 
  • Oct. 15-16-Heart of America Grazing Conference. Elizabethtown, KY. 
  • Oct 17-· Regenerative Pasture Walk with Greg Brann, Adolphus, KY.

Subscribe or access full articles at the UK Forage Website

Economic & Policy Update

E-Newsletter Volume 4, Issue 4

Editors: Will Snell & Nicole Atherton

Department of Agricultural Economics

University of Kentucky

Spring 2024 Farm Observations Across Kentucky 

Author(s): Kentucky Farm Business Management (KFBM) Program 
Published: April 29th, 2024 

The Kentucky Farm Business Management Program is a program of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky. Extension Specialists serve four Farm Analysis Associations working with cooperating members to improve farm management techniques and decisions through recordkeeping and analysis. Currently, KFBM serves 355 farms that are representatives of 49 counties. KFBM specialists work very closely with a diversity of farms and this article will share some of the real-time observations that they have seen this spring. 

Lincoln Trail Association 
Spring is here and producers are taking advantage of the dry weather between rain showers to spread fertilizer. It is still early but wheat looks good after getting much-needed fertilizer applied. One concern for most is commodity prices. Producers are not confident that current commodity price levels will result in positive gains for the year. The decline in farm incomes in 2023, coupled with low commodity prices will make for a challenging 2024. Input costs have backed off some to help with profitability, but producers are still considering ways to lower expenses. Another concern is interest rates and if rates will come down in 2024. Interest expense on operating notes has become a larger percentage of the farm operating budget, and this was not there in the past years. After 2022 and 2023, cash is no longer there for producers to utilize so finding the right lending products will be beneficial to most. 

Ohio Valley Association 
Field operations and planting continue in the Ohio Valley area. Several acres of soybeans have been planted as of mid-April. A small amount of corn has been planted. We received much-needed rain about a week ago. Talk in the area indicates producers will continue their usual rotation despite the outlook of the budgets. Some adjustments to the amount of fertilizer may occur to stem some of the costs. In addition, the market for used equipment has decreased. 
There was a broad range in Net Farm Incomes and Management Returns for 2023. A lot depended on when the fertilizer was purchased, but there was also a variation in yields across the Ohio 
Valley. Some had excellent yields and some were on the verge of a crop insurance claim. However, overall, we expect a large drop in management returns. Poultry producers had another strong year, and cattle producers saw profits last year since cattle prices were strong most of the year. 
Interest rates were a topic of nearly every visit this winter as we have been experiencing higher rates for over a year. Interest on the line of credit was the biggest concern, but equipment rates have increased significantly as well, and many are factoring that in when discussing trades. Higher equipment costs and higher interest rates really add up. 
Concerns are growing for the 2024 crop year. Fertilizer prices have come down some, but not in proportion to grain prices. Current market prices look to be below break-even levels for the 2024 crop using average yields. 
There have been several land sales in the last month and land is not coming down. Rents are also holding strong, despite the negative incomes last year. 
Wheat and rapeseed crops in the Ohio Valley area look outstanding, despite being very dry over the winter. Rapeseed is in 'full bloom and those producers should make a profit since their price was locked in. The wheat producers need another year of outstanding yields to make a profit since wheat prices have also dropped. The early April rains provided much-needed moisture. To put into perspective the dryness, one producer has a pond that they water cattle out of dried up in March; it usua!.ly doesn't go dry until August. 
The Ohio River is very high now and some crop ground is under water that was planted in early beans. As soon as the fields dry up, most of the crop will be planted quickly. Most everyone had anhydrous and fertilizer applied by the end of March and was sitting on go when the cold temperatures came back for a week. 
Cattle producers are all pretty positive right now. Cattle prices have held strong and most producers selling feeders now are surprisingly getting better prices than they did in 2023. If we can continue to get rain to help the hay crop this summer, it is looking like cattle may see another profitable year. 

Pennyroyal Farm Analysis Group 
In the Pennyroyal area, winter wheat is looking good, and some fields have started to head out. Each day that passes relieves a bit of fear of a late freeze and encourages the idea of a strong wheat crop like the last three years. Some farms are reporting a bit of freeze damage because of the mid-March freeze, but the 2023 wheat crop also showed some freeze damage at a similar growth stage and farms still reported near-record yields. 
Corn planting has begun in the region but has been slowed in some areas due to wet weather. A few farms are finished planting, and some have not begun as they are waiting for soil temperatures to moderate. There are a few farms that have planted some soybeans. However. with the recent rains, the need for replanting is becoming a concern. Tobacco plants are growing in greenhouses, and a few tobacco farmers in the area are starting to welcome back the first round of H2A workers that will help with seeding, prepping equipment, and greenhouse work. There have been reports of cutworms appearing in the tobacco seedlings much earlier than usual. 
Many tobacco farmers took a hit over the winter, as several tobacco companies cut contracts by 
anywhere from 20-60%. Coupled with large cuts in 2022, 2021, and 2020, several tobacco farmers are facing major operation shrinkage. There are some growers whose contracts were eliminated and others who chose to exit tobacco production altogether. Continued increasing wages in the H2A program and a decline in H2A worker productivity have frustrated some growers beyond the point that they are willing to continue in the industry. 
Farmers are fully feeling the impact of lower grain prices and higher interest rates. We have now had a full operating cycle of higher interest rates, and many farmers are feeling the impact on their cash flow. The volume of unpriced old crop grain, not just in Kentucky but across the country, has farmers concerned about the prospect of market rallies. The decision to sell grain and lock in prices to stop storage and interest costs versus holding onto it for a market increase is a tough one that many farmers are still struggling with. Reports of bankers either not renewing operating lines or putting farms on notice are unfortunately on the rise. 

