UNL Extension in Webster County

March 2023 Edition Newsletter

Happy March

Welcome to the Webster County Extension Newsletter! This newsletter contains information regarding upcoming programming in all areas of Nebraska Extension. This will be separate from the Webster County 4-H Newsletter to provide information to clientele interested in extension programming outside of 4-H. We hope this is convenient way to keep everyone in the loop on upcoming opportunities in Nebraska Extension. We hope you enjoy this newsletter!


The Webster County Extension Staff
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Farm Ranch Record Books Available

Stop by the office and grab your Farm Ranch Record Books and a tax guide!

Radon Kits

We have partnered with South Heartland Health District and we have Radon Kits available at the office! Stop by and grab yours for $8. Protect your home and health!


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BeefWatch Podcast of the Month

The BeefWatch Podcast is an audio companion to the UNL BeefWatch newsletter. It provides the same timely information as the newsletter, just in a downloadable audio form. Information is geared to helping beef cattle producers improve the sustainability and profitability of their operations.

As a busy rancher, you have limited time to spend reading. You often have time available to listen while in the pickup or tractor cab. The BeefWatch Podcast brings you the information you need in a format you can use.

Check out the topic "Understanding Traumatic Reticuloperitonitis in Cattle (Hardware Disease)" here: https://blubrry.com/unlbeefwatch/93286381/understanding-traumatic-reticuloperitonitis-in-cattle-hardware-disease/

Preparing for the Calving Season

Preparing for the Calving Season

1. Pay attention to nutrition needs of bred heifers or cows prior to calving.

Adequate body condition at the time of calving for young females and mature cows is important as it impacts stamina during delivery of the calf, colostrum quality, calf vigor, and also impacts subsequent rebreeding.

Adequate nutrition during the last trimester of pregnancy and especially the last 50-60 days prior to calving is important. Two-year-old heifers and three-year-old cows are vulnerable during this time period. These young females are still growing themselves while growing a calf inside them. As this calf grows and takes up room, rumen capacity is impacted and the amount of feed the young female can eat is reduced. The impact of this condition can be compounded when this time period prior to calving coincides with cold weather and available forage that is low in energy and protein. Body condition can deteriorate rapidly under these conditions. See the article Cow Nutrition Considerations at Calving and Early Lactation for more information on this.

2. Review with your veterinarian your herd health plan.

The whole production system should be discussed identifying critical control points where management could reduce risk and cost effectively improves herd health. Specifically address management options to mitigate health problems that have historically been an issue. See the article Calving Management and Reducing Calf Losses in Beef Herds for additional information.

3. Examine calving facilities making sure they are in good working order.

Frequently it has been 9-10 months since calving facilities have been used. Inspect gates, pens, alleys and head catches, fixing or replacing broken items. Give pens and facilities a good cleaning and disinfecting before calving starts if it wasn’t done at the end of the season last year. Good lighting is an important part of a calving facility. Check lights and have replacement bulbs on hand.

4. Check your calving supplies and review the stages of parturition (calving) to understand when assistance is needed.

Make sure you have on hand plastic sleeves, obstetrical lube, obstetrical chains or straps, esophageal feeders and calf feeding bottles. Test flashlights or spotlights to make sure they are working as well. Inventory halters, ropes, and other tools that may be needed. Make sure the fetal extractor (calf puller) is clean and working properly. This video “What’s in the Box, Calving Tools and Tricks of the Trade” is a great resource to assess what you have and may need.

Review the stages of calving and understand when further examining and assisting a heifer or cow is needed. Nebraska Extension Ranch Handbook You Tube Channel has a short video on needed calving supplies as well as when and and how to assist the cow at calving that are excellent resources to review. Assisting the Beef Cow at Calving Time is a NebGuide that provide information on this as well.

5. Have colostrum or colostrum replacement products on hand.

Quality colostrum consumption by the calf shortly after birth is foundational for the health of the calf throughout its life. The calf’s ability for absorption of immunoglobulin across the intestine decreases rapidly 6-12 hours after birth. Therefore, it is critical that the calf receive colostrum soon after birth. It is a good practice to immediately milk out a heifer or cow when she is assisted at calving and provide this colostrum to the calf. Calves experiencing a difficult delivery are less likely to nurse in a timely way and will benefit from receiving colostrum shortly after birth via a bottle or esophageal feeder.

If quality or quantity of the colostrum is a concern, other sources of colostrum or colostrum replacement products should be used. Use caution when bringing outside sources of colostrum into the herd. Disease transfer can occur. The best source of colostrum is from within your own herd. Colostrum replacement products can be a good option to utilize when calves are not vigorous at birth, after a prolonged calving event, cold stress or where there is poor maternal bonding. Visit with your veterinarian about which colostrum replacement products are best for your operation. For more information on colostrum see the article Colostrum 101 as well as the video Tail Gate Talk Colostrum 101.

