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Extension > Small Farms News > May 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NC-SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Project Presentation on Straw Based, Welfare Friendly Growing Unit For Hogs

Paul Sobocinski has a 240 acre diversified farming operation in Western Minnesota, near the town of Wabasso. He has a farrow to finish hog system that produces pigs for Niman Ranch, and a beef cow/calf herd using rotational grazing. Paul also raised corn, beans, alfalfa, grass hay, pasture, oats, wheat, and also has some land in the CRP program. In the 5th year of a CSP contract for rotational grazing, pasture watering system that includes wildlife escape, nitrogen management, resource conservation crop rotation, and cover crops to scavenge nitrogen.

After the hog market collapse of 1998, Paul remodeled an existing raised-crate farrowing barn into a deep-straw farrowing barn. In 2001, he modified an existing pole barn into a deep bedded sow and piglet nursery.

Paul had another older hog confinement facility that was originally slatted floors with liquid manure storage underneath the slats. With the help of a SARE grant and input from engineers, he remodeled the building into a friendlier, more enjoyable environment for both pigs and people. That process is described in this webinar. With the changes, Paul is now able to use the building to raise pigs for Niman Ranch Company. Paul sells pigs to Niman Ranch and is paid a premium for raising them without the use of antibiotics, and using straw bedding.

This presentation is about converting a nursery/ growing confinement building, with a pit, into a deep-bedded growing unit that meets Niman Ranch standards for improved animal welfare, while utilizing existing resources. Following is a link to the presentation:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spring Farm Safety

By: Nathan Winter, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, McLeod & Meeker Counties

Spring time may have finally arrived. The late spring that we are seeing in 2014 can increase pressure on farmers and agricultural professionals to work longer hours.

Although agriculture is safer than it once was, it still ranks among the most dangerous industries. Those working on farms risk fatal and nonfatal injuries, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and certain cancers from prolonged sun and chemical use. Many of the mechanical, chemical, and environmental hazards increase the risk of accidents. There were 476 farmers and farmworkers that died from work-related injuries in 2010. The leading cause of death for farmworkers is tractor overturns.

Unfortunately, we continue seeing injuries and fatalities in the agricultural area and often they can be prevented. Most everyone working in the agricultural area knows of someone that has been injured or has died as a direct result of a farming accident. Farm equipment is safer than it used to be, but there are still injuries and fatalities that can occur.

Often youth are utilized to help out with the farm work. Be sure to look out for their interests by keeping them safe. Always think of how to safely operate the machines and equipment you are running before you start and be sure to tell youth important information as well. In 2009, an estimated 16,100 youth were injured on farms and 3,400 of these injuries were due to farm work. On average, there are 113 youth less than 20 years of age that dies annually from farm-related injuries, with the most prevalent age group being those from 16 - 19 years of age. Of the leading sources of fatal injuries to youth, 23% involved machinery (including tractors), 19% involved motor vehicles (including ATVs), and 16% were due to drowning. Be sure that those working on your farm don't become one of these statistics!

Those using the roadways should also take extra precaution when driving because there will be numerous tractors and slow moving vehicles on the roadways. Often, older equipment does not have proper signaling equipment and larger new equipment takes up a large amount of the roadway. With the late spring expect to see more farm equipment movement at all hours of the day.

Exercise extra precaution when sharing the road with vehicles that have the slow moving vehicle sign on the back. Good luck with the spring planting and please remember to take things slowly and exercise safety in your daily work!

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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