Tag Archive: through

Apply for the Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program through July 31

Apply for the Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program through July 31

The Southern Pine Beetle Florida Township Hazard Rating Map is based on a model developed by the USDA Forest Service. The model computes hazard scores based on input variables that estimate the density and basal area of the most susceptible host pine species (e.g., loblolly and shortleaf pine) and soil drainage characteristics. Each township score represents an average for the forested areas within the township. The hazard map is subject to change from year to year with changing forest conditions and improvements made to the hazard model. Hazard is an estimate of where SPB infestations may be likely to develop based on forest conditions; it does not mean that SPB infestations are predicted for a certain area in a given year.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, announced on June 15, 2017 that the Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program will accept applications from non-industrial, private forest landowners through July 31.

The southern pine beetle (SPB) is one of the most economically devastating forest pests of the southeast, with periodic outbreaks leading to deaths of millions of pine trees. In 2016, 222 SPB infestations were reported in Florida, killing trees on over 1,100 acres. Those numbers are small compared to the last major outbreaks that occurred in Florida from 1999 to 2002, which resulted in an estimated $ 59 million in timber losses.

The program, supported through a grant by the United States Forest Service, provides incentive payments for:
  • first pulpwood thinning
  • prescribed burning
  • mechanical underbrush treatments
  • planting of longleaf or slash pine rather than the loblolly pine (the beetle’s preferred species)

Since it was first offered in 2005, the program has supported these practices on more than 167,000 acres and helped thousands of landowners. The program is limited to 44 northern Florida counties, the known range of the southern pine beetle. Qualified landowners can apply for up to two different practices per year and funding requests may not exceed $ 10,000. All qualifying applications received during the submission period will be evaluated and ranked for approval.

To obtain an application or to learn more about the Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program,  contact your County Forester or visit FreshFromFlorida.com/SouthernPineBeetle/Prevention.

The Florida Forest Service manages more than 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. To learn more about Florida Forest Service programs, visit FloridaForestService.com.


Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/03/apply-for-the-southern-pine-beetle-prevention-program-through-july-31/

Bust Boredom and Extend Learning through Summer

4-H summer programs allow youth to explore a variety of topics- from animal science to robotics! Photo credit: Heather Kent, UF IFAS Extension

With the end of the school year approaching, many parents are puzzling over what to do with their children during the 8-10 weeks of summer vacation.  Fortunately, 4-H has the solution to bust summertime boredom and extend learning while exploring a variety of topics- such as sewing, gardening, culinary arts or even robotics and engineering.  4-H camps are different from most other camping programs because they are framed around the essential elements of positive youth development and are intentionally structured to promote the development of life and workforce skills such as communication, decision-making and appreciation of differences.  4-H camps are staffed by caring teen and adult volunteers who have been screened, oriented and trained according to federal and state law, and incorporate best practices for risk management to insure a physically and emotionally safe environment.  The connection of 4-H to land grant universities like the University of Florida also means that camp curriculum is based on the best knowledge available about any given project utilizing inquiry and learn-by-doing methods.

Below you can find a list of day camps that will be offered throughout the Florida panhandle. Counties also offer week long overnight camps at Camp Timpoochee or Camp Cherry Lake.  In addition to camp, 4-H offers overnight leadership experiences for middle school and high school youth, such as Intermediate State (June 2-4th), 4-H Legislature (June 26-30th), and 4-H University (July 31-August 3rd).  Click on the county links below for more information or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.


  • Tailgating Grilling Workshop, June 5-9, 1pm – 5pm
  • Bots by the Bay, July 5-7, AF youth (active duty, guard, reserve or retired) age 13-15, 8am-6pm
  • Bots by the Bay, July 10-14, AF youth (active duty, guard, reserve or retired) age 16-18, 8am-6pm


  • Beginner Sewing Day Camp, June 13-15, 9AM -3PM
  • Breakfast Day Camp, June 21-22; 9AM-3PM
  • Tailgate Day Camp- July 5-9, 9AM-3PM
  • Intermediate Sewing Day Camp- July 18 and 20, 9AM-3PM
  • CSI Day Camp- July 17 and 19th, 9AM-3PM


  • Sew Fun, Sew Easy, June 26-30th, 8AM-5PM
  • Marvels of Engineering, July 25-28th, 8AM-5PM
  • Farm to Table: the Youth Experience, July 6th– 8AM-5PM
  • Youth Poultry Clinic- July 8th, 8AM-5PM


  • Poultry Perfection- June 2nd, 9:30AM-2PM
  • Cloverbud Crazy Art Day Camp- June 8th– 8AM-2PM
  • Tailgating Grilling Workshop- June 27-29th, 8AM-3PM
  • Animal Science Field Day- July 11th, 8AM-4PM
  • Junk Drawer Robotics Day Camp- July 25-27, 9AM-3PM


  • Poultry Perfection- June 2nd, 9:30AM-2PM
  • Tailgating Day Camp- June 5-7th, 8AM-12PM
  • Equine Clinic- June 13th, 9AM-3PM
  • Livestock Nutrition Workshop- June 29th, 9AM-2PM
  • Poultry Day Camp- July 7th– 9AM-3PM
  • Goat Workshop- July 13st- 9AM-3PM
  • Livestock Skillathon Camp- July 17th-19th, 8:30AM-11:30AM
  • Robotics Camp- July 25th-27th– 9AM-3PM


