Southeast Hay Convention proceedings available

The 6th Southeast Hay Convention was held on March 11-12, in Watkinsville, Ga. Below is an outline of the major topics that were covered. Click the link for more information about the topic.

•       Fertilization Outlook for Hay Producers

•       Climate Outlook and Implications for the Hay Market

•       Hay Production Outlook

•       Problem Weeds and What to Do About Them

•       Problem Insects and What to Do About Them

•       Forage Bermudagrass Varieties for Southeastern Hay Producers

•       Alfalfa Production in the South

•       Cool Season Grass Options

•       How to Cut, Cure, and Handle High Quality Hay

•       Hay Storage Systems

•       Preventing Hay Molding and Heating

•       Understanding Forage Quality

•       Improving Forage Quality

•       Keys to Making Baled Silage

•       Economics of Baled Silage

•       Categorizing Hay for Sale Using Quality Standards

•       Evaluating New Hay Enterprises

•       Meeting Quality Demands for the Horse Market

•       Introduction to the Bermudagrass Stem Maggot

•       Are Some Varieties Better than Others? Are Some regions Worse than Others?

•       What Management Strategies Can Be Employed

•       Soils of the Southeast and Key Considerations for Hay Producers

•       Benefits of Gypsum in Forage Production

•       Fine-Tuning Forage Fertilization

•       Effect of Polymer-Coated Urea on Bermudagrass Forage Production


Programs target milk quality in Southeast

By Ray Mobley

Mastitis is the most common disease and biggest cause of antimicrobial use in adult dairy cattle in the United States. Despite considerable knowledge regarding the prevention and therapy of mastitis, many farms continue to look for ways to better adopt mastitis control practices. Additionally, the U.S. dairy industry is increasingly diverse in terms of herd size, housing, labor and management models.

The Quality Milk Alliance, a five-year project funded by USDA-NIFA, is dedicated to reducing mastitis and antibiotic use in dairy cows. Project investigators include veterinarians, dairy scientists, sociologists, economists, media and education specialists, and Extension educators from four institutions.

Florida A&M University is partnering with Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University, and Mississippi State University to develop a program to address this significant issue. This program will develop a farm evaluation that will not only assess traditional key areas of a herd quality milk program, but also will help dairy producers become better employee coaches and their veterinarians grow into the role of “science teachers” for the employees. The farm evaluation will also be the basis for a combined online and “hands on” educational program to certify specialists who will be familiar with and can apply the evaluation on dairy farms. Additionally, the system will be tested in over 120 dairy herds in three states to determine if the approach can reduce mastitis and antibiotic use on dairy farms, improve employee education and participation in herd quality milk practices, and determine if the system is economically viable for dairy operations.

As a preliminary step for the project, a survey was sent to dairy herds in Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Florida, this process was greatly aided by Dr. Mary Sowerby, UF Regional Dairy Extension agent in Live Oak.

From the three states, 628 herds (overall 41% response rate) responded to the survey. The average herd size was 104 cows, although there were significant differences in average herd size between states. At least 86% of the farms reported practicing pre-and post-milking teat disinfection and drying teats. Likewise, 80% or greater of herds reported always or frequently using alcohol pads before teat infusions, dry cow therapy, and cleaning the alleys and gutters in barns at each milking. However, critical behaviors that are believed to reduce the use of unproductive antibiotic therapy for mastitis, such as recording all treatments (47%), review of records to identify previous treatments (42%) and bacterial culture milk for clinical mastitis cases (15%) were less frequently reported as always or frequently done. Thus, preliminary results from the survey suggest that while standard mastitis control practices are widely adapted, decision making in antibiotic therapy for mastitis is a critical area that should be targeted during the course of the project.

Further information about this project can be attained at Contact Dr. Ray Mobley, Director of Animal Health Programs, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, at (850) 445-7423 or email

A similar project to improve milk quality in the Southeast is the Southeast Quality Milk Initiative (SQMI, This too is a five-year project, funded by USDA-NIFA, and led by the University of Tennessee. Other collaborating universities in the SQMI project are the University of Kentucky, University of Georgia, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State University, and the University of Florida. The objectives of the Quality Milk Alliance and SQMI projects are similar but with a somewhat different emphasis.

