Tag Archive: Planning

Time to Start Planning for Heifer Development

Time to Start Planning for Heifer Development

Fig. 1. Heifer development at the NFREC Feed Efficiency Facility Credit: Nicolas DiLorenzo

Nicolas DiLorenzo, State Beef Specialist, University of Florida NFREC

Even in this current, somewhat depressed, cattle market, replacement females for the Florida commercial cow herd are an annual expense of approximately $ 400 million.  Development and selection of the best females to join a productive herd is one of the most challenging aspects of a beef operation, and two of the keys for success, not surprisingly, are: 1) start early and 2) have a plan.  Weaning time is not far off.

In order to achieve the target body weight for a cycling heifer at breeding, some hurdles need to be cleared. The first challenge is to achieve an ideal average daily weight gain (ADG) to avoid over-conditioning and fat deposition, while still gaining weight at a rate that would ensure achieving the target weight in a timely manner. The main reason why this can be so difficult, is because when doing calculations about typical weaning weights and dates, and desired weight at the beginning of the breeding season, this yields a very narrow target ADG in the range of 1.5 to 2.25 lbs/d. This is often referred to as the ideal rate of gain for heifers to avoid over or under conditioning.

To complicate things even further, these newly weaned heifers will need to have a high enough protein concentration in their diet to support muscle growth, which is critical in a growing animal. When all things are considered, the ideal heifer development diet should have approximately 13-14% crude protein, and an energy content that allows the target ADG already discussed. Thus, when considering the byproducts and commodities available in this area, there is not a single one that would be able to meet some of those nutritional requirements by itself without running into metabolic problems. Another challenge then, is to have access to a mixer wagon and feed storage space in order to blend an ideal diet.

Assuming that the mixer and commodity storage are not an issue, the next problem typically is time and labor to limit feed the heifers to avoid excessive weight gains. It is possible to provide free choice feeds to target the optimal gains, but this needs to be done carefully so that nutrients are well balanced in the total mixed ration (TMR). At the University of Florida-NFREC, heifers have been developed over the last 5 years feeding a free choice diet comprised of 51% fiber pellets (AFG Feed, LLC), 22% soyhull pellets, 22% corn gluten feed pellets, and 5% of a supplement to balance minerals and provide the ionophore monensin. With this diet (13% CP, 55% TDN), heifers have ranged from 2 to 2.45 lb/d in the last few years. While these rates of gain are on the higher end of the ideal, they provide a great opportunity for the use of byproducts.  There is also an option to add more fibrous ingredients (ground hay, cottonseed hulls, etc.) to decrease the rate of gain and reduce the cost of the diet.

Another approach that has been successful for many years is the use of winter annuals such as oats, triticale, rye or combinations of those. The rates of gain on a typical year (not the case of the last spring) for cattle on winter annuals are usually in the correct range (1.7-2.2 lb/d), and protein usually is not limiting. The use of winter annuals for heifer development provides a great opportunity for producers in the Panhandle, however given the variability in weather from year to year, and assuming irrigation is not an option, it may be important to have a backup plan to avoid arriving at the beginning of the breeding season with heifers in sub-optimal condition.

Take Home Message

Developing heifers with the use of byproduct feeds and commodities is an attractive option in the Panhandle of Florida. The rate of weight gain for developing heifers needs to be considered carefully, so it is imperative to plan ahead to have the feed resources available to achieve 1.5 to 2.25 lbs/hd/d. The use of winter annuals also provides an opportunity for heifer development in North Florida, considering the nutritive profile of most of those forages.  However due to the reliance on adequate rainfall, it is a good idea to have a back up plan, if the forage production is not optimal.

More information on heifer development considerations can be found in the following publication:

Improving the Productivity of Beef Heifers in Florida



Author: ndilorenzo – ndilorenzo@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/03/time-to-start-planning-for-heifer-development/

Financial and Succession Planning Workshop – January 26

January 26, 2017

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (lunch provided)

Jackson County Extension
2741 Penn Avenue, Marianna, Florida 32448

Join us for a Financial and Succession Planning Workshop!