  • Wildlife Day Camp- July 10-15th
  • Cloverbud Camp- July 18-21st
  • 8-9 year old camp- June 5-9th
  • Cooking 101- August 2-4th
  • Reading Makes Cents- June 14-16th


  • Farm your Backyard Camp- June 27th-30th, 9AM-4PM
  • Sewing for All Skill Levels (FULL- call to be placed on the waiting list)
  • Junk Drawer Robotics Day Camp- July 25-27th, 9AM-4PM
  • Wildlife Explorers Camp- July 10-14th (FULL- call to be places on the waiting list)
  • Tailgate Grilling Camp- June 27-29th– (FULL- call to be places on the waiting list)
  • #Adulting- June 15, June 22, July 6, July 13th– 9AM-4PM
  • Poultry Day Camp- July 7tth 9AM-5PM (FULL- call to be places on the waiting list)
  • Gardening for Cloverbuds (5-7 year olds)- July 14th, 8:30AM-12PM


  • Tailgate Grilling Workshop, June 27, 28 & 29
  • Entomology Day Camp- July 11-12th
  • Robotics Day Camp- July 25-27th
  • 21st Century 4-H Day Camps- a variety of topics taught over the summer for youth enrolled in the 21st Century Learning programs at Tolar and Hosford schools


  • Cooking Camp- June 12-14th, 9AM-3PM
  • Gourmet Cooking Camp with Mr. John- June 15th-16th, 9AM-3PM
  • 101 Sewing Camp- July 10-12, 8AM-5PM
  • All About Animals- July 24-26th, 8AM-2PM
  • Insect Camp- July 19-21, 9AM-3PM


  • Tailgator Day Camp- July 10-12th, 8:30AM-4PM
  • Sew Fantastic Day Camp- July 6th
  • Cloverbud Chefs Extreme Cuisine- June 7-8
  • 4-H Extreme Cuisine- June 27th– 29th; 8:30AM-4PM
  • Ag-Ventures, July 18-19th, 8:30AM-4PM
  • Build a Bot Day Camp- July 25-27th, 9AM-4PM


  • Poultry Perfection Workshop- June 2; 9:30 am-2 pm
  • Tailgate Grilling Workshop, June 27, 28 & 29, 8 am-Noon
  • Beef Research Center Workshop- July 11; 8 am-2pm

Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/17/bust-boredom-and-extend-learning-through-summer/

4-H Alumnae Reconnect through Love of Horses

Russell and Julie McMillian, Gulf County 4-H Alumnae and 4-H Leaders

Russell and Julie McMillian both grew up in Gulf County and together have established a thriving business based on their love of horses.  They now own a small farm in Dalkeith, just south of Wewahitchka, and their business Rockin’ M Ranch, consists of horseback riding lessons for beginners and beach rides for tourists and locals alike along the beautiful beaches of Cape San Blas.

How did this all begin?  Russell and Julie both grew up as Gulf County 4-H members of the Big River Riders 4-H Club.  They both participated in a variety of 4-H programs; including Horse Camp, Camp Timpoochee, Congress (now known as 4-H University), District Events, North Florida Fair Ag Judging, Area A and State 4-H Horse Shows, etc.  They both learned the values of 4-H through learning how to raise and compete with their animals, agricultural commodities, leadership skills, public speaking, community service, good decision making skills, and much more…

As adults, they both went in separate directions, but still maintained their love of horses and the farm life.  Russell began his career in flooring and tile work, while Julie received her education degree and taught Kindergarten at Wewahitchka Elementary School.  After reconnecting as adults, they married on September 25, 2010 and turned their passion for horses into a full-time love by creating their own business, Rockin’ M Ranch.  Russell still does flooring, tile work on the side, and helps his grandparents with their hay business.  Julie decided to leave the teaching field, and she manages their business full time.  She began giving beach rides on the Cape at the age of 14 and still loves it as much today.

Julie and Russell McMillian pictured with daughers, Brooke (left) and Hayleigh

Russell began his time with 4-H at the age of 12 and Julie was 8 years old.  As members of the Big River Riders 4-H Club, they adored their 4-H leaders, Mr. Jesse Eubanks and Ms. Jean McMillian (Russell’s grandmother), and the Gulf County Extension Director, Roy L. Carter (now retired), whose passion for horses was contagious.  Julie explained that she was a very shy child and that participating in public speaking for District Events really helped her come out of her shell.  They both loved learning the values of the four H’s: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.  They feel 4-H has helped them develop into productive adults with good decision-making skills and in-stilled in them the importance of giving back to their community.  They have served as 4-H volunteers for the Big River Rider’s 4-H Club since Russell’s daughters joined 4-H years ago.  Their daughters, Brooke (17) and Hayleigh (15) also ride horses and have competed in a variety of Gulf County 4-H programs throughout the years. Russell and Julie have also taught a variety of horse riding classes at multiple Gulf County 4-H day camps.

As 4-H and community leaders, their most important goal is to give back to the community that gave to them as 4-Hers growing up here. They really love introducing new riders to the love of horses and 4-H.  On any day, Russell and Julie can be found throughout the county at various events supporting their daughters, 4-H members and any youth for that matter.

When asked what advice she has for someone thinking about becoming a 4-H volunteer she said, “Do not have regrets…just do it. Do not be scared off by the fingerprinting and application process.  It is quick and easy, and maintains the safety for you and the children.  Get started! 4-H is a great opportunity for youth and adults.”

