Get backyard chickens ready for winter

Winter and Your Backyard Chickens

Sabrina Schirtzinger, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Knox County

Tim McDermott, DVM, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Franklin County 

Raising chickens during the winter has challenges: decreased egg production, frozen water, and possible frostbite. However, there are management strategies that will keep your flock safe during the winter. Winterizing your chicken coop and daily monitoring of your chickens will help to keep your flock healthy, happy, and warm.

Choose Cold-Tolerant Breeds

There are several breeds of chickens that winter better than others. These include Ameraucanas, Ancona, Black Australorps, Black Giant, Brahma, Buff Orpingtons, Cochins, Delaware, Dominique, Langshan, New Hampshire, Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Red, Speckled Sussex and Wyandottes. While these breeds are noted for their hardiness in withstanding cold, note that a larger comb or wattle present in a breed or roosters of most breeds can be a location for the development of frostbite in an otherwise cold-tolerant breed. Strategies to avoid frostbite will be discussed later in this fact sheet.

Block Drafts 

Check the doors and windows of the coop for drafts. Make sure the doors and windows can be sealed tightly and locked as needed to maintain temperature. Inspect your coop for holes where air, moisture, or vermin can enter. To check for holes, turn the lights on when it is dark and walk around the outside of the coop inspecting the structure for visible holes. Address repair and maintenance of the structure in the warm weather in preparation for the upcoming winter. Ensure that spray foam insulation or caulk used to seal holes is not accessible to the chickens.

If you purchased a coop with several open fenced sides, consider purchasing heavy plastic or a tarp to cover the fenced sides. This heavy tarp is an effective temporary wall to prevent wind and moisture at the ground level of the coop and can be added or removed as needed. When blocking drafts, do not completely eliminate ventilation, but control the airflow to prevent humidity and ammonia accumulation.

Maintain Ventilation

While most chicken breeds can tolerate cold, even sub-freezing temperatures, complications can arise when wind and moisture are accompanied with cold temperatures. It is important to protect the birds from drafts and excess wind while still allowing ventilation. Maintaining air quality in extremely cold temperatures is critical to the health of the flock.

The buildup of ammonia from litter in a tightly sealed coop can cause problems over time such as respiratory diseases. While the buildup of humidity in a poorly ventilated coop will predispose the chickens to frostbite as humid air creates more frostbite risk than drier air. If a heavy plastic tarp was used to block drafts, ensure that the sides do not extend to the roof level to prevent adequate ventilation and allow excess moisture buildup.

 

 

Address drafts, snow, and rain with tarps or heavy plastic being careful not to extend the material to the roofline. Photo by Annika McKillop, DVM, MspVM, DACVP, McKillop Poultry Medicine.

 

 

Increase Bedding

To prepare the coop for winter, remove all used bedding and clean the coop prior to adding a large quantity of new, dry bedding for the winter. Bedding materials may include wood shavings or chips, straw, soft hay, ground corn cobs, or shredded paper. This bedding keeps the flock warm through an insulation effect.

Deep bedding can increase humidity levels, so litter management is critical in the winter months. Check the moisture level in the coop daily; when adding large amounts of bedding you will need to clean the coop more often and regularly adjust, mix, or fluff the bedding levels to provide a warm and dry coop.

Modify Feeding

Chickens will eat less in the winter than the summer. Each laying chicken requires 2 pounds of feed per week. Dual-purpose chickens require more, where bantams will eat less. Mature laying chickens need to be fed a pellet or crumble containing 14-17 percent crude protein during the winter. Chickens enjoy scratch, which is a mixture of grains (such as oats and wheat) and cracked corn. Feed a small amount of scratch late in the day to help chickens to stay warm throughout the night as egg laying chickens need more carbohydrates for warmth and egg production.