Purchase Area Association 
Spring planting is underway. This spring has been relatively dry, with mostly favorable weather, although slightly cool at times. This has allowed many producers to start spring planting preparations. Producers were able to do some early tillage and fertilization, which will make actual planting go much faster and smoother. Conditions allowed for both hog and chicken manure applications to be made this spring ahead of planting. Several producers have opted to plant early soybeans ahead of corn, waiting for the ground temperatures to warm just a little more before planting much corn. Ove1· the last couple of years, there has been a greater interest in planting early soybeans and so far, yields have been favorable. Planting soybeans this early does require some extra seed treatments to protect the seed as it stays in the ground a little longer before germinating than later planted soybeans. 
Crop prices for the 2024 crop are not where most producers or lenders would like them to be. Despite the lower prices, there does not appear to be many producers who are changing their crop rotations. There does seem to be less wheat across the area this spring, as June wheat prices were around $5.00 last fall, not providing much incentive to plant the crop. Several producers are still holding onto a little bit of the 2023 crop, hoping for some marketing gains. However, more and more are being forced to sell the crop, as they need to generate revenue to help start the 2024 crop. Most producers have been disappointed after putting the 2023 crop in storage, as there have not been many opportunities to sell above the harvest price. 
Tobacco producers are struggling this year, as contracted pounds were cut by tobacco companies 
over the winter. Several producers experienced reductions in the number of pounds they have contracted of more than 30%. For many, this causes questions about whether they can afford to bring in their H2A workers. Tobacco has typically been a profitable enterprise for Kentucky producers. Without the revenue from tobacco sales, these producers will likely experience decreased profitability. 
The profitability outlook for the 2024 crop is questionable. While input prices on fertilizer are much lower than in the last couple of years, the output prices are significantly lower as well. Producers will be looking for any rally in the market and will hopefully take advantage of any opportunities to lock in some higher prices. Several producers burned through some of the cash reserves they had from the 2021 and 2022 crops in 2023. This reduction in available cash will make the 2024 crop year feel much tighter. Lenders are also looking very closely at cash flow projections for the 2024 crop. With higher interest rates, the options of doing a refinance to help with cash flow are off the table. The increase in interest costs makes the refinanced payments just as high or higher than existing payments in many cases. 

Kentucky Farm Business Management. "Spring 2024 Farm Observations Across Kentucky."

Economic and Policy Update (24):4, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Kentucky, April 29th, 2024. 
Author(s) Contact Information: 
Kentucky Farm Business Management (KFRM) Program

Upcoming Events

Lunch n' Learn 

Container Gardens: Planting Herbs

Participants will learn about container gardening and common herbs for cooking and will plant and take 
home basil, oregano, parsley and thyme Lunch will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.                                                                                                                                                       

Location: Russell County Public Library                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

535 N. Main Street, Jamestown KY, 42629                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Date and Time: June 11, 2024,  12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CST 

Russell County Farmer's Market - Opening Day                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Location: Russell County Extension Office                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

2688 S. HWY 127, Russell Springs, KY 42642                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Date and Time: Friday, June 28, 2024,  7:30 AM CST 


The South-Central KY Area Hay Contest is offered to all individuals raising hay in Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, Marion, McCreary, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell, Taylor, Washington, and Wayne counties. 
This program aims to provide producers with free hay analysis results to aid in educating producers on raising higher quality forages and meeting livestock needs. Producers may submit multiple samples in each contest area to their county agriculture agent. This is a free service, regardless of the number of samples submitted. Your county agent or assistant to the agent will take these samples for you. Please contact your local extension office to schedule a sampling. 
Samples must be submitted no later than September 30th, 2024. 
Basic analysis results will be sent to producers by November 1st, 2024. Results will include crude protein, OM, TON, RFV, ADF, and NOF. Producers may be provided with livestock ration recommendations in addition to their results upon request. After completion of the program, an area­wide event will be held to provide an educational overview of the program and present awards to contest winners. There will be one winner selected for the entire area for each hay class. Please reach out to your county agriculture agent for further information.