Category Archives: K-State Extension

Feeding Hay in Drought

Hunter Nickell
Southwind Extension District
Livestock Production Extension Agent
1006 N. State St.
Iola, KS 66749
Office: (620) 365-2242
Cell: (620) 473-3298
[email protected]


Throughout the summer and fall, the Southwind District has been in D2 (severe), D3 (extreme), or D4 (exceptional) drought. This has compromised pasture quality, reduced surface water availability, diminished cattle condition, and increased hay prices while reducing quality and quantity. This article discusses different cattle feeding methods to increase feeding efficiency and profitability.


Feeding Efficiency – Quantity and Quality

No matter the feeding method, bale waste is directly affected by how much hay you are providing cattle at one time. Providing a daily hay ration can reduce hay loss by 25% compared to providing two or more days’ rations at a time.


**Special Note** Forage analyses are an inexpensive technique to know what you are feeding your cattle. Forage probes can be checked out at any Southwind Extension Office. Additionally, we will help you select the proper analysis for your operation.


Feeding Hay on Pasture

Let’s evaluate four hay feeding methods for cattle on pasture. Many producers stockpile tall fescue in the Southwind District and feed supplemental hay while cattle are on pasture. While most fescue greened up with recent precipitation, not much growth has occurred. However, producers may still seek to feed cattle in pastures where water is available.


Method 1: Hay Rings or Round Feeders

The tried-and-true method to get hay to cattle. Almost every livestock farm has at least one of these, and it continues to be the most used method to feed hay. Feeding out of a hay ring is simple and takes little effort with a loader tractor.

Let’s consider that there are many bale ring types, each offering their own benefits and shortcomings. We are focusing on data from Oklahoma State University showing percent hay waste with three commonly used bale rings, and one “ideal” hay ring type that is not commonly used.

Type 1: Open Bale Ring. The open bale ring is the simplest bale ring. The open bale ring is a ring of metal tubing to hold the bale in place while cattle eat. This ring type has shown to result in 20% hay loss by weight as hay can fall out of the bottom and cattle can drag hay out for bedding.

Type 2: Poly-pipe Bale Ring. The poly-pipe rings are becoming very popular because of their durability, light weight, and maneuverability. Poly-pipe bale rings are functionally the same as open bale rings, thus resulting in similar losses.

Type 3: Sheeted Bottom Bale Rings. These bale rings feature a sheet of metal along the bottom half of the feeders, limiting hay from falling out of the bottom as the bale unravels. Most sheeted button rings also have stanchions on the top half to limit the number of cattle that have access to the bale at a given time. Sheeted Bottom Bale Rings with 16 stanchions resulted in 13% loss by weight.

Type 4: Modified Cone Feeders. In this study, an “ideal” bale ring was constructed. A “cone” was added to the top of a sheeted bottom ring. This cone only allows small amounts of hay to be dropped down the feeder at a time. This modified cone feeder had only 5.3% waste by weight.


Method 2: Unrolling Bales

Unrolling bales on pasture is another commonly used method to feed hay. It is as simple as unrolling a large round bale with a tractor, hydraulic bale bed, or using gravity to unroll down a slope. If you plan to unroll down a slope, plan to have all children and animals out of the way of where the bale is to unroll to prevent injury.

Unrolling bales has been nicknamed the “bed and breakfast” feeding method. As the nickname states, cattle will not only feed on the unrolled bale, but they will also take the opportunity to bed in the soft hay, further increasing waste. Simply unrolling bales can have varying amounts of wastage, depending on the amount of cattle being fed at one time. Studies by Kansas State University have shown 22-23% waste using this method. More cattle will create more competition and less waste; whereas, fewer cattle will create less competition and more waste.


Method 3: Unrolling Bales and Using Electric Fence

Using electric fences helps to alleviate waste experienced with unrolling bales on pasture. The idea is simple, unroll the bale as you normally would and then string a hot electric fence right down the middle of the roll.

You may have noticed a trend as we looked at feeding methods. As you add barriers to accessing the hay, you tend to limit waste. The idea of using electric fences over top of the bale role is relatively new, ergo little data are available to support this practice. If your operation utilizes electric fences, it may be worth trying.


