Agriculture

New Bird Flu Strain Has Poultry Farmers Scrambling

A dangerous new bird flu strain has affected poultry flocks in Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas. That's sending experts and farmers scrambling to determine how it arrived - and to stop it from spreading.

Some SD Producers Raising Pricey Japanese Cattle

A few South Dakota producers are giving expensive Japanese cattle a try.    Some producers in the state are raising specialty Wagyu (wa-goo) cattle.    Farmer Reid Jensen first got his hand on Wagyu cattle in 2010. He now has 70 cows and a couple of breeding bulls in his pastures in Burbank. Jensen says he started his herd for a pricey $5,000 a head. Most of his beef goes to high-end hotels and restaurants.    The best-known breed is the black breed that comes from a region near Kobe, Japan. Kobe beef is a type of Wagyu.    A Wagyu steak can go for more than $100. The meet is lower in cholesterol. Most of the Wagyu cattle in the U.S. are in Texas and New Mexico.

Unlikely Technology At Farm Show To Help Farmers

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Superman! Actually, it's a drone and the unmanned, battery operated aircrafts are quickly making their way from recreational use to agricultural use."They're finding that this is a good, useful thing for agriculture. In cattle, finding displaced cattle, finding cyotoes that are causing trouble on those farms or irrigation pivots that are losing copper heads," explained Adam Shaw, vice president of Maverick Drone Systems. Maverick Drone Systems is a distribution company based out of Savage, Minnesota.With the average farm being bigger than four football fields, it's difficult to monitor such an expanse of land.  But with drones, it's getting a little easier for farmers like Austin Hillestad of Volga, who says he would also like to use them for other business purposes."I'd also like to film some of our equipment as we're going through the field, I think that'd be fun to see. We also do some custom work and I'd also think that it'd be good advertisement."Whether they're for recreational or commercial use, there's still fear surrounding drones. The fear of being spied on or flying in restricted airspaces has people scared. But Adam believes that educating people on the aircrafts will help calm those fears."We feel we can be a drone pilot training academy to support them in getting people certified the right way. Putting them behind maybe 20 hours or 30 hours of flight. Maybe creating that program that doesn't exist today."

Turner Co. Residents Learn More About Proposed Chicken Farm

Nearly two weeks ago, landowners concerned about a large egg-laying operation planned near Parker sued its developers and the Turner County Commission. Now, area farmers and citizens are finally getting a chance to get their most pressing questions answered.

Proposed Ethanol Plant In SD Would Push Production Westward

Plans for South Dakota's westernmost ethanol plant are moving forward following the rezoning of land in Onida despite complaints from residents.    Onida residents don't want the proposed Ring-Neck Energy and Feed plant so close to the town. Investors hope that the plant on the edge of Onida will be running by fall 2016.    Corn for the $65 million facility would come from a 100-mile radius including Sully, Potter, Walworth, Dewey and Stanley counties. Investors say the corn will be enough for the plant to reach its annual production capacity of 70 million gallons.    The nearest ethanol plant to Onida is about 100 miles away in Redfield.    South Dakota ranks fifth in the nation for its ethanol production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

SD Corn Growers Assoc. Board Re-Elects Its 3 Officers

Board members of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association have re-elected all three officers to serve for another year.    Keith Alverson, of Chester, will continue as president; Troy Knecht, of Houghton, will stay on as vice president; and Doug Noem, of Bryant, will again be secretary/treasurer.    The association is one of the largest commodity groups in the state. It promotes corn, represents corn producers on public policy issues and serves as a legislative voice.

More South Dakota Cattle In Feedlots Than Year Ago

Large South Dakota feedlots have more cattle than a year ago.    The U.S. Agriculture Department's National Agricultural Statistics Service says lots with capacities of 1,000 or more head contained 230,000 cattle on feed on Feb. 1. That's up 5 percent from last year.    Placements for cattle headed to slaughter during January totaled 30,000 head, down 23 percent from 2014.    The ag service says it revised monthly cattle on feed estimates back to February 2013 to better align with the definition that cattle should grade select or better to be counted in the cattle on feed program. That means cows and bulls have been removed from these previous estimates and future cattle on feed estimates.

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