The annual Cattlemen’s Update made its swing through Northern Nevada earlier this month to present the latest research-based information to ranchers for them to improve the efficiency and sustainability of their businesses.
After a virtual presentation Jan. 8 for those unable to attend in person, presenters including professors and staff from the Nevada Agricultural Experimental Station and College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR) at the University of Nevada, Reno, visited Fallon, Ely, Elko and Paradise Valley north of Winnemucca.
Dr. Barry Perryman, professor and CABNR’s department chair, introduced the speakers at the four locations. Speakers offered a wide variety of information ranging from nutrition and health, risk management and identification of poisonous plant identification and overall information to help ranchers deal with the latest trends.
Dr. Mozart Fonseca, an associate professor with CABNR, discussed how feed restrictions impact bull reproduction and aging. Fonseca conducted a study from October to September 2020 with information directed toward breeders and reviewed the effects of sperm production and seminal quality.
“Detrimental effects on sperm production and seminal quality are observed at periods and places when and where environmental and nutritional limitations are a year-round reality and may carry hidden players that may influence a lifetime of reproductive underperformance,” Fonseca said.
Furthermore, Fonseca said extending the productive lifespan of an animal also increases the profitability of the production system. Among the applications are reducing the cost of replacement animals to dietary intervention and decreasing improving transportation and receiving protocols for highly stressed cattle.
“Breeding soundness evaluation is a practical method to eliminate bulls with less than satisfactory breeding potential," he said.
Chris Rose, partnership coordinator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Services, said the Inflation Reduction Act is providing an additional $47 million to Nevada.
Among the areas of climate smart mitigation categories that could reap the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act are soil health; nitrogen management; livestock partnership; grazing and pasture; restoration of disturbed lands; agroforestry, forestry and wildlife habitat; and energy, combustion ad electricity efficiency.
Rose outlined the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and said the regular application process applies.
“A grazing permit from the (Bureau of Land Management) and Forest Service satisfies the effective control provision and can be sued for replacement of existing range improvements,” Rose said.
Rose said three areas affect eligibility and payments, which are limited to $450,000 for life of the 2018 Farm Bill. He said historically underserved producers such as tribal members may be eligible for these increased payment rates or advance payments. He further outlined the “control” or “effective control” of the land.
Other topics he reviewed included typical conservation practices on public lands and fire-related practices that may be used to prove resiliency and protect the threat of wildland fires on public or private lands.
Two University of Nevada Extension educators provided ranchers with the best risk management tools for agriculture operations. Staci Emm, professor and Extension educator, and Lindsay Chichester, associate professor and Extension educator, encouraged ranchers and other producers to check out all risk factors that may affect them.
Emm said the top risks she has heard from area producers include weather, energy costs, geopolitics, input costs and interest rates. In 2023, though, she said the opposite with weather occurred. Normally, ranchers face drought conditions, but she said they saw an increase in the amount of rainfall in 2023. In addition to more rain, she said a cold snap in 2023 caused the loss of calves.
“You can insure newborn calves,” Emm said of the program implemented in September.
Emm said other states such as Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas have a program to insure crops and animals, and the policy also includes provisions for adverse weather fire, earthquakes and volcanic eruption, to name a few.
“Ask about this program and see if it fits into what you do,” she said.
Emm added the protection can be tailored to any farm up to $17 million.
Chichester focused her presentation on regional food business centers. She said the USDA Regional Food Business centers will support “a more resilient, diverse and competitive food system.”
“These regional food centers will support producer by providing localized assistance to access local and regional supply chains including linking producers to wholesalers and distributors,” she said.
Chichester said the centers will be able to provide technical assistance to access new markets as well as overcoming barriers to market access. The Extension educator added the regional food centers will be able to provide financial assistance. She said the centers will have three responsibilities: coordination, technical assistance and capacity building.
Dr. Luis Schütz, an assistant professor with CABNR, followed with a presentation on “Reproduction Management: What Impacts Reproductive Efficiency of Cows.” He said the profitability for ranchers has been fine-tuned.
Schütz pointed out information derived from a study conducted several years ago looked at the importance of reproduction. He said factors include the number of calves produced, percentage of calf crop weaned, the weaning weight and pounds of milk produced.
Dr. Pete Mundschenk, Nevada’s new state veterinarian with the Department of Agriculture, presented testing results on sheep and goats. He also said 80 bats were tested for rabies, and 12 reports came back positive.
“I come from Arizona, and we saw rabies in foxes — more than in bats,” he said.
Mundschenk said other studies focused on vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), which causes blistery legions in horses and can also affect cattle.
According to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, “in affected livestock, VSV causes blister-like lesions to form in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves, and teats. These blisters swell and break, leaving raw tissue that is so painful that infected animals generally refuse to eat and drink and show signs of lameness.”
Mundschenk also talked about foreign animal diseases such as foot and mouth diseases, which is severe and highly contagious, and African swine fever. He said Nevada Administrative Code 571 is being updated to include additional information on trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite,
Although he was the final presenter, Paul Meiman, an associate professor and Extension specialist with CABNR based in Elko, kept the interest of his audience with a new app that can be downloaded for free and provide information on poisonous plants.
“We have common plant challenges in Nevada,” Meiman said.
The USDA Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory created the free app to help producers deal with solutions to toxic plant problems, which case economic losses to the livestock industry.