Method 4: Grazing Bales

Grazing bales requires more preparation than the previous methods, but once the fencing is in place it is an easy and versatile method of feeding cattle. Grazing bales is spreading bales evenly throughout a field and limiting access to only a few bales at a time with an electric fence. This method can be very useful to producers who may not have access to a loader tractor or bale bed on a daily basis, or even for producers who don’t want to cold start their tractors every day this winter. By spreading the bales throughout the field, you only need equipment for one day Then you can move the fence on foot as needed.

Grazing bales can easily incorporate one or more of the aforementioned methods, whether it be moving one or more hay rings to the next bales to be grazed or unrolling the bales ahead of time and allowing access as needed. When bale grazing, waste can range from 5 – 15% with hay rings or 11 – 45% without hay rings.


Feeding in Dry Lots

Some cattle producers may choose to feed cattle in dry lots this winter for convenience, pasture health, or water limitations. Depending on lot size, many methods listed above can be repeated with similar results. For example, feeding with bale rings will result in 5.3 – 20% waste in a dry lot.

Many producers feeding in dry lots will use a bale processor or mixer to feed hay. Processed hay will decrease the selectivity of cattle, thereby decreasing waste. Feeding processed hay in a bunk line results in 8 – 11% waste.

Another option for producers feeding in a dry lot is feeding a total mixed ration (TMR). A TMR is a mix of feeds such as ground forage (hay or silage), grain, protein feed, vitamins, minerals, and other additives. When mixed properly, cattle are unable to select for certain ingredients, giving producers more control over feed intake.

Feeding a TMR in a bunk line will result in 2 – 10 % waste. While a TMR adds additional feed costs, a proper mix can decrease hay usage by 20 – 50% when compared to feeding hay in an open bale ring. For producers with limited hay resources and access to a mixer, a TMR may be a more cost-effective option for feeding cattle this fall.

Considerations for feeding in a bunk line: plan to need 28 – 36 inches of bunk space per cow, depending on cattle frame size. Also plan to feed cows, calves, and bulls separately to ensure each animal is eating the necessary allotment.


Final Thoughts

A drought can make it tough for cattle producers to turn profits with decreased amounts of quality forages, poor animal performance, and limited water. Changing how animals are fed can lead to serious savings. Switching from an open bale ring to a sheeted bottom bale ring could save over $10/ton of hay fed on $150/ton hay.

For more information, and to have your hay tested, contact Hunter Nickell (Livestock Production Agent) or Chad Guthrie (Crop Production and Forage Management Agent) at any Southwind Extension District Office.


Preparing for Holiday Stress with Mindfulness


By Clara Wicoff

Southwind Extension District


If you turn on the radio, you may hear that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” But the holiday season can bring with it many stressors, from trying to have flawless decorations to making the perfect holiday meal and more. In addition to preventing you from living in the moment and enjoying time with family and friends, this stress can also affect the body and present as physical pain (such as a headache). One practice which can help you live in the present moment this holiday season is mindfulness.


If you find yourself facing stress this holiday season, remember to STOP: Slow down; Take a breath; Observe bodily feelings, thoughts, and possibilities; and Proceed, considering multiple possibilities. This mnemonic device can help you remember an easy way to practice being mindful this holiday season.


Other beginning mindfulness exercises include mindful relaxation and mindful breathing. To achieve mindful relaxation, consider setting aside a specific amount of time each day to practice a mindful meditation. This could be as little as five minutes. During this time, find a quiet place and a comfortable body position. Focus on your breathing. Deep breathing can slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.


To learn more about incorporating mindfulness into your everyday life and practicing mindfulness this holiday season, consider attending an “Everyday Mindfulness” educational program offered by the Southwind Extension District! This free program will be offered twice in December, including an in-person offering at the Iola Public Library on December 13th at 1 PM and a virtual offering via Zoom on December 15th at 5:30 PM. To register for the Zoom link, visit Attend the offering which best fits your schedule!


For more information, please contact Clara Wicoff, Nutrition, Food and Health Extension Agent, at [email protected] or 620-365-2242.

