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Penn State Extension Franklin County: Gardening Hotline, Upcoming Webinars, and Dairy Cattle Health Insights

Master Gardener volunteers will be staffing their Garden Hotline at the Extension office, 181 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg, beginning April 24 through the end of September, to assist home gardeners with gardening and plant questions and problems. The Garden Hotline operates on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of each week, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. The Extension office and the Hotline will be closed on Memorial Day (May 29), Juneteenth (June 19), Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day (September 4).

Home gardeners are welcome to stop in or call the Extension office at 717-263-9226 to speak to a Master Gardener. The Garden Hotline can also be reached via email at franklinmg@psu.edu. Samples or photos of plants, insects, or garden problems are helpful to the Master Gardeners in assisting you with identification, diagnosis, and recommendations to solve your gardening questions. They may not always know the answer immediately, but they will take the time to research and get back to you with accurate, reliable information.

UPCOMING WEBINARS AND EVENTS: Penn State Extension is pleased to continue to provide quality education via a wide variety of webinars and recordings.If you have difficulty registering online for any of these live webinars, please contact Penn State Extension’s customer service team at 877-345-0691. Most of these webinars will be recorded and available for viewing at a later time, as well. Continue to search our website: extension.psu.edu for the latest offerings.

Saturday, May 20, 2023Franklin County Master Gardener Plant Sale The sale will be held at 425 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg, PA 17202, from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. The Master Gardeners will once again offer a great selection of greenhouse-grown vegetable, annual flower, and herb plants, with many hard-to-find and unusual varieties, along with a wide assortment of sun and shade-loving perennials, groundcovers, shrubs, and trees, all for reasonable prices. Bring your gardening questions, and get information about plants and planting from friendly, knowledgeable Penn State Master Gardener volunteers.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023, 12PM – Live Webinar – Home Food Preservation: Introduction to Preserving. The Home Food Preservation: Introduction to Preserving event will explain the scientific reasoning behind today’s recommended methods for home food preservation while dispelling food preservation myths and unsafe practices of the past. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in home food preservation. Canning, freezing, and drying are preservation methods that allow you to enjoy seasonal foods all year long. While these methods of home food preservation have existed for centuries, we have learned much about the science behind these methods in recent years. The Home Food Preservation series of webinars will provide you with the scientific background, preparation tips, and safe processing methods to preserve food at home. To register go to https://extension.psu.edu/home-food-preservation-introduction-to-preserving or call 1-877-345-0691.

Thursday, June 1, 11AM – Live Webinar – Home Food Preservation: Water Bath Canning. Join us for Home Food Preservation Water Bath Canning to learn the basics of water bath and atmospheric steam canning. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in home food preservation. Canning is one method of food preservation that allows you to enjoy seasonal foods all year long. While this method of home food preservation has existed for centuries, we have learned much about the science behind safe canning methods in recent years. We will provide research to dispel food preservation myths and unsafe practices and discuss practical tips to ensure a positive experience when water bath canning foods. The Home Food Preservation series of webinars will provide you with the scientific background, preparation tips, and safe processing methods to preserve food at home. To register go to https://extension.psu.edu/home-food-preservation-water-bath-canning-webinar or call 1-877-345-0691

Ready-Set-Grow Plant Sale – Our Plant Sale is More than a Fundraiser

Submitted By: Carol Kagan, Franklin County Master Gardener

The Franklin County Master Gardener Plant Sale is more than a fundraiser. The Plant Sale Committee has a priority to meet the mission of our program – to educate the public and our communities on the best practices in sustainable horticulture and environmental stewardship. We do this in many ways.

Heirloom and unique varieties, most not offered at garden centers, are growing in the greenhouse. These are open pollinated and promote seed saving. The Greenhouse Team recycles plastic plant pots each year by cleaning and sanitizing greenhouse pots returned from customers. Display boards provide information about plants grown in the greenhouse – vegetables, flowers, and herbs. We have general information available on topics such as tips for growing tomatoes, using herbs, and hardening off plants.

Locally grown plants, nurtured by Master Gardeners in their home landscapes, have been divided out and potted up to sell. Perennial plants have descriptive signs that include if they are native, pollinator friendly, or drought resistant and list both the botanical and common names as well as general plant information. Knowing the need to include native plants in our landscape, our inventory includes these as well.

The sale is scheduled at an ideal time to take plants home and plant them without no worry over where to hold plants for hardening off until the last frost date or best soil temperatures. The plants have been nurtured in our greenhouse or our outdoor holding area. This year we have more than 2,200 plants in our holding area.

Our Master Gardeners are available to assist in choosing among the many plants offered plus provide tips on the best way to plant and care for those selected. They also have reference lists about plants that include Department of Natural Resources designations for plants where needed and reference both the scientific and common names for the plants.

Also, the annual sale has become a community event. Many customers return each year, sometimes for the heirloom plants or the greenhouse grown herb varieties. One year a couple came early to purchase Eastern prickly pear cacti that had been donated to the sale and featured on our Facebook page. They shared later that the purchase has meant so much to them since their son, recently passed, he had collected cacti. They were thrilled to be able to add these to their garden.