“As a 4-H extension agent, you can only hope to find 4-H volunteers as dedicated as Russell and Julie McMillian.  Their passion and love of 4-H is infectious and draws in youth looking for a place to belong.”  -Melanie Taylor, Gulf County 4-H Agent

For more information about Rockin’ M Ranch, please go to http://www.therockinmranch.com/.  For more information about how to become involved in 4-H, either as a youth member or adult volunteer, visit florida4h.org or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.  4-H offers a variety of roles for volunteers to share their passions, skills and interests.



Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/24/4-h-alumnae-reconnect-through-love-of-horses/

Three Panhandle Farms Recognized through the 2016 SE Hay Contest

Three Panhandle Farms Recognized through the 2016 SE Hay Contest

Bill and Donna Conrad, Bascom were recognized for their 3rd place alfalfa hay entry in the 2016 SE Hay Contest. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Bill and Donna Conrad, Bascom, FL were recognized for their 3rd place alfalfa hay entry in the 2016 SE Hay Contest with an RFQ score of 238. Dr. Dennis Hancock, UGA Forage Specialist (right)  coordinated the 12th annual contest and recognized the winners at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie Georgia.  Photo credit: Doug Mayo

The 2016 Southeastern Hay Contest (SEHC) presented by Massey Ferguson was a fierce competition, with 269 entries vying for the top spot. Three Florida Panhandle Farms were recognized for excellent quality hay:  Bill Conrad, Bascom had the third place entry in the alfalfa division with an RFQ score of 238, and Stoltzfus Farms, Blountstown  RFQ-168 and Basford Farms, Grand Ridge RFQ-155 placed first and second in the perennial peanut division.

Stoltzfus Farms, Blountstown was recognized for the 1st place perennial peanut hay entry in the SE Hay Contest. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Stoltzfus Farms, Blountstown, FL was recognized for the 1st place perennial peanut hay entry in the SE Hay Contest with an RFQ score of 168. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Final results for the 2016 SE Hay Contest are listed below:2016-se-hay-contest-results

The results are broken down into the Contest’s categories of the contest: warm season perennial grass hay (bermudagrass, bahiagrass), alfalfa hay, perennial peanut hay, perennial cool season grass (tall fescue, orchardgrass, etc.) hay, mixed and annual grass hay, grass baleage, legume baleage, and high moisture legume or grass-legume mix hay. This contest is held in conjunction with the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo in Moultrie, GA. Winners were announced during the opening ceremonies at the Sunbelt Expo on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. In each of the categories, the highest three entries in terms of relative forage quality (RFQ) received cash prizes. First place received $ 125, second received $ 75, and the third place entry received $ 50. Top honors in terms of highest overall RFQ also received their choice of the use of a new Massey Ferguson DM Series disc mower or RK Series rotary rake for the 2016 hay production season plus $ 1,000 in cash! This year, the overall high RFQ was 254, which was from some extremely high quality alfalfa made at Bohlen and Son Farm in Madison, GA.

Boheln & Son Farms was the overall grand prize winner with their 1st place alfalfa hay entry with an RFQ score of 254. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Boheln & Son Farm, Madison, GA was the overall grand prize winner with their 1st place alfalfa hay entry with an RFQ score of 254. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Weather is always a major limiting factor when attempting to produce high quality forage. This year, dry conditions throughout most of the growing season caused drought to be a major limitation for many producers. Drought stress increased the incidence of high nitrate levels in the forage in 2016, and 9% of the samples submitted to the contest were disqualified because nitrates were greater than 5,000 ppm. Still, the forage quality this year was very high. The average relative forage quality (RFQ) was on par with, or equal to, the winning values in the Contest’s 12-year history. Good management can make a remarkable improvement in forage quality in both favorable and unfavorable weather conditions.

What is Relative Forage Quality?

In the past, hay quality prediction equations were based on the fiber concentration of the hay crop. However, forage crops can have similar fiber content yet have very different digestibility. For instance, Tifton 85 bermudagrass often has a higher fiber concentration than other bermudagrass varieties, yet it is more digestible. This improved digestibility results in enhanced animal performance, but is not reflected using traditional forage testing methods. The Relative Forage Quality index was developed by the University of Florida and the University of Wisconsin to predict the fiber digestibility and animal intake of harvested crops. Since 2003, hundreds of warm season samples have been used to refine the RFQ equation for bermudagrass and other warm season forages. Currently, all forage sample results from the UGA’s Feed and Environmental Water Lab in Athens contain an estimate of Relative Forage Quality. This value is a single, easy to interpret number that improves producer understanding of a forage’s nutritive quality and helps in establishing a fair market value for the product.

How can Relative Forage Quality help me?

Relative Forage Quality allows hay producers to easily categorize and price hay lots based on relative quality. Producers can purchase hay lots depending on its end use. For example, there is little need to feed high-quality hay to livestock that could easily utilize poorer quality forage. Hay with a RFQ of 100 or more can usually be economically fed to maintain beef cows, while hay with an RFQ of 125-150 is adequate for stocker cattle or young growing replacement heifers, and hay with an RFQ of 140-160 is suitable for dairy cattle in the first three months of lactation. It is also easy to see that Relative Forage Quality could provide the framework for a quality hay marketing system. For example, hay with a RFQ of 155 could conceptually be labeled “premium” hay, while hay with an RFQ of 100 could be labeled “fair.” This simple system could allow producers to price hay consistently and fairly across harvest maturity, fertilization regimes, or plant species (i.e. bermudagrass, bahiagrass, perennial peanut, or tall fescue).

