Agriculture

Canine Circovirus in Connecticut, Identified by UConn Researchers

CVMDL vet lab blue sign on the UConn campus with the brick Chemistry building in the background
Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory on Jan. 14, 2019. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Investigators at the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) at UConn recently reported a new canine disease, identified for the first time in New England. This is the same group, same laboratory, that recently reported eastern equine encephalomyelitis in horses and birds and earlier recognized epizootic hemorrhagic disease in deer (September 2017) and West Nile encephalitis in crows (2001).

The published case report (Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, September 2019) documents the death of a 5-month-old dog that originated in Mississippi, was shelter-housed in Texas for a time, and then was delivered for adoption in Connecticut. The disease was characterized by severe bloody gastroenteritis and rapid progression to death. Autopsy was followed by electron microscopy and molecular techniques which demonstrated a circovirus as the cause of disease and death. First recognized in California in 2013, the appearance of canine circovirus disease in New England, in dogs shuttled among shelters, raises concerns for dog owners and veterinarians.  At this time, it is hard to know if this disease will spread, like parvovirus disease in the 1980s, or remain sporadic.

CVMDL, part of the Department of Pathobiology in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, is on the frontlines of research and testing to keep humans and animals safe. For more information visit http://cvmdl.uconn.edu or call 860-486-3738.

Article by Dr. H. J. Van Kruiningen

UConn Beef Auction – Nov. 3rd

black cow
beef steer

The UConn Beef Auction will be held this year on Sunday, November 3 at the Cattle Resource Unit (heifer barn) located on Horsebarn Hill Road, Storrs campus.

The auction will be held at UConn’s Storrs Campus at the UConn Cattle Resource Unit (Heifer Barn) located on Horsebarn Hill Road. The event is free and open to the general public. Preview of animals begins at 10 a.m.; auction will be held at 12:00 noon; donuts/coffee and pizza will be available for purchase. Please contact Mary Margaret Cole, Executive Program Director, UConn Livestock Units at Mary_Margaret.Cole@uconn.edu with any questions. Please visit http://animalscience.uconn.edu/join.php to join the email list if you would like to receive a digital copy of the animal sale list. Approximately 25 UConn animals are expected to be auctioned and may include Angus and Hereford heifers, steers, bulls and pregnant cows. The auction does not accept consignments. A list of UConn animals to be sold as well as pedigrees are posted on our website at s.uconn.edu/beefauction.

Have your Soil Tested for Macro & Micro Nutrients

cup of soil being held in Soil Nutrient analysis lab at UConn

Send your soil sample in for testing now. Our standard nutrient analysis includes pH, macro- and micro nutrients, a lead scan and as long as we know what you are growing, the results will contain limestone and fertilizer recommendations. The cost is $12/sample. You are welcome to come to the lab with your ‘one cup of soil’ but most people are content to simply place their sample in a zippered bag and mail it in. For details on submitting a sample, go to UConn Soil and Nutrient Laboratory.

Information About EEE from CVMDL at UConn

mosquito biting a person
2003
CDC/James Gathany
Photographer: James Gathany
This is an Ochlerotatus triseriatus mosquito obtaining a blood meal from a human hand.
Also known as Aedes triseriatus, and commonly known as the ”treehole mosquito”, this species is a known West Nile Virus vector.
Photo by James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a disease caused by a virus that mosquitos transmit. The name of the disease is misleading in that this virus can infect and cause disease in humans and a wide variety of animal species, including birds as well as horses and other equids. Horses that have not been vaccinated for EEE die within days of being infected as there is no treatment. There is an effective equine vaccine for EEE, however not for other species. Researchers and veterinarians UConn’s Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) encourage equine owners to consider vaccinating their animals, and other animal owners to implement measures to reduce mosquito habitats and thereby potential contact with mosquitos.

Mosquitos that feed on infected wild birds transmit EEE to horses and humans. Once infected, the virus attacks the central nervous system of the host. For horses, disease signs usually appear within five days and the clinical signs include fever, a dull or sleepy appearance, muscle twitches, and a weak staggering gait. Fatality in horses is 90% or higher as horses often go down and are unable to stand again, and those that do survive may have permanent brain damage.