We also will have a Plant Clinic table where you can bring your gardening questions plus excess catalogs and magazines you can take home free. This year our local Franklin County 4-H Program will have an information table as well as the Franklin County Beekeepers Association.

What Are Your Cows’ Feet Telling You

Submitted By: Daniela Roland, Penn State Extension Dairy Educator

Lameness in dairy cattle not only affects the animal’s well-being, but it also can be costly to treat and can negatively impact milk production and fertility.

Along with mastitis and infertility, lameness is one of the top three diseases impacting dairy cattle health. A cow showing clinical signs of lameness can lose on average up to 800 pounds of milk during her lactation. And one case of lameness can cost a dairy producer between $76 to $533 per case.

Lameness can be caused by infectious and non-infectious foot disorders. Infectious disorders include digital dermatitis, also known as hairy heel warts and foot rot. Noninfectious causes include white-line disease and sole ulcers.

Taking the time to regularly monitor your dairy animals to look at their feet or using a locomotion scoring system can be a useful tool to measure the rates of lameness within your herd. 

A common five-point scale locomotion scoring system is based on looking at the cow standing and walking while observing her back posture. This scoring system can be used for the early detection of hoof disorders and to determine the rate of lameness within your herd.

Observing cows for lameness can be done in a tie-stall barn, watching cows enter or exit the milking parlor or in the alleys and feed aisle. When observing your herd, be sure to watch the animals while they are walking on a flat surface and where the animal has good footing. Also, observe the animals in the same place each time. For example, if you first score your animals in the barn, but they also go out on pasture, observe them in the barn when you perform the next scoring.

The scoring system is as follows:

Locomotion ScoreDescription
1 – NormalCow stands and walks with a level-back posture. Her gait is normal.
2- Mildly LameCow stands with level-back posture but develops an arched-back posture when walking. Her gait remains normal.
3- Moderately LameCow will have an arched back posture while standing and walking. Her gait is affected and is described as short-striding with one or more limbs. She may show a slight sinking of dew-claws in the limb opposite to the affected limb.
4- LameCow will have an arched back while standing and walking and gait is described as one deliberate step at a time. The cow favors one or more limbs/feet, but can still bear some weight on the affected limb.
5- Severely LameCow has pronounced arching of back. Inability or reluctance to move or to bear weight on the affected limb. 

Next Steps After Scoring

Any cow that scores a 2 should be recorded. Look over the cow to determine if there are other health reasons that the cow might be walking with an arched back. If nothing obvious is found, examine her feet. After looking at the feet and if no source of the lameness is found, be sure to monitor the cow for the next week.

Animals scoring a 3 or higher should be separated if possible and put in a special needs pen. Research has shown that cows that scored a 3 were four times more likely to score a 4 or 5 one month later compared to cows that scored a 2.

Cows that score a 3, 4, or 5 need prompt treatment. Depending on where you market your milk, you likely are participating in the FARM Animal Care Program and have a written lameness prevention protocol. The lameness prevention protocol should include details about how to handle lameness cases.

In general, a goal should be to have no more than five to 10 % of a group or herd scoring a 4 or 5. And about 75-80 % of the animals should score a 1 or 2.

Another important observation is to pay attention to body condition scores. Depending on the cause and severity of the lameness, there can be a negative correlation between locomotion scores and body condition scores. A cow’s body condition score may decrease as her locomotion score increases; said another way, a moderate to severely lame cow will be thinner.

While incidences of lameness can be costly, the good news is that many of the common causes of lameness can be prevented when good management practices are put in place. Here are some practices to help prevent and reduce lameness within your herd:

  • Set up and follow a maintenance hoof trimming schedule – cows should be trimmed twice a year and when needed to treat a lame animal
  • Provide proper nutrition – the herd’s diet should include the right amount of trace minerals and effective fiber in the ration. Be sure the ration is mixed well to prevent cows from sorting.
  • Provide clean, dry bedding and scrape barns multiple times per day
  • Ensure non-slip flooring – proper grooving on concrete or rubber matting can be helpful in high-traffic areas
  • Provide a footbath to minimize the spread of infections
  • Avoid overstocking- when animals have to compete for stall space, this can lead to increased standing time
  • Prevent heat stress- provide shade, fans and/ or sprinklers to encourage more lying time.

Any family members or employees working with the cattle should be trained to recognize early signs of lameness. Additionally, having one person on the farm as the designated point person for the lameness program is important. This person should be trained to identify lame cows and have the ability to quickly make decisions to treat lame animals.

Implementing good basic management practices and looking at your cows’ feet can benefit your animals and your overall operation. Even though it’s a busy time of year with spring planting, taking the time to observe your animals is always a good thing. What are your cows’ feet telling you?

If you have any questions or would like additional information, contact Daniela Roland with Penn State Extension in Franklin County at djr6158@psu.edu or 717-809-2194. 

Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences research and extension programs are funded in part by Pennsylvania counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by Penn State Extension is implied. This publication is available in alternative media on request.

The University is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission, and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated. Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy to the Affirmative Action Office, The Pennsylvania State University, 28 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802-5901, Email: aao@psu.edu, Tel (814) 863-04

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