ANR Green Blog
Water quality — Water is the most critical factor in the diet of food animals. When cattle don't drink enough clean and safe water every day, feed intake and productivity declines. Drought conditions can potentially affect all sources of water, including groundwater, but surface waters are especially vulnerable. It is important to frequently monitor water quality, especially as quantity becomes more limited, and test for basic water quality parameters such as total dissolved solids, sodium, sulfates, and nitrates/nitrites. Blooms of blue-green algae in water are also an issue. These cyanobacteria can produce toxins that can affect the liver and nervous system. Depending on the specific toxin and amount ingested, animals may die suddenly, or suffer from weakness, staggering, or photosensitization.
Feed quality and nutritional deficiencies — Drought conditions frequently result in the need to feed poor quality forages or to switch to alternative feed sources. Both can affect animal nutrition and increase the risk for intoxications. Use of poor quality forages can cause or exacerbate deficiencies of important minerals such as selenium, copper, and phosphorus and vitamins such as vitamins A and E. In addition, drought affected forages are often deficient in energy and protein. Even in non-drought years, deficiencies in selenium and copper are common in California cattle, particularly beef cattle. Copper deficiency causes reduced production, diarrhea, decreased resistance to infectious agents and parasites, poor vaccine response, loss of bone strength in calves, weakness and wobbling in neonates, reproductive failure, and sudden death of adult animals. Selenium deficiency also results in less resistance to infectious agents and parasites, and causes white muscle disease of skeletal and heart muscle resulting in stiff gaits, slow movement, heart damage and weak neonates. Primary vitamin A deficiency occurs in beef cattle on dry range pasture during periods of drought. Clinical signs include night blindness, dry eye, retarded growth rate, reproductive failures, and increased mortality. Maternal deficiency of vitamin A can cause abortions, stillbirths, or calves born alive but blind and weak that die within 1 to 3 days. Cows should be given an injection of vitamin A (and D) about 30 days prior to calving and calves should be given a vitamin A injection at birth.
Increased incidence of plant poisonings — Cattle will seek out and consume plants that they would not otherwise find palatable during drought conditions. Nitrate poisoning is one of the most common plant associated intoxications diagnosed by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory. The potential for nitrate poisoning to occur is increased when livestock water sources also contain elevated concentrations. The first sign of nitrate poisoning is often the sudden and unexplained deaths of one or more animals. Other clinical signs include drowsiness, weakness, muscle tremors, increased heart and respiratory rates, staggering, and recumbency. Signs can develop with several hours of ingesting a toxic amount. Nitrate concentrations can be easily and cheaply determined from samples submitted to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory for testing.
During periods of drought, cattle producers should be especially careful about the quality of feed and water available for their animals. Sick animals should be tested for various nutritional deficiencies and dead animals can undergo necropsies to determine cause of death so that other animals in the herd can be treated appropriately. Additional information and testing is available at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System. For laboratory location and contact info, visit www.cahfs.ucdavis.edu. A longer, more detailed version of these tips may be found here.
Robert H. Poppenga and Birgit Puschner, veterinary toxicologists with the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, contributed to this article.
The Joint Fire Science Program – a multi-agency program that funds wildland fire research – has recognized this issue, and fire science delivery has become one of its core objectives. Using Joint Fire Science funding, the newly formed California Fire Science Consortium (CFSC) is now a statewide educational organization with five regional teams.
UCCE staff members in Humboldt County are leading the northern California region of CFSC, along with partners from the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and Humboldt State University. They have formed a multi-agency advisory committee, which includes 11 scientists and managers from different agencies and organizations in the region, to offer guidance and support for consortium activities. The Northern California team is also working closely with faculty and staff at UC Berkeley, who act as a central hub for the statewide effort.
As fire managers develop new management plans, navigate permitting and other regulatory hurdles, and attempt to adapt to changing social, political, and environmental climates, they need access to current, science-based information that is digestible and readily applicable to their unique landscapes and management challenges.
In leading the Northern California CFSC effort, UCCE has helped to harness the vast array of scientific data on fire that is applicable for the Northern California region and make it available and understandable for the non-scientific community, contributing to the integrity and efficiency of fire management, both in the region and throughout the country.
“Responses from all of our educational events suggests that we are filling a void and helping regional fire managers and landowners become aware of the latest science,” said Yana Valachovic, forest advisor and county director for UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
Classrooms, playgrounds, and athletic fields that were quiet during the summer months will once again be filled with the sounds of learning and playing. Landscape and pest management professionals have been taking advantage of the slow summer months preparing the grounds and facilities for the upcoming year. While at one time this may have meant heavy applications of pesticide to rid the facilities of pest problems, today schools are healthier environments for our kids.
