Last Night at Dinner we talked about Poop

Yep, you heard me.  Last night’s dinner conversation (yes, around here the evening meal is dinner) revolved around a room full of people talking about poop.

Actually, to be fair, only one person was talking about it.  Dr. Donald H. Bliss, a veterinary parasitologist with MidAmerica Agricultural Research Inc., brought in as a guest speaker courtesy of Merck & our local vet clinic.

The rest of us were listening …eagerly & intently.  For two reasons.  One, we were being treated to a spectacular steak dinner & an adult beverage.  Here’s the other though.

Cows poop.  A LOT.  And the health of any cow, her calf, and future generations on any given pasture can be traced by examining her… yes, poop.

Okay, technically it’s a fecal sample.  And did you know, that by examining that sample, & obtaining a fecal egg count, a person… Dr. Bliss specifically… can determine the parasite infestation level of a cow.  Cows with parasites poop parasite eggs.

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(Let’s take a little break from the p.o.o.p. science & take a look at that gorgeous wagon wheel light up there…. our local Saddle Club is my favorite building in town.  So much character & history!)

Okay,.. back to point at hand.  We were just determining whether a cow is infested with parasites.  In other words…worms.  Because if your cow has worms, you’ve got problems.

Parasites are one of many variables, my friend, that interfere with efficient production.  Just like the slide says.
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Here’s  how it breaks down.  Cows with worms are sick.  Sick cows have sick calves, or no calves at all.  Sick calves have a habit of dying.  No calves = no income.

So obviously, we have huge incentive to keep our cows healthy.  We love our cows & don’t want them to be sick.  And income is generally viewed as a good thing.

Here’s another fun fact.  Did you know, there are 32 species of dung (poop) beetles?  32!  Who knew.

Why is that little fact so remarkable?  Well, here it is.  Dung beetles, are needed to break down the poop in the pasture.  Too much poop in the pasture gives those nasty little parasite eggs a great place to hang out.  Then when our cows graze, they can pick up those parasite eggs, & become reinfected.  The wrong treatment for parasites in cows can kill those darn little dung beetles though,… & then we’re right back where we started.
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So let me tie all this together for you.  Last night, we spent a couple hours learning about how we can treat & prevent parasite infestation in our cows.  And we learned how to do it without compromising the health of our pastures where the cows graze.

All of that is important because it relates directly to the the health of our cows, & the bottom line of our operation.

As farmers and ranchers, we rely on meetings like this to help keep us up to date on the latest and best practices for our crops and animals.  And we count on professionals like Dr. Bliss and the staff at the vet clinic in our community to get the information to us.

Earlier this week we attended a crop insurance meeting, where our agent briefed us about new policies and how they’ll affect the crops we grow and how we grow them.  (And yes,… I got out of cooking that night too!)

Next week, we’ll attend a meeting hosted by the local Co-op and get updates about fertilizer and chemicals from our agronomist that we’ll need to know for the upcoming growing season.  (I think that’s a breakfast meeting…lucky me!)

And let’s not forget about ag extension and Extension Agents.  These folks pick up  their phones day and night to answer questions.  They ease fears about new weed varieties, inform us about the latest production techniques, make sure we know how to legally and economically pass our farms & ranches on to our families, educate a new generation of ag producers through 4-H programs… and they teach us how to cook in case we run out of meetings to attend.

There’s a lot of ongoing education involved in production agriculture.  And it takes a team to make it happen.  We’re so fortunate to have an incredible team in our community and beyond…. all supporting local farmers & ranchers, helping us grow the food that ends up on your table.

This morning, the Farmer headed out to the vet clinic to pick up the new product for parasite control that we learned about last night.  Because it makes sense.  Because we want the best for our animals.  Because we want our business to be profitable.  And because,.. well,.. the girls seems to like it!
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I’ll see you soon on the Farm  -Shauna

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