Strategic Wealth Group from Tallahassee will be leading the workshop. They have an expertise in business and estate planning and specialize in working with farmers.The program will address some key questions:

  • Are you operating under the most efficient form of ownership (LLC, S-Corp, Partnership, Sole Proprietorship)?

  • Are you planning an ownership transition to the next generation in the future?

  • Do you have a buy/sell agreement to protect your business and family? If so, does the agreement accomplish exactly what you want?

  • Do you have key employees and are you worried they may leave you?

  • Have you taken steps to protect your assets from liability arising from farm or personal accidents?

  • Are you paying more taxes than you have to? 

Workshop Flyer:  NWFL Financial and Succession Planning Workshop Flyer


Make plans to attend, and please RSVP to 800.527.0647 by January 20, 2017



Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/14/financial-and-succession-planning-workshop-january-26/

Planning Ahead for Dove Season

Planning Ahead for Dove Season

mourning dove

Photo courtesy of bugwood.org

Planning Ahead for Dove Season

Every Fall, sportsmen of all ages set their sights on the mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), one of the most widely hunted migratory birds in the United States.  Because it is migratory bird, management falls under federal and state regulations.  Annually, Extension agents receive questions about the legality of putting out supplemental feed to attract dove.  For farmers looking for an alternative revenue stream or landowners searching for ways to attract dove and other wildlife to their land, now is a good time to consider planting supplemental food crops.  Baiting of birds is illegal, but planting of supplemental food crops is legal.  Much of the information found in this article can be found in the University of Florida EDIS publication entitled “Dove Fields in Florida.”  Please refer to this publication for more information.

When considering planting for dove, one should dedicate a minimum of five acres and do sequential plantings to ensure a longer availability of food sources.  Incorporating multiple types of plant species will help keep the birds coming back and also extend the season.  The list below, though not comprehensive, provides an overview of what is typically planted for dove.  Particular attention should be paid to the recommended planting dates and seeding rates; this plays a major role in the discussion of supplemental food source versus baiting.

Browntop Millet—Panicum ramosum: Typical planting dates: June-September; maturation time: 60-70 days; seeding rate: 15-25 lbs/acre (15 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1/2 inch; pH: 6.0; grows well with corn, sunflower, and millets.

Proso Millet—Panicum miliaceum: Typical planting dates: June-August; maturation time: 75-90 days; seeding rate: 10-30 lbs/acre (15 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1/2 inch; pH: 6.0; does well on many soils; grows well with corn, sunflower, and other millets.

Japanese Millet—Echinochloa crusgalli: Typical planting dates: May-August; maturation time: 80-100 days; seeding rate: 10-20 lbs/acre (15 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: <1/2 inch; pH: 6.0; does well on wet soils; grows well with other millets.

Sunflower—Helianthus annuus: Typical planting dates: May-July; maturation time: 90-120 days; seeding rate: 10-20 lbs/acre (5-10 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1 inch; pH: 6.0-7.0; does best on well-drained soils; black variety best; grows well in alternating strips or rows of browntop millet and corn.

Corn—Zea mays: Typical planting dates: March-July; maturation time: 80-150 days; seeding rate: 8-15 lbs/acre (drilled); planting depth: 1-1 1/2 inches; pH: 6.0-7.0; does best on well-drained soils; should be planted in at least 4 rows for adequate pollination to occur; use tropical or late season varieties if planting in June-July; grows well with browntop millet and soybeans.

Sorghum—Sorghum spp.: Typical planting dates: March-June; maturation time: 75-150 days; seeding rate: 4-15 lbs/acre (5 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1 inch; pH: 5.5-6.5; drought tolerant; avoid bird resistant varieties; grows well with many warm-season grasses.

Wheat—Triticum aestivum: Typical planting dates: September-November; maturation time: 180-260 days; seeding rate: 90-120 lbs/acre (drilled); planting depth: 1-2 inches; pH: 6.0; does best on well-drained soils; grows well with other grains.

