Cattle trained to the release of handler pressure are more likely to communicate any health problems. That was one of the many take-away messages delivered during yesterday’s KLA/Kansas State University Ranch Management Field Day near Hutchinson. The event was hosted by Stroberg Land & Cattle at the Mollhagen family’s Reno Ranch.

Noted cattle handling clinician Tom Noffsinger said handlers who work with cattle and reward desired motion with the release of pressure can quickly develop trust and mutual respect. Concentrating on low-stress handling skills, he said, increases the caretakers’ powers of observation to recognize abnormal behavior, including costly respiratory illness.

Animal Ag Alliance Executive Vice President Kay Johnson Smith told the field day crowd of about 120 that animal rights groups are threatening animal agriculture by pushing legislation in individual states and Congress, as well as expanding the number of lawsuits. These groups were successful in getting 100 animal cruelty bills passed across the country during one recent year. The largest and most powerful organization, the Humane Society of the United States , is increasing its legal division to include 12 full-time attorneys who will draft laws and bring cruelty litigation against meat processors and livestock suppliers.

K-State veterinarian Larry Hollis warned cow-calf producers there is no treatment for the bovine venereal disease trichomoniasis. Infected bulls and cows should be sold only for processing. He said the best ways to prevent the 50% reduction in pregnancy rates caused by the disease are to buy young, virgin bulls; require negative tests for experienced bulls; and purchase heifers, cows with a calf at side that have not been re-exposed to a bull and cows that are known to be at least 90 days pregnant.

From 1965 to today, the eastern red cedar population has increased 23,000% in Kansas alone, according to Natural Resources Conservation Service State Rangeland Management Specialist David Kraft. He told landowners in attendance if this takeover continues, it not only will dramatically reduce grass production, but lead to water quantity problems. Research has shown an acre of eastern red cedar trees can absorb up to 55,000 gallons of water per year.

This was the second field day in the 2009 series. The final stop will be tomorrow (Thursday) at Ken and Barb Grecian’s ag operation near Palco. All producers are welcome to attend. Each of the three field days is sponsored by Bayer Animal Health and the Farm Credit Associations of Kansas.