UI installs cameras to watch cows

UI installs cameras to watch cows

A roundup of agricultural news:

URBANA — Fair warning to those on the hoof: What happens in the cow barn won't necessarily stay there.

The University of Illinois has installed video cameras in the cattle barn at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in southern Illinois.

As a result, students in Urbana can watch calving and vaccinations being administered in real time, according to a release from the UI College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Most land-grant universities have reduced the number of beef cattle for research at their facilities the last five years. But the UI has not, partly because it has plenty of room at Dixon Springs.

Of the 1,400 to 1,500 cattle in the UI system, 850 to 900 of them are at the 5,000-acre Dixon Springs center.

"This allows us the opportunity to do research that other universities can't," said Frank Ireland, superintendent of the research facility. "What we can do in a one-year research trial with 900 cows could take other facilities four years to complete using the same number of animals. This has resulted in major funding and research projects for the UI in genetics and genomics research."

The cameras also can help off-site veterinarians diagnose illness or injuries in cattle.

"Instead of ... placing a phone call and describing what is happening with the cow, I can give the veterinarian the (Internet Protocol) address and we could both be viewing the animal at the same time," Ireland said.

When cows are calving in the stalls, cameras can zoom in on the cow to see if she is lying down, drinking or breathing rapidly.

Veterinary students can also get exposure to things they otherwise wouldn't have seen, Ireland said.

"These students will be going out in May and starting in a practice with cattle producers," he said. "They may have to assist in difficult deliveries, but they have never seen a calf born. Now we can put cows who are calving in the chutes and broadcast that to a classroom of 130 vet students."

Event yields $173 million in projected purchases

SPRINGFIELD — Foreign buyers who took part in the five-day Illinois Grain Tour in August are expected to make $173 million in purchases over the next year, according to an Illinois Department of Agriculture release.

"Sales are more than triple the $53 million that last year's tour produced," department Director Bob Flider said.

This year's tour brought 42 buyers to Illinois from China, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Thailand and Vietnam.

Stops included farms, transportation facilities and equipment manufacturers, as well as the Chicago Board of Trade and Mercantile Exchange.

This year, the Grain Tour was timed to coincide with the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, where the department organized on-site meetings between foreign buyers and Illinois agri-businesses.

Chief economist scheduled to speak at UI conference

URBANA — Joseph Glauber, chief economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is scheduled to speak at the University of Illinois' Farmland Markets Conference, scheduled Nov. 13 in Champaign.

The conference — to be presented by the university's new TIAA-CREF Center for Farmland Research — will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1501 S. Neil St., C.

Glauber will talk about factors influencing commodity prices and the revenue generated by farmland for owners and operators.

Also speaking are UI agricultural economists Gary Schnitkey and Bruce Sherrick, who will discuss how the financial risk in land is shared and the trend in farmland performance as a financial asset for owners.

Registration is $85 through Oct. 31 and $99 afterward. For information, visit http://www.agengage.com/farmland markets2013/.

Elected officials offered combine rides at harvest

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign County Farm Bureau is offering local elected officials the opportunity to take a combine ride with a farmer this harvest season.

Brad Uken, manager of the farm bureau, said the program is designed to educate officials, their staff members and the media with agriculture.

Besides seeing how combines work, participants will get a "crash course" in agricultural issues, he said.