Monday, December 2, 2013

Virginia Bred Ewe and Lamb Sale Dec 7th

The Virginia Sheep Producers Association will be hosting their annual Fall Bred Ewe Sale this Saturday, December 7 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds in Harrisonburg, VA. Sale begins at 1 pm. Specific details, including on-line catalog with photos can be found at  


Please note that online bidding is available this year through

Mid-Atlantic Small Flock Poultry Mini Expo

The University of Maryland Extension will host a Mid-Atlantic Small Flock Poultry Mini Expo at 3 different locations from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on the following dates:
February 8, 2014 - University of Maryland Extension—Montgomery County Office
18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD  20855

 The mini expo will feature at least 10 educational seminars on urban poultry keeping, feeds & feeding, breed characteristics, rules and regulations, disease prevention and control, production basics, predator control, poultry first aid, poultry production for profit, breeding & incubation, egg grading and handling.
Door prizes will be awarded!

Extension Specialists and Educators will be available to answer technical questions about production practices.

Vendors will be available with poultry equipment and supplies. 

Registration is required:  Adults: $35 and Children under 18 years: $15. Registration fees include lunch. To register online go to:
NO on-site registration is offered!
For additional information about the Mid-Atlantic Small Flock Poultry Mini Expo please e-mail Susan Barnes at or visit the web site at

If you have a disability that requires special assistance for your participation at one of our expo locations, please contact the location you are attending at least two weeks prior to the program to receive assistance.  University of Maryland Extension—Montgomery County Office: (301) 590-9638  



Do you drive a truck and trailer (stock trailer, horse trailer, flat bed) out of state?  Is your truck registered to haul greater than 10,000 pounds (GVW – truck, trailer, and cargo)?  Is your truck rated at ¾ ton or greater, and you tow a 16 foot trailer? If you answered yes to any of these questions – you may be interested in attending an upcoming educational meeting.

Program: Federal Motor Carrier Safety and Registration

Program Presenters: US Dept. of Transportation & VA State Police

Date:  December 18th (tentative)

Time:  9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Place: Whitestone Farm, Aldie ,VA

Program sponsors:             Loudoun County Dept. of Economic Development

                                                Blue Ridge Cattlemen’s Association

                                                VA & WV Cooperative Extension


Contact:        Gary W. Hornbaker  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Growing Up on a Farm: 25 Facts About Being a Farm Kid!

Thanks too Alison Bos.

This post is dedicated to all you past, present and future farm kids out there. There may not be very many of us, but we truly are  one-of-a-kind. In all honesty, I don’t know of a better way to grow up. Yes, we worked hard. Yes, we can tell stories all day long about our experiences both good and bad. Most importantly, yes we are proud to be farmers’ sons and farmers’ daughters. We are proud to be born and raised farm kids.  We are proud to be future farmers.

Monday, November 18, 2013

2014 Commercial Pesticide Applicator Recertification Program

The 2014 Commercial Pesticide Applicator Recertification Program will be held on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center in Front Royal, VA.  Early Registration is $30 and must be received before 5:00 p.m. on January 3rd.  Late Registration is $40 and must be received by January 8th. (We cannot accept credit card payments.)  You must pre-register AND pre-pay by January 8th, 5:00 p.m.; No registrations or payments will be accepted the day of the event.  If you have more than one person attending, please complete a registration form for each person.  Please call for a registration form.  You should mail completed registration form(s) and check (payable to:  VCE-Frederick County) to the address below.  Space is limited, so please register early.