Oats—Avena spp.: Typical planting dates: September-November; maturation time: 180-260 days; seeding rate: 96-128 lbs/acre (drilled) ; planting depth: 1-2 inches; pH: 6.0; does best on well-drained soils; grows well with other grains.

Buckwheat—Fagopyrum esculentum: Typical planting dates: March-August; maturation time: 40-50 days; seeding rate: 40-50 lbs/acre (drilled) ; planting depth: 1/2 inch; pH: 6.0; does best on well-drained soils, but will grow under a variety of conditions; grows well with many millets, sunflower, and sorghum.

Soybeans—Glycine max: Typical planting dates: March-July; maturation time: 180 days; seeding rate: 30-100 lbs/acre (60 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1/2-1 inch; pH: 5.8-6.5; does best on well- and moderately well-drained soils; grows well with sorghum and corn.

Sesame—Sesame indicum: Typical planting dates: April-June; maturation time: 90 days; seeding rate: 5-12 lbs/acre (5 lbs/acre drilled); planting depth: 1 inch; pH: 6.0-7.0; does best on well-drained soils; grows well with other grains; can be an extremely high seed producer.

Like any crop, these seeds should be properly planted and managed.  Whether you decide to plant on tilled ground or via overseeding, the ground should be leveled and packed before and after planting to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.  Many of the species listed are small seeded, and planting too deep will result in poor germination.  Different crops can be planted in alternating strips 24-30 feet wide.  It is also suggested that strips should be left un-planted between the rows.  These areas can then be sprayed with herbicide or disked so there is bare ground for the birds to forage.

For the most success, remember to ensure good soil fertility by testing and then amending with lime and/or nutrients as indicated in the results of the soil analysis.  For more information on food plot soil analysis, please see the following Panhandle Agriculture article: Underperforming Food Plots? Three Possible Reasons Why.


Small seeded sunflowers are a good option for attracting dove and other wildlife.

Supplemental food source versus Baiting—The Law

The question of what a legal dove field is comes up year after year, and rightfully so.  If in doubt, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) with your questions; it is better to be safe than sorry.

The following information was taken directly from the FWC page: Dove Hunting and Baiting in Florida

According to Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 20.11, a baited area is, “any area on which salt, grain, or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, if that salt, grain, or other feed could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them. Any such area will remain a baited area for 10 days following the complete removal of all such salt, grain, or other feed.”

Furthermore, according to Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 20.21(i) doves may not be taken “by the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited.” Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 20.21 (i)(2)  also specifically allows the harvesting of doves “on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas, and where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed on the land where grown, or solely as the result of a normal agricultural operation.”

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) provides dove field managers some flexibility by inserting the word “manipulation.” According to Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20.11, manipulation means, “the alteration of natural vegetation or agricultural crops by activities that include but are not limited to mowing, shredding, disking, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning, or herbicide treatments. The term manipulation does not include the distributing or scattering of grain, seed, or other feed after removal from or storage on the field where grown.”

There also is some confusion as to what a normal agricultural planting is, because practices vary from state to state.  According to Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 20.11 , “normal agricultural planting, harvesting, or post-harvest manipulation means a planting or harvesting undertaken for the purpose of producing and gathering a crop, or manipulation after such harvest and removal of grain, that is conducted in accordance with official recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.” However, this does not mean that a field is illegal if it was not planted according to IFAS recommended seeding rates, planting dates, or planting methods. A person may plant as they choose, but they may not hunt doves over that field until a minimum of ten days after all seed has germinated or following complete removal of that seed.

So, what is legal in Florida?

In Florida, as long as the grain was grown in the field, and is there as a direct result of mowing, shredding, disking, silage chopping, burning, etc., it is perfectly legal. You can plant your field at whatever seed rate you wish, and time the maturation of your fields to coincide with established dove seasons. However, once the grain leaves the field (even if it is grown there) it can never be brought back in, or the field is considered a baited area for 10 days following the complete removal of all such salt, grain, or other feed.

