The work done by University of Missouri Extension specialists seems mysterious to some outside observers.
Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with over 40 years of experience with MU Extension, says a good way to unravel the mystery is give a review of his recent activities and some of the questions he has received.
"The basic goal for extension workers is to provide unbiased, research-based information that allows clientele to make decisions that help them solve a problem," said Cole. "We may be a mystery or secret to some but we do not intentionally plan it that way."
Here are a few of recent questions that Cole has been asked.
* I checked my cows this morning and apparently 12 have been stolen. What can be done to stop cattle theft?
* My elderly sister lost her husband recently. Her children are taking care of her 35-cow herd. What's a fair way to reimburse the children for their efforts?
* Where can I buy hay? What's a fair price for "big" bales of grass hay?
* Tell me about the Show-Me-Select Beef Heifer Development program.
* Help me understand expected progeny differences (EPD) when I'm buying bulls.
* I took a forage test on ryegrass baled in early April. Look at the lab results, it seems it should have been higher in protein and total digestible nutrients (TDN).
* How do I price corn silage in big plastic bags?
* I have questions regarding the synchronization protocols for fixed-time artificial insemination.
* Here are pictures of bulls in Texas I'm considering buying. What do you think of them?
* Is it safe to use a pour-on insecticide on heifers I'm synchronizing?
* I have 40-acres of pasture, all open, good grass as it's not had cattle on it. What's a fair rental rate on a per head per month basis? I heard the University of Missouri conducts a periodic survey to see the average and range in rent rates.
* Can I go on-line to see the Missouri Brand registrations?
* I have two cows and don't want to buy a bull. Where can I learn about artificial insemination?
* How can I control pinkeye in my herd?
* Does Missouri Extension have a simple computerized record program that's compatible with the Redbooks we use for field data gathering?
* Is there University research on which big bale feeders have the least waste?
Cole says this is a sampling of the questions extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri are likely to have on any given day.
"As an extension specialist, I can answer many of them but more importantly, if I can't answer them, I have fellow extension faculty in the region or at Columbia who can address the issue more competently," said Cole. "Sometimes I may even contact a specialist in another state for answers."
These questions come from large and small operators, accomplished cattle producers and novices. Cole says in some cases there may not be a research-based answer, like with the theft issue, but it is important to listen to the problems.
"If you have livestock questions, you might contact the local University of Missouri extension center nearest you. I guarantee we do not try to be a best-kept-secret," said Cole.
For more information, call Cole at 417-466-3102.