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Ag News and Notes
Breeding soundness exam day set for March 25
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Spring BSE Day
Get ready for the spring breeding season. Once again Dr. Mandy Willis will be offering her bi-annual breeding soundness exam day coming up Saturday, March 25. Cost for the exam is $45. Please call Dr. Willis’ office at 931-409-3178 to set up appointment. This is a great opportunity to make certain you have a successful breeding season.

Prevent Grass Tetany
The weather this winter has been unusually warm and grass is beginning to green up and grow. Cattle producers need be sure to follow steps to prevent grass tetany.
Grass tetany is a serious often fatal metabolic disorder characterized by low levels of magnesium in the blood serum of cattle. It is also called grass staggers and wheat pasture poisoning. It primarily affects older cows nursing calves less than 2 months old, but it may also occur in young or dry cows and growing calves. 
It happens most frequently when cattle are grazing succulent, immature grass and often affects the best cows in the herd. High nitrogen fertilization reduces magnesium availability, especially on soils high in potassium or aluminum.
Grass tetany occurs most frequently in the spring, often following a cool period (temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees) when grass is growing rapidly, but also is seen in the fall with new growth of cool season grass or wheat pastures.
Typical signs of grass tetany begin with an uncoordinated gait and terminate with convulsions, coma, and death. Animals on pasture are often found dead without illness having been observed.Evidence of thrashing will usually be apparent around the cow if grass tetany is the cause of death. The prevention of grass tetany depends largely on avoiding conditions that cause it.
Graze less susceptible animals on high-risk pastures. Steers, heifers, dry cows, and cows with calves over 4 months old are less likely to develop tetany. The use of dolomite or high magnesium limestone on pastures and including legumes in pasture mixes will decrease the incidence of tetany in grazing cattle. In areas where tetany frequently occurs, feed your cows supplemental magnesium.
Supplementation increases blood magnesium levels and alleviates much of the grass tetany problem. Adequate amounts of magnesium must be consumed on a daily basis. The most common control measure is to feed a mineral which is high in magnesium.
Most feed companies sell high magnesium mineral supplements and commercial mixtures are acceptable. In general, loose mixtures are preferred in situations where there is a history of grass tetany in the cattle herd, while blocks may be OK in low-risk situations where there has been little problem in the past.

Considerations for Beginning Farmers
A new workshop offered by University of Tennessee Extension has been planned for those who have been dreaming of green acres. 
Co-sponsored by Farm Credit Mid-America, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, USDA Rural Development, and UT-Tennessee State University Extension, “Considerations for Beginning Farmers” will be offered to anyone interested in becoming a farm owner-operator.
The full-day workshop is designed for those with little or no farming background. Program topics include the language of agriculture; a self-assessment of goals, desires, and commitment; basic crop and livestock needs; evaluating land suitability; equipment and tools; potential risks; and more.
Registration to attend is $25 per person, which includes the program and lunch. Although classes are being conducted throughout the state, the nearest one will be at the White County Ag Complex (fairgrounds) 565 Hale Street, Sparta, TN 38583 on Tuesday, March 28. For more information or to register for the class please contact Mr. Mitchell Mote, UT TSU Extension Rutherford County at mmote1@utk.edu.

Heath Nokes, UT-TSU Extension Warren County, 473-8484, hnokes@utk.edu.