Virginia Cooperative Extension
Frederick County Office 
107 North Kent Street 
Winchester, VA  22601
Phone:  540.665.5699 ext. 8311 | Fax:  540.722.8380 |

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments.
Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, genetic information, maritial, family, or veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.  An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer
If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension-Frederick County Office at 540.665.5699/TDD 800.828.1120 during business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to an event.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

VCE Electric Fence Workshop featuring Louis Sapp Nov 13th

Producing & Marketing Quality Grass-fed Beef

Producing & Marketing Quality Grass-fed Beef

Tuesday Oct. 29, 2013

9:30 AM New Market Fire Hall, New Market, VA

Featuring: Dr. Scott Barao, Director of the Jorgensen Foundation’s Beef Research Farm

Dr. Scott Barao is a former livestock Extension Specialist at University of Maryland, and the current Executive Director of the Jorgensen Family Foundation and Hedgeapple Farm, a beef research center in Buckeystown, MD.  Hedgeapple Farm focuses on the development of production and marketing strategies to help make the region’s smaller beef operations more viable. All acreage at Hedgeabpple Farm is in permanent pasture and hay for the farm’s herd of Black Angus. All calves born on the farm are retained for pasture-finishing and are direct marketed through their on-farm retail market.

This program will cover production & marketing of a quality, grass-fed product:

Forage management - Genetics - Meat quality -  Marketing local beef

A $20 REGISTRATION PER PERSON is required with the MEAL & TASTE PANEL INCLUDED.  Registration must be received by Friday, Oct. 25.  Make Check payable to: VCE Augusta County.  Mail Check and Registration to: Virginia Cooperative Extension, PO Box 590, Verona, VA 24482.  Questions?    540-245-5750   Location: New Market Fire Hall, 9771 S Congress St. New Market, VA


From I-81:  Exit 257 – Take Rt. 11 North for 6miles, Fire Hall is on your left. 

- Exit 264 – Go east to Rt. 11, then travel South on Rt. 11 for 1 mile

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Matt Booher: Augusta Extension 540-245-5750) during business hours of 8 a.m. and  5 p.m. to discuss accommodations 5 days prior to the event.

*TDD number is (800) 828-1120.

Monday, September 9, 2013

2013 Northern Virginia Small Ruminant Seminar, Oct 11-12

Soybean Rust Update

Sept 5, 2013

From David Holshouser, Extension Agronomist

and Hillary Mehl, Extension Plant Pathologist

Virginia Tech – Tidewater AREC


   Asian soybean rust was confirmed earlier today in Scotland County, NC.  Scotland County is on the NC/SC border (see map below).  There were sporulating pustules on 5 of 50 leaves examined.  No soybean rust was found on leaf samples taken from Lenoir County, which is closer to Virginia.  This puts soybean rust approximately 140 miles from South Hill, 160 miles from Emporia, and 190 miles from Suffolk. 


  In general, we will only recommend a fungicide spray if soybean rust has been confirmed within 100 miles of our soybean fields.  Therefore, there is no need to apply fungicide for control of soybean rust in Virginia at this time.  Applying fungicide too early will only reduce its effectiveness once the disease arrives.  Furthermore, soybean yield will not be affected if rust infects the crop after the R6 development stage (seed touching each other in the pod); therefore, fungicides are not recommended after the R6 stage, even if soybean rust is found close by.


   Although soybean rust is not close enough to Virginia to initiate fungicide sprays at this time, the disease has moved faster than previous years.  Most of our full-season (May-planted soybean) have reached the R6 stage (full-seed); therefore, these soybean are “safe” from any yield loss that may result from soybean rust infestation.  However, much of our double-cropped soybean are still susceptible; they are anywhere from the R3 (early pod) to R5 (late pod) development stages.  We will continue to monitor soybean rust movement across NC, continue to check soybean fields in Virginia, and let everyone know immediately if soybean rust is found in or close to Virginia.


  For more details on Asian soybean rust and its movement, see the following website:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Turnout Time's Impact on Grass Consumption and Fecal pH