Live Christmas Trees – Tips for Selection and Care

Krista Harding
District Extension Agent, Horticulture
Southwind Extension District
111 S. Butler
Erie, KS 66733
Office: 620-244-3826
Cell: 620-496-8786



The selection and purchase of a Christmas tree has become an annual tradition for many families who chose a real tree over an artificial substitute. Bringing home a tree is often the kick off of the holiday season. Today, live trees can be found just about anywhere you look such as retail lots, shopping centers, the ever popular choose-and-cut farms. Of course, real trees do require some extra care to keep them looking good through the holiday season.


When choosing a tree, freshness is the most important factor. Purchasing trees that have already been cut for a period of time, are probably the most difficult trees to keep fresh and fragrant due to the length of time from cutting until the tree is placed in the home. A fresh tree should have a healthy, green appearance without a lot of dead or browning needles. As you stroke the tree, needles should not come off into your hand. Another good test to do before buying a tree is to raise the trunk a few inches off of the ground and then drop the tree on the cut end. When this is done, only a few inner dried needles should fall, and certainly not any green outer needles.


Once the tree is brought home, its continued freshness will depend on the type of care that is provided. A 1 inch re-cut across the bottom of the tree should be made. This will remove any clogged wood that many not absorb water. Put the tree into a stand or container of warm water and place it in as cool a spot as possible. Avoid placing it in an area where there is a heat source such as a fireplace, wood-burning stove, heat ducts and even television sets. This will help to preserve the freshness, reduce water loss and lessen the fire danger.


Depending on the size and species of tree, the use of a gallon of water in the first day would not be uncommon. Therefore, the tree should be checked frequently and re-watered as necessary. If the tree does become dried out, it probably will not absorb water. It may be necessary to take the tree down and re-cut the bottom to allow the absorption of water. This is inconvenient, but it is the only way to prevent early needle loss if a tree has become dried out. In the past, some have thought that adding aspirins, copper pennies, soda pop, sugar and bleach to the water may prolong the life of a tree. This has not been proven.


Should you choose a living Christmas tree, they definitely require special care. Once the tree is brought home, it should be conditioned before being placed in a heated room. Leave the tree in an unheated garage or building for a couple of days. After conditioning, the tree can be brought in and placed in a cool location away from direct sunlight. Watering a live tree should be done prior to placing it in the home, by moistening the root ball.


Living trees should not be kept inside for more than 10 days. Exposure to warm temperatures may cause the dormant tree to break buds and start to grow. Before removing the tree and planting it outside, it should be allowed to acclimate itself the same way before it was brought inside. The planting hole should be dug before the ground freezes. Once planted, water well and place some mulch around it to prevent the soil water from freezing.


With proper selection and care, you can enjoy a fresh tree throughout the holiday season. And with a real tree, you don’t have to worry about storing it for a year before using it again! They just take a little more work while on display.


Krista Harding is a K-State Research and Extension Horticulture agent assigned to Southwind District. She may be reached at [email protected] or 620-244-3826.

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.




Vitamin A Deficiency

Hunter Nickell
Southwind Extension District
Livestock Production Extension Agent
1006 N. State St.
Iola, KS 66749
Office: (620) 365-2242
Cell: (620) 473-3298
[email protected]

Have you heard from your veterinarian about Vitamin A deficiencies, or the likelihood of them this year? Vitamin A deficiency can present with many different clinical signs, but the most common signs are weak or stillborn calves.  In this article published by Dr. Gregg Hanzlicek of Kansas State University, he will discuss some possible reasons why this may occur in spring-calving beef herds.

Fresh, green forages contain very high levels of Vitamin A (as carotenes).  It is rare for Vitamin A deficiency to occur during a normal pasture season. We do occasionally observe deficiencies in the pasture season during drought conditions. As the grasses become dormant (have turned from green to brown color), the Vitamin A content will decrease and the pasture may not provide the appropriate amount of required dietary vitamin.

Vitamin A deficiency is primarily a winter issue.  Cows on green-grass pastures will store Vitamin A in their liver. During late fall and winter, when Vitamin A intake is not sufficient, they can use this storage supply to meet metabolic demands. Unfortunately, the storage supply only lasts between 2 and 4 months.

