Friday, September 18, 2015

The number of farms involved in nontraditional activities increased over 2007-12

Nontraditional farm activities involve innovative uses of farm resources, such as growing/selling value-added products (such as fruit jams, preserves, cider, wine, floral arrangements, and beef jerky), selling directly to consumers, providing agritourism/recreational services, and using renewable energy producing systems (such as solar panels, wind turbines, and biodiesel). The number of farms engaged in these activities increased from 2007 to 2012, with the largest growth in farms with renewable energy producing systems. In 2012, about 57,000 U.S. farms produced renewable energy, more than double the number in 2007. By 2012, 63 percent of renewable energy producing farms had installed solar panels, which drives this increase. The number of farms that had income from agritourism/recreation increased over the 5-year period by 42 percent, with the largest increase in smaller agritourism farms with annual receipts under $5,000. In 2012, the top States in the share of farms producing and selling value-added products were Vermont (14 percent), New Hampshire (13 percent), and Maine and Rhode Island (with 11 percent each). This chart updates one from the ERS report, Farm Activities Associated With Rural Development Initiatives, ERR-134, May 2012.

Fall Feeding Wildlife

I wanted to remind folks about prohibitions against the feeding wildlife, specifically deer and elk, that recently have come into effect as of September 1 --- from September 1 through January 3 of each year, it is prohibited by established regulations of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to provide any food resources not considered to be naturally occurring to deer or elk; this includes salt and mineral blocks as well (see below).  Similarly, there is a year-round prohibition in effect for the feeding of bears.  These regulations do not mean that food plots, installed following sound agricultural best management practices (BMPs) and maintained in their natural state, need to be removed; as long as nothing is done to supplement (i.e., sprinkle with cracked corn, etc., which constitutes “baiting”) or change the natural growth form or accessibility of the resources in that plot (such as bush hogging seed-bearing crops on to the ground prior to a hunt), continued maintenance of food plots is allowed --- but, the plot must remain in a natural condition.  However, hunters should make note … if supplemental feeding had been occurring in an area prior to the closure date, all such artificially provided food materials must be removed by September 1 and no hunting can take place in the affected area for 10 days after feeding had ceased or after such removal had taken place … in legal terms, it remains a “baited site” for 10 days.


At this time of year, we receive a lot of calls from individuals who are not hunters, are not aware of or do not understand the rationale for the regulations, and wish to continue supplemental feeding; the information provided below, taken directly from the agency’s web site, should help you address some of those questions.  A common issue that arises each year pertains to bird feeding stations that people maintain in their backyards — guidance on how to interpret the regulation in this kind of circumstance states that, if a deer can access a feeder during the period of prohibition and obtain food resources as a result of that action, the individual who is maintaining the feeders could be cited as “feeding” deer.  In such cases, owners rarely are cited (although it would be legal to do so), and instead are asked simply to raise the feeders above the level at which deer can gain access; refusal to do so likely will result in a citation, though.


Biologically, there is no justifiable science-based reason that supports supplemental feeding of deer … they can do and currently are doing quite well on their own statewide utilizing naturally occurring food resources.  Continuous supplemental feeding leads to habituation, the potential spread of disease, and often increases the number of human-wildlife conflicts that arise in the area adjacent to feeding sites, as noted below.  If you have the opportunity to do so, please help spread the word and hopefully lead to reducing some of the conflicts with wildlife we currently are witnessing across the Commonwealth.


James A. Parkhurst, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Wildlife Science and

   Extension Wildlife Specialist

Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation (0321)

100 Cheatham Hall, Virginia Tech

310 West Campus Drive

Blacksburg, VA  24061


(540) 231-9283 / (540) 231-7580 (fax)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sheep News

We have several upcoming sheep events in Virginia.


