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Cow-calf profitability indoor field day coming
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Over the past couple of years, I have been to agent livestock updates where we have gone through a couple of exercises that I wanted to share with you. One was on low stress animal handling, and the other was on estimating cow weight and body condition scoring. On Sept. 2, the Kansas Livestock Association  and Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health will help Barton County Extension and K-State Research & Extension make this a reality.
The program is designed for beef cow-calf producers. It will be held at the Expo III Building at the Expo Grounds, three miles west of Great Bend on West 10th Street (West Barton County Road). It will begin with registration at 3:30 p.m., with the program at 4 p.m. The nice thing about having it at Expo III is that we not only have a dirt floor for the cattle, but with a roof over our heads, we can hold it rain or shine.
Maintaining a profitable operation is priority one for cattle producers, but economic challenges and increased time constraints can make this easier said than done. Rising input costs and escalating land values have left many producers feeling the strain of today’s beef industry. This seminar is designed to help ranchers address these challenges by providing practical management information that can be applied to any operation.
The feature of the day will be a live cattle handling demonstration by Curt Pate. Pate is a 49-year-old Montana cowboy who consulted on the 1998 Robert Redford film “The Horse Whisperer” but switched his focus to cows about five years ago and has been traveling the country teaching ranchers to think like cattle and use low-stress methods of handling livestock.
He said his goal is to teach modern ranchers traditional livestock handling methods used 100 years ago. Back then, there were fewer corrals and fences, and a ranch manager didn’t spend as much time on a computer as with livestock.
Other educational sessions on the program will be a live cattle demonstration on Sharpening Skills for Live Evaluation of Cow Weight and Body Condition Scoring. This will be presented by Sandy Johnson, Northwest Area Livestock Specialist from Colby. This is an important consideration for winter feeding as well as pasture stocking.
The third leg of the program will be “Keys to Respiratory Health” by Dr. Mark Spire, DVM. Dr. Spire is beef cattle technical services manager with Intervet/Schering Plough. Spire is retired from teaching and extension appointments he had with Kansas State University’s school of Veterinary Medicine.    
There is no cost to attend, however, registration for meals is required. Registration forms are available at the Barton County Extension Office and the deadline is due by Aug. 26. You can also register and get the form on-line from the KLA website at and click on the Great Bend event on the Sept. 2 date.
Hays Fall Field Day
The K-State Research and Extension Agricultural Research Center in Hays is hosting its Fall Field Day on Aug. 25. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. with a 9 a.m. welcome by Bob Gillen, department head for the Western Kansas Agricultural Research Centers, followed by field tours.
Tours and seminars will be led by a variety of researchers and extension staff from K-State Research and Extension.
Topics on the agenda for the tours include sorghum breeding for Western Kansas, new herbicides for sorghum, 2010 row crop diseases, and stacked corn on dryland acres. Seminars will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the auditorium on managing key sunflower pests, value of cover crops in wheat and rust issues with the 2010 wheat crop.
Lunch will be provided. The field day will conclude by 2:30 p.m. Questions can be answered at 785-625-3425 or on the center’s website at 
Is my lawn still alive?
I have had a lot of calls lately about brown fescue grass and some of those may have had some brown patch disease. However some of these are just in areas where the grass is excessively thick and can’t stand the heat. The following information from K-State Extension horticulture is very timely. Many lawns have gone dormant recently due to hot conditions and a lack of moisture. Homeowners often wonder if dormant grass is still alive. Healthy lawns can go dormant for five to eight weeks without harm, and so most lawns should be fine. However, to be sure, pull up an individual plant and separate the leaves from the crown. The crown resembles a grain of rice and is the area between the leaves and the roots. If it is still hard and not papery and dry, the plant is still alive.
If you wish to pull the lawn out of dormancy, water to a depth of 6 to 8 inches each week. The lawn will begin to grow and eventually green up. However, it is better to let a lawn remain dormant than to water enough to pull it out of dormancy and then allow it to go dormant again. Stored energy reserves are used each time to plant has to come out of dormancy and eventually the plant will deplete these reserves and die.                
Rick Snell is the Barton County Extension Agricultural Agent for K-State Research & Extension. He can be reached at 620-793-1910 or The Barton County Extension Office is located at 1800 12th Street in Great Bend.