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Friday, July 22, 2011

Waivers for Hauling Large Hay Loads Due to Drought

The drought is putting great pressure on our livestock producers as forage and hay supplies become more scarce. Waivers will allow hay haulers to carry above height limit and above weight limit loads of hay (round bales). Please note there are some restrictions, but this may be of help as ranchers seek ways to keep forage available to their livestock.

Copies of two waivers approved by the Governor.

1. The "hay waiver"

2. An oversize/overweight permit waiver related to timber cleanup for three of the recent wildfires.

Links to both of these documents are available on the TxDOT Web site, at , under "Important Notices".

(From the TxDOT Home Page at, you can get to "Important Notices" by selecting "Business with TxDOT", then "Motor Carriers", "Oversize/Overweight Permits".)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Being Safe in Extreme Heat

Texas is experiencing consistent triple digit temperatures this summer and it is quickly becoming a record breaking year. Agricultural workers frequently work outside during the heat of the day or in enclosed environments that are not climate controlled. Protecting yourself and workers from the effects of heat is vital to their health and productivity.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also taken notice of the extreme weather and released updated heat safety information.

Factors that May Cause Heat-related Illness
• High temperature and humidity
• Low fluid consumption
• Direct sun exposure (with no shade) or extreme heat
• Limited air movement (no breeze or wind)
• Physical exertion
• Use of bulky protective clothing and equipment
• Poor physical condition or ongoing health problems
• Some medications
• Pregnancy
• Lack of previous exposure to hot workplaces
• Previous heat-related illness

Health Problems Caused by Hot Work Environments

Heat Stroke is the most serious heat-related health problem. Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature regulating system fails and body temperature rises to critical levels (greater than 104°F).This is a medical emergency that may result in death! The signs of heat stroke are confusion, loss of consciousness and seizures. Workers experiencing heat stroke have a very high body temperature and may stop sweating. If a worker shows signs of possible heat stroke, get medical help immediately, and call 911. Until medical help arrives, move the worker to a
shady, cool area and remove as much clothing as possible. Wet the worker with cool water and circulate the air to speed cooling. Place cold wet cloths, wet towels or ice all over the body or soak the worker’s clothing with cold water.

Heat Exhaustion is the next most serious heat-related health problem. The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion are headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, confusion, thirst, heavy sweating and a body temperature greater than 100.4°F. Workers with heat exhaustion should be removed from the hot area and given liquids to drink. Remove unnecessary clothing including shoes and socks. Cool the worker with cold compresses to the head, neck, and face or have the worker wash his or her head, face and neck with cold water. Encourage frequent sips of cool water. Workers with signs or symptoms of heat exhaustion should be taken to a clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation and treatment. Make sure that someone stays with the worker until help arrives. If symptoms worsen, call 911 and get help immediately.

Heat Cramps are muscle pains usually caused by physical labor in a hot work environment. Heat
cramps are caused by the loss of body salts and fluid during sweating. Workers with heat cramps
should replace fluid loss by drinking water and/or carbohydrate-electrolyte replacement liquids (e.g., sports drinks) every 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat Rash is the most common problem in hot work environments. Heat rash is caused by sweating and looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters. Heat rash usually appears on the neck, upper chest, in the groin, under the breasts and in elbow creases. The best treatment for heat rash is to provide a cooler, less humid work environment. The rash area should be kept dry. Powder may be applied to increase comfort. Ointments and creams should not be used on a heat rash. Anything that makes the skin warm or moist may make the rash worse.

Statewide Small Scale Poultry Workshop Set

By Blair Fannin

BRYAN – A small-scale poultry production workshop, sponsored by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, is scheduled from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Brazos Center, 3232 Briarcrest Drive in Bryan.

“This workshop will provide small-scale poultry producers and enthusiasts with the latest information on the production of poultry for meat and eggs,” said Dr. Craig Coufal, AgriLife Extension poultry specialist. “As more individuals are taking part in this aspect of poultry production, this workshop has something for everyone with several informative presentations.”

Topics will include basic husbandry and management, production systems, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, biosecurity and marketing rules and regulations.

Several speakers from the Texas A&M University Department of Poultry Science, department of entomology and the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory will be part of the workshop, Coufal said.

Cost is $75 before Aug. 5 and $100 after. Registration includes materials, breaks and a catered lunch. Registration is limited to the first 100 people, Coufal said.

To register online, visit AgriLife Extension Conference Services at and enter “poultry” in the keyword search field. Participants may also register by phone by calling 979-845-2604.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Concerns for livestock water availability, quality

By Kay Ledbetter

As the drought continues and temperatures remain above normal, cattle water is becoming a greater concern, especially after recent reports of cattle deaths in or around watering points, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialist.

Dr. Ted McCollum, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, said the location of the deceased cattle suggests the deaths could be associated with water consumption.