For more information on the SE Hay Contest, other upcoming events, and forage management issues, visit www.georgiaforages.com or contact your local County Extension Office.


Source: Dr. Dennis Hancock, Associate Professor and Forage Extension Specialist


Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – 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/2016/10/22/three-panhandle-farms-recognized-through-the-2016-se-hay-contest/

Improving Ranch Efficiency through Record Analysis

Improving Ranch Efficiency through Record Analysis


Figure 1 U.S. Average price for 550 pound steers from January 2010 to October 2016. Source Chris Prevatt, UF/IFAS Regional Beef Economics Regional Specialized Agent

Cattle prices peaked at unprecedented levels in 2014, fell off a cliff in 2015, and took another steep nosedive in 2016.  When you look at Figure 1 above you can see that average prices for weaned steers have fallen sharply back to 2010 levels this fall.  From July 2015 to October 2016 the US average 550 lb. steer priced dropped from $ 282/cwt to $ 125/cwt, a 55% decline in just 15 months.  The general consensus of livestock economists is that prices will continue to decline through the rest of this decade as the impact from national herd expansion takes effect.  Clearly the cattle business that had been so rewarding for the past three years has become much more challenging to remain profitable.

To survive this downturn, beef cattle ranchers will have to more closely evaluate both input investment and the resulting herd performance with enough precision to make accurate decisions.  The first thought most people have, when faced with seriously declining prices, is to simply tighten the belt and spend less.  However, there is an age-old adage shared by many successful ranchers that “You can’t starve a profit out of a cow, but you can sure feed it out of a her.”  The point of this saying is valid, the key to profitability is not necessarily how much you spend, but getting greatest return from the investments you make.  Spend too little and performance is drastically impacted.  If you greatly reduce pasture fertilization and supplementation to reduce cost, there is a resulting loss of productivity from the herd. The other part of this old adage is also true, spend too much and your expenses will exceed income.

In times of high prices, virtually any investment that improved productivity had some level of return.  At this stage of the market cycle, however, managing based on estimates is dangerous, rather precise performance measurement and record analysis will be critical to remain profitable.  Improving efficiency is the primary goal, but to make real progress you have to analyze each phase of the operation to identify those areas where adjustments can make the greatest impact.  To do this, you have to establish some baseline data, summarize and evaluate the data on an operational basis, a per cow and per acre basis, and then set some benchmark targets for the operation to reach in the years ahead.  Clear target benchmarks can serve as a simplified report card of efficiency that can be compared from year to year in a consistent manor.

Establishing Baseline Production Data

Probably the simplest place to begin to evaluate and improve ranch efficiency is with cattle production and annual herd performance.  The following are some of the key records that can be used to establish baseline data for a beef herd.  There are many different types of performance records that can be measured and evaluated, but start with the basics (1-3) on a whole herd level to keep from getting overwhelmed, and then add individual animal data to fine tune the management of your herd.

  1. Herd Inventory

    This seems simple enough, but this number is constantly changing throughout the year with deaths, births, sales, and purchases, so it is not just how many cows and breeding age heifers are owned in a given year, but at a key point in the year, every year – preferably just before the bulls are turned in with the herd for the start of the breeding season.

  2. Pregnancy Rate (%)

    Reproduction is a very important aspect of ranch management. Every other phase of production management should focus on getting cows and heifers pregnant in a 70 to 90-day period, so this should be measured annually and the success rate recorded.  It also provides a real opportunity to cull open cattle as soon as possible.  With no future calf to sell, the cow or heifer becomes the income to offset expenses that have occurred.pregnancy-rate-equation

  3. Weaning Data

    The total number, weight, and average weight of calves weaned, preferably at a fairly consistent time each year. If all calves are not weaned and sold at the same time, this number will be much more variable, but can be adjusted based on age.

    • Weaning Rate (%) – there are several factors involved with how many calves are actually sold for income each year. For cow-calf producers this is your bottom line, how many live calves do you produce compared to the actual number of cows and heifers that were in the breeding herd when the bulls were turned in.weaning-rate-equation
    • Average Cow Production (lbs.) – This is the ultimate production unit measure of a cow-calf operation that sells calves at weaning. This is probably the most common benchmark used to compare year to year, and operation to operation.  Notice though, this is different from figuring an average weaning weight, because it includes all the breeding cows, not just the live calves at weaning.pounds-weaned-equation
  4. Individual Animal Identification

    This management practice can have significant impacts on efficiency, if individual production records are compared and are used for replacement selection, culling, and animal performance evaluation.  It does take both, however, as the identification number is of limited value if no production history is recorded. Progress can be made utilizing whole herd records and averages, but with a history of production for each individual animal, you can select replacements from the top performing individuals in a herd, and more importantly cull out the poorest performers. The most common numbering system is simply the year and the order of birth (example 29th calf born in 2016 would either be 629 or 296).  Another method has emerged with computer based record keeping, because every 10 years there will be another 629, so many breed associations and farms have moved to the alphabet year system (example for 29th calf in 2016 would either be 29D or D29).  international-year-letter-designation-for-animal-identification

  5. Individual Performance Data

    The list of individual animal performance records that can be maintained is endless, but there are several key records that should be kept for each cow in the herd and the individual calves she produces: birth date, birth weight, sex, calving ease, death loss, calving interval, 205 day adjusted weaning weights, and herd ratios. Ratios compare each individual to the average of the herd (100), so a calf with a 105 ratio is 5% above average for that specific group.  Identifying and weighing calves allows a cow production history to be established, to aid with culling and replacement selection decisions.205-adj-wwt-equationbif-age-of-dam-adjustmentweaining-wt-ratio-equation

Establishing Baseline Financial Data

If you are truly in the “cattle business,” then there are some basic financial records needed to build baseline data for a cow-calf herd.