EEE is transmitted by two main types of mosquito vectors; the primary vector and the bridging vector. Culiseta melanura, the primary vector which feeds almost exclusively on birds, serves to amplify and maintain the virus within wild bird populations. Other mosquito species, which indiscriminatingly feed on birds, horses, and humans, serve as the bridging vector capable of transmitting EEE from wildlife to horses and humans.

With the location of horse barns and pastures in rural areas the animals have increased exposure to mosquitos. Horses cannot pass EEE to humans, or to other horses, and are therefore referred to as a dead-end host. If an infected mosquito bites a human, that person can be infected and may develop disease. According to the Center for Disease Control, illness in humans due to EEE is rare, but when disease develops, it is serious.

Proactive steps can be taken to prevent EEE virus infection in humans and horses. A vaccine is available for horses, talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating annually for EEE. Mosquito control techniques include eliminating standing water, cleaning water troughs weekly, avoiding mosquito-infested areas, and using insect repellent.

CVMDL, part of the Department of Pathobiology in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, is on the frontlines of research and testing to keep humans and animals safe. For more information visit http://cvmdl.uconn.edu or call 860-486-3738.

 

Reference

LSU Ag Center Research and Extension: http://www.lmca.us/PDF/pub2834eee.pdf

Fall Updates from UConn Extension

food, health and sustainability venn diagram

UConn Extension is pleased to share the following updates with you:

  • An update on the strategic planning process for the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, as well as internal re-organization of Extension program teams.
  • Our UConn CLEAR program worked with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on a sea level rise model map viewer, and a webinar is being offered on October 16th.
  • UConn Extension, and our Connecticut Trail Census program will be at the Connecticut Trails Symposium on Thursday, October 24th at Goodwin College in East Hartford.
  • We have two part-time positions open at the Hartford County Extension Center in Farmington. Applications are due by Thursday, October 3rd.
  • We are growing food and health with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Ledyard through a USDA-NIFA grant.

Read all of our updates.

10 Tips for the October Gardener

  1. Dig and store tender bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers in a cool, dark, place.
  2. Remove plant debris from the flowerbeds. Bag any diseased plant parts and put it in the trash or take it to a landfill but do not compost.
  3. Take a scenic drive to observe the changing fall foliage. The CT DEEP has fall foliage driving routes for Connecticut.
  4. Rosemary is not hardy in most areas of Connecticut. Bring plants in before temperatures drop too low but check plants thoroughly for insects such as mealybugs. Rinse the foliage, remove the top layer of the soil surface, and wipe down containers.
  5. Squash and pumpkins should be harvested when they have bright color and a thick, hard skin. These vegetables will be
    butternut squash stacked on a table at a farm stand in Connecticut
    Butternut squash. Photo: Stacey Stearns

    abundant in farmer’s markets and will make a colorful and healthy addition to fall dinners.

  6. As tomatoes end their production cut down plants and pick up any debris and put in the trash or take to a landfill. Many diseases will over-winter on old infected leaves and stems, so these are best removed from the property.
  7. Remove, bag and trash any Gypsy moth, Bagworm, or Eastern tent caterpillar egg masses or spray them with a commercial horticultural oil to smother them.
  8. Cold-hardy fruit trees including Honeycrisp and Cortland apples, Reliance peach, Superior plum, most pawpaws and American persimmon can still be planted into October. Continue to water until the ground freezes hard.
  9. Outwit hungry squirrels and chipmunks by planting bulbs in established groundcovers.
  10. Drain garden hoses and store in a shed, garage, or basement for the winter. Turn off all outside faucets at the inside shut-off valve, turn on the outside faucet to drain any water left in them, and then shut them off.

For more October gardening tips, visit the Home and Garden Education Center resources, or one of our nine Extension Master Gardener offices statewide.

Article: UConn Home and Garden Education Center

Job Openings

Extension banner

Join us! We have two part-time positions open, both located in our Hartford County Extension Center in Farmington. We are seeking a part-time program aide, and a part-time Extension eLearning developer. Apply online at https://hr.uconn.edu/jobs/ – click on staff, and search Job IDs 2020125 and 2020126.

