UNL Extension in Webster County

February 2023 Edition Newsletter

Happy February!

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

Webster Extension Calendar of Events

See what's happening in 2023 for all of the program areas for the year. This will be updated weekly.
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Managing Hypothermia in Newborn Calves

Managing Hypothermia in Newborn Calves

Lindsay Waechter-Mead, DVM

Nebraska Extension Beef Systems Educator

Plans for calving season should include how to identify and manage cold stress in newborns. In the 2007 National Animal Health Monitoring System report, 25.6% of operations reported weather as the main cause for death in calves less than 3 weeks old. Preventing hypothermia is vital to survival in the newborn.

Interruptions to thermoregulation

Difficulty during birth, also known as dystocia, can have detrimental effects on calf health. The contractions from the dam create periods of limited oxygen as the calf moves through the birth canal. When the delivery process is prolonged, calves will be born with critically low levels of blood oxygen. These low levels will be corrected when breathing begins. However, severe dystocia calves have such low levels that the respiratory system is suppressed, leading to a cascade of negative events. The increase of blood carbon dioxide levels and the lack of oxygen lead to a condition called acidosis. The acidosis will depress the central nervous system and lead to weak calf syndrome. In these situations, calves are unable to stand and likely have a decreased shivering response, causing hypothermia. Hypothermic calves lack a suckle reflex and fail to ingest necessary colostrum, which will delay the absorption of antibodies and essential nutrients needed for survival.

Management strategies to treat hypothermia

There are several ways to assist a hypothermic calf. This first step is understanding when to intervene. The normal rectal temperature of a newborn calf is 101.5-102.5 degrees F. A simple thermometer will help identify when the calf is in danger. Once the temperature drops below 101 degrees F, steps should be taken to prevent hypothermia. Another tip is to place two fingers into the mouth of the calf. The inside of the mouth of a healthy calf will be warm and moist and will attempt to chew or suck on your fingers. If the suckle reflex is absent, it’s time to get involved.

Consider two routes when attempting to rewarm a calf: external and internal. Colostrum is the first line of defense for warming a calf internally. Comprised of up to 10% fat, colostrum acts as a heat source by burning the fat into energy and maintaining body temperature. Calves that can sit sternal and hold their head up need colostrum to begin the warming process. The best source will be from the dam, but other sources or replacers may be used as well. Ensure records are kept on what and how much was provided to the calf. More information on colostrum can be found at Colostrum 101 | UNL Beef.

External warming can be achieved through commercial warming huts, forced warm air such as the floorboard of your truck, or warm water bath. Never leave a calf unattended while using a heat source as there is potential for overheating. While warming huts are an easy option, they can also serve as breeding grounds for pathogens. Thoroughly clean and disinfect the entire hut before adding another calf. If using a bath, ensure the calf is completely dry before placing back outside.

Understanding the risk factors for hypothermia will aid in developing a strategy to prevent loss. Managing dystocia and knowing when and how to assist chilled calves are essential parts of your calving plan.

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

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Local PSEP Training Dates

If your private pesticide card expires this year, you should have received a letter from the office. Please read the letter and go to one of the dates listed below to renew your license.
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Community Environment/Horticulture

Winter Turf

Happy New Year!! Winter can be a beautiful time of the year. The gracefully falling snow or frost on the plants in the morning sun can be an attractive sight to some. To others, it just means more work outside. Regardless of how you feel, these winter conditions should remind everyone to think about their turf. That’s right, I said turf. While the frost and snow are pretty, there are some steps that you can take now to ensure a beautiful looking lawn come spring.

Frost can do more than cause you to scrape your windshield. Walking or driving across frozen turf may seem safe enough, but it can actually cause damage to the lawn which will be visible come spring. When the grass blades freeze, they become brittle. There are many theories as to how the frost damages the living turf tissues, but the most common belief is that the ice crystals damage the plants’ cells when they are forced into the leaf by the weight of a foot or wheel. Early morning dog walkers, newspaper deliverers, golfers, or joggers can do significant cosmetic damage on frosted turf. If done repeatedly, this could mean reseeding the area come spring.

It is fairly easy to spot the depressed footprints in the frosted turf, but once the frost melts the damage has a little different appearance. The damage to the frozen turf first appears as a blackening of the leaves which gradually turns to a brown or tan color. There is some good news though. In the spring, turf suffering from damage due to foot traffic while frozen will normally recover after two to four mowings.