  1. Income

    This is the type of records folks don’t mind tracking, but some forms may not always get recorded. You want to track every type of income for an operation:  weaned calves, cull cows, cull bulls, cull heifers, extra hay, equipment sales, custom work for other operations.  Not just total sales, but per unit income ($ /cwt, $ /bale) as well.

  2. Expenses

    Every operation has to make purchases and rely on some custom services. Don’t just keep receipts, but track expenses by category, so that each category can be compared.

  3. Unit Cost of Production

    After adding up the expenses, you can go one step further and determine a cost per cow, or cost per pound of weaned calf. This can also be broken down further for each major category of expenditures.  Knowing these basic level unit costs make on-the-run calculations easier as you manage day-to-day operations.

  4. Revenue per Cow

    How much income did each cow that was exposed to be bred earn for the operation? This can be really helpful as you consider herd expansion or decrease.

  5. Profitability

    The first question to answer at the end of each year is, “Did your income exceed your expenses?” Be careful with this number, however because there is one key difference between gross income and net income – depreciation.  Many of the valuable assets such as cows, trucks, tractors, cow pens, and hay equipment have to be replaced.  Hopefully, there will also be also funds left for the management income as well.

Record Keeping Systems

There are a number of options available for both record keeping and analysis of beef cattle herds.  Certainly records can be kept on a legal pad, calendar or pocket notebook, but by the end of the year it can be frustrating to sort through random written records.  There are a few options available that can add some organization to herd records.

  1. Pocket Record Book

    The National Cattlemen’s Association (NCBA) has a pocket record system called the IRM Redbook. This system is good because it stays with you wherever you go, but that can also be a bad thing in a rainstorm, muddy cowpens, or if it gets washed in your jeans pocket.  The Redbook is a great tool, but it was designed for a single production year.  NCBA has also added a companion excel spreadsheet, the Redbook Worksheet, that has the same organization, so records from the pocket record book can be transferred to a computer and kept from year to year.

  2. Customizable Record Book

    Another option is the Florida Ranch Record Book that provides a loose-leaf notebook record keeping system that can be kept in the truck or office. This system was designed for field use to record beef cattle, pastures, and basic financial records. Because the record sheets are in a notebook, sheets can be added or removed and customized for each individual operation. There are even two sheets to be filled out at the end of each year for simple ranch performance and profit analysis. This record book was not designed to provide a complete financial record list for tax preparation or loan application, but it does provide organization for key records collected in the field for everyday use.

  3. Computer Software

    The most powerful tools for record keeping and ranch management are computer programs developed specifically for this purpose . Many of these programs allow data entry from electronic identification (EID) tag readers, saving a lot of chute-side number writing.  A few even allow mobile phone record entry.  Oklahoma State has a fact-sheet called Cow-Calf Production Record Software that provides comparisons of commercially available software packages.  Most companies offer a free trial of their software, so you can try it out before purchasing.  These software programs allow for organized record entry, but more importantly, very powerful data sort and analysis that is much more tedious with written records or even simple excel spreadsheets.


Record keeping is just busy work unless the data can be used for meaningful ranch analysis that provides valuable information that guides management decision making. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Ranch Analysis

Once the records are recorded and summarized you will have established some baseline data to better manage a cattle operation.  The records are of little value however, without herd and operation level analysis, and then breaking it down to the unit level (per cow, per pound of weaned calf, per bale, etc.)  The Noble Foundation has a nice spreadsheet to help with end of the year analysis called Cow Calf Net Return.  This is a free Excel spreadsheet you can download, that does the math for you. The goal is to boil down all of the key records to a level that makes decision making more simple in the future. Example:  You spent $ 250/cow on supplemental feed in 2015, so what if you switched to a different system?  Instead of having to figure total costs, it is much easier to do the math on a per unit level.  This is also very valuable as you market calves, because you will have a fairly clear picture of your breakeven costs on $ /lb. basis.  The Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA) system was developed to combine both cattle performance and financial records for standardized whole ranch analysis that could be used for comparisons to ranches across the country.



Click on image with mouse to enlarge for easier reading

At the 2016 Florida Beef Cattle Short Course, Dr. Stan Bevers, Texas A&M Livestock Economist, shared his 13 Key Performance Indicator Targets for Beef Cow-calf Operations.  He offers some really good suggestions on targets for production and financial management of cow-calf operations.  While this type of annual, whole ranch evaluation is ideal, it takes extensive production and financial records to develop this sort of annual benchmark targets.

