Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Pets Vs. Decorations

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

We are in that interim time between Thanksgiving and Christmas where life is hectic and everyone is in the process of beginning to decorate their home.  With the acquisition of two pets recently who are intermittently in the house I have begun to think about how to keep them and our Christmas decorations safe over the next month. 

First, let’s think about things like ribbons, wrapping paper, ornaments, tinsel, extension cords and gifts, which may be may be appealing "chew toys" but which may make your pet sick.  Eating tinsel or other string-like items such as ribbon can cause serious damage to the intestine.  One end can get stuck while the rest is pulled into the intestine as it contracts; the contractions may cause the ribbon or tinsel to saw through the intestine.  If not caught in time, infection of the belly cavity develops and the prognosis for recovery becomes poor.  Pets can quickly become ill with signs including vomiting, diarrhea, depression, belly pain and sometimes fever.  Foreign matter stuck in the intestine often does not show up on "x-ray" but sometimes the foreign matter will trap air in the intestine, which helps the veterinarian make a diagnosis.  Surgery is required to remove foreign matter that does not pass out on its own.

With the numerous lights around Christmas, pay attention to the fact that these lights are another attraction for pets to chew on.  Both indoor and outdoor lights should be carefully examined to ensure safety for your household pets.  Electrical shock may occur from defective cords as well as from pets chewing on cords.  Check cords for any signs of bite marks, loose or frayed wires, proximity to the tree's water supply or evidence of short circuits.  Use grounded "3-prong" extension cords and strictly follow manufacturer's guidelines for light usage.  It may be difficult to curb your pet's fascination with all those pretty decorations.  Child gates can be used across doorways to keep your pet away from the Christmas tree and decorations at times they can’t be watched.  Consider the strategic use of furniture as well.  I’m sure all of us would like to enjoy the Christmas seasonal decorations and keep our pets safe.

Lastly, think about chocolate.  Chocolate can be toxic or even fatal to dogs and cats.  Chocolate poisoning occurs most frequently in dogs but other species are also susceptible. Theobromine is the toxic compound found in chocolate.  The toxicity of chocolate depends on the amount and type of chocolate ingested, with the toxic dose for a 44-pound dog being 3 oz. for unsweetened cocoa, 5 oz. for baking chocolate, 7 oz. for semisweet chocolate, and 20 oz. for milk chocolate.

On a lighter note, for inventive ways to keep your pets safe and still celebrate the holidays visit: 6 cat proof Christmas trees to try out during the holidays

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cow's Body Condition Score will impact calf health and pregnancy rates next year

Earlier than normal snowfall this year may necessitate feeding cows
earlier than normal.  Body condition score at calving impacts calf
vigor and health and cow breed back next year.  Photo by Kari Lewis.
Kari Lewis, MSU Extension – Glacier County

                Recently as I looked through our cows, I was concerned about some of the cows’ body condition scores.  There’s multiple factors that have had a role in our herd’s body condition being lower than I would like to see.  First, this summer’s drought resulted in less forage than normal, then the early October snowstorm hit the cows hard as well.  In addition, our weaning date was later than it should have been, which meant the cows were also lactating longer into the fall, using additional nutrients to support their calf at side.  Not surprisingly, it is our youngest cows who are the thinnest, as they’ve also been trying to grow in addition to supporting their calf and developing fetus. 
                As cows receive nutrition, they first use it for maintenance, then allocate the remaining nutrients to support fetal development, lactation, growth, and lastly, rebreeding.  Thus, if a cow is short on nutrition, the first thing to be impacted is her ability to rebreed.  Therefore, it’s critical that we provide adequate nutrition now to ensure cows are in an acceptable body condition to rebreed next summer. 
A body condition score (BCS) describes the relative fatness or body condition of a cow on a scale of 1 to 9.  A score of 1 means the cow is extremely thin, and a score of 9 indicates a very obese cow.  Each body condition score translates to approximately 70 pounds, so to increase a BCS 4 cow (on December 1) to a BCS 6 cow (by March 1) would require that cow to gain 1.6 pounds per day, not including the increasing weight of her fetus. 
                Why is body condition so critical?  Simply, thin cows take longer to rebreed, produce less colostrum, and give birth to less vigorous calves.  Those calves that are born weak at birth take longer to nurse, have lower immunoglobin levels which lessens their ability to overcome disease, and are ultimately less likely to survive. 
A cow’s BCS at calving is a large indicator of how soon she will rebreed following calving.  A cow that calves in a BCS 5 or 6 averages 55 days following calving until her first heat, while cows that calve in a BCS 3 or 4 average an 80-day post-partum interval.  Knowing that we want those cows to have one or two heat cycles prior to when they are bred, it’s easy to see why thin cows fall out of the herd.  Data from Spitzer et al., 1995 showed that first calf heifers that calved in a BCS 4 had a 56% pregnancy rate after a 60-day breeding season, whereas those heifers that were in a BCS 5 at calving had an 80% pregnancy rate, and there was a 96% pregnancy rate in the heifers that calved at a BCS 6. 
                The period after weaning (when nutrient requirements are decreased) and before the third trimester begins (when nutrient requirements increase again) is the most economical time to add body condition.  By providing adequate nutrition, a windbreak, straw during cold weather, and access to clean, fresh water, we can add condition to the cowherd to meet our breed back goals for next year.  