Many a horse or pony owner have restricted their overweight equid's turnout time in an effort to help him shed pounds. And while researchers know weight loss helps improve horses' overall health, until now they haven't known exactly what impact restricted grazing has on the equine gastrointestinal health or calorie intake. A group of North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers recently set out to determine if restricted pasture access affected horses' intake rate, energy intake, and hindgut fermentation.
The research team, led by Paul D. Siciliano, PhD, associate professor in the NCSU Department of Animal Science, separated eight mature idle geldings into four groups and allowed each group pasture access for either 3, 6, 9, or 24 hours for seven days. After seven days, the team reassigned the groups to a different turnout treatment on an ungrazed pasture. By the end of the four-period study, each horse had been subjected to each pasture treatment. When not on pasture, the horses stayed in drylot pens with access to water and salt; horses in the three- and six-hour treatment groups had free-choice access to a low-quality grass hay. Throughout the study, the team recorded the amount of hay consumed and collected fecal samples from each horse on each Day 7.
The team also measured or estimated pasture plant composition, herbage mass (used to quantify pasture available to an animal), grazing height, and forage preference for each period. Pasture composition consisted of 54.7% crabgrass, 28.3% tall fescue, 8.2% fox tail, 1.14% dallisgrass, 0.86% weeds, and 6.6% bare ground. They noted no difference in digestible energy concentrations (DE) or initial herbage mass for each pasture. However, less pasture was available during periods 2 and 3 compared to 1 and 4.
Key study findings included:
  • Horses' total daily dry matter (DM) intake (pasture plus hay, if hay was provided) was not affected by length of turnout time. In other words, horses consumed the same amount regardless of the amount of time they were allowed to graze.
  • The team found the highest total daily DM intake—which equaled 1.4% of body weight (BW)—in horses on pasture for 24 hours, which is less than the 2-3% BW previous research suggested. Siciliano and colleagues suggested the lower DM intake in their study could be due to high temperatures seen during portions of the research: High temperatures have been shown to decrease forage intake in horses up to 15-20%.
  • Pasture DM intake, total DM intake, and pasture DM intake rate were higher in periods 1 and 4 compared to 2 and 3, which correlates to the amount of pasture available during those periods.
  • Pasture DM intake rate increased with restricted grazing. Horses grazing for only 3 hours had a higher intake rate compared to horses grazing for 9 and 24 hours, and horses grazing for 6 hours had a higher consumption rate than horses on pasture for 24 hours.
The researchers also learned that horses' fecal pH—which is both influenced by diet and used as an indicator of hindgut pH—decreased as time on pasture decreased; an acidic environment in the hindgut (termed hindgut acidosis) can lead to colic and other health concerns. This showed the team that length of time on pasture affected hindgut microbial fermentation. The authors believed the increase in rate of pasture intake could have played a role in the lower fecal pH, especially when the horses consumed high-quality pasture. However, they stressed, all fecal pH values were within the range considered to be normal.
Average DE intake was greatest when horses were on pasture for 24 hours, but total DE intake did not differ between treatments. During periods 1 and 4, average and total DE intake was greater than periods 2 and 3. The horses consumed 40%, 66%, 67%, and 94% of their total DE requirements with 3, 6, 9, and 24 hours of pasture access, respectively, which indicates that horses increase their rate of consumption with decreased time on pasture.
The team concluded that their findings support the belief that reduced time on pasture increases consumption rate and decreases fecal pH in horses.
“Simply reducing the time a horse spends at pasture may not always be an effective means of decreasing caloric intake,” said Siciliano.
The team noted that more work is needed to develop methods to accurately predict pasture intake of horses grazing for periods less than 24 hours, which could be of great value in preventing or managing obesity in the future.
The study, "Effect of Restricted Pasture Access on Pasture Dry Matter Intake Rate, Dietary Energy Intake, and Fecal pH in Horses," appeared in June in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science

Fair Season begins next week!

Fair season around the area is rapidly approaching.  I am not sure many people fully understand just how important of a role that the fair plays in our communities. In many local communities it is the only time of the year that everyone in the county comes out to see the sights, visit with friends and to work as a team for the community.  People that may not even speak to each other during the year work side by side to collect gate receipts, work the food booth, or serve as office staff.  Yes, even more so than for the Friday night football games or Saturday Soccer extravaganzas the community comes together at the fair.  Quite often, people living in surrounding counties or towns can’t tell you where the county seat or the local high school is but they can tell you where the fairground’s is located.