1)      The 40th Annual Virginia Performance Tested Ram Sale, Ewe Lamb Sale, and Sheep Field Day will be held Sat, Aug 29 at the Shenandoah Valley AREC near Raphine, VA. The educational program starts at 10:30 am, with the ram and ewe lamb sale starting at 1 pm. Attached is flier and the sale catalog. This information also on our VT Sheep Extension site


2)      The Virginia Tech Sheep Center will be hosting our 16th annual Production Sale on Saturday, Sept 5 at our Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena here on campus. We will be offering approximately 50 head of Suffolk and Dorset ram lambs and ewe lambs. Attached is catalog with details. Additional information can be found on our web page


3)      On Sat, Sept 26 we will be hosting a Sheep Field Day and Katahdin Ram Sale at the Southwest AREC at Glade Spring, VA. This is our third year for this  forage-based hair sheep ram performance test which includes evaluation of parasite resistance. The educational program will center around this activity, and the top end of the rams will be sold. The Field Day will be in the morning with sale to follow. Attached is flier, and more details and information will also be forthcoming on our VT Sheep Extension site.


4)      Lastly, we are planning to host a Lambing School here on campus on Nov 6-7 (Friday-Saturday). We have a set of fall-lambing ewes which will be lambing at that time and will provide hands-on opportunity for the course. For this reason, we will be limited in number of attendees we can accommodate. Registration flier is attached.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


           The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a Virginia horse this year. The horse, a 12-year-old miniature mare, was from Chesapeake and had not been vaccinated for EEE.


EEE causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. The disease is also called "sleeping sickness.” Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to 10 days for signs of the disease to appear.


Last year Virginia had one reported case of EEE, in a horse from Suffolk. The disease has a mortality rate of 80 to 90 percent, so prevention is a key part of equine health. Vaccination and mosquito control/avoidance are the central elements of prevention.


In a May 2015 press release, Dr. Richard Wilkes, VDACS’ State Veterinarian, encouraged horse owners to work with their veterinarians to plan a vaccination schedule that would protect their horses from EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV). Available vaccines are generally effective in drastically reducing the incidence of both EEE and WNV in horses. For the vaccine to be effective it must be handled and administered properly and be given at least two weeks before the horse is exposed to the virus. Additionally, to stimulate full immunity, horses must be vaccinated twice, about 30 days apart, the first year of vaccination. The vaccines are effective for six to 12 months, so horses should be revaccinated at least annually. In an area where the disease occurs frequently, such as southeast and Tidewater Virginia, most veterinarians recommend vaccination every six months. 


In addition to vaccination, it is a good idea to avoid mosquito infested areas and to take measures to reduce the local mosquito population to minimize the chances of mosquitos biting your horse.


For more information, please contact VDACS’ Office of the State Veterinarian at 804.692.0601 or consult your local veterinarian.



Elaine Lidholm

Director of Communications

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

102 Governor Street

Richmond VA 23219


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fixed knot fencing demonstration

Culpeper Coop and the Clarke County Ruritan club allowed VCE to partner on a Stay Tough "fixed knot" fence building demonstration at 8:30 am on July 8th at the Clarke County Fairgrounds. Come by and learn more about fence building techniques and slip knot fencing.

Tree Fruit Program

We have a fantastic day tour of several Winchester area fruit operations scheduled for Thursday, July 16, 2015.  The tour will include orchards, vineyards, high tunnel fruit and vegetable production, a retail market, a packing operation, a cidery, a catered lunch, and an evening meal at Marker-Miller Farm Market.  We plan to arrange a coach for participants (coach to begin and end at National Fruit:  550 Fairmont Ave., Winchester, VA 22601).  There will also be other transportation and carpooling options planned as the need dictates.  If you are interested in this day tour, please contact the Frederick county office and send in the registration fee of $30.00/each by July 8, 2015.

Feel free to contact me for additional information or any clarifications.

We continue to thank our Tree Fruit Program Sponsors for making this educational tour possible.

Mark Sutphin
Associate Extension Agent | Agriculture and Natural Resources, Horticulture | Unit Coordinator (Frederick)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Northern Virginia Area 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 14                      Clermont Farm, Berryville  from 8am-11:30 am  ***Collection point Change****


Address:  801 East Main Street,  Berryville, VA 22611.  From Route 7 Take the East Business 7 exit (Across from Audley Farm) toward Berryville.  First drive on left.  Follow road right then to barn.


For more information regarding specifics contact Corey Childs at 540-635-4549 or


There are a limited number of wool bags available in the Warren County office.  Call ahead for availability 540-635-4549.


