Turnout time in our 4-H Youth | TSLN.com

Turnout time in our 4-H Youth

Retired Beef Specialist Emeriti, University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Ivan Rush |

Normally I write about production practices that hopefully will aid in improving profitability in your cattle operation. Today at the end of this article I want to address issues with our 4-H Youth.

As the grass greens up and producers turn cows and calves to pastures they will probably be transitioning from the highest cost of production, where harvested feeds are fed, to one of the lowest cost of production where very high quality productive grass is utilized. Yes, grass prices, either owned or rented, continues to increase but when daily cost of grazed grass is coupled with the fast calf growth and cows that are often improving in body condition it will usually be out most economical cost of production.

Two key issues should be taken care before turning cows and calves to lush green pastures. The first is to have high magnesium mineral out to aid in preventing grass tetany. Lots of information is available from extension, veterinarians and the feed industry that can steer you in the right direction. Generally speaking palatable mineral supplements that contain 4-8 percent magnesium will work well in preventing tetany. Many will already have these supplements in front of the cattle however it is still not too late. Although arguable, I feel that cows have been consuming magnesium in a supplement for 1-2 weeks will be relative safe as magnesium is absorbed and mobilized in the blood stream relatively fast.

The second is to have a stocking rate plan. Even though I know that it is essentially a struggle each year because of the many variables that will influence that rate especially rainfall and now we read of the possibility of grasshopper infestations. Even though I know it will vary I still go through the process. Too many times in the late summer I get calls indicating a producer has run out of pasture and reviewing the stocking rate they should have been out of grass. Planning a proper “average” stocking rate often could have prevented the problem they encountered.

I have been involved with a situation concerning our 4-H members these past two weeks that really has me troubled. I am sure most have heard that the decision was made by the National 4-H and USDA Extension “leaders” to have the Humane Society of the United States (so called) or HSUS to address our youth at the National 4-H Conference. I am reluctant to pursue this issue in the press as I do not want to do anything that may discourage support for such a wonderful program. I have been a supporter of 4-H for a long time, starting when I was a member, serving in extension, to now where I lead a local 4-H Club but perhaps most noteworthy a proud grandparent of two wonderful young 4-H members. I know the program has so much to offer out youth. 4-H provided me with an opportunity to pursue my career of beef specialist with UNL.

When I first heard that the HSUS addressed our 4-H youth I immediately wrote my state 4-H administrator. I received the name of a person that was responsible for planning the conference. E-mails to the Washington office went unanswered for a period of time but did finally get a response with a very bland “official” response. The response indicated that the youth were exposed to a different view and they have the right to choose. I have in repeated e-mails to our state and national decision makers pointed out the huge mistake they made by inviting a group that is so biased and doing all that they can do to damage the livestock industry by unfair attacks and promoting a vegetarian diet.

I have acknowledged that youth should have the right to choose but extension has hundreds of people that could have addressed this subject in a very balanced way and thousands of producers could have told their story in a factual manner. Is it too much to ask for our extension decision makers, that excels and prides themselves in delivery of unbiased information, to do just that at the national conference and not invite a group that is openly very biased and that has every intention of damaging our livestock industry – in this case through our youth? I questioned if they were so much out of touch with the grass roots people that they did not understand the real issues or just didn’t care. As of yet I have not or we as an industry, have not received an apology for such a blunder or any assurance that they will not make the same mistake next year at the national conference.

Again, as stated previously, I don’t want to do anything that will adversely affect all the great things that 4-H offers, the great efforts of our volunteer leaders and county and state 4-H workers, however, if extension is truly a grass roots organization the state and national 4-H administrators need to hear your thoughts.

Enjoy watching the calves going over the hill at feeding time with their tails in the air.

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