For many children, it is the highlight of the summer – for some a stage or a place to share a year’s worth of work. Many times it is the family’s vacation and it is a lot less expensive than a trip to the beach or Busch Gardens. Of course, there were the ribbons and trophies, but looking back, the water fights at the water rack and the conversations with friends and learning to be a humble winner and a gracious participant were just as important.

Then there are the fantastic stories that everyone continues to share:

• The time the exhibitors parents banded together to purchase a project animal for $35 per lb. to support a family who had recently experienced a tragedy.

• Memories of that night after the big concert where you saw your son or daughter holding “the one” close and stealing a kiss just before their parent arrived to take them home.

• The first time various people sat in the local dunking booth for charity and suddenly realized their friends were buying tickets for the local star pitcher continuously keep them under water.

• The quiet kid who stole the local “talent” show while proving to the community they could really sing.

• The hard working youth winning that champion steer or lamb banner that, even though it’s now faded and frayed, brings back a sense of pride and still hangs as a reminded of accomplishment in her room.

• The taste of chicken barbeque, corndogs, fried Oreo’s or pie from the ladies of the church booth.

Fair week can be a test of stamina for kids and patience for the families and volunteers operating on about five hours of sleep during fair week only to be bright and smiling for the judge at the next event or the crowd at the next event. 

Take time to visit the fair, take in the sights, create memories, support and strengthen your community.    

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 18, 2013 Field Tour/Twilight Meeting at the Virginia Tech Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research

Don’t forget; the Virginia Tech Alson H. Smith, Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center Field Tour and Twilight Meeting will be held next Thursday, July 18, 2013. The tour will begin at 2:30 p.m. (meet at the main building); the catered supper and seasonal updates will begin at 5:30 p.m. (equipment shed).


If you plan to attend, please email Mark Sutphin at or call 540.665.5699 before noon on Monday, July 15th , so we will have enough food for everyone’s supper.

DCP Program notes

Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (DCP) Sign-up Closes August 2nd

Producers are encouraged to sign up for the Direct and Counter-cyclical program (DCP) before the Aug. 2, 2013, deadline. 
The 2013 DCP and ACRE program provisions are unchanged from 2012, except that all eligible participants in 2013 had the option to enroll in either DCP or ACRE for the 2013 crop year.  This means that eligible producers who were enrolled in ACRE in 2012 had the opportunity to re-enroll in ACRE for 2013 before the June 3, 2013 deadline or they can still enroll in DCP through August 2, 2013.  
Eligible DCP participants receive a direct payment and/or a counter-cyclical payment. Direct payment rates are established by statute regardless of market prices. Counter-cyclical payments vary depending on market prices, and are issued only when the effective price for a commodity is below its target price (which takes into account the direct payment rate, market price and loan rate).
Producers who wish to enroll in DCP are encouraged to schedule an appointment with their local FSA Office as soon as possible.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ag Marketing News Update

With the direct marketing season in full swing, it’s a good time to step back and examine some of the tools and marketing technics that can have a substantial impact on your success as a direct marketer. Whether the outlet is a farmers’ market, your on-farm stand, or working with your CSA or wholesale accounts, check if how you’re implementing your marketing strategies falls into any of these categories:

The Good:

  1. Always offering high quality products through all your marketing outlets. The “Buy Local” theme is spilling out beyond edibles and into the market for services and experiential activities such as agritourism. Providing your customers a consistently high quality product, service, or experience will help garner more repeat business for you.
  2. Many farmers’ markets are better organized than ever before. Market management is doing a better job of market design, servicing a mixed customer base, attracting a wider variety of vendors, and keeping up with technology such accepting EBT payments.
  3. New technology such as Square Register for taking credit card payments and new marketing tools such as QR codes are making sales transactions easier than ever. Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest provide new ways to communicate with customers in a timely and interesting fashion.