6. Have a plan and equipment for warming calves if calving during cold weather.

Calves born during cold, wet conditions can quickly succumb to hypothermia. Have facilities, tools and supplies on hand to deal with this type of event. For mild hypothermia, (body temperature between 94 and 100°F) giving a calf warm, body temperature colostrum or colostrum replacement products along with drying the calf off with towels and warm air can quickly bring a calf’s temperature back to normal. For extreme hypothermia a combination of warm colostrum with a warm bath can be used. Calves should be dry, alert and have a normal body temperature before being returned to their mother.

7. Plan to provide wind protection along with a clean, dry environment.

Wet, muddy conditions are stressful both to cows and calves. This kind of environment also provides a situation where disease proliferation is more likely to occur. When possible, providing a clean, dry place for calves and cows to lay down will reduce stress and promote calf health.


A fresh crop of calves is something cow-calf producers look forward to each year. Having a plan and preparing ahead of time for the calving season can help to minimize calf loss and reduce stress on those caring for the cowherd. For more information on management practices to improve calving success, visit the beef.unl.edu website.

Crops & Water Systems

Cover Crops Economics and Implementation

Tuesday, March 21 9:00 am – Noon

Adams County Extension office

2975 South Baltimore Ave. Hastings, Ne


Dr. Katja Koehler-Cole - UNL Cover Crops Extension Educator

Dr. Cory Walters – UNL Grain Economics Extension Specialist

Learn about:

- The basics of incorporating cover crops into a cropping system

o The value of cover crops

o Cover crop choices

o How and when to plant

o How to utilize

o How to terminate

- The Economics of incorporating cover crops

o Economic value

o Installation costs

o Maximize return on cover crop investment

o Government assistance

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Community Environment/Horticulture


We have been lucky this winter, but how long will our luck hold out? No, I am not referring to the amount of snow we have received or the ‘warm’ winter temperatures we’ve had. Even in a winter like this, wildlife damage can be present in the landscape. Find out about a common villain, what they do and how can keep your landscape from becoming lunch.

Knowing your enemy is key. Voles, with a V, are closer related to a mouse than to a mole. Vole adults weigh about 1-2 ounces and reach about 4 ½ to 7 inches in length. There are a couple of ways to differentiate between a vole and a mouse. One way is to look at their tail, the tail of a vole is about 1 inch long, compared to mouse whose tail is as long as its body. Voles also have a stocky build and small eyes compared to a mouse. Vole populations can increase rapidly.

Voles feed on a wide range of plant material. Voles will clip off young plants and can dig up seeds of field and forage crops. They can also damage or eat flower bulbs, garden plants, and vegetables. Feeding damage tends to be less during open winters due to the availability of food sources, but it can still happen. Winters with more snow cover offer fewer food choices and they resort to munching on the landscape plants. Some of the damage that voles perform is more cosmetic than permanent. Voles will construct runways by clipping the turf very close to the crown beneath snow cover. These runways are about 1-2 inches wide and allow the voles to move between locations under the cover of snow. Most of the time the damage isn’t noticed until the snow melts and the runways are revealed.

Each situation is unique and should be considered when determining whether control is warranted. Voles don’t always cause significant damage to property or to the landscape. The quick increase in populations can be cause for concern due to the relationship between the population number and the level of damage. Once a few voles damage a highly valued tree or become a problem in the prized flower bed, control might need to be considered. Usually, it is more cost effective to respond quickly to signs of damage than to wait until the damage becomes severe.

There are several methods that can be used to control voles. The first is habitat modification. Voles like to feel secure in locations where they are protected. Removal and controlling weeds and grasses around young trees and shrubs will help to protect them from nibbling. Be cautious when it comes to using plastic weed barriers, voles will also thrive under the most well laid plans to control weeds.

Exclusion is another method to keep voles away from prized plants. Make a barrier of hardware cloth, 1/4 inch or smaller mesh, and install it around small flower beds or gardens to prevent access of voles in those areas. The fence should be about 12 inches high, or up to 18 inches high if rabbits or ground squirrels are problem, and 2-3 inches of the bottom should be buried in the ground.

If the damage is in a limited area, trapping can be an effective method for controlling voles. Two to three single mouse traps per runway and/or hole will be sufficient to control voles. Place the traps perpendicular to the runway. Bait is not required, but peanut butter mixed with oatmeal can be used if preferred. Multiple-catch mouse traps can also be used. Locate the traps near visible burrows and near vole trails. Place a small amount of seed, either bird or grass, near the entrance points. Baits or toxicants can also be used. Very large populations can be controlled using toxic baits. Read all pesticide product labels thoroughly and comply with the directions.

