University of Nebraska Extension - Holt Boyd News Column for the week of June 7, 2020






FOR WEEK OF June7, 2020

June 15: DUE: Animal ID’s due include County only Horse ID Sheets

June 15: DUE: State 4-H Horse Show Entries

June 24: Virtual State Speech & PSA Contest

June 25: Boyd County Small Animal Day, Boyd County Fairgrounds, Spencer

July 12-15: Nebraska State 4-H Horse Show, Grand Island

July 14: Virtual Boyd County Pre-Fair Day – More details to come

July 16: Virtual Boyd County Pre-Fair Day – More details to come

July 21: Due: 4-H, Clover Kid and FFA Fair Entry Sheets (all animals, stall and static entries)

July 21: Due: Horse Levels (Must be completed to exhibit)

July 21: Due: Youth for Quality Care of Animal Yearly Training/Testing (Must be completed to exhibit meat animals)

July 25: Beef Fitting/Showing Workshop, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon, Holt County Fairgrounds, Chambers

July 30 - August 1: Boyd County Fair – Entry Day, Boyd County Fairgrounds, Spencer

August 4-8: Holt County Fair, Holt County Fairgrounds, Chambers

August 10: DUE: State Fair In-Person and Livestock Entries Due Online

August 24: DUE: Non-Perishable State Fair 4-H Projects in Office

August 25: DUE: Perishable State Fair 4-H Projects in Office

LaDonna Werth, Extension Educator

LaDonna Werth,
Extension Educator

Phone: 402-336-2760

UNL Extension - Holt/Boyd County


Tell Me Everything

Talk with me all day. Begin to get in the habit of having a conversation with me while you are doing things with me. Make sure you give me a turn to respond back to you. I may make sounds, smile and wave my arms.

Hearing you talk and letting me respond makes needed connections in my brain. This leads to developing language on my own.

Did you know that a large part of a baby’s brain development will happen after birth? And were you aware that much of the development will happen based on the experiences that children has in the early years? While the brain is always making connections between brain cells, a child will make trillions of initial connections in the first five years. These connections have an enormous impact on a child’s emotional development and learning. So let’s make the first year positive

Source: Brain Insights: Deborah McNeils

Amy Timmerman,

Extension Educator

Phone: 402-336-2760

UNL Extension - Holt/Boyd County


While most vegetables are not hard to grow, there are some that are easier than others. What determines an easy-to-grow vegetable? The easiest vegetables are reliably productive with minimal effort in fairly limited spaces. This means that you are using your time and space wisely and efficiently. They also tend to be popular vegetables that are staples in cooking.

There are a couple of things to consider when growing your first vegetable garden as well. All vegetables prefer full sun and well-drained soils. Vegetables perform best when receiving at least 1 inch of rainfall or irrigation a week. And vegetable gardens need to be regularly weeded to prevent competition from weeds for light, water and nutrients. And lastly, most vegetables have fewer disease problems when rotated to a new site each year. Therefore, all vegetable gardens require planning prior to planting and regular maintenance each week during the growing season to be successful.

I should note that this list is somewhat subjective and based on what I see most novice gardeners growing well. The nice thing about growing your own vegetables is that ultimately you decide what you want to grow based on what you like to eat. If you want to grow your own radish or sweet corn (both not on my list), go for it! Otherwise, the plants that make my easy-to-grow list are tomatoes, peppers, green beans, potatoes, and zucchini.

Tomatoes are the most popular home garden vegetable. They are available in many sizes, shapes, colors, and tastes. Home-grown usually taste much better than those purchased at the grocery store. One of the hardest aspects of growing tomatoes is selecting a cultivar or two that you like. Pick a processing type like Roma for use in sauces or for canning. Select a beefsteak or similar large tomato for slicing. Plant a cherry or grape type for additions to salads. Tomatoes are grown as transplants. Transplants can either be started indoors from seeds several weeks prior to planting outdoors or purchased at garden centers and other retailers. Tomatoes are planted approximately 2 feet apart in rows. After planting, stake or cage your tomatoes. Staking or caging tomato plants helps support the plant as it grows, makes it easier to harvest the fruit, and prevents the fruits from resting on the surface of the soil where it is more susceptible to rotting.

