In descending order, by date published.
Weaning time is an excellent time for producers to make decisions to cull or keep cows. Culling is a management decision in which animals with substandard production performance or potential are removed from the herd. The easiest decision is culling open cows or cows with a bad temperament. Open cows are obvious candidates to cull. Poor disposition (temperament) of a cow is also a clear sign to cull. Docility is a trait that is moderately to highly heritable (0.36-0.45) trait in cattle, and from a behavioral standpoint, cows will exhibit either fight or flight response to people. If a cow is calving, fight or flight behavior is understandable; otherwise, aggressive behavior should not be tolerated.
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, play an increasingly important role in production agriculture. UAS are already widely used in agriculture for monitoring livestock, inspecting fence lines, and evaluating crops and pastures (e.g., yield, quality, nutrients, water stress, pest pressure, disease impact). The cost of using a UAS will depend on a variety of factors, including platform-based capabilities, maintenance, and insurance. As with any investment, the economic benefit derived from using a UAS should be determined prior to purchase.
Authors: Joshua Jackson
The escape of livestock is a serious concern for producers. Escaped animals can potentially damage property and/or injure people, especially when they are loose in undesired areas. Fence line inspection and the monitoring of gates, wires, and latches is a time-consuming task that must be regularly conducted to mitigate the risk of escape. The use of drones to evaluate fence lines is one of the newer methods being evaluated for farmers. With their onboard camera, rapid flight speed, and ability to fly over obstacles, drones have potential to expedite fence line inspection.
Authors: Joshua Jackson
On cattle operations, the use of a scale system to weigh animals is vital to the proper administration of health products such as dewormers and antibiotics, and for making management decisions. A scale system mounted to a chute allows animals to be securely restrained for measuring weights accurately and minimally impacts cattle flow through the working facilities. Excitable animals can be properly restrained and, with their movement limited, cattle can be weighed accurately.
Hoop barns are a cost-effective alternative to pole barns. For example, a farmer might choose a hoop barn when deciding to expand hay sales, or for providing cover for costly equipment. Hoop barns have the additional benefit of being a construction project that can be done by the farmer (and a group of friends), which can provide an additional cost savings. This publication goes through the steps involved by following the construction of two hoop barns built by a local farmer. In this case, hoop barns were built to increase the farm's hay storage capacity.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are quickly becoming more integrated into producers' on-farm operations. With the advent of this new technology, users must understand how to convert raw UAV data into an applicable medium. Often the goal of UAV flights is to create a map of the output from a certain type of sensor. Thompson et al. (2018) have defined a general mapping process independent of drone type, sensor type, and mapping software. However, general mapping is significantly different than trying to record a three-dimensional model of the plant canopy structure. This article expands upon the workflow and details the process for developing a canopy model of a crop.
Cattle-handling facilities should be designed to match the management goals of the operation. The safety of workers and cattle should be the highest priority when designing or reworking a handling facility. A well-designed facility will make working cattle faster, safer, less labor intensive, and less frustrating.
Authors: Joshua Jackson
Most producers would like information on cattle weight to improve management. The widespread use of cattle scales on most farms in Kentucky is limited by the cost of purchasing the equipment. Local cattlemen's associations or extension office's frequently have scale systems to rent or borrow. This has challenges due to scheduling conflicts, reliability, rental fees, or the scale may not align with the handling facility layouts. There are two options for producers to obtain cattle weights--in the alley or at the chute. An alley scale provides the ability to measure cattle weight independent of the head gate or cattle chute. This publication describes the measurement of cattle in the alley leading to a head gate or cattle chute.
Wind is variable in time and space. This is especially true across the state of Kentucky, considering the geographical variety from the Eastern Kentucky mountains to the flatter grain production region in Western Kentucky. In particular, there is a region of potentially variable wind around Cincinnati, near the Ohio River. In trying to account for this variability, monthly wind maps across the state of Kentucky have been developed using the past 30 years of recorded wind data. These data can be used to assist in site evaluations for barns and planning farmstead layouts. Knowing wind speed and direction will help optimize the natural ventilation taking place within agricultural buildings.
Kentucky's abundant forage and extensive stream system have helped the Commonwealth become the largest beef producing state east of the Mississippi River. While streams and ponds serve as a water source for many operations, livestock can quickly degrade soil and water quality by trampling streambanks and defecating and urinating in and around waterbodies. These actions increase sediment, pathogen, and nutrient loads to streams, rivers, and lakes which in turn can causes eutrophication. To help protect the health of Kentucky's soil and water, producers can implement best management practices (BMPs). These practices help reduce the sources of pollutants and/or the transport of pollutants to waterways. One such practice or BMP is limiting cattle access to streams and ponds. When producers exclude livestock access to stream and ponds and their associated riparian buffers, an alternative source of water is required. Automatic water fountains are one commonly used means of providing cattle with water from an alternate source. A water tank constructed using a heavy equipment tire may serve as a viable option for supplying livestock with an alternate source of water.