Agriculture News: New intern helping out this summer

By Keenan Bishop, Published:

This summer I’ll have an intern from UK shadowing and helping out. His name is Ben Mefford and he is actually a Franklin County boy. He’s studying agricultural economics at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. 

A good many extension agents started out as interns on the county level. It’s a really good way to see what the job is all about as well as get some much needed summer time help for the office.

Ben will have at least one project of his own to work on but he’ll also be assisting 4-H, Family and Consumer Science as well as the KSU Small Farm Program. 

We’ll see how much he still wants to be an agent after attending Clover Bud Camp and 4-H Camp back to back and then Farm City Field Day the next week! Be sure and stop in and say hello to Ben or give us a call and we’ll pop out for a farm visit.

Herd Health School

The Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association is hosting a Herd Health School Tuesday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the UK Eden Shale Farm, which is in Owen County. 

The topics include “Keeping Your Cows and Calves Healthy,” “Maintaining your Herd Health Equipment,” “Biosecurity and Your Farm,” “Herd Testing Programs” and “Chuteside Demonstrations.” 

The presenters will be Jody Wade, Boehringer Ingelhiem and Sandy Grant, of Gold Standard Labs.

The Eden Shale Farm is only 45 minutes from Frankfort or about 33 miles, so it’s an easy visit up U.S. 127 North. Just go to 245 Eden Shale Road, Owenton, KY 40359.

They ask that you RSVP so they’ll have enough materials and lunch so you need to call Becky Thompson first thing Monday morning at 859-278-0899.

Caterpillars on the march

You’ve probably noticed over the past week all the caterpillars going in every different direction. They are Eastern tent caterpillars, which have just matured and are on the move. According to Lee Townsend, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment extension entomologist, populations are up in Central Kentucky this year.

“Mature eastern tent caterpillars leave trees in search of protected pupation sites, where they will spin cocoons and transform into adults. This dispersal is a normal part of their life cycle,” Townsend said. “These wandering caterpillars may move several hundred feet from the trees where they developed. The direction of travel tends to be random and directly related to air and ground temperatures. 

“Movement will be slower when temperatures are cool and faster when they are warm. The caterpillars wander for a period of time until internal hormones signal that it is time to stop and pupate.”

According to Townsend, wandering caterpillars orient to dark, vertical objects so they will often climb tree trunks and fence posts. Check fence posts and rails to monitor caterpillar movement. If caterpillars are around, they are likely to be on these objects. Activity is expected for the next few weeks.

“Insecticides are not very effective against large, dispersing caterpillars. They feed very little, if any, so they are not going to consume treatments and little insecticide is picked up from treated grass or bare ground. Direct treatment of caterpillars may provide some control, but the effect is usually delayed,” Townsend said.

The eastern tent caterpillar is active early each spring. It is an important insect in horse country due to its role in Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome, which resulted in staggering losses of foals in the 1999-2001 outbreak. MRLS can cause late-term foal losses, early- and late-term fetal losses and weak foals. 

Subsequent studies by UK researchers revealed that horses will inadvertently eat the caterpillars, and the caterpillar hairs embed into the lining of the alimentary tract. Once that protective barrier is breached, normal alimentary tract bacteria may gain access to and reproduce in sites with reduced immunity, such as the fetus and placenta.

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