Schools are required to follow the Healthy Schools Act (HSA), a law passed in 2001 in response to increasing concern of pesticide exposure and resulting heath issues. The HSA gives parents and staff the “right to know” about what pesticides are being applied and requires schools to keep records of applications and report information to the state. The HSA also encourages the use of integrated pest management (IPM) and the adoption of least toxic pest management practices as the primary way of managing pests in schools. Each school or district appoints an IPM coordinator to carry out the requirements of the Healthy Schools Act.
Each school is also required to maintain records for at least four years of all pesticides used and to report pesticide use to both the county agricultural commissioner and the Department of Pesticide Regulation. There are certain products that are exempt from the notification and posting requirements of the HSA. These include reduced-risk pesticides, such as self-contained baits or traps or gels or pastes used for crack-and-crevice treatments. Antimicrobials and pesticides exempt from registration are exempt from all aspects of the Healthy Schools Act, including reporting.
While not required, schools are strongly encouraged under the HSA to adopt an integrated approach to managing pests. IPM focuses on long-term prevention of pests by monitoring and inspecting to find out what caused the pest and taking steps to eliminate those favorable conditions to reduce future problems. IPM uses a combination of methods to solve pest problems using least toxic pesticides only after other methods have allowed pests to exceed a tolerable level.
With IPM, schools get long-term solutions to pest problems. There is less pesticide used reducing the risk of pesticide exposure. Finally, less notification, posting, and recordkeeping is required from schools.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation School IPM Program has a new handout reminding schools of the requirements of the HSA. For more information on the School IPM program and the Healthy Schools Act, visit the DPR website, and for more on IPM, visit the UC Statewide IPM website.
Per the full text of the proposition, the distribution of funds would be approximately as follows:
$810 million for expenditures and competitive grants and loans to integrated regional water management plan projects.
$520 million to improve water quality for “beneficial use,” for reducing and preventing drinking water contaminants in disadvantaged communities, and creating the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund Small Community Grant Fund.
$725 million for water recycling and advanced water treatment technology projects.
$900 million for competitive grants, and loans for projects to prevent or clean up the contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water.
$1.495 billion for competitive grants for multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects including:
- Conservancies $327.5M.
- Wildlife Conservation Board $200M (restoration of flows)
- Department of Fish and Wildlife $285M (out of delta, no mitigation on Bay Delta Conservation Plan)
- Department of Fish and Wildlife $87.5M (in delta with constraints)
- State settlement obligations including CVPIA $475M
- Rivers and creeks $120M
$2.7 billion for water storage projects, dams and reservoirs.
$395 million for statewide flood management projects and activities
To read the full text of the proposition visit Ballotpedia.
Help the California Department of Fish and Wildlife celebrate their first annual California Invasive Species Action Week, Aug. 2 – 10, and protect California's diverse landscapes. Hundreds of invasive plants and animals have already established themselves in California's landscapes and populations are quickly expanding each year.
Prevention is the most effective strategy to manage invasive species in California. Action Week is dedicated to increasing public awareness and inspiring action by residents of California.
How can you help? Here are 15 simple ways to participate in California Invasive Species Action Week from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
- Find out which species are threats to California from the Invasive Species Council of California.
- Learn about California's invasive plants from the California Invasive Plants Council.
- Remove invasive plants from your property.
- Select native or non-invasive plants for your home's landscape.
- Make sure to Clean, Drain, and Dry (PDF) your boat after each outing.
- Use only certified “weed-free” forage, hay, seed, mulch, soil, and gravel.
- Avoid spreading forest pests: buy your firewood where you burn it.
- Learn alternatives to releasing unwanted fish, aquatic plants, and other pets.
- Get to know your local invaders.
- Eat them. Yes, really. Check out these interesting websites to find out who is edible and how to prepare them, Invasivore.org, EatTheWeeds.com, and EatTheInvaders.org.
- Monitor plants and trees for symptoms of infestations and disease.
- Share your knowledge.
- Visit your favorite local, state, or national park, ecological reserve, recreational area, or nature center and ask about their volunteer programs.
- Have you spotted an invasive species? Tell us where by reporting your sighting.
- Volunteer for invasive species removal/habitat restoration projects.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife are hosting events across the state to spread the word about invasive species for Action Week. Visit their schedule of events to find an event and location near you!