Final Thoughts

Start with simple record keeping tools, begin whole ranch evaluation at the basic level, and then gradually build your operational analysis.  Once annual benchmarks can be set, everyone on an operation can work together to build a profitable, efficient cattle operation that is sustainable through the highs and lows of future cattle markets. The ultimate goal is to have each phase of management summarized, so it is much easier to evaluate different systems, scenarios, or substitutions.  For most producers, record keeping and analysis is not what they enjoy most about managing a cattle operation, but once the hard work of developing the system is completed, the ability to make hard decisions based on a known history will be invaluable.  There are quite a few resources available to help ranchers work through this process.  The following are an assortment of helpful links to information and management tools for beef cattle operations:

Key Resources for Ranch Record Keeping & Analysis

Record Keeping Systems:

Florida Beef Cattle Ranch Record Book (Loose-leaf notebook record system)

NCBA Redbook pocket record book (2017 version now available)

NCBA Redbook Companion Spreadsheet (Purchase a CD or Download at no cost)

Ranch Analysis Spreadsheets:

Cow Calf Net Return (Noble Foundation spreadsheet for end of year analysis)

NCBA Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA) ranch analysis spreadsheet

UF/IFAS Beef Economic Program website (Florida Cow-calf Budget spreadsheet)

Useful fact-sheets:

Cow-Calf Production Record Software (Oklahoma State Fact sheet that compares commercial software programs)

BIF Guidelines for Uniform Beef Improvement Programs

Key Performance Indicator Targets for Beef Cow-calf Operations



Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – 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/2016/10/21/improving-ranch-efficiency-through-record-analysis/

4-H Grows Leaders Through Military Partnership

michael individualThe month of April provides an opportunity to recognize and honor the service of our youngest heroes, military children. Since 1986, April has been designated Month of the Military Child. This allows us to acknowledge the significant role military youth play in our communities and honor them for their commitment and sacrifice. They are resilient and take pride in their service to our Country. They deserve our appreciation and support.
I am so excited to introduce you to one of our 4-H grown military youth, Michael. He began as a Bay County 4-H member as a summer camper three years ago. Michael then became involved with the 4-H club programs on base through the 4-H Torch Leadership Club. He serves as a peer mentor to other military youth in the base school age program. His work with younger youth includes helping them design, plant, and maintain a garden at their youth center. Assisting with homework and school struggles. Michael also participates in the 4-H Archery Program. In February, he was nominated as “Teen of the Month”. At camp this year, he is looking forward to serving as a counselor-in-training. Michael has adopted a quarterly service project using cooking skills he acquired from the 4-H foods and nutrition project to prepare and serve food to the single military members. He and his club are currently perfecting their entrepreneurial skills while working on a service project to support local veterans. He is also on the school track team. Michael is a phenomenal youth with a heart of gold and passion for helping others. He is a well-rounded young man that is very involved in 4-H. He exemplifies the 4 H’s – Head, Hands, Heart and Health. One of his club leaders, Ms. Heather said he really shows an interest in the younger youth and takes his role as a peer mentor seriously. She relayed a story of Michael taking extra time from his schedule to help a youth he wasMichael garden mentoring prepare for an upcoming test. His mentee was struggling to understand the material that was going to be tested on the next day, so extra time was needed reviewing the material.
When I ask Michael what he felt he was getting out of being a 4-H member at the youth center and at camp, he responded “I feel that for the last few years since I have been in 4-H, I have become more outgoing, confident and experienced in so many ways. If not for 4-H, I might still be sitting in my room all day playing video games. I especially like helping others whenever I can whether it’s at the Youth Center or at Summer Camp. So to me, 4-H is an amazing program that has been a positive influence in my life and in michael robot cropmaking me the person I am today.”

If you are a teen and want to learn more about how you can volunteer in your own county, please contact your local extension agent. Volunteering is a time investment that will pay you back exponentially through the growth you see in the youth and program you’re affiliated with. Volunteers come in all forms from peer mentors, camp counselors, to committee members. Follow the links below to see how you can help 4-H expand our capacity to reach more youth, more families, and more communities through utilizing your skills, your knowledge, and your story!  #trueleaders #4hgrows


Author: pmdavis – pmdavis@ufl.edu

4-H Youth Development Faculty Bay County Extension


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/29/4-h-grows-leaders-through-military-partnership/

Growing Independence Through 4-H Clubs

Today is our final post for this year’s National Volunteer Week Celebration.  We’ve heard from several different types of volunteers- project club leaders, school volunteers, gardening volunteers and SPIN club volunteers.  Today we will hear from Mrs. Linda Jones, a Gadsden County 4-H Community Club Volunteer.  After retiring from a career of teaching, Mrs. Jones stopped by her local county extension office to ask some questions about her small farm.  During her visit, the former county extension director, Dr. Henry Grant, told her about the 4-H program and asked if she would like to get involved as a volunteer.  Mrs. Jones was sold!  Since then, her club has been involved in multiple service projects that support local community members such as Second Harvest Food Bank and Relay for Life.  Her club also participates in the North Florida Fair.  In addition to being a community club leader, Mrs. Jones is also a certified overnight chaperone and chaperones youth every summer at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake.  When asked what she enjoys most about her volunteer role with 4-H, Mrs. Jones shared:

“I taught school for 30 years, so I have a love of learning.  I love that 4-H has so many different curricula and that almost everything in 4-H is a learning opportunity.  I am just a kid at heart, and 4-H is a playground for learning.”