Here at the MSU Extension office in Glacier county, we can assist you in formulating a ration for your cowherd.  We have two hay probes that can be checked out to sample your hay for a nutrient analysis, and can use ration balancing software to formulate a ration that will meet your cows’ protein and energy needs.  Please call (406) – 873-2239 or e-mail with questions, I’m happy to help!              

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Your Turkey is Cooked!

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

Thanksgiving is now just a couple of days away, which I’m sure if your home is like mine, has been on everyone’s minds for the past several weeks.  Thoughts of company, upcoming holidays, and food seem to constantly swirl around in conversations.  There are numerous ways out there for people to prepare their main course of turkey for Thanksgiving, from basting, brining and marinating to using roaster ovens, grills, smokers, deep fat fryers, pressure cookers and microwaves.  This week, as our time is short, I wanted to focus on how to cook a turkey the day before serving it.  Perhaps this is considered heresy to some people as the smell, atmosphere and stress of preparing turkey surround the events of the day but you might be looking for another way. 

The following directions from the University of Nebraska, I emphasize again, apply to roasting your turkey one day before your meal.  You’ll want to wait about 20 minutes after removing turkey from the oven to allow the juices to distribute.  Be sure to follow safe procedures for thawing and roasting your turkey before you proceed to this first step.  For more information, go to the USDA Let's Talk Turkey site.
Slice the breast meat but the legs and wings can be left whole.  Place your turkey in shallow containers, limiting the depth to less than 2 inches.  Metal containers cool faster than glass-type pans.  Also, refrigerate any broth saved for making gravy in shallow containers.  Refrigerate the turkey, loosely covered.  You can place loosely covered foods in the refrigerator while still warm.  However, cover tightly when food is completely cooled.

When serving your turkey the next day, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline advises that cooked turkey may be eaten cold or reheated.  Of course, you’re going to want to reheat your turkey so I would suggest following these recommendations given by the USDA:
In the oven set the temperature no lower than 325° F.  Reheat the turkey to an internal temperature of 165° F.  Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.  My main concern with reheating is keeping the turkey meat moist.  What is suggested to keep the turkey moist is to add a little broth or water and cover it.  If you are using a microwave, cover your food and rotate it for even heating.  Once again, check the internal temperature of your turkey with a food thermometer to make sure it reaches 165° F.  After that, it’s time to sit back and enjoy your Thanksgiving meal and holiday!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Spotlight on SNAP-ED with Jodi Duncan

There are so many facets to MSU Extension and today I would like to highlight our Nutrition SNAP-ED program.  This is the Montana State University Extension Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education, which supports low income Montanans in making the healthy choice the easy choice when it comes to nutrition and physical activity.  We know that 77% of Montana adults do not participate in enough physical activity to meet guidelines, that 74% of Montana adults eat less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and 29% of Montana children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese.  To combat these challenges, SNAP-ED teaches low income youth and adults how to eat, live, learn, work, play, and shop within their communities to make healthier choices. 

Locally, Jodi Duncan is the SNAP-Ed instructor based out of our Glacier county office, with primary responsibilities of serving the Blackfeet Reservation in addition to the Cut Bank and Shelby communities as time permits.  She started this position in September, and has certainly hit the ground running!  In October alone, Jodi taught a total of 30 different classes, which reached 460 individuals!  Jodi has been teaching 1st, 3rd, and 5th graders at the Babb Elementary School, and 9 different classes of 1st graders at the Vina Chattin Elementary School in Browning.  She has also begun teaching classes here in the Cut Bank schools, and has been working on scheduling classes with the Shelby Elementary School as well. 

Each lesson that Jodi teaches focuses on both nutrition and physical activity.  Students are given the opportunity to sample a healthy food during each class which has exposed many students to fruits and vegetables that they may not normally try.  Some examples of the samplings that students tried last month included whole grain trail mix, vegetable soup, yogurt parfait, and a peanut butter yogurt dip with apples. 
Statewide, the MSU Extension Nutrition Education team reached 8,152 Montanans with direct education efforts in this last grant year.  There were 920 adults that participated in the Eating Smart, Being Active series and 7,103 youth that participated in the Youth Understanding MyPlate series in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades across Montana. 
Thank you to the schools that have partnered with the MSU Extension SNAP-Ed program.  It’s exciting to hear the stories of 1st graders that want a second helping of vegetable soup, or the kids that see Jodi in the grocery store or tell her that they had their parents pick up a fruit they tried in class!  The SNAP-ED program is just one more way that MSU Extension is making an impact in

Kari Lewis, MSU Extension - Glacier County