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


Proper Wool Handling

Proper harvesting, packaging, and storage of the wool is important to realize the full value of the wool clip. Since wool sales represent a very small portion of the gross returns for most sheep enterprise, wholesale changes to the genetics of the flock to improve fiber diameter and fleece weight are likely not justified for most Mid-Atlantic producers. However, there are several important steps that should be considered to maximize the value of the wool clip:

A.           Minimize Contamination:

1.            Keep shearing area clean and free of straw/hay and other potential sources of contamination.

2.            Avoid use of plastic baler twine in sheep operation that may contaminate fleeces (this contamination occurs throughout the year, not just at shearing time).

B.           Use Proper Packaging Material:

1.            Do not use plastic feed sacks to store or package wool.

2.            Plastic film bags are available and preferred. Points to consider with plastic film bags:

a.            Sheep need to be dry when sheared. Plastic bags will not breathe as well as jute bags (more possibility for wool to mold and rot).

b.            Plastic film bags will tear easier when handled.

c.            Tie plastic film bags shut in similar manner to jute bags.

3.            Store wool in dry place, avoid cement or dirt floors to prevent moisture uptake.

C.           Sort Wool at Shearing Time

1.            Shear white-face sheep first, blackface sheep last to avoid contamination of white-faced wool with black fibers.

2.            Package lamb and ewe wool separate.

3.            Remove tags at shearing and discard.

4.            Sort belly wool and bag separately. Also sort wool caps and leg wool out if justified.

5.            Off-type fleeces (black, high vegetable matter, etc.) as well as belly wool should be shorn last.  They can be packed alone or along with clean wool.  If you choose to pack together the off type wool should be packaged first in a small plastic garbage bag or paper sack. The small bag may then be added to the large polyethylene film bag. The small bag serves to keep these wools separate and prevents them from contaminating other fleeces already packaged, and results in a more uniform lot of wool.

6.            Do not tie wool with paper twine.



Mid-States plans to have wool bags for sale at the pools.


Please let me know if you have questions.


C. Corey Childs

Unit Coordinator - Agriculture Extension Agent

Warren County Extension Unit

220 N. Commerce Avenue

Front Royal, Virginia  22630

Cell: 540-692-4075

Office: 540-635-4549

Fax: 540-635-2827






Monday, April 20, 2015

Commercial Tree Fruit Meetings

Dear Commercial Tree Fruit Growers:


Below are the dates for the upcoming commercial tree fruit meetings.  Drs. Keith Yoder, Chris Bergh, and Greg Peck will be providing updated information and will be available for discussions and concerns regarding the upcoming season.  Please find more information and seasonal updates at the Virginia Cooperative Extension – Tree Fruit Website:   To receive email notifications of updates and blog posts, simply go to the website and enter your email address on the right hand side at the “Subscribe” tool. 



Our third Spring meeting is this week:  Thursday, April 23.  In-Depth Meeting 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Pathology, Entomology, and Horticulture Updates

                Program: Dr. Greg Peck (Horticulturist - Virginia Tech AHS Jr. AREC) & Tom Kon (Penn State PhD student)



Thursday, May 7.  Breakfast Meeting 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Pathology, Entomology, and Horticulture Updates and Breakfast Provided



Thursday, May 21.  In-Depth Meeting 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Pathology, Entomology, and Horticulture Updates

Program: Dr. Chris Bergh (Entomologist - Virginia Tech AHS Jr. AREC) & Brent Short (Lab Technician - USDA ARS, Kearneysville, WV)



All meetings will be held at the Alson H. Smith Jr. AREC (Winchester Fruit Lab) at 595 Laurel Grove Road, Winchester, Virginia.  Directions from I-81: take Stephens City exit (Exit 307).  Go west into Stephens City on Fairfax Street and proceed straight through the traffic light onto Rt. 631 (Fairfax Street becomes Marlboro Rd.) and continue west approximately 3.5 miles.  Turn right (north) onto Middle Road (Rt. 628) at the “T”.  Go 1.5 miles north on Middle Road and turn left (west) onto Laurel Grove Road (Rt.629).  Go 0.8 miles to the AREC on the left.