Peppers are also incredibly versatile. There are sweet, mild, and hot types of peppers. There are red, yellow, orange, or green peppers. Once again, pick cultivars based on their intended use; stuffing, salads, sauces, salsas, etc. Many home gardeners grow bell peppers. Bell peppers are a type of sweet pepper. Bell peppers are often harvested when green and immature. 

Peppers are also incredibly versatile. There are sweet, mild, and hot types of peppers. There are red, yellow, orange, or green peppers.

However, if you allow peppers to remain on the plant another few weeks, they will eventually turn (or mature) to red, yellow, orange, or even purple. Transplants of bell peppers are planted outdoors starting in mid-May at 1.5 to 2 feet apart in rows. Peppers benefit from small supports or staking as they often produce abundant and heavy fruit.

Green beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. You can choose to grow a bush type or a pole type of green beans. Pole types require support or trellising while bush types do not. An advantage to growing green beans is that you can stagger plantings for a prolonged harvest. Sow seeds directly in the ground (3-4 inches apart in rows) every two weeks from mid-May to late June for a continual harvest from late July into September. Pods should be harvested regularly, every couple of days, when they are approximately pencil diameter. Plants will remain productive for several weeks if harvested frequently. There are many other types of beans that are relatively easy to grow as well. One example is dried beans which grow much like a bush bean except they are harvested at the end of the season as the pods dry on the plants. Dried beans can then be stored for months indoors.

Potatoes are grown from seed pieces, which are cut-up sections of potato tubers or small potatoes. Seed pieces or small potatoes are planted 4 inches deep and 1 foot apart from early April to mid-May. There are several cultivars of potatoes that produce small or large potatoes with white, yellow, red/pink, or purple skin or interior flesh. Potatoes can be harvested when young – for new potatoes. Or they can be harvested when the plant tops turn brown and die in late July or August. After harvest potatoes should be cured in a warm, well-ventilated environment. This allows the tubers to develop a thicker skin so that they can be stored longer.

Lastly, most gardeners are successful in growing a summer squash called zucchini. With the popularity of zucchini noodles and zucchini breads, this is a great vegetable for novice gardeners. Zucchini can be green or yellow and it is grown from seed. Three or four seeds are sown together in “hills” directly in the garden from mid-May to early July. Hills are spaced 3-4 feet apart within rows. Home gardeners generally plant one or two extra hills as one might succumb to insect or disease before harvest. The trick with zucchini is frequent harvesting, every couple of days, while the squash are small and immature. It is amazing how quickly the zucchini can become too large and seedy. One or two zucchini plants can be incredibly productive which is why so many gardeners have zucchini to give to friends and neighbors by late summer. 

There are many other vegetables that can be considered relatively easy-to-grow for novice gardeners like leaf lettuce, kale, sweet corn, winter squash, radish, and herbs like basil and cilantro. These vegetables and many others should be considered when starting your first vegetable garden.

Source: Cynthia Haynes, Department of Horticulture

Steve Niemeyer Extension Educator

Steve Niemeyer,
Extension Educator

Phone: 308-346-4200

UNL Extension - Holt/Boyd County


As haying season approaches, producers across Nebraska will begin preparing to get out the baler. In recent years, it has been quite difficult for many producers to put up quality, dry hay; this often results in growers considering using inoculants and hay preservatives. These additives do have their place within the hay production system, but it’s important to understand the proper time to consider the use of such products.

Keep in mind that ideal storage moisture ranges for hay depends upon bale size. Small square bales- should be stored at 18-20% moisture, and larger bales should be about 3-5% dryer. When moisture is higher than these ranges, a hay preservative or inoculant may be an appropriate consideration; however according to many sources, if moisture reaches more than 30%, additives and preservatives are not recommended.