Harvested forages that are still green in color will also contain some Vitamin A, but at very low levels. This vitamin is the least stable of all vitamins and its stability is negatively affected by elevated temperatures, light, presence of oxygen, and humidity. Therefore, during the harvesting, curing, and storing process a large amount of Vitamin A is lost.

Most herds will supplement Vitamin A through a trace-mineral/vitamin pack supplement.  Unfortunately, we do commonly see Vitamin A deficiency in supplemented herds. What might explain this?

Some mineral packs do not contain the appropriate amount of Vitamin A. Normal free-choice mineral/vitamin supplement consumption is 2-4 ounces per head per day.  To meet the needs of a 1,400-cow consuming 2 ounces of mineral, 300,000 IU of Vitamin A per pound of supplement would be required. If consuming 3 ounces of mineral, this concentration would need be 200,000 IU/lb.  A large percentage of these supplements contain less than 150,000 IU/lb.

Another consideration is supplement intake amounts variation between cows.  Some research suggests up to 14% of cows do not consume any dry mineral supplement at all, and the variability between animals that do is very large. Lastly, it doesn’t matter what level of Vitamin A is contained in the supplement if it isn’t consistently available for consumption. Cows can’t eat what is not available!

As mentioned above, Vitamin A is very unstable and affected by many environmental factors. Mixing Vitamin A with trace minerals (particularly inorganic forms) increases the level of instability. When not mixed with a trace mineral, about 1% of the pure Vitamin A product potency is lost per month. After mixing, the losses can approach 9% per month. A trace mineral/ vitamin product purchased today may contain 50% less Vitamin A when fed six months later.

One common question about supplementation concerns administering an injectable Vitamin A product. In some cases, supplementing with this method does make sense. For example, a herd that is presently experiencing a deficiency can administer the injectable to those dams that have not calved which will have immediate effects.  Another example would be when a herd has not been adequately supplemented and has been fed harvested forages for an extended period. The negative aspect of injectable Vitamin A is the short period of effectiveness. Vitamin A tissue levels are increased for about 1-2 months after administration; therefore, administration timing is critical. To help unborn and neonatal calves, administering to cows as close to expected calving would be appropriate. Excessive Vitamin A can be toxic; therefore, using your veterinarian’s advice on product and dosage is very important.


  • Fresh, green forages contain large amounts of Vitamin A; therefore, supplementation levels during a normal pasture season are minimal.
  • Once pastures have become dormant or when feeding harvested forages, Vitamin A supplementation levels need to be increased to the appropriate level.
  • Considerations to normal supplement consumption amounts of most vitamin/trace mineral products, it is important that these products contain the appropriate level of Vitamin A.
  • It is important that supplementation products be available to the cows at all times to optimize consumption levels.
  • Minimize the storage of Vitamin A containing products to only a few months given the instability of this vitamin.
  • Injectable Vitamin A can be beneficial in some cases, but appropriate dosage and timing is critical.

If you have any questions about Vitamin A and their clinical signs, or believe you have a Vitamin A issue, please contact your local veterinarian. Additionally, if you would like more information on this article, please contact Hunter Nickell at [email protected] or at any of the Southwind Extension District Offices.

Healthy Cooking for the Holidays


By Clara Wicoff

Southwind Extension District


What do you most look forward to about the holidays? For many, including myself, the answer may be holiday foods. Many families have incredible traditions centered on traditional foods that they only get to enjoy a few times each year. These holiday celebrations and traditions are important and should be cherished. At the same time, you may be wondering how you can make your traditional holiday recipes healthier.


Many favorite holiday foods, like pumpkin pie or green bean casserole, actually start with a healthy first ingredient. By focusing on that vegetable or fruit, you can reduce the large amounts of fats and sugar usually found in our traditional holiday recipes. To do this, consider switching from a traditional green bean casserole to a green bean sauté, from traditional mashed potatoes to yogurt mashed potatoes, from a traditional pumpkin pie to a crustless pumpkin pie, or from a traditional apple pie to slow cooker baked apples. Some of these recipes still contain more calories than we should regularly consume, but they are more healthful alternatives as compared to the traditional recipes because they increase the nutritional value and fiber while decreasing the calories, added sugar, and sodium.