If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mark Sutphin, Frederick County Extension, at (540) 665-5699/TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Private Pesticide Applicator and Core Manual Preparation Training

Private Pesticide Applicator and Core Manual Preparation Training
March 20, 2015
Warren County Extension Office
9 A.M. – 3 P.M.
220 North Commerce Avenue, Front Royal, VA 22530
This training is based on the pesticide application principles taught in the Virginia Pesticide Core Manual. Individuals who attend this training will be given the opportunity to take the Virginia Private Pesticide Applicators test at the end of the session. Individuals interested in obtaining a Commercial Applicators permit or those wanting a Registered Technician permit need to make application through the Virginia Department of Pesticide Services.

Name: ______________________________________________________________

Mailing Address: ______________________________________________________


Phone: ______________________________________________________________

Email: _______________________________________________________________
Registration Fee: $40 per person – includes lunch and Core Manual

Payment Enclosed: $40 x _____ (# participants) = $__________

Make check payable to: VCE – Warren County (no credit cards accepted)

Mail registration and check to: Warren County Extension Office

220 North Commerce Avenue, Suite 500

Front Royal, VA 22630

Register by March 6th to ensure availability of CORE manual - Call 540-635-4549 for more information

Possible Tax Credits Available for Purchases of Precision Spray Equipment

I received a recent inquiry that I thought I would share so that all may know of the possible tax credit opportunity. Through Virginia Agricultural BMP Cost Share and Tax Credit Programs, tree fruit and grape growers who purchase precision spray equipment might be eligible for a tax credit. The specific question I received was regarding a Durand Wayland Smart Spray system, but other equipment manufacturers have systems that may be eligible for tax credits as well.  Please reach out to Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) or your local Soil and Water Conservation office for specifics on the tax credit program and to file for approval of a tax credit claim.
The exact wording regarding precision agricultural equipment from the Program Year 2015 Virginia Agricultural Cost-Share (VACS) BMP Manual can be found below as well as the link to the entire document.
Tax Credit for Purchase of Precision Agricultural Equipment (page IV – 13)

§ 58.1-337. Tax credit for purchase of advanced technology pesticide and fertilizer application equipment.

A. Any individual engaged in agricultural production for market who has in place a nutrient management plan approved by the local Soil and Water Conservation District by the required tax return filing date of the individual shall be allowed a credit against the tax imposed by § 58.1-320 of an amount equaling twenty-five percent of all expenditures made by such individual for the purchase of equipment certified by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board as providing more precise pesticide and fertilizer application. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Virginia State University shall provide at the request of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board technical assistance in determining appropriate specifications for certified equipment, which would provide for more precise pesticide and fertilizer application to reduce the potential for adverse environmental impacts. The equipment shall be divided into the following categories:

1. Sprayers for pesticides and liquid fertilizers;

2. Pneumatic fertilizer applicators;

3. Monitors, computer regulators, and height adjustable booms for sprayers and liquid fertilizer applicators;

4. Manure applicators;

5. Tramline adapters; and

6. Starter fertilizer banding attachments for planters.

B. The amount of such credit shall not exceed $3,750 or the total amount of the tax imposed by this chapter, whichever is less, in the year of purchase. If the amount of such credit exceeds the taxpayer's tax liability for such taxable year, the amount which exceeds the tax liability may be carried over for credit against the income taxes of such individual in the next five taxable years until the total amount of the tax credit has been taken.

C. For purposes of this section, the amount of any credit attributable to the purchase of equipment certified by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board as providing more precise pesticide and fertilizer application by a partnership or electing small business corporation (S corporation) shall be allocated to the individual partners or shareholders in proportion to their ownership or interest in the partnership or S corporation. 

 Additional information regarding the Virginia Agricultural BMP Cost Share and Tax Credit Programs can be found at the following link:  

 Mark Sutphin

Associate Extension Agent | Agriculture and Natural Resources, Horticulture | Unit Coordinator (Frederick)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Northern Shenandoah Valley Grazing Tour Planned for Late February

Virginia Cooperative Extension is hosting a bus tour to see cow/calf operations in the Piedmont that graze their livestock more than 300 days per year.  The tour will take place on Thursday, February 26 (with a snow date of February 27).  Anyone wishing to attend should register in advance by February 20.  There is a $20 registration fee which is due in advance.  Checks should be written to “VCE-Shenandoah County” and mailed to VCE-Shenandoah County, 600 North Main Street, Suite 100, Woodstock, VA  22664.  For questions, call Extension Agents Bobby Clark (540-459-6140) or Corey Childs (540-635-4549). 