Snow on turf can be both a blessing and a curse. A blanket of snow across the turf can help to protect it from the harsh winter winds and help to insulate it from the freezing temperatures. Leave as much snow on turf as possible to act as an insulating layer. On the other hand, snow can also cause damage to lawns. Large piles of snow can lead to issues with snow mold fungus or kill the crowns of the plant if the melting water refreezes around the roots of the plant. When scooping, avoid making large piles of snow on the turf. Try to spread the snow around to disperse the snow’s weight and the concentration of deicers. This can help reduce the potential for issues down the road related to deicer damage or slow melting snow piles. Snow that has fallen naturally isn’t as dense and compacted as shoveled snow and can be left alone.

Building a snowman is another fun snow-time activity that could also have an effect on your turf. The densely packed balls of snow melt slower than the rest of the snow on the ground. After a warm spell, just Frosty remains. These remnants of a fun afternoon could also cause damage due to the weight of the heavily compacted snow and the slower melting of the large snowballs. To avoid Frosty’s revenge, break up the snowballs left by the snowman as the temperatures warm up and the surrounding snow begins to melts. Don’t forget to pick up any leftover snowman accessories left on the turf like scarves, hats, or large rock buttons.

Take precautions now with these winter-time activities to keep your lawns looking their best into the new year.

Upcoming Programs: The Central Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Program. If you are interested in becoming an Extension Master Gardener contact Elizabeth Exstrom at the Nebraska Extension in Hall County Office, 308-385-5088, prior to January 10th, 2023.

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.

Selecting House Plants

Houseplants do many things. They help to clean indoor air, provide a pop of color during a white winter, and they are a great way to keep your green thumb in practice for the upcoming season. With a little know-how, you too can grow prize winning houseplants.

The hardest part about purchasing a houseplant is picking one that will work in your location. There are many choices for houseplants, but some are easier to grow than others. The Cast Iron Plant, Aspidistra elatior, didn’t get its name from being picky. These plants don’t require much sunlight and thrive on neglect. About the only way to kill one is to overwater it or keep it in a hot room. The airplane plant, sometimes known as the spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum, is another good ‘starter’ plant for those easing their way into growing house plants. When this plant gets root bound in the pot, it blooms and sends out stolons with baby plants attached. Place the baby plants in water and it will root and you have another plant. Epipremnum aureum, or pothos, is a vining houseplant that is also pretty hardy, but be careful not to let Fluffy or Fido munch on its leaves as it can be toxic to pets.

There are a few other tried-and-true houseplants that are pretty common. The snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, Sansevieria, offers a great vertical element with its long, snake-like leaves. Want a plant that tells you when it is thirsty? Try the peace lily, Spathiphyllum, when it needs a drink of water the leaves ‘flag’ and droop just a bit. As soon as it gets water, the leaves perk back up. Who could forget the African violet, Saintpaulia ionantha? This common houseplant needs high humidity and medium to high light requirements.

If succulents or cacti are more your style there are a large number of those to choose from. The main thing for these plants is to offer high light and low humidity. Cacti and succulents will also have a special potting mix that should be used if you need to (carefully) repot. This potting mix has sand added so that it drains well. Most true cacti, prefer to dry out between waterings. Error on the side of less water with these plants, most people love them to death by overwatering. When watering cacti and succulents, allow the water to drain through the pot into the drip tray. Dump out the excess water in the tray within about 30 minutes. If the water is allowed to sit in the drip tray, the soil will soak it back up. This can make the soil constantly wet and can lead to rotting plants. The holiday cacti, Christmas cacti, Easter cacti, and Thanksgiving cacti, prefer to have a little bit more moist soils. Succulents like the burrow’s tail, Sedum morganianum, jade plant, Crassula, or Aloe, also need high light and intermittent waterings, allowing the soil to dry out between water.

Running the furnace is great to keep us warm, but it can leave the air lacking much moisture. One of the greatest enemies of houseplants in the winter is low humidity. Most of the common houseplants are actually tropical plants that love higher humidity than what is commonly found in a winter household. Humidity levels can play a large role in how well houseplants do. There are a couple of quick tricks to increase humidity in the winter home. Run a humidifier to increase the humidity of the room for both you and the plants. Houseplants that love high humidity, like ferns, rex begonias, and prayer plants, Maranta leuconeura, can also be placed in one of the more humid rooms in the house like the bathroom or the kitchen. Another way to increase humidity is by utilizing a cloche, or bell-shaped glass covering. Placing groups of pots on a plant tray with pebbles then filling with water to within a half an inch of the base of the pots also works well to increase humidity. Grouping plants in the same general area will create a microclimate of increased humidity.