With all of this, it is essential to highlight the importance of adapting this based on what is important to your family traditions and culture. There may be some recipes which are important for your family to enjoy as is. If this is the case, consider if you can make just one swap to a healthier recipe for a different item.


To learn more, consider attending my “Healthy Cooking for the Holidays” program at the Erie Library on November 16th at 10 AM. Attendees will dive deeper into this information and practice making one of the recipes. This program is free, but an RSVP is required by calling 620-365-2242.


For more information about healthy holiday cooking, please contact me at [email protected] or 620-365-2242.

Farm and Ranch Transition Conference Dec. 15

Chad Guthrie
District Extension Agent, Crop production and Forage Management
Southwind District
210 S. National
Fort Scott, Kansas 66701
Office: 620-223-3720
Cell: 308-991-8415
[email protected]


The Office of Farm and Ranch Transition at Kansas State university will be partnering with the Southwind Extension District to host the 2022 Farm and Ranch Transition Conference on December 15, at the Neosho Valley Event Center in Erie, KS.

The conference invites keynote speaker Dr. Shannon Ferrell, of Oklahoma State University, to speak on the process of farm transitioning. As and educator and speaker, Dr. Ferrell helps audiences all over North America understand the fundamental legal elements of farm and business management and farm transition planning. He has provided presentations and workshops to a cumulative audience of over 30,000 across the US and Canada while authoring over fifty publications, including serving as lead author on the Farm Transition Workbook. In addition, he has testified before Congress and the Oklahoma state legislature on multiple policy issues involved in farm transitions from regulatory barriers to retirement savings. In private practice, he helps farm families with both the conversations involved in forming the best transition planning approach and creating the mechanisms to make their transitions successful.

Ashlee Westerhold, Director of the Kansas State Office of Farm and Ranch Transitions will speak on the services the office provides following their three main objectives: 1. Development of a land-link program to introduce exiting landowners with beginning farmers/ranchers through an application and curated matching process. 2. Provide one-on-one technical services to facilitate transitioning the operation. 3. Develop an extensive training program for beginning farmers/ranchers to master critical financial and business issues.

Participants will also learn about when and how to utilize lawyers in their farm transitioning process and hear from a peer panel on real experiences of going through the transitioning process.

Farmers, Ranchers, Landowners, and consultants are all encouraged to attend this conference to gain valuable insight on transitioning out of, or into a farm or ranch. Participants can sign up by visiting or by calling Chad at any Southwind Extension District office. The deadline to sign up for this conference is Dec. 1.

Fall is Time to Control Lawn Weeds and Fertilize

Krista Harding
District Extension Agent, Horticulture
Southwind Extension District
111 S. Butler
Erie, KS 66733
Office: 620-244-3826
Cell: 620-496-8786



Even though we didn’t get enough rain last week to be a true drought buster, we did receive enough moisture to get the cool season broadleaf weeds to germinate. My residence is in the far southern portion of Neosho county, and my lawn had been brown as brown could be for several months. However, I did notice over the weekend that the fescue was trying to green up and there were little green weeds poking through the soil. It was henbit!


Cool season broadleaf weeds such as henbit, dandelions and chick weed all germinate in the cool moist periods of September and October. It was actually a bit delayed this year because of the dry conditions. They overwinter as small plants, barely visible unless you get down close to the ground to look. Once warm weather arrives in the spring, the plants grow rapidly and flower.


Fall control is ideal for these cool season broadleaf weeds. The weeds are storing food in their roots and will send a leaf applied herbicide to their roots as well. The herbicides will translocate to the roots and will kill the plants from the roots up. These plants are also small and easily controlled right now.


There are several products on the market that are effective on these fall germinating weeds. Herbicides such as 2,4-D or combination products that contain 2,4-D, MCCP and Dicamba, sold under the trade names of Trimec, Weed-B-Gon, or Weed-Out, can be used. A product called Weed Free Zone is also an option. It contains the three active ingredients mentioned above plus carfentrazone.


Newly planted lawns should not be treated with any herbicide until the new grass seedlings have been mowed two or three times depending on the product. Read and follow label directions closely.