The tour schedule is as follows:  Thursday, February 26, 7:00 a.m., Bus departs Page Cooperative Farm Bureau in Luray, VA, for Woodstock; 8:00 a.m., Bus departs the Shenandoah County Extension Office in Woodstock, VA, for Front Royal; and 8:45 a.m., Bus departs from the Target Parking Lot in Front Royal, VA, for Piedmont.  Our first stop is the Jay Marshall Farm near Marshall, VA.  Mr. Marshall runs a 100 head cow/calf operation on about 200 acres.  He has a single herd of cattle with both spring and fall calving cows.  Mr. Marshall does not always achieve 300 grazing days per year but he has occasionally.  He does not supplement any grain to his cattle.  The second tour stop will be Carl Stafford’s Farm near Brightwood, VA.  Mr. Stafford runs 30 cow/calf pair on 100 acres.  For the past decade, Mr. Stafford has fed less than 30 round bales of hay to his herd.  Many winters he has fed no hay and no grain.  During the tour we will discuss how these farmers extend their grazing season, look at the cattle herds, discuss reproductive efficiency, weaning weights, replacement heifers, grazing systems, fertility programs, cost of hay, and related topics.  We will also discuss a few other operations that have successful cow/calf herds and graze more than 300 days per year.  Lunch and refreshments will be provided on the tour.       

There are 48,000 head of beef cows located on 1,574 farms in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.  On average, cattlemen graze these cattle about 230 days per year and feed hay (or haylage or corn silage the remaining 135 days). Technologies exist that extend the grazing season to 300 days or more.  Extending the grazing season would reduce the farmer’s cost of producing, harvesting, and feeding hay.  In addition, grazeable forage is typically better quality than hay.  Thus, grazing cattle typically need fewer supplements than cattle eating hay.  Other benefits include more uniform distribution of farm nutrients, reduced damaged areas (due to hay feeding), and improved water quality. 

Extending the grazing season will not fit every farm in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.  For example, a longstanding farmer that has 100 cows on 175 acres and has 250 acres of row crops, custom bales hay, and plows snow for VDOT might need to reduce their herd size (and gross revenue from cattle sales) by 25 to 35 percent to achieve 300+ days of grazing with little reduction in fixed cost.  However, a beginning farmer with access to 100 acres of grazing land may have a different economic outlook.  The current high prices of cattle also likely make owning a few more cows more profitable even if a farmer needs to purchase a significant amount of hay.  However, these high prices will not last forever.         

We estimate that at least 20 percent of the cow/calf farms in the Northern Shenandoah Valley could increase their profitability by about $25 per head by extending their grazing season to 300 days.  This would improve net farm income on these farms about $240,000 per year. 

            A special thank you to the following agribusinesses for helping to sponsor this meeting:  AMVAC, BASF, Bayer Cropscience, Binkley & Hurst, CFC Farm & Home, Dow AgroSciences LLC, Farm Family Insurance, First Bank & Trust Company, Helena Chemical Co., Hubner Seed, James River Equipment, Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District, Mathias Brothers, MidAtlantic Farm Credit,  Monsanto Company, Page Cooperative Farm Bureau, Pioneer Seed Company; Rockingham Cooperative Farm Bureau, Southern States – Front Royal, Southern States – Luray, Southern States – Winchester, Sygenta, The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, Valley Fertilizer & Chemical Company, Virginia Farm Bureau, Wightman Insurance Agency, and Winchester Equipment Co.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, 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 Robert A. Clark, Senior Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources, at the Shenandoah County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension at 540-459-6140/TDD* during business hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.  *TDD number is 800-828-1120.


Virginia recycling program kept more than 128,000 pounds of plastic pesticide containers from landfills in 2014.

Virginia recycling program kept more than 128,000 pounds of plastic pesticide containers from landfills in 2014.