The Bad:

  1. Inconsistent quality or questionable sourcing. The most sustainable markets are those who offer consistently high quality products and are transparent about their sources. Sometimes crops fail or delayed due to weather. Either take this opportunity to educate your customers about the risks in farming or if you source from someone else, let customers know that these products are from another grower. Customers trust a farmer’s integrity. Breach that trust and customers will become suspicious of all farmers.
  2. Lack of signage and pricing at point of sales. Customers don’t want to ask for pricing. Signage on your product can be like a label. Labels are the first thing customers see on a product so take advantage both the great eye appeal of your products along with signage.
  3. Making negative comments about other vendors or their products is a poor sales technique.

The Ugly:

  1. Inattentive vendors. Don’t let your customers find you reading the paper or constantly chatting with the vendor next to you or employees at your farm. It’s sending the message that they’re purchasing experience isn’t important to you.
  2. Hanging on your cell phone, constantly checking emails, or texting.

Your primary goal as a direct marketer is to give customers an exceptional buying experience. That includes the quality of the product, information about the product, how it was produced or sourced, and the level of customer service you offer. Make it all good.
Digesting Hay in Different Forms - Equine

Many horse owners have their hay-buying ritual down to a science. But from time to time, owners might find themselves rethinking their ritual, possibly due to drought, floods, or other factors that limit the forage supply in their area.
Fortunately, bales aren't the only hay option. Owners might need to "think outside the bale" and pursue a different form of forage for their charges. Here’s some information about different hay forms owners can consider:
Square Bales
The most common hay form is the small square bale, which can weigh approximately 45 to 100 pounds each, depending on how they're baled. Square bales are fairly easy to transport, feed, and store, and they allow owners to manage each horse's daily intake.
Round Bales
Large round bales are another option, although their weight—typically ranging from 500-800 pounds—generally makes them more difficult to handle. Round bales also foster an increased risk of botulism, and mold can form if bales aren't produced properly. Moisture at the time of baling is key for larger bales types and should not exceed 20%; higher moisture levels increase the likelihood of mold development. One study by University of Minnesota researchers found that hay waste from round bales can exceed 50% when fed without the use of a feeder; the team showed that with a feeder wastage can be reduced to as little as 5%.
Large Square Bales
Large square bales can weigh up to 2,200 pounds and require farm machinery to transport. These bales also require substantial storage room. Similar to round bales, large square bales have an increased risk of molding if not cured properly. However, owners can feed them in flakes for easier daily intake management.
Double Compressed Bales
Square bales can be further compressed for ease of storage and transportation. Double compression usually shrinks a normal, large square bale to the size of a desktop, with a hefty weight of around 25 pounds per cubic foot. Because of the tight compression, there is less likelihood of mold or bug infestation when properly cured and stored. However, once the bale is cut open, it will enlarge to its original size. Like any square bale, the double compressed bales are processed in flake form for easy feeding.
Cubes and Pellets
Hay cubes are formed by compressing hay into small squares or wafers. Hay pellets are produced by compacting and forcing the forage through an opening before cutting the resultant pellet to the desired length and width. Hay cubes and pellets can be advantageous for several reasons, including less waste produced, less storage space needed, increased ease of transportation, and minimal dust produced. However, researchers have found that horses tend to eat hay cubes and pellets at a quicker rate than baled hay, which could increase their risk for choking or developing undesirable behaviors such as wood chewing. Hay cubes and pellets also tend to be more expensive on a per pound basis when compared to baled hay.
Chopped Hay
Hay can be chopped to a length of about one inch for easier feeding and digestibility. Study results have shown there is no difference in daily intake between long-stemmed hay and chopped hay forms. Chopped hay can benefit older horses or horses with poor teeth because it is easier to chew. However, chopped hay can become dusty, so consider soaking it before feeding to help reduce dust concentrations that can exacerbate respiratory issues.
This conserved forage is produced by anaerobic (not requiring oxygen) fermentation of the nonstructural carbohydrate fractions, making it more acidic and preventing the growth of microorganisms. Historically, horse owners have not typically fed silage to horses, as it could contain Clostridium botulinum, botulism's causative agent. However, when properly produced, stored, and preserved, research results have shown that silage tends to contain low levels of allergens such as pollen or spores.
Take-Home Message
Choosing the right form of hay for your horses requires considering the type of horses you are managing and matching the form to their needs. In addition, consider cost per pound in the decision-making process.

courtesy - Horse Magazine

Friday, June 21, 2013

Virginia Forage and Grassland Council
Native Warm Season Grass Tour
Farm and Tour Description:

The 2013 Shenandoah Valley Summer Forage Tour will visit two local farms in Augusta
County and highlight how they successfully established and managed native warm season grasses

to benefit their overall farming operations.