Often times, inoculants and preservatives are used with silage and haylage, but there are also ways that these products can be used effectively on hay bales, if particular circumstances are met. When used properly, inoculants and preservatives may allow hay to be baled at higher moisture levels than typically acceptable. High moisture baling often tends to cause heat and mold development and these additives are designed to help avoid such losses.

Bacteria Inoculants

Bacterial inoculants are essentially designed to add more ‘good’ bacteria that aid in fast fermentation and to help reduce dry matter losses in hay by improving aerobic stability (ie: stopping mold growth). Most hay already contains such bacteria, as it is naturally sourced from many forage plants and inoculants simply add an additional amount; common lactic acid producing bacteria include: Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Streptococcus, and Bacillus. These bacteria may help to reduce mold growth and yeast development within bales.

In order to achieve desired results from these products, careful attention to environmental conditions and application should be taken. Inoculants work best on hay that is wetter than average but less than 25% moisture during mid-summer conditions because plant sugars are high during this time. Inoculants should be applied uniformly (typically at the pick-up) as hay is baled, and before any rain lands on the bale. Generally speaking, they tend to help protect against small moisture changes (3-5% higher moisture than you would typically bale). Avoiding these recommendations can result in ineffective outcomes and uneconomical losses.

Overall advantages of using bacterial inoculants include the opportunity to reduce or stop mold growth, improve hay quality and palatability, and to maintain the hay’s green color. Disadvantages may include investment in application equipment, and inconsistent research results when tested for effectiveness and cost analysis in hay bales versus anaerobic, ensiled feed.

Preservatives and Additives

Hay preservatives are generally applied using an aftermarket spray system mounted near the baler pick-up. They are designed to prevent heating and subsequent dry matter losses of hay baled at higher moistures (18%+) by inhibiting growth of aerobic microbes. Essentially, preservatives allow hay to be baled wetter than recommended, reducing the time it lies in the field exposed to precipitation risk.

Organic acids are the most common form of additives with propionic acid being the most prevalent. Effective application of hay preservatives relies heavily upon using the proper rate (dependent on moisture content and size of bale) and quality of forage. Preservatives containing high amounts of propionic acid are generally accepted as effective in reducing spontaneous heating in moist hay; however the use of ammonium propionate (buffered propionic acid) is often recommended over propionic acid because it is less caustic.

Rates of acid required will vary based upon the moisture content of the hay and should be sprayed using the most uniform application as possible. According to sources cited below, smaller bales ranging from 20-25% moisture should be treated with approximately 0.5% propionic acid (in some cases products may be used at 0.5 ± 0.14% of wet bale weight). Increases in application rate may occur by 1% for hay with 25-30% moisture. Many studies to this point have shown no consistent response to preservatives used on hay over 30% moisture.

Research studies have shown that propionic acid, as well as buffered propionic acid is not harmful to animals, but keep in mind that propionic acid is corrosive and can cause damage to machines and people. Buffered acids and salts of acids have been developed to help overcome some of these issues. Both propionic and buffered forms of this acid will likely cause hay discoloration but may help protect feed value. Overall, many research studies show that the use of propionic acid or buffered acids have somewhat erratic results and are often only shown to be economical in large (not ensiled or plastic wrapped) round bales when used to reduce losses incurred from potential precipitation damage.


Hay inoculants and preservatives do not increase the quality of hay, but rather are designed help to maintain quality and reduce spoilage. Both methods have mixed cost analysis benefits when used on unwrapped (not ensiled) hay bales, and the value of the hay crop being baled should be considered when determining whether to use any additives.

Source: Sara Bauder, SDSU Extension Agronomy Field Specalist

Steve Niemeyer Extension Educator

Steve Niemeyer,
Extension Educator

Phone: 308-346-4200

UNL Extension - Holt/Boyd County


Being able to quickly identify if a problem is occurring with a water source gives producers the opportunity to respond rapidly to correct any issues.