Read more:

First Meeting of the Young Grower Alliance of Virginia

Alson H Smith Jr Agricultural Research & Extension Center
595 Laurel Grove Rd, Winchester, Virginia 22602
Please join us for introductions, and an agriculture themed movie with discussion afterwards.

PIN Tags for Breeding Stock

As of Jan. 1, 2015, individual identification of breeding stock headed to harvest will transition from backtags to the use of official, USDA-approved eartags.

The eartags, called official premises identification number (PIN) tags, must be applied on the farm to individual breeding swine being marketed into harvest channels to link the animal to the sending premises. PIN tags are not required for feeder pigs, growers or market hogs.

*840 and EID tags do not meet this requirement.

In support of the Swine ID Plan, most major U.S. packers and processors will require PIN tags as a condition of sale for breeding stock beginning Jan. 1. To date, packers that will require the tags include: Johnsonville, Hillshire Brands, Calihan Pork Processors, Bob Evans Farms, Wampler’s Farm Sausage, Pine Ridge Farms, Pioneer Packing Co., Pork King Packing and Abbyland Pork Pack.

What is a PIN?
A premises identification number (PIN) will locate a specific animal production site. The standardized PIN is a USDA-allocated, seven-character alphanumeric code, with the right-most character being a check digit. For example: AB23456. Note that PINs are not the same as location identification numbers (LIDs) administered through a state's or tribe's internal system.

For more information go to: or call (800) 456-7675.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Winchester Regional Commercial Tree Fruit Production School

The next meeting of the Winchester Regional Commercial Tree Fruit Production School will be held on Friday, February 13, 2015, at the Best Western, Lee-Jackson Inn Banquet Convention Center, Winchester. This building is located at 711 Millwood Avenue, Winchester, Virginia 22601. The program will begin at 8:25 a.m. Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m.
This session will re-certify you for two years on your Virginia private pesticide license (category 90). The offering also will re-certify for West Virginia credits. In order to receive re-certification credit, you will need to sign in by 8:30 a.m. and sign out at the end of the program.
There will be a $15.00 registration fee for the event and will include lunch and morning refreshments. Registration form with payment (checks made payable to VCE- Frederick County) by February 6, 2015. Walk-in attendees and those not submitting pre-payment, will be charged $25.00 at the door. If you have any questions or need registration form, I can be reached at the Frederick Office or by email:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Care of Livestock and Pets, Farm Equipment and Yourself During Extreme Cold

A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect throughout Virginia until tomorrow morning as a very cold air mass begins to build in the region later today.  Wind chills will drop below zero as early as this afternoon.  Temperatures will remain below normal all the way through the end of the week.

I put this list together last year in preparation for the coming polar vortex.  We are not quite at those levels currently but I do feel that with our first extended really cold spell of 2015 and significantly low wind chill temperatures it is appropriate to share this again.
Take the extra care to provide for your pets, livestock, equipment and especially yourself during this week’s forecasted a cold snap. I have attached links to a few helpful facts sheets or links that may provide some useful information and helpful tips.  There are sections for Pets and Livestock, Equipment and Personal Care.  If you need additional assistance please let me know.  Please remember to try to check on your neighbors or others that you know may have difficulty in dealing with these severe weather events.

 I apologize if you are receiving this in duplicate emails I have combined several lists to reach as many people as possible.

Animal Emergency Preparedness

When record cold, with ice and snow hit, animal owners should be aware and ready to protect their pets and livestock and do the proper things to help them through this unusual cold spell.  Following are a number of concerns and recommendations:

•             Hypothermia and dehydration are the two most probable life-threatening conditions for animals in cold weather.

•             Many animals, especially indoor/outdoor pets, probably do not have an adequate winter coat for protection in these very low temperatures.

•             Wet conditions and wind-chill add greatly to the cold-stress for animals (and people).

•             Pets should be brought inside or into protected covered areas, provided with plenty of bedding and food and drinking water.

•             Livestock should be provided with wind-break (natural or man made) and roof shelter, and monitored for signs of discomfort (extensive shivering, weakness, lethargy, etc.)

•             It is very important that livestock be provided extra hay/forage/feed as up to double the energy/calories for normal body heat maintenance may are required in extreme cold.