Buck Hill Farm is located in Augusta County in the Mt. Solon community. Buck Hill Farm is
a family owned beef cattle operation operated by Mr. David Horn. In addition to farming, Mr.

Horn’s passion for hunting and quail led him to plant 6 acres of Big Bluestem in 1998. The success

of this stand and its value to the farm and recreation led him to plant 10 more acres this


This tour will also visit Mr. Charlie Drumheller’s Bellevue Farm in Swoope, VA. Bellevue

Farm has been in the Drumheller family since 1942. Mr. Drumheller is currently developing a

Red Angus herd with his son Bobby while custom grazing a larger herd for 2 other farmers. The

Drumhellers planted switchgrass in 2008 on approximately 11 acres for the primary purpose of
hay and grazing with a secondary purpose for wildlife. Based on the success and benefits to the

Drumhellers farm system, they planted another 18 acres in 2010.
Tour will feature the following topics:

 Multiple purposes for plan􀆟ng warm season grasses

 Planning for successful establishment of NWSG’s

 Controlling weeds and competition during establishment

 Managing NWSG’s in a grazing system

 Managing NWSG’s for biodiversity and wildlife

 Does NWSG hay have a place in the farm operation?

 Potential use of NWSG’s in the biofuels industry.

 Managing phosphorus in a grazing beef cattle system

9:00 AM -3:00 PM, registration at 9:00 AM, tour starts at 9:30 AM

VFGC Contact 
For more information about this tour contact Matt Booher at 5402455750 or Registration fee required

Thursday, June 20, 2013

2013 Northern Virginia/West Virginia  Regional Wool Pool


Local producers interested in marketing their wool through local wool pools will have the opportunity to do so through Mid-States Wool Growers Cooperative Association based in Canal Winchester, Ohio.  Producers are encouraged to package, handle and store their wool in an appropriate manner in order to maximize the value of their wool clip.  Wool should be packaged by type and grade (ewe vs. lamb wool, long staple vs. short wools, fine vs. medium wools) in plastic bags, and be clean, dry, and have foreign material (straw, mud, manure) removed prior to packaging.  Following is the local pool delivery date, and location where wool will be picked up:


July 3                      Clarke County Fairgrounds, Berryville  from 8am-11:30 am


For more information regarding specifics contact Corey Childs

at 540-635-4549 or


Wool to be sorted and graded in Ohio, and priced according to grade.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The 2012 Shenandoah Valley AREC Field Day will be held on Wednesday, August 7th beginning at 1:00 p.m.  This will be an afternoon program/tour and will conclude with dinner on the grounds that evening.  This will be an excellent opportunity for producers with an interest in livestock, grazing/forages, and forestry to view the research being conducted at the Shenandoah Valley AREC and interact with researchers and industry folks.

Contact your local Extension office for registration information or call 540-635-4549.

Mid Atlantic Small Ruminant Extravaganza


The Olde Dominion Agriculture Complex

Chatham, Virginia.

Performance Management Group will present a two day educational event on meat goats with the preeminent meat goat breeder, producer, and educator, Dr. An Peischel, Small Ruminant Extension Specialist from Tennessee State University. Dr. An will conduct her Master Meat Goat Producer Certification program on Thursday and Friday,      Sept 19, 20, 2013

The tax deductible fee for the program is $45.00, if registration is received before July 1, 2013. After July 1, 2013, the fee is $50.00 per person.  In conjunction with the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test, there will be an Elite Buck and Doe Sale on Saturday, Sept 21, 2013. For more information contact John at 804-731-8512 0r email; or Don at 434-946-7344 or e-mail;                                          
See for program and sale registration forms and sale rules.