So, what is illegal in Florida?

In Florida, the top-sowing of seed (without disking it in) is not considered a “normal agricultural planting.” So, you may not hunt over a top-sowed field until a minimum of ten days after all seed has germinated or following complete removal of that seed. You may hunt over a top-sowed field that is already germinating and is actively growing or matured and was manipulated to enhance the field to attract doves.

The take home message is to make sure when you do any planting, you have all seed planted and disked in, well prior to ten days before any hunt.

The FWC recommends that you avoid planting during the season or during the split. If you must plant during the season or split (because your field flooded or army worms totally destroyed your field), then you should make sure all seed is completely covered or sprouted a minimum of ten days prior to hunting.

Finally, the FWC recommends that if you are unsure of whether or not your field may be considered baited, you should call your regional office to have an FWC Wildlife Officer inspect the dove field prior to hunting. Remember, as a hunter, you are responsible for determining whether or not a field is baited.




Author: Libbie Johnson – libbiej@ufl.edu

Agriculture agent at UF IFAS Escambia County Extension.

Libbie Johnson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/07/08/planning-ahead-for-dove-season/

Planning ahead can reduce home and landscape damage

Planning ahead can reduce home and landscape damage

Even large oaks may fall during a tornado. Photo credit: northescambia.com

Even large, healthy oaks may fall during a tornado. Photo credit: northescambia.com

When we think of bad weather in Florida, hurricanes are typically the first thing that comes to mind. In reality, Florida is 4th in the nation in tornado frequency—and when adjusted for frequency per square mile, we are actually number 1. Residents of Escambia County are believers now, as the community reels from enduring two tornadoes in the span of a week. Both rated as EF3 storms, the winds in the twisters (136-165 mph) were nearly equivalent to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. The western Panhandle and much of south Alabama were under tornado watches as the most recent band of thunderstorms moved through.

Based on a thorough study of surviving trees after hurricanes in Florida, there are several species of trees best suited to windstorms. For north Florida, some of the top species are: Florida scrub hickory, several native holly species, Southern magnolia, sand live oak, myrtle oak, and bald and pond cypress. Data from the full study and an in-depth overview is available from the University of Florida.  To prepare for a heavy thunderstorm or a milder hurricane, it is wise to replace or plant trees with the most wind-resistant species. Because of the damage from falling trees in storms, many homeowners are nervous about planting trees. However, there are so many benefits to healthy trees in a landscape that they vastly outweigh the small risk of them falling.

Keep in mind that tornadoes are the most violent natural disasters and may cause complete devastation of homes, neighborhoods, and forests in a matter of seconds. After the Escambia County tornadoes, we witnessed large uprooted trees, downed power lines, flipped vehicles and blown-off roofs. Several homes and apartments were completely flattened or blown off their foundations. Luckily, the odds are in one’s favor of not getting hit directly by a tornado—because there’s often little anyone can do for a landscape in that situation. It’s best to hunker down in a windowless inner room or hallway, which saved the lives of hundreds during the last round of bad weather.

Updraft entering the garage of this house may have caused the roof blowout above it. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson

Wind entering the garage of this house may have caused the roof blowout above it. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson

However, there’s good news that work that can be done to help protect a home during storms. Hardening homes through “windstorm mitigation” techniques can prevent updraft from strong winds. A house is only as strong as its weakest area, and those are typically the connections between the walls, roof, and foundation. A wind-rated garage door and/or brace are crucial, as strong winds can enter a garage and blow out the roof above it.

When strong winds enter a hope, their force moving out can cause an updraft and lift off the roof. Graphic courtesy UF IFAS.

When strong winds enter a home, their force moving out can cause an updraft and lift off the roof. Graphic courtesy UF IFAS.