Mrs. Jones shared that another thing she appreciates about 4-H is their focus on safety.  Paperwork and safety trainings are not her favorite aspect of 4-H, but Mrs. Jones admits that she sees the value in it and appreciates the protection it provides to both her and the kids in her club.  “As a teacher, I am more focused on the learning part, but 4-H has trained me to keep safety a priority.  For example, I wanted to take the kids horseback riding, and my agent pointed out that for 4-H activities, youth must wear a helmet while riding horses.  I wouldn’t have thought of that on my own, but 4-H has my back.  The legal ramifications can be challenging, but as a mother and grandmother, I see the value.”

In addition to being a community club leader, Mrs. Jones is also a certified overnight chaperone and chaperones youth every summer at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake. For years, she has taken her grandchildren to camp, who have acted reluctant to go.  Recently, she learned that her grandkids may need to move for her daughter’s new job.  She was shocked to learn that their first reaction to the news was dismay that they would have to miss Camp Cherry Lake!  Mrs. Jones chaperoned 4-H University for the first time this past year, and she recalls a favorite memory of this 1st time experience.  “Two of the youth that I took to 4-H University were graduating seniors and would soon be leaving for college.  One of the most important things they took away from that experience was a real feeling of independence.  One of the youth shared that having her own dorm room key made her feel grown up and mature.  That is not what I would have expected, and it seems like a simple thing, but it is important.”

If you are thinking about becoming a community club volunteer, Mrs. Jones offers a word of advice, “Don’t get discouraged by the rules, regulations and policies- they will become your best friend and are in place to protect both you and the young people you are impacting.”  If you would like to make a difference in your community the way that Mrs. Jones has, think about sharing your talents with us!  You can fuel the extraordinary efforts of our youth by joining us as a volunteer.   To find out more, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org/volunteers.  Happy National Volunteer Appreciation Week- we hope you have enjoyed this year’s series with a peek inside some of the roles our volunteers serve!



Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/15/growing-independence-through-4-h-clubs/

Free Online BQA Certification through April 15

Free Online BQA Certification through April 15

BQA TrainingCattle ranchers have a great training opportunity for both themselves, and their employees.  For a limited time, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc (BIVI) is covering the cost of Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training.  BQA is more than just giving shots correctly.  BQA means training everyone who works in the beef industry about humane animal handling, proper drug administration, record keeping to ensure proper drug withdrawal, and many other practices that ensure the consumer gets a safe product with consistent eating quality.  It is how the Beef Industry shows the consumer that we care about the food they eat.  There is a great deal of fear in America today about foods and food production techniques.  BQA certification is how the cattle industry can make a statement that cattlemen do things the right way.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI), is covering the cost of Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification through April 15, 2016. Beef and dairy producers can take advantage the free BQA certification online through April 15, 2016, courtesy of BIVI and the BQA program, which is funded by the beef checkoff. Register today and complete your certification at your own convenience.

The Cow/Calf Beef Quality Assurance is a series of 17 online training modules.  The Cow/Calf package covers information specific to the needs of today’s cow/calf producers including up-to-date information on weaning and preconditioning of calves, handling and culling, herd health plans, calf management, and humane euthanasia.

  1. Animal Abuse
  2. The Care and Handling of Non-Ambulatory Cattle
  3. Humane Euthanasia of Cattle
  4. BQA Goals
  5. Beef Quality Assurance Herd Health Plan Guidelines
  6. Best Management Practices – Feed Additives and Medication
  7. Best Management Practices- Animal Treatments and Health Maintenance
  8. Residue Avoidance
  9. Parasite Control
  10. Best Management Practices – Record Keeping and Inventory Control
  11. Animal Handling
  12. Weaning and Preconditioning
  13. Calf Management Practices
  14. Handling and Culling
  15. Best Management Practices – Foreign Object Avoidance
  16. Vaccinology
  17. The Cattle Industry’s Guidelines for the Care and Handling of Cattle

Use the following link to access the online BQA Certification modules.  Use the coupon code BIVIBQA during checkout for free BQA training.

Online BQA Certification


Why should you be BQA Certified?

BQA does more than just help beef producers capture more value from their market cattle: BQA also reflects a positive public image and instills consumer confidence in the beef industry. When producers implement the best management practices of a BQA program, they assure their market steers, heifers, cows, and bulls are the best they can be. Today, the stakes are even higher because of increased public attention on animal welfare. BQA is valuable to all beef and dairy producers because it:

  • Demonstrates commitment to food safety and quality.
  • Safeguards the public image of the dairy industry.
  • Upholds consumer confidence in valuable beef products.
  • Protects the beef industry from additional and burdensome government regulation.
  • Improves sale value of marketed beef cattle.
  • Enhances herd profitability through better management.



Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – 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/2016/03/05/free-online-bqa-certification-through-april-15/

4-H Teaches Youth to Think Globally and Act Locally Through Energy Conservation Education


By 2050, the United Nations estimates that the total population will total around 9 billion people globally (United Nations: 2004). Meeting the challenge of addressing the needs of so many people is an opportunity for growth that can be gained through scientific developments and personal responsibility, areas in which 4-H eagerly works to educate youth and adults.

We learn that our everyday behaviors, even if they seem very small, can actually put a lot of strain on our environment when so many people do the same things.

We often ask our youth, “If everyone were to do the same things you do every day, what would that look like? What kind of impact do you think it would have?”.