•             It is critical that animals have access to drinking water.  Usual water sources may freeze solid in low temperatures and dehydration becomes a life-threatening factor.  Many of our animals, especially the young, may not know how or be unable to break several inches of ice to reach water.  In general, animals tend to drink less in extreme cold, risking dehydration.  Research with horses shows horses drink more water if it is warmed during winter weather.

•             Adding a warm sloppy bran mash, sloppy moistened beet pulp or soaking pelleted feed in warm water is a good way to add water to your horses’ diet and provide some “comfort food” in the cold weather.

•             Special attention should be paid to very young and old animals.  They may be less able to tolerate temperature extremes and have weaker immune systems.  Make sure that young animals are capable of nursing and check teats for frostbite or skin irritations that may limit suckling.

Fact sheets from places that deal with these severe temps more often than we do.

Personal Safety and Care

What should I know about personal protective equipment (PPE) for working in the cold?


Protective clothing is needed for work at or below 4°C. Clothing should be selected to suit the temperature, weather conditions (e.g., wind speed, rain), the level and duration of activity, and job design. These factors are important to consider so that you can regulate the amount of heat and perspiration you generate while working. If the work pace is too fast or if the type and amount of clothing are not properly selected, excessive sweating may occur. The clothing next to body will become wet and the insulation value of the clothing will decrease dramatically. This increases the risk for cold injuries.

•             Clothing should be worn in multiple layers which provide better protection than a single thick garment. The air between layers of clothing provides better insulation than the clothing itself. Having several layers also gives you the option to open or remove a layer before you get too warm and start sweating or to add a layer when you take a break. It also allows you to accommodate changing temperatures and weather conditions. Successive outer layers should be larger than the inner layer, otherwise the outermost layer will compress the inner layers and will decrease the insulation properties of the clothing.

•             The inner layer should provide insulation and be able to "wick" moisture away from the skin to help keep it dry. Thermal underwear made from polyesters or polypropylene is suitable for this purpose. "Fishnet" underwear made from polypropylene wicks perspiration away from the skin and is significantly thicker than regular underwear. It also keeps the second layer away from the skin. The open mesh pattern enables the moisture to evaporate and be captured on the next layer away from the skin. The second layer covers the "holes" in the fishnet underwear which contributes to the insulation properties of the clothing.

•             The additional layers of clothing should provide adequate insulation for the weather conditions under which the work being done. They should also be easy to open or remove before you get too warm to prevent excessive sweating during strenuous activity. Outer jackets should have the means for closing off and opening the waist, neck and wrists to help control how much heat is retained or given off. Some jackets have netted pockets and vents around the trunk and under the arm pits (with zippers or Velcro fasteners) for added ventilation possibilities.

•             For work in wet conditions, the outer layer of clothing should be waterproof. If the work area cannot be shielded against wind, an easily removable windbreak garment should be used. Under extremely cold conditions, heated protective clothing should be made available if the work cannot be done on a warmer day.

•             Almost 50 percent of body heat is lost through the head. A wool knit cap or a liner under a hard hat can reduce excessive heat loss.

•             Clothing should be kept clean since dirt fills air cells in fibres of clothing and destroys its insulating ability.

•             Clothing must be dry. Moisture should be kept off clothes by removing snow prior to entering heated shelters. While the worker is resting in a heated area, perspiration should be allowed to escape by opening the neck, waist, sleeves and ankle fasteners or by removing outerwear. If the rest area is warm enough it is preferable to take off the outer layer(s) so that the perspiration can evaporate from the clothing.

•             If fine manual dexterity is not required, gloves should be used below 4°C for light work and below -7°C for moderate work. For work below -17°C, mittens should be used.

•             Cotton is not recommended. It tends to get damp or wet quickly, and loses its insulating properties. Wool and synthetic fibres, on the other hand, do retain heat when wet.


Felt-lined, rubber bottomed, leather-topped boots with removable felt insoles are best suited for heavy work in cold since leather is porous, allowing the boots to "breathe" and let perspiration evaporate. Leather boots can be "waterproofed" with some products that do not block the pores in the leather. However, if work involves standing in water or slush (e.g., fire fighting, farming), the waterproof boots must be worn. While these protect the feet from getting wet from cold water in the work environment, they also prevent the perspiration to escape. The insulating materials and socks will become wet more quickly than when wearing leather boots and increase the risk for frostbite.