Herbicide drift can be a problem during the spring when warm temperatures prevail along with winds. The cooler fall temperatures and the dormant state of most plants reduce this problem considerably, making it an ideal time for application.


As we enter November, it is also the time to give cool-season lawns the last nitrogen application of the season. Why November? November is a good time because it will really help the grass next spring.  As the top growth slows due to the cool temperatures in November, grass plants continue making food (carbohydrates). Carbohydrates that are not used in growth are stored in the crown and other storage tissues in the plant. These reserves help the turfgrass green up earlier in the spring and sustain growth into May without the need for early spring nitrogen application.


How much fertilizer should you apply? One to 1½ pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn area is sufficient. A quick nitrogen carrier such as urea or ammonium sulfate should be used.


Weed control is going to be more important this year than ever because our turf has taken such a hit from the drought. Because some of the turf may have actually died out, it makes the perfect opportunity for weeds to take over. Take action now to have a beautiful, weed-free lawn next spring!


Krista Harding is a K-State Research and Extension Agricultural agent assigned to Southwind District.  She may be reached at [email protected] or 620-244-3826.

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



Become a Master Food Volunteer

Do you have a passion for food? If so, consider joining the Master Food Volunteer (MFV) program! You will meet others who also share a passion for food; participate in classes, by either leading or assisting, to teach others about food; learn up-to-date practices on food safety and nutrition; and take your knowledge of food to the next level. To join, you must complete a 40-hour training course which costs $120. This course will be offered online from January 17th to February 25th with three days of hands-on training. Interested applicants must apply by December 1st to be considered. You can find the application online here or you can call 620-365-2242 to receive a copy.
Wondering what current MFVs have to say about the program? According to MFV Susan Stich: “Being a Master Food Volunteer has taken my love for food and nutrition to new levels of knowledge and fun. With the Master Food Volunteer training and university resources, I can feel confident in sharing with the community safer and fun ways to preserve, prepare, and serve food. The MFV program gives me the opportunity to help others of all ages learn better ways to eat healthier and safer. The camaraderie I have with other Foodie Friends is a special plus.”
Some of the educational programs which our current MFVs have hosted or assisted with in the past year include our kids’ cooking classes, a pressure-cooking class, a program on cooking with herbs, and a hands-on breadmaking class. The possibilities are endless!
If you have any questions, please contact Clara Wicoff at 620-365-2242 or [email protected]. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Three positions open at Southwind Extension

  • There are three positions open at the K-State Extension Southwind District.
  • Southwind District Extension Program Assistant (we are looking to hire two) – Here is the job description and here is the application which must be submitted with a cover letter and resume to Krista Harding ([email protected]) by October 21st. Please share to help us find great people to fill these two positions! You can learn more about the Southwind Extension District at our website:
  • Southeast Area SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator, based in Fort Scott, KS – This position is newly created and will report to the Southeast Area SNAP-Ed Regional Specialist Chuckie Hessong. You can find more information about this position here. Contact Chuckie with questions at [email protected]. Screening for this position will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. This work is fulfilling for someone who has a service heart, loves to cook and teach others to live a healthy lifestyle. This position will work with low resource families and individuals–youth, adults and seniors! K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity employer and provider. Again, please share this information to help us find great applicants in the Fort Scott area!


Submitted by Clara Wicoff, MSc


Extension Agent

Nutrition, Food and Health

Southwind District

K-State Research and Extension

1006 N. State St.

Iola, KS 66749


[email protected]


Tips for Dealing with Food Price Inflation


By Clara Wicoff

Southwind Extension District


If you’ve been shocked by food prices this year, you aren’t alone. Try these tips for dealing with food price inflation. Not every idea will work for you, so pick the ones that best fit you and your lifestyle!


Start by making a list before grocery shopping. Stick to that list and avoid shopping on an empty stomach to prevent impulse purchases. When possible, also try to shop when you are well-rested because you will make better decisions. Consider eliminating high-cost “junk food” snacks and beverages that provide empty calories with little or no beneficial nutrients. Take advantage of coupons (but only on products you already use). Look up and down when selecting a product, since eye-level products can be more expensive. When purchasing produce, plan to purchase produce which is in season and less expensive.