Both the Quality Milk Alliance and SQMI projects target dairy producers in Florida. To make sure both projects do not compete but collaborate, there is frequent communication between Florida A&M and UF. Both projects are still in a start-up phase. Stay tuned for more news from both the Quality Milk Alliance and SQMI.

Contact Albert De Vries,, (352) 392-5594 ext. 227 for more information.


Kentucky 4-H Dairy Jeopardy Contest

By Larissa Tucker and George Heersche, Jr.

The 2014 Kentucky State 4-H Dairy Jeopardy Contest was held March 17 at the Barren County Extension Office. There were 31 participants in this year’s event. The 4-H members answered questions related to nutrition, reproduction, cheeses, milking procedures, facilities, and many other topics. The youth have been studying for several months to prepare for this event. They take a written test and everyone participates in one round of toss up questions. The top 8 in each division then participate in a second round of toss-up questions to determine the winners.

In the junior division the top five were: First: Walter Baker, Adair County; Second: Tyler London, Metcalfe County; Third: Jagger Jones, Barren County; Fourth: Jackson Baird, Spencer County; and Fifth: Mallory Russell, Metcalfe County.

In the senior division the top five were: First: Jacob Barnett, Spencer County; Second: Daniel Cooper, Spencer County; Third: Sam Baker, Adair County; Fourth: Rachel Seibert, Spencer County and Fifth: Ally Jones, Barren County.


Kentucky: Develop a water quality plan

By Amanda Gumbert, Extension Specialist for Water Quality

The Agriculture Water Quality Act was passed by the Kentucky State Legislature in 1994. It states that landowners with 10 or more acres in agricultural production must develop a water quality plan.

This plan documents best management practices being followed to protect water resources. These practices could include planned grazing systems for livestock, filter or buffer strips around crop fields, animal waste storage structures and nutrient management plans. It should also include plans to limit livestock access to streams, if it is a livestock operation. In addition, the document should include information about proper handling of herbicides and pesticides, and proper maintenance of septic systems.

To implement a water quality plan, first look at the activities in your operation. You can use a web-based planning tool or a printed document to answer questions about the operation. By answering these questions, you can identify the appropriate best management practices needed. Then, implement these practices and document that these practices are being used and properly maintained.

Many of the best management practice (BMP) options included in the KY Ag Water Quality Act make good agronomic sense for the farm. For example, Livestock BMP #1 Planned Grazing Systems (Rotational Grazing) provides benefits to pastures and livestock, as well as a water quality benefit. In many cases, proper practices are already in place, and creating an agriculture water quality plan provides a document stating that you are doing the right things to protect water quality on your farm.

Keep in mind that an agriculture water quality plan is not a voluntary document, and the KY Ag Water Quality Act has not gone away. As a farmer, you have the flexibility of choosing practices that best fit your operation, but you still must have an implemented plan. Periodically review and update ag water quality plans to reflect changes in farming and forestry practices or land ownership. Additionally, an ag water quality plan is required when applying for most cost share programs.

By implementing an agriculture water quality plan, you help to protect both surface and groundwater from agricultural contaminants. Keeping the water resources of the Commonwealth clean protects human and animal health, and reduces the cost of treating drinking water.

For more information about developing an Ag Water Quality Plan, visit or visit your local Conservation District or Cooperative Extension Service office.

This work was funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under §319(h) of the Clean Water Act.


McAllister joins House Agriculture Committee

House Ag Committee chairman Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) welcomed Rep. Vance McAllister, who represents the Fifth District of Louisiana, to the House Agriculture Committee. Rep. McAllister will serve on three subcommittees: General Farm Commodities and Risk Management; Conservation, Energy, and Forestry; and Department Operations, Oversight and Nutrition.