Repellents are another option for vole control. Sprays that contain thiram and capsaicin are labeled for use on ornamental plants, but not on garden plants or on plants that are to be eaten. Fox or coyote urine may be used. Repellents are fairly costly and may only provide short-term protection. They often need to be reapplied and work best when the voles have another food source to go to.

Be on the look-out for signs of voles, their damage, and take steps now to keep your prized plants from becoming a voles’ next meal.

Elizabeth Exstrom is the Horticulture Extension Educator with Nebraska Extension in Hall County. For more information contact Elizabeth at elizabeth.exstrom@unl.edu, her blog at http://huskerhort.com/, or HuskerHort on Facebook and Twitter.

Rural Prosperity

Double Up on Food Bucks

You may have seen recent press about Nebraska Extension and The Big 3. This is our new strategic direction which can be boiled down to three ambitions, which we are calling, “The Big 3”. The Big 3 are: Strengthen Nebraska Agriculture and Food Systems, Inspire Nebraskans & Their Communities, and Enhance the Health & Wellbeing of All Nebraskans. You can watch videos explaining our strategic direction here: https://extension.unl.edu/our-strategic-direction/.

In my Rural Prosperity Nebraska work, we mainly work in the Inspire Nebraskans & Their Communities realm, but community work touches all The Big 3. If you would have told me when I started this job that some of my most impactful work would be in Strengthening Nebraska Agriculture and Food Systems, I would have argued with you. Included in that area is access to safe and healthy food. The work I have done with rural grocery stores falls squarely in this area. Having a local grocery store that sells fresh fruits and vegetables is a major step towards having access to safe and healthy foods. Some of my RPN colleagues work with schools to help them get not only safe and healthy foods…but local foods as well.

My grocery store work started in 2020 when I was part of a team that received a Heartland Challenge Grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to study rural grocery stores and how they transitioned into community owned stores. We did some survey work and some limited panel discussions. Some of our findings lead to the creation of the Business Transition Model publication. As we worked with grocery stores, we started talking with them about profitability and areas that were difficult to manage. One of those areas was fresh produce.

Fresh produce is difficult for stores to manage because customer demand is hard to project on a day-to-day basis and fresh produce has a short shelf life. Grocery store owners wanted more ways to sell fresh produce. One solution was to use fresh produce in their deli prepared foods. Another was to work with Nebraska Extension’s Seasonal And Simple phone app which gives recipes for seasonal produce. Another way to increase sales is the program called Double Up Food Bucks.

Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) is a program that is growing in our area. DUFB is a program that helps people on SNAP to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables. Recently, stores in Webster, Jefferson, and Nuckolls counties have begun DUFB programs and there are several other grocery stores in other communities looking at the program. In addition to helping people buy more fresh fruits and vegetables, Nebraska Extension will also schedule food demonstrations and provide healthy eating information in these stores.

The Double Up Food Bucks leader, Extension Educator Vanessa Wielenga has secured funding through several grants to pay for this program. In the future we hope to secure local funding to support this program. The program allows anyone who is on SNAP benefits to participate. They simply purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, and they are given coupons that allow them to come back to the store and buy more fresh fruits and vegetables. It is generally a dollar-for-dollar match. Having more fresh fruits and vegetables in a home encourages people to eat them more. Grocery stores that have this program will sell more fresh fruits and vegetables which helps them manage their fresh produce more easily.

If your community could benefit from any of the Rural Prosperity Nebraska ideas that I’ve discussed in this column, please reach out to me. I’d love to speak to your community about these topics. You can reach me at jason.tuller@unl.edu or at the Thayer County office at 402-768-7212.

Jason Tuller is an Extension Educator for the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He works in the Rural Prosperity Nebraska program and covers ten-county area including Kearney, Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Saline, Franklin, Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, and Jefferson Counties.

Early Childhood Extension

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Beyond Challenging Behaviors

Explore challenging behaviors, warning signs, beneficial resources, and your role in the childcare environment.
https://fitandhealthykids.unl.edu/on-demand #fitandhealthykids

Family Engagement

Family Engagement is a process that brings positive relationships to family members and early childhood professionals. Learn about several strategies for engagement during this class. https://fitandhealthykids.unl.edu #Fitandhealthykids

Discover & Design

Yee-haw! Your little wranglers will love creating their very own stick horse out of a pool noodle. Consider turning this project into a family engagement event. #Fitandhealthykids https://fitandhealthykids.unl.edu/discover-and-design

Food, Nutrition, & Health


Webster County 4-H Newsletter

Check out what's happening in Webster County 4-H below!