If you are concerned about maintaining a nutrient-rich diet amid high food prices, consider choosing canned fruits and vegetables. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, these can be just as nutrition as fresh and frozen foods. There are some steps you can take to ensure you are choosing a nutritious option. Pick fruits canned in water or 100% fruit juice versus those packed in syrup. When it comes to canned vegetables, choose ones labeled “no salt added” or “low sodium.”


If you are eating out at a restaurant, rethink your drink and make the switch from soda to water. You can also investigate if local restaurants have specials like “kids eat free” nights. If you have leftovers, bring them home to eat for another meal. For food safety purposes, leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen within two hours of eating or preparation. Place the leftovers in a prominent spot in your refrigerator to remind yourself to consume them promptly.


Another important way to cut down on food costs is to reduce food waste and eat everything you buy. The average family of four loses $1,500 each year on wasted food. Some of the tips listed above will help you reduce food waste, including shopping from a list. Proper food storage is also key. Use thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer to ensure food is kept at a safe temperature (40°F or less for the refrigerator and 0°F or less for the freezer). Implement the “first in, first out” storage method to ensure the food you buy first is used first. For more food storage tips, check out the USDA FoodKeeper app at


Please contact Clara Wicoff, Nutrition, Food and Health Extension Agent, for more information at [email protected] or 620-365-2242.

Tips to Keep Unwanted Pests Out

Krista Harding
District Extension Agent, Horticulture
Southwind Extension District
111 S. Butler
Erie, KS 66733
Office: 620-244-3826
Cell: 620-496-8786

Tips to Keep Unwanted Pests Out


As the weather cools, it is inevitable that certain outdoor pests are going to try to find their way inside homes. One of the best ways to limit unwanted intrusions of insects or rodents is to deny them entry. It is often easier to prevent entry into a home or building than trying to control them once they are inside.


Here are seven useful tips for pest proofing.


  1. At the base of all exterior doors, install door sweeps or thresholds. Gaps of 1/16 inch will permit entry of insects and spiders; ¼ inch wide gaps are large enough for entry of mice. The bottom corner of doors is often where rodents and insects enter.


Applying calk along the bottom outside edge and sides of door thresholds will exclude ant and small insect entry. Garage doors should also be checked for bottom seals. A rubber seal is best as vinyl seals poorly in cold weather.


  1. Utility openings should also be sealed. This includes areas where pipes and wires enter the foundation and siding, around outdoor faucets, receptacles, gas meters, clothes dryer vents and telephone/cable TV wires. Plug holes with caulk, cement, expandable foam, steel wool or other suitable sealant.


  1. Use a good quality silicone or acrylic latex caulk to caulk around windows, doors and fascia boards. Use a high quality caulking gun. A gun that has a back-off trigger to halt the flow of caulk is best.


  1. Repair gaps and tears in window and door screens. Doing so will help reduce entry of flies, gnats, lady beetles and other overwintering pests in the fall. However, there are some insects such as hackberry psyllids that are small enough to fit through mesh window screens. The only way to prevent entry of these tiny insects is to keep windows closed.


  1. Attic, roof and crawl space vents should be covered with ¼ inch wire mesh to prevent entry of birds, bats, squirrels, rodents and other wildlife.


  1. An exterior (barrier) insecticide treatment can also be applied. Sealing is by far the most permanent way to exclude pests. However, it can be labor intensive and sometimes impractical.  For situations like that, an exterior insecticide treatment may be best. You will get the most for your efforts by applying a longer lasting liquid formulation containing synthetic pyrethroids. Read and follow label directions before using any pesticide.


Barrier insecticide treatments should be applied to the base of all exterior doors, garage and crawl space entrances, around foundation vents and utility openings and up underneath siding.

  1. Pests such as lady beetles are often best controlled with a little manual labor by using a vacuum cleaner or broom to sweep them up.


Krista Harding is a K-State Research and Extension Agricultural agent assigned to Southwind District.  She may be reached at [email protected] or 620-244-3826.

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



Ammoniating Wheat Straw, A Potential Feed Source in Drought?