In Escambia and Santa Rosa County, the local nonprofit “Rebuild Northwest Florida” operates a cost-sharing program to help residents harden homes. After the tornado in Century (near the Alabama border in north Escambia County), engineers from Rebuild examined a home that suffered a direct hit from a tornado. The home had been retrofit with crucial wind mitigation techniques and sustained no structural damage. Buildings, sheds, and homes all around it were destroyed. Examples of several wind mitigation techniques, including storm shutters, wind-rated windows, garage door braces and a tornado shelter are available for public viewing at the Escambia County Extension office in our windstorm mitigation building.

As the spring storm season heats up and rolls into hurricane season, keep in mind these suggestions for both the landscape and home. As always, contact your local Extension office if you have any questions.


Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/03/02/planning-ahead-can-reduce-home-and-landscape-damage/

Farm Estate Planning, Where Will Your Farm Go?

Photo by J. Biss

Photo by J. Biss

The question of what happens to the family farm is often riddled with many emotional opinions. So much so, that families may not communicate effectively about their wishes or plans. Many life events can change the dynamics of a family farm. Whether marriage, children, divorce, illness, retirement or death, significant events can require a plan or a change in the transition plan.

Planning in advance of a crisis or significant life event increases the chances that the family farm will successfully transition to someone who is ready to carry on the family business. Having a plan can also lead to clear communication that reduces the likelihood of family conflict and stress. Yet, four out of five Florida farmers do not have written estate plans.

You can take steps to protect your family and your family farm by attending one of the University of Florida IFAS Extension’s workshops on “Preparing for Later Life Farming.” This workshop will help you ensure that your wishes are honored when the time comes.

You and your family are invited to learn together how to:

  • Discuss the future of the farm

  • Assess your future financial needs

  • Develop an outline of a farm estate plan

Farm Estate Planning headerChoose from 3 Dates and Locations in FL in 2016:

  1. March 31 – Quincy Registration: http://bit.ly/AgSavesGadsden

  2. April 5 – Sebring Registration: http://bit.ly/AgSavesHighlands

  3. April 6 –Lecanto Registration: http://bit.ly/AgSavesCitrus

All Times: 8:30 am—4:30 pm eastern time

$ 25 first person & $ 5 each additional person/farm

Register online or contact Kendra Zamojski at for more information, and here is a printable flyer with  more details: Farm Estate Planning Flyer



Author: Kendra Zamojski – hughson@ufl.edu

Kendra Zamojski is the County Extension Director and Family and Consumer Sciences Agent III in Leon County

Kendra Zamojski

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/02/12/farm-estate-planning-where-will-your-farm-go/

Friday Funny: Estate Planning

barn-weddingA farmer and his wife took part in the wedding of a neighbor that had been friends with the couple for years.  Her husband had been a farmer for over 40 years before he passed away, and she was now marrying her pharmacist, who had also lost his wife some time back.  The couple had their wedding out at the farm.  They cleaned out and decorated the old barn and used much of the, now antique, farm equipment as decorations for the event.  The farmer’s wife remarked at how the cleaned out barn made a nice place for the reception.  She said, “Hey honey maybe you should clean out your barn so we could host parties.  Maybe we could even rent it out.”  He was in a fowl mood for most of the event, as he watched kids playing on his dear friend’s old tractors, and heard town folk asking dumb questions about the different implements scattered around the yard.  They even used his dear friend’s favorite work bench as the table for the wedding cake and the punch bowl.

Later the next week, as the couple was eating breakfast, out of the blue the farmer blurted out, “When I die, I want you to sell all of my stuff.” The wife, surprised by the comment finally responded, “Now why would you want me to do that?” He said, “I figure a woman of your caliber would eventually remarry, and I don’t want some other jerk using my stuff!” Quick as a wink she barked back, “What makes you think I’d marry another jerk?



Farm folks always enjoy sharing good jokes, photos and stories.  If you have a good, clean joke, particularly one that pertains to agriculture, or a funny photo that you took on the farm, send it in and we will share it with our readers:

Email to:  Panhandle Ag Jokes



Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Jackson County Extension Director, Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/10/24/friday-funny-estate-planning/