Nebraska Extension Spotlight- Meet Lynn DeVries

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Regional Experts

Megan Burda

Engagement Zone 10 Coordinator

Megan is a Nebraska Extension Educator with a passion for fashion! She holds a Master of Arts degree in Textile and Apparel Design from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a specialization in entrepreneurship. Megan serves as an Engagement Zone Coordinator in Zone 10 with a focus on staff development, stakeholder connections, and UNL engagement. She is a maker, entrepreneur, Husker sports fan and baking enthusiast.

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Lynn DeVries

Early Childhood Extension Educator

Lynn is an Extension Educator on The Learning Child Team, University of Nebraska Extension in South Central Nebraska. Lynn has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Nebraska Kearney in Vocational Family and Consumer Science Education, and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University Nebraska. Lynn works with families, child care providers, teen parents and schools to promote developmentally appropriate practices and enhance parent involvement throughout the child’s education. Lynn has 11 years of experience teaching Family and Consumer Science in the public schools, and 10 years of experience coordinating programming and curriculum with the Head Start programs.

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Elizabeth Exstrom

Horticulture Extension Educator

I am Community Environment Extension Educator with a horticulture focus who works in the Nebraska Extension office in Hall County. I provide horticulture related programs for youth and adults, act as the Central Nebraska Master Gardener Coordinator, and answer horticulture-based related client questions. I am a Nebraska Arborist Association Certified Arborist and a member of the International Society of Arboriculture and Nebraska Nursery and Landscape Association. You might recognize me because I am regular panel member on NET's Backyard Farmer program and even filled in as host a few times. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture with a landscape design emphasis and my Master’s Degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln.

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Ron Seymour

Crops & Water Systems Educator

Ron Seymour is a cropping systems Extension Educator with emphasis on corn and soybean production. Ron also works extensively in crop pest management with specific expertise in insect issues. Ron has an interest in developing areas that border field crops as habitat that promote populations of beneficial arthropods.

Photo & Bio from UNL Extension

Jason Tuller

Rural Prosperity Nebraska Extension Educator

Jason has been working in the economic development field in rural Nebraska for more than a decade. He has worked as a small business consultant and as a rural economic developer. His goal now is to help grow stronger communities in Southeast Nebraska and throughout the stat

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Cami Wells

Food, Nutrition, and Health Extension Educator

I am a Nutrition, Food and Health Educator and Registered Dietitian located in Hall County. Part of my time is allocated to the Nutrition Education Program (NEP) that provides nutrition education to limited-resource families in central Nebraska. I teach a variety of food safety and nutrition programs to adults and youth as well as serve on the media/marketing team that develops content for our food.unl.edu website. I graduated from University of Nebraska–Lincoln with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science and Dietetics and earned a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Health Sciences from Northern Illinois University.

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Meet Our Team in Webster County

Dr. Lindsay Waechter-Mead

Beef Systems Educator, DVM

Lindsay Waechter-Mead is the Beef Systems Educator in Webster County and serves surrounding counties in this region. She is excited to bring her interests surrounding cow/calf health and preventative medicine to the Beef Team. Her current work involves looking at environmental effects on neonatal calf immunity and colostral transfer. She is also passionate about rural agriculture and what the veterinary profession can do to positively influence rural communities to ensure that generations can continue to enjoy the life that she loves.

Beth Janning

4-H Youth Development Extension Educator in Adams/Webster Counties

Beth Janning is a 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator. She provides programming in school enrichment, after-school, and traditional 4-H Programs. Her topic areas include but not limited to animal science, science, engineering and volunteer development.

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Alexa Pedersen

Office Manager

Alexa Pedersen is the Office Manager for the Webster County Extension Office. Alexa provides help in assisting clientele with questions that can be forwarded to a specific educator. She assists educators in programs that are put on in Webster County, such as pesticide training, and beef programs. She also provides knowledge in the 4-H world by helping families with any 4-H questions that come in. She is skillful in 4-H Online, ShoWorks, and helps prepare for 4-H programming, county fair, and state fair. Alexa is also a part of the 4-H Data Dream Team for Nebraska 4-H as well as the State Fair 4-H Beef Team.

Katie Bolte

4-H Programming Assistant

Katie Bolte is the 4-H Programming Assistant for the Webster County Extension Office. Katie is at the extension office on Mondays and Tuesdays. Katie provides programming in school enrichment, after-school programs, and 4-H workshops. She is knowledgeable when answering any 4-H questions that comes in and helps prepare for programs, county fair, and state fair.
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