“Because little or no forage growth has occurred this year, the forage contains very low amounts of water,” McCollum said. “An average cow grazing green forage normally consumes about 30 to 70 pounds of water daily, or about 3.5 to 8.4 gallons, from the forage she grazes. “This year, as a result of no forage growth and a relatively low intake of dry forage, daily water consumption from grazed forage is probably around 3 to 5 pounds or 0.4 to 0.6 gallons.”

Couple low water intake from forage with the higher, stressful temperatures this summer, McCollum said, and intake of water from drinking sources takes on greater importance than "normal" years or years with high temperatures but with green forage. “The lack of water from forage is more important than we credit,” he said.

“How many people would think of going out to work for a few hours without a jug of water to drink from periodically? The water in the grazed forage is the cow's ‘jug of water’ that rehydrates her while she is out on the range or pasture.” High temperatures alone may not a problem, but hot temperatures in combination with lack of green grass as is the case this year, is a problem, McCollum said.

“The risk of heat stress is greater because we have high ambient temperatures combined with dry dead forage,” McCollum said. “The cow's ‘jug of water’ is relatively empty this year, and the risk of heat stress and water-related problems is greater.” He said water deprivation, water intoxication and water quality can all play a role. These three may act independently, but often they are interrelated.

Water deprivation occurs when cattle cannot consume an adequate amount of water, McCollum said. Water is a nutrient just as protein, vitamins and minerals. And reduced water intake can result in reduced performance. Water deprivation can be fatal or lead to circumstances that can be fatal.

He said many people immediately associate this with a situation in which a well cannot pump enough water to keep up with cattle needs, the breakdown of a well or watering system, or a pond or creek drying up. These certainly are of great concern, but water deprivation also can occur in circumstances when it is perceived there is an adequate amount of water available.

McCollum said cattle behavior may lead to water deprivation because they develop preferences for grazing sites and loafing areas. If more than one watering point is available, they may develop a preferred watering location in a pasture. So, a grazing area with multiple watering points may appear to have an adequate supply of water, he said. However, if cattle have a preferred site and that site breaks down, dries up or the water quality declines and reduces consumption, then water deprivation may occur.

Cattle with no familiarity of a grazing area also can suffer deprivation, McCollum said. “Do not assume cattle will find water. When cattle are moved to new pastures, take them to water and observe their consumption to determine if they are willing to consume the water,” he advised.

Water intoxication occurs when cattle over-consume water, McCollum said. It usually occurs following a period of reduced water consumption or increased water loss from the body. The cattle are dehydrated and consume an excessive amount of water. Electrolyte balance in the body is disrupted and water intoxication occurs, which can be fatal.

In cases of acute water intoxication, dead cattle will be found near the watering site, he said. Water intoxication typically follows water deprivation. So, a key to avoiding water intoxication is avoiding water deprivation. Limiting water intake when cattle are moved to a new water source may be next to impossible, McCollum said. If cattle are dehydrated, it may be worth the effort to allow them to drink, but find a way to limit the amount immediately consumed.

With the concern of water quality, the supply of water may be adequate but the cattle are deprived because they cannot or will not consume enough of the water, he said. Total dissolved solids and total soluble salts are two water quality measures that can lead to poor performance and possibly death. As the concentrations increase, water intake is reduced. Salinity of water limits intake just as salt in feeds can limit intake, McCollum said. Hence, water quality can lead to water deprivation.

Also, high consumption of sodium, calcium, magnesium salts and sulfates can lead to failure to thrive, and in some cases, can be fatal, he said. Nitrates in the water may also be of concern. “Coupled with reduced water intake, these issues can become even more of a concern,” he said. “Water quality can indirectly affect performance and health by reducing water consumption, which exacerbates heat stress and can lead to water intoxication once cattle locate or can access palatable water.”

Another problem McCollum pointed out is that hot sunny days and warm stagnant water may lead to blue-green algae blooms. Some species of blue-green algae are toxic, so consumption of the algae or the toxins from it can be fatal. As a result, dead animals may be found close to the watering site. Oftentimes, algae is concentrated on the downwind side of the pond as a result of wave action, he said. Dead rodents, birds or fish along the downwind side of the pond may indicate the presence of blue-green algae. Limiting access to the downwind side of the pond by cattle may reduce risk of toxicity.

Copper sulfate can be used to limit algae growth, but caution must be exercised because excess copper sulfate can lead to stream pollution and harm fish and plant life, McCollum said.

“Also, don't rule out toxic plants that may be present around watering locations. The immediate area around ponds and tank-overflows is disturbed, and the moisture profile in the soil is better than out in the pasture,” he said. “Even though drought conditions exist, disturbance and moisture are conducive to weed growth. Pigweed, kochia, Russian thistle, dock, buffalo burrs, etc. can grow in these areas, and they are green and may be attractive to cattle. If cattle deaths are occurring, see what has been grazed off around the watering area.”

For more information on water quality for livestock the publication “Water quality: Its relationship to livestock” can be found at