We know that much of our daily energy use, like the amount of water we use, how much trash we produce, the kind of food we buy and where we buy it, and how much energy we use in our transportation, for example, can make a big difference if we all make decisions that keep our environment in mind.

We can help prevent environmental damage that leads to climate change and human illness by conserving energy and making a smaller ecological footprint. An ecological footprint is the amount of resources from the environment that are required to meet the demands of our everyday consumption of goods. 4-H encourages youth to make thoughtful decisions about their behaviors such as:

  • Eating locally grown and in season produce
  • Using reusable bags for shopping
  • Buying products with less packaging and that are less processed
  • Turning lights off when they aren’t in use
  • Doing outdoor rather than indoor activities
  • Walking, biking, carpooling, or taking public transportation
  • Recycling
  • Conserving water when brushing teeth and by displacing water in toilet tanks
  • Only running washing machines with full loads

However, motivating people to change their behaviors can be difficult. In 4-H we work to encourage young people to understand at an early age the enormous impact they have on the health and well-being of others.  The World Health Organization tells us that “…environmental factors are a root cause of a significant burden of death, disease and disability – particularly in developing (poor) countries. The resulting impacts are estimated to cause about 25% of death and disease globally, reaching nearly 35% in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.” (World Health Organization: 2016). A good portion of environmental damage that affects us in negative ways is caused by our using more resources than our planet has the ability to renew at the same rate we use them and by extracting our resources in harmful ways. This may seem overwhelming, but there are actually very simple things that each of us can do that can significantly help lessen the impact. Actually, when we change our behavior is western countries like the United States, we can make more significant differences since we are one of the primary consumers of energy in the world.

And as always, youth learn not only by DOING but by helping to teach others! We encourage our youth to educate their friends and family as well as to mentor younger 4-H’ers in project areas like environmental science. If your youth or club is interested in learning more about energy conservation and environmental science projects, there are an array of wonderful resources, listed below, to help get you started. Your county 4-H agent is happy to help any youth or volunteer interested in this or any one of the project areas that help provide youth with research based education.

Games: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=kids.kids_index

Curriculum: http://www.chesapeakebay.net/channel_files/18256/handout_-_4-h_environmental_curriculum.pdf


Resources for teachers: http://www.eia.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=6




United Nations. 2004. “World Population to 2300”. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Population Division. United Nations: New York, NY.

World Health Organization: The Health and Environment Linkages Initiative (HELI). 2016. “Environment and Health in Developing Countries”. URL http://www.who.int/heli/risks/ehindevcoun/en/index1.html. Accessed February 5, 2016.

Photo: Wake County, North Carolina 4-H. http://www.wakegov.com/humanservices/family/4h/traditional/Pages/default.aspx


Author: Jenny Savely – jsavely@ufl.edu


Jenny Savely

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/02/19/4-h-teaches-youth-to-think-globally-and-act-locally-through-energy-conservation-education/

Florida 4-H Club Grows Compassion through Community Pride Grant

Fire Ants 4-H Club members prepare and serve meals for hospice patients and caregivers to develop compassion and empathy in their community.

Fire Ants 4-H Club members prepare and serve meals for hospice patients and caregivers to develop compassion and empathy in their community.

There are many genetic traits you’re born with that can’t be changed.  But what about traits such as compassion and empathy?  Can they be learned?  A new study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that adults can indeed be trained to be more compassionate and empathetic.  But rather than wait until adulthood to grow this trait, youth involved in 4-H have the opportunity to grow compassion beginning as early as five years old.  Giving back has long been one of the essential elements of 4-H programs where youth are given the opportunity to practice service to others.

The Fire Ants 4-H Club is one such club in Washington County that gives its members a chance to practice compassion and giving through its service project with Covenant Hospice. For the past two years, the Fire Ants 4-H Club has partnered with Covenant Hospice to provide volunteer services for its clients. 

It began with a few members and parents volunteering to make a meal for a client.  Last year, club officers applied for a Florida 4-H Foundation Community Pride grant to grow their efforts with the purpose of providing healthy, home-cooked meals for Hospice clients.    Members and parents spent a day preparing and cooking made-from-scratch meals and then portioning them into individual serving containers.  Over 100 individual home-cooked meals were frozen and delivered to clients.  Members have also served at the past three annual Covenant Hospice banquet that honors patients and caregivers.  

Community service has the ability to become life changing not just for those receiving the service but especially for the youth involved.  4-H’ers are learning through hands-on experiences that they can make a difference and that their efforts are important.  Getting involved in a cause or effort that matters to youth helps develop skills and experiences that carry over into adult life and cultivate a sense of compassion for the world in which they live.  If we grow youth who are more compassionate and empathetic, what does that potentially mean for our world?  We are more likely to have youth who are socially responsible, who have a heart for giving back and helping others, who have positive relationships with peers and adults, who have improved communication and critical thinking skills and go into careers that feed their passions and interests. 

What will you do in 2016 to grow compassion? 

For more information on 4-H clubs in your county, or if you’re an adult who wants to work with youth to help them grow compassion and empathy to make help your community thrive, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org 




Author: Julie Pigott Dillard – juliepd@ufl.edu

Julie Pigott Dillard is the 4-H Youth Development Agent in Washington County..

Julie Pigott Dillard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/01/15/florida-4-h-club-grows-compassion-through-community-pride-grant/

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