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Summer is in Full Swing!

I cannot believe that today is already the last day of June! These last couple weeks have been quite busy with some awesome hands-on research with the tiestall lameness project and a lot of prep work for upcoming summer events. I usually try to make sure I have plenty of pictures for my blog, so I apologize that this post will be a little slim when it comes to photos.

I said in my earlier blog posts to stay tuned about the tiestall lameness study that I was helping Betsy Hicks with, and the wait is over! We are in full swing and have already put the data loggers on at two different farms. There are five farms total in this round that we are doing. We put the data loggers on while the cows are in the barn so that it is easier for both us and the cows. The data loggers are really small devices. I would describe it as like a watch battery in the way it looks, but is a lot bigger, about the size of a quarter or half-dollar coin. We wrap them each in a high-visibility leg band and a lot of vet wrap so that they hopefully don’t fall off. The picture shows what one of the loggers look like once they are on. We had already sat down and met with the producers to fill out paperwork, so it was now time to start the actually measuring part of the study. The goal of the study is to correlate lying time with lameness on tiestall farms and then present feedback to each farm on ways to improve. When we get to each farm, forty cows are chosen at random to participate. I also take stall measurements throughout the barn and record information about that, while Betsy goes down the line and does some different scoring, like hygiene and body condition. We also look at each animal’s hocks and necks for any injury or swelling from getting up and down in the stalls. I also conduct height and weight measurements on each cow participating. Once all the data loggers are on, they also are scored on locomotion. Each cow is let out of the barn one by one so that they can receive a locomotion score, which is based on how they walk and if a lot of effort is needed or not. There is a reader that stays in the barn for the duration of that farm’s participation that stores all the data for each farm. The data loggers stay on for five days at each farm and then the data is downloaded onto the computer before being reset for the next farm. We have another farm coming up in a couple weeks.

When I’m not busy spending my time in a tiestall barn, I have been doing a lot of prep work for our upcoming summer farm tours and the county fair, which starts on Tuesday, July 4th! I cannot believe that the fair is already here. The South Central Dairy and Field Crops Team puts on quite a few different tours and pasture walks throughout the summer, so I have been working on finalizing details for the tour that I am putting on, as well as making a summer flyer to go out to the area’s producers to provide information to them. The tour that I have been coordinating is a Robot Farm Tour, which includes visiting two different farms during the day and hearing about the ins and outs of each facility and how this technology is beneficial to their operation. It’ll be neat to see the crowd that will hopefully come and check it out.

Today is the last day for us to really set up the fairgrounds and get everything ready to go before people start to show up. Putting on the fair is definitely a huge team effort and the 4-H department here in Cortland County puts in a tremendous amount of effort and time to make sure it is a memorable experience for the children. This week I spent some time at the fairgrounds putting up name cards throughout the dairy barn so the kids could start setting up their bedding and display for their animals beforehand, as well as getting all of the fire extinguishers in place. In the office, I’ve been putting together the Dairy Challenge contest, as well as some other odds and ends. The little things really add up! In the picture, I am finishing the poster I made for the 4-H market sale, thanking our sponsors for participating in the auction and buying animals. We also had a clean-up/set-up night, where 4-Hers and their parents come down to help clean up the buildings and set up things like rabbit cages and animal pens.This morning I went and dropped off my eggs at the fairgrounds that I have been incubating since I will be at the fairgrounds this weekend for a different cow show and they are only a few days from HOPEFULLY hatching! What an experience this egg business has been! After I finish this blog, I will head back down to the fairgrounds to drop off a lot of things that we have piled up in the office and set-up the 4-H building so that exhibits the members enter will have a place to go after being judged. Even though the last couple days and the days to come may be hectic and a little stressful, it’ll all be worth it and I could not be more excited!

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