Foot Comfort and Safety at Work has some general information how to select footwear. (Also, when trying on boots before purchase, wear the same type of sock that you would wear at work to ensure a proper fit.)


You may prefer to wear one pair of thick, bulky socks or two pairs - one inner sock of silk, nylon, or thin wool and a slightly larger, thick outer sock. Liner socks made from polypropylene will help keep feet dry and warmer by wicking sweat away from the skin. However, as the outer sock becomes damper, its insulation properties decrease. If work conditions permit, have extra socks available so you can dry your feet and change socks during the day. If two pairs of socks are worn, the outer sock should be a larger size so that the inner sock is not compressed.

Always wear the right thickness of socks for your boots. If they are too thick, the boots will be "tight," and the socks will lose much of their insulating properties when they are compressed inside the boot. The foot would also be "squeezed" which would slow the blood flow to the feet and increase the risk for cold injuries. If the socks are too thin, the boots will fit loosely and may lead to blisters.

Face and Eye Protection

In extremely cold conditions, where face protection is used, eye protection must be separated from the nose and mouth to prevent exhaled moisture from fogging and frosting eye shields or glasses. Select protective eye wear that is appropriate for the work you are doing, and for protection against ultraviolet light from the sun, glare from the snow, blowing snow/ice crystals, and high winds at cold temperatures.

What are some additional prevention tips?

•             To prevent excessive sweating while working, remove clothing in the following order:

o             mittens or gloves (unless you need protection from snow or ice),

o             headgear and scarf.

•             Then open the jacket at the waist and wrists, and

•             Remove layers of clothing.

As you cool down, follow the reverse order of the above steps.

Prevent contact of bare skin with cold surfaces (especially metallic) below -7°C as well as avoiding skin contact when handling evaporative liquids (gasoline, alcohol, cleaning fluids) below 4°C. Sitting or standing still for prolonged periods should also be avoided.

Balanced meals and adequate liquid intake are essential to maintain body heat and prevent dehydration. Eat properly and frequently. Working in the cold requires more energy than in warm weather because the body is working to keep the body warm. It requires more effort to work when wearing bulky clothing and winter boots especially when walking through snow.

Drink fluids often especially when doing strenuous work. For warming purposes, hot non-alcoholic beverages or soup are suggested. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee should be limited because it increases urine production and contributes to dehydration. Caffeine also increases the blood flow at the skin surface which can increase the loss of body heat.

Alcohol should not be consumed as it causes expansion of blood vessels in the skin (cutaneous vasodilation) and impairs the body's ability to regulate temperature (it affects shivering that can increase your body temperature) . These effects cause the body to lose heat and thus increase the risk of hypothermia.

In refrigerated rooms, the air speed should not exceed 1 meter per second. If workers are simultaneously exposed to vibration and/or toxic substances, reduced limits for cold exposure may be necessary.

Farm Machinery:

 It is a good idea to make a checklist of the seven or eight items to evaluate on each piece of machinery. Use the owner’s manual as a starting point, but a personalized list will be helpful to look back on year after year.

 The following list includes the basic winterizing steps to get all of your machinery ready for its next use. Try to check off these projects as soon after harvest as possible to protect equipment before winter hits.

 • Clean dust, dirt and grime off of equipment.

 • Conduct a visual inspection to see what might need repair. Make note of things like burned-out headlights and cracks in the windshield glass.

 • Change the oil and filters.

• Check the cooling system.

• Check the battery.

• Change the air filters.

• Properly lubricate or grease equipment.

• Top off the fuel and add a fuel stabilizer.

Fall is a great time to tune up tractors that will continue to be used throughout the winter. Lubricants and greases become thicker in colder temperatures, making it more difficult to operate equipment. A lighter fluid such as Cenex Superlube TMS® 10W-30 is a good engine oil for cold weather and winter work.

Farm machinery requires maintenance both on and off the field to keep it running smoothly year after year. Caring for equipment is one way to ensure efficient fieldwork and less downtime.