Sheep Shearing School

sheepThe Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association Inc. in conjunction with the UConn Extension are again offering a one-day shearing school.
 
Saturday, October 26, 2019
UConn Beef Barn (Livestock Unit 1)
Horsebarn Hill Road
8am-4:30pm
 
This program is offered for those individuals who have a strong interest in learning how to shear sheep and have a basic understanding of sheep husbandry and handling. As sheep shearing is a physically demanding skill, it is highly recommended that you be able to perform a squat and touch your toes without discomfort and hold for an extended amount of time.
 
Class is limited to 12 students
Preregistration is required: Deadline for registration is October 7
 
CSBA members and UConn student: $20.00
All others: $40.00
Audit course: $10.00
Send: Name, address, email and phone # along with registration fee payable to CSBA to:
Natalie Cohen, Secretary
36 Broad Brook Road
Ellington, CT 06029
 
Instructor: Matt Best
Equipment: provided
Outline:
8am-classroom, introductions, registration, waivers, brief overview of the day.
8:30am-classroom, first principal of shearing, know the equipment. Shears, combs and cutters, shearing area, etc, Q and A.
10:30am- Laboratory, Handling sheep. Catching, proper position, leg work, shearing pattern. Second principal, know the pattern.
Lunch (plenty of places to choose from!)
Shearing, Third principal, know the contour of the animal.
Close: 4:30pm
Questions?  hillviewdorpers@gmail.com or 860-819-8339

UConn Extension is Growing Food and Health with the Mashantucket Tribe

“The mission statement of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (MPTN) states they will ‘…establish a social, cultural and economic foundation that can never be undermined or destroyed…,’” says Tribal Councilor Daniel Menihan, Jr. MPTN was facing challenges growing their fruits and vegetables at a scale to meet the tribe’s needs on their land in Ledyard, and some members were struggling with diabetes.

UConn has enjoyed a long history of engagement with members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal community. Many members have graduated from UConn and served on the UConn Foundation Board, among others. Despite the fact that there is an Extension office only 10 miles from the reservation, MPTN has rarely participated in any educational outreach or training offered by UConn Extension.

UConn Extension received the four-year Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP) grant from USDA-NIFA with the goal of having the tribe share their ideas for growing food and health, and help them learn about the Extension resources that are available. As a result of the grant, the relationship between MPTN and UConn is strengthening, and there is growth in agricultural production, food security, and health for the tribal people.

heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes grown by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Photo: Noah Cudd

“MPTN is still learning, but they are now able to grow their own food, in what looks like a commercial setting,” states Shuresh Ghimire, PhD, Vegetable Crops Extension educator and principal investigator on the grant. “They have high tunnels, a rototiller, a plastic mulch layer, and cold storage, which are common tools for a commercial farm.”

Extension provides expertise through one-on-one consultation, and classroom and hands-on training on-site in a collaborative setting. Educational outreach addresses the following critical areas identified by the MPTN Council:

  1. Improve food security
  2. Improve economic viability
  3. Improve youth engagement and communications
  4. Improve nutrition and diabetes awareness through collaborative education

An Extension program involving several specialists in fruit and vegetable production, farm business management, marketing, 4-H youth development, health and nutrition, communications, evaluation and assessment is working with the MPTN on their goals. Tribal members are participating in other Extension programs, beyond the scope of the grant. A 4-H club is being established at MPTN to increase opportunities for youth.

“Once this grant came, we started working with UConn Extension Educators. There has been a substantial gain in the knowledge and skills regarding growing food, writing a business plan, nutrition, and health,” says Jeremy Whipple, a MPTN member.

Growing with MPTN

Extension provides education for MPTN in state-of-the-art sustainable vegetable and fruit production techniques, and through

people in the greenhouse at the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
UConn Extension educators work with members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in a high tunnel. Photo: Shuresh Ghimire

collaboration with MPTN, is melded with traditional and historical tribal farming methods. This provides MPTN with a means to continue the richness of their history while moving into modern sustainable farming economically.