Southeast Kansas has been in a severe drought for most of this year’s growing season.

Poor crop and pasture yields have led to limited feed options and increased forage price tags for cattle producers.
Two thousand twelve offered very similar conditions to the Plains they could get their hands on.
One option many Kansas producers found was to ammoniate wheat straw.

Wheat straw is widely considered a poor forage that is better served as bedding, but research conducted by Kansas State University shows ammoniating bales can greatly improve protein content
and digestibility. Wheat straw typically tests around 3.3% crude protein and 31% invitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD). Ammoniation rates of 1.5% (lbs anhydrous ammonia/dry matter lbs wheat straw) can increase crude protein content to 8.6% and IVDMD to 42%. An ammoniation rate of 3% increased
crude protein to 10.8% and IVDMD to 46.2%.

The process of ammoniating wheat straw is not overly complicated. An area large enough to hold the stacks of bales will need to be cleared, with some soil pulled away to be used later. Bales
should be gathered in rows and stacked in a pyramid (three bales on the base, two on the second level and one on top). The entire stack should be covered with a black plastic sheet, about 6 to 8 mm thick. A 40’ x 100’ sheet can cover 12 rows of pyramidstacked bales. The edges of the plastic should hit theground and be covered with loose soil to seal the bales inside the plastic. Any holes in the sheet will
need to be patched with tape. Next, a pipe (6 8 ft long) should be placed on the ground and inserted into the center of the stack. Attach the pipe to the anhydrous tank and slowly empty

Once the stacks of bales are covered, it is time to let the anhydrous ammonia go to work. The ammoniation process is dependent on heat, so the straw will be ready to feed sooner with warmer
temperatures. Average temperatures above 86°F will need to be sealed for one week, temperatures between 59 86°F need to remain sealed for two to four weeks, and temperatures below 59°F need to remain sealed for up to eight weeks. The October 2021 average daily high and low temperatures at the
Kansas Mesonet Station near Uniontown, KS were 71°F and 51°F, respectively. With expectations of a warmer than average October for 2022, we could expect the ammoniation process to take around 4 weeks if started the first week of October.

Now, what is the cost?

Any producer who fertilized his pasture or crop ground this past spring knows that fertilizer prices have gone through the roof, especially compared to 2012, when producers were using this
alternative feed source.

The price of anhydrous ammonia at Midwest Fertilizer in Iola, Kansas, was $1,206.67 as of Sept 28, 2022. That equates to $0.60/lb. A 40’x100’ sheet of black plastic can seal a row of 12 pyramids.
Assume a tightly wrapped wheat straw bale (tightly wrapped bales work better for ammoniating) weigh on average 1100lbs. 72 total bales, at 90% dry matter, means you will have roughly 35.64 dry tons of wheat straw to ammoniate.

1.5% rate will require 1,069.2 lbs anhydrous ammonia
1,069.2lbs x $0.60/lb = $641.52 = $18/dry ton wheat straw

3.0% rate will require 2,138.4 lbs anhydrous ammonia

2,138.4lbs x $ = $1,283.04 = $36/dry ton wheat straw

Anhydrous ammonia will not be the only cost associated with this process. Let’s assume another
$15/dry ton wheat straw to account for fuel, the plastic sheeting, labor, and other miscellaneous costs.
This will bring our cost of ammoniating wheat straw to:

1.5% rate: $33/dry ton wheat straw

3.0% rate: $51/dry ton wheat straw

Today’s prices may make the decision more challenging than it was in 2012, but with prairie hay
trading in southeast Kansas at $100130/ton and wheat straw only trading at $60/ton, ammoniating
wheat straw is an option for those lacking feed this fall.

For more questions regarding ammoniating wheat straw and other forage questions, contact
Chad Guthrie, crop production and forage management agent, or Hunter Nickell, Livestock Production
Agent at any Southwind Extension District office. Locations in Erie, Fort Scott, Iola, and Yates Center.

Disclaimer: Caution should be taken as anhydrous ammonia is a dangerous chemical. Releasing the
anhydrous too quickly could cause the plastic sheeting to rupture. The plastic will also balloon out
during the ammoniation process, so strong winds, hail, or wildlife could puncture the plastic.