Houseplants provide much more than just some color inside the house. Selecting the right plant may take some time, but it will pay off in the long run.

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

A Message from Jason

By the time this column gets published, my daughter will be married. That got me thinking about weddings as economic development and people attraction.

When I got married 20 years ago, I did the same thing my daughter is doing. I got married in the town where my future spouse was living. Fortunately, that was very close to where my family was from. The only cost to attend was the drive. In my daughter’s case, we will not only have a long drive but a stay in a hotel as well. In order to help with final wedding plans and to have a bit of a Christmas celebration we are staying almost a week. My wife’s parents are coming for a few days, and so are mine. All told, just our hotel bills are going to be several thousand dollars. That’s economic development!

Not only will we stay in that community, we will eat, make purchases and probably even do some tourist activities. She invited 400+ people to the wedding, what if 100 people come from out of town. What if each of them spent $100 while they were in that community. That’s $10,000 spent in a community in a day or two due to a wedding. That doesn’t even take into account the cost of the actual wedding. I’m going to make up some numbers here because my daughter doesn’t want me to know how much she actually spent…but…let’s say the reception hall was $5000, plus catering at $35 a plate, plus decorations, plus wedding clothes. You can see that a wedding can cost another $10,000 easily.

One event, $20,000 in economic development. Now how many weddings a year? 10, 20, 50? 50 weddings at $20,000 each is ONE MILLION DOLLARS in economic development. Perhaps you think that your small town doesn’t have that many people getting married. You’re right, it probably doesn’t. But what if someone created a destination wedding space right in your area? Decorations, dresses, catering, rental space…all provided locally. It could happen.

But wait! There’s more! What about all those guests visiting your community. They aren’t wearing blindfolds as they search for the wedding venue, or shop for spot remover for their wedding outfit. They are in your community looking, learning, and experiencing what you have to offer. That’s what people attraction and tourism is all about. Does your tourism bureau support weddings? Probably not…but maybe they should think about it. Having a destination wedding venue (maybe an antique barn) might be the biggest tourist draw in your county…and you don’t even know it exists.

How do communities take advantage of this? How do you be welcoming to those people visiting? The first step is learning where those venues are. Work with the churches in your community to find out about weddings. Work with the retailers in the community to ensure they are open before/during/after the wedding. I have been to events in small towns where there are hundreds of people in the community for a private event or wedding…and the downtown is closed. The nearest store/restaurant/etc. was 20 miles down the road, so that’s where we went to spend our money.

Private events like weddings, funerals, or family reunions can be important to economic development and people attraction. Watch for opportunities to provide support to these events. Any time you can get someone to visit your community is a time to make a great impression on them. You never know if one of those guests is looking to make an investment or build jobs or homes….and they might just pick your community due to a great first impression!

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

Online Professional Development

Nebraska Early Childhood Extension offers online professional development lessons covering a range of early childhood education topics. Each topic area will provide research-based information and strategies on how you can support young children's early growth and development.

Early Childhood Extension Statewide on-line programs for childcare providers:


Discover & Design

Here is a great story entitled, “Hedgehugs” for your February family time. The activity is also a great opportunity to practice some fine motor skills with your children. https://fitandhealthykids.unl.edu/discover-and-design #fitandhealthykids

Food, Nutrition, & Health

Food Budgeting

Feeling the pinch at the grocery store? Need some ideas for reducing your family's food costs? Check out our food budgeting resources: https://food.unl.edu/tags/food-budgeting


Need a simple dip recipe? Whether you are looking for a dip recipe to enjoy as a snack or bring to a party, enjoy these dip recipes made from items commonly found in your fridge or cupboards: https://food.unl.edu/tags/dip


Webster County 4-H Newsletter

Check out what's happening in Webster County 4-H below!
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Nebraska Extension Spotlight- Meet Dr. Lindsay Waechter Mead

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The office will be closed Monday, February 20th in observance of President's Day.

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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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