Tribal youth are included in all aspects of the agricultural venture with the tribe’s expectation that several youth will develop major roles in the business venture. Two tribal youth are being paid by the grant to work in vegetable production at MPTN.

“Learning how to grow tomatoes, including pest management, is one of the many things I enjoy working with on this grant” Ernest Pompey, one of the tribal youths working on this grant says. “I am excited to share what I learned about growing and eating healthy food to other youth in my community.”

“The tribe also established a community garden where they bring other youth from the community to teach them about growing. The knowledge is expanding within their own community, and they are teaching each other now,” Shuresh says.

making the three sisters recipe with members of the Mashantucket tribe
Extension educators make the Three Sisters recipe with members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

UConn Extension’s nutrition team is working with the tribal community health providers to deliver educational programming in healthy eating and diabetes prevention using classroom education, and hands-on learning in the selection and preparing of healthy food, and exercise through gardening. The goal is to reduce the risk and incidence of diabetes in the tribal community.

“The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) utilizes a hands-on approach to nutrition education, combining nutrition knowledge with enhancement of skills to apply this knowledge to prepare healthy foods that are convenient, affordable and culturally appropriate,” says Mike Puglisi PhD, RD, state EFNEP director. “Erica Benvenuti, New London County nutrition educator, taught children in the MPTN High 5 Program the importance of food safety and increasing vegetable intake, and enhanced learning through getting the children involved in preparation of a traditional recipe prepared by the MPTN, the Three Sisters Rice recipe.”

The grant is starting its third year, and another Extension educator is working with tribal youth and adults in developing a business plan for the agricultural venture to increase their success rate. Youth and adults are also learning about their agricultural history and how it can successfully be integrated into today’s modern sustainable agriculture by combining classes with in-field learning experience.

“Ultimately, after the grant ends, MPTN’s farm will operate as a commercial vegetable farm would in terms of production and reaching out to Extension when they do need help. They will be independent, and continue growing their operation to support the goals of the tribal nation,” Shuresh states.

Article by Stacey Stearns and Shuresh Ghimire

Hannan Holstein Farm is CT Dairy Farm of the Year

Chris and Todd Hannan in front of a John Deere tractor
Chris and Todd Hannan

We are pleased to announce that Chris and Todd Hannan of Hannan Holsteins Farm are the winners of the Connecticut 2019 Dairy Farm of the Year for our New England Green Pastures Program.

The two brothers milk 50 registered Holsteins, half of which are Red and White Holsteins, with a total of 140 head of young stock and mature cows at their rented facility in bucolic Woodbury, Connecticut. Todd and Chris got their start in agriculture with 4-H sheep and beef projects. When the brothers were in high school, the first Holstein heifers arrived at their property in Southbury Connecticut, coming from their uncle’s farm.

Todd graduated from Cobleskill College and he interned at Adirondack Farms in Upper State NY and worked at several areas dairy farms, including Arethusa farm. Chris graduated from the University of Connecticut and worked for Cargill Animal Nutrition overseeing nutrition programs on many farms in NY and Southern New England.

With that experience under their belts, Todd and Chris started their dairy operation ten years ago and developed an excellent herd of registered dairy cattle maintaining quality milk and excellent production. The brothers are members of Agri Mark and have been actively involved in the cooperative. They have focused on genetic progress and their cattle have place very high at area dairy shows. The brothers have demonstrated their skills at forage production, as well.

They farm approximately 350 acres that includes 80 acres of corn for silage and grain, with a portion as BMR corn. The rest is grown for haylage and hay and supports their supplementary hay business. They focus on efficiency of production and they are well known in the area for their excellent relationships within the agriculture area and also with community organizations and neighbors. They rent and manage nearby state land and they have truly benefited from their late father’s strong relationships with the Southbury Land Trust that rents cropland to the brothers.

Their continued stewardship of these public lands is a tribute to the brother’s sustainable approach to dairy farming. They have served on committees for several agricultural organizations and they have a strong passion for the dairy industry and they are truly a great example of the drive and the determination of the next generation of dairy farmers in New England. We are proud to recognize Chris and Todd Hannan as this year’s Connecticut dairy farm of the year.