For cattle producers who rely on wells in pastures and rangelands as a water source for their cattle, much time is spent checking water to make sure that windmills and submersible wells are delivering the water cattle need. These water checks are often made daily or every other day to ensure water is available. When problems occur with a water source cattle depend on, time is limited to get the problem fixed, haul water or move the cattle to another location where water is. Timeliness of knowing there is a problem with a well or a tank that stores water is essential to being able to correct the problem quickly and avoid the detrimental impacts of cattle being without water.

In the last several years, three technologies have been developed that can significantly reduce the time it takes to check water and know a problem has occurred.

Remote Cameras and Cellular Technology
Remote cameras that communicate with mobile devices by utilizing cellular service are a recent technological development. For much of the United States, cell service is widely available. This technology allows a producer to program a camera to take pictures of a water tank at different times of the day. These pictures can then be automatically sent to a smartphone or other mobile device using email or text and be viewed to see if a problem is occurring with a water source.

If the level in the water tank is not where it should be, based on a series of pictures taken, the person caring for the cattle can immediately be made aware. The cost ranges from $150 to $750 per camera, plus a monthly data or service fee. Some cameras come with a limited number of pictures that can be delivered per month as part of the purchase package. Solar panels for charging batteries can be added to remote cameras to reduce the frequency that batteries need to be replaced. For areas with poor cellular signals, there are external, high-gain antennas that can boost signal reception. Companies are available to help producers identify the equipment and data plan that they need, as well as set up the cameras and the monitoring system.

Remote cameras can not only save time and travel, but they also can give peace of mind and freedom. Would you like to take a couple of days of vacation? Attend a family member’s activities? Being able to check water from anywhere through your smart phone or mobile device could help you achieve that. Knowing you can look at your mobile device anywhere and see the water levels in a tank gives assurance in knowing that cattle have water.

Remote Sensors and Cellular Technology
Another technology that can be very valuable for producers, who utilize pipelines to deliver water, is a remote pressure sensor. These sensors can transmit pressure readings via cellular signals to mobile devices, which allows for constant monitoring of what is happening in terms of water pressure on a pipeline. When water pressure moves outside of an identified acceptable range, a notification is sent that alerts the user to the potential of a problem. This can be especially valuable for producers who are depending upon a consistent, large volume of water to be delivered to cattle when there is minimal storage capacity at the tank. Should a well go down, electricity shut off, or a float come off at the tank, this monitoring system can quickly alert the person supervising the system.

Remote sensing technology paired with cellular service also allows for monitoring of water levels in storage tanks. Utilizing ultrasonic level sensors, measurements can be programed to be taken at different times of the day and have these measurements delivered to a mobile device. This allows people monitoring water levels in a storage tank to know what is happening without physically being present at the tank location.

Drones and Water Checking Flights
Drones are increasing in availability and decreasing in cost. Using drones with remote cameras for checking water in locations that are difficult to access or without cellular signals could save time and wear on vehicles. By flying directly or utilizing a pre-programmed flight pattern for the drone, the drone can be sent up and the remote camera used to take video or photos as it flies over water tank locations. This requires that the drone be in the line of sight of the operator during the entire flight. Drones can also be used to scan windmills to make sure that from visual inspection, all parts of the windmill are in working order.

Another advantage of using a drone is that it also allows for the opportunity to utilize a “bird’s eye view” to see cattle at the tank and in the pasture to look for cattle that are off by themselves or acting lethargic or sick. This can help the producer quickly see where cattle are and locate them to identify potential health problems. When considering the use of this technology, make sure you understand and are in compliance with all Federal Administration Aviation rules and regulations for using a drone.

Timeliness, Cattle Care and Peace of Mind
Having water available is critically important to the health and performance of cattle. Being able to quickly identify if a problem is occurring with a water source gives producers the opportunity to respond rapidly to correct any issues. Time is of the essence when cattle are out of water. While these technologies will not be a perfect fit for everyone, being able to check water from afar may save time and money, shorten downtime, and provide peace of mind for those caring for cattle.

Source: Aaron Berger, Nebraska Extension Beef Educator