Monitor Water

With winter weather, frozen water is inevitable. Change the water twice per day, and change the water more often on colder days to prevent freezing. Check the water source in the evening for frozen water so the birds have water available for the full 24-hour time. Even automatic waterers can freeze if not heated or insulated. Check these waterers for leaks that can contribute to increased humidity problems in the coop. Heated water bowls or containers help to keep water from freezing; however, be cautious as these devices may malfunction and cause a fire.

Encourage Egg Production

A decline or stop in egg production is natural during the winter because chickens require 14 hours of daylight. By providing 12-14 hours of light, you will help increase egg production. To provide light for the chickens, use a 60-watt incandescent lightbulb or 13-watt compact fluorescent or comparable LED bulb that is hung at approximately 7 feet with a downward reflector. This method will provide enough light for a 200-square foot coop area. Lights may be left on continuously or turned off manually or automatically with a timer.
Collecting eggs once or twice a day will help prevent eggs from freezing. Most eggs are laid in the morning. Time egg collection with water management checks. Discard eggs that have frozen and have possibly cracked.

Avoid Frostbite

Injury from frostbite occurs most commonly on extremities such as feet, combs, and wattles. Frostbite causes the cells in this area to freeze, causing cell death and subsequent changes in color and texture. Gray, black, or brittle areas are indicators of frostbite.

To avoid frostbite, remove the snow from the chicken run or straw areas to protect their feet when outdoors. Inside the coop, make sure that all the chickens are able to roost off the floor at night. Roosting allows the chicken to lie on their feet to avoid standing all night. Provide at least 6-8 inches of roost space per chicken. Roosts should be 1½ to 3 inches in diameter.

If you notice frostbite on a chicken, there are some basic treatments to attempt. Bring the animal into a warm space, slowly warming the affected extremity back to correct temperature. Do not attempt rapid warming of the affected area as this may cause further damage. Gentle use of warm—not hot—water foot soaks to warm the feet may be beneficial, but do not attempt on the comb or wattle. Monitor the affected extremities carefully for infection and contact your veterinarian if you suspect infection. In some extreme cases of frostbite, the loss of the extremity can occur.

Heating the Coop

Supplemental heat may or may not be necessary in the coop. Chickens are hardy animals with the ability to withstand substantial cold temperatures if drafts and excess humidity are eliminated and they can find a warm, dry spot in the coop. Prepare the chickens by allowing them to acclimate to the cold naturally as winter approaches. This builds up their natural tolerance to cold.

Insulating the coop can be an effective way to maintain warm temperatures without the need for electricity. Make sure that insulation material is not accessible by the birds. If supplemental heating is required, make sure the electrical feed to the coop is sturdy, safe, and not accessible to the chickens. Take care when using space heaters, radiant heating, or heat lamps to avoid excess heat, carbon dioxide buildup, or a fire hazard situation. Cold tolerant chicken breeds acclimated to the weather living in an insulated, dry coop with adequate ventilation do not usually need supplemental heat.

Key Management Strategies

Key points for keeping your flock healthy are to increase the frequency of monitoring the coop as needed to address and prevent problems promptly. Monitor for spilled feed and water. Controlled ventilation and air circulation that prevents ammonia and moisture buildup while allowing the birds and the coop to maintain temperature is critical.

Sources

  1. Damerow. (2017). Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, 4th ed., North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
  2. Damerow. (2002).Barnyard in your Backyard. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Jacobs, J. (May 5, 2015). Frostbite in Chickens. Retrieved from: articles.extension.org/pages/70255/frostbite-in-chickens

 

 

The Benefits of Long-term No-till on Earthworm Activity and Rooting Depth

In long-term no-till, nightcrawlers are much more prevalent, thus leading to deeper root growth than in conventionally tilled soil.

Sjoerd Willem Duiker, Ph.D., CCA

Last week I went out to our long-term tillage plots to observe comparisons of 41 years of no-till, chisel-disk, and moldboard tillage. I was impressed by the difference in earthworm activity between plots of conventional tillage and long-term no-till. This year is our soybean year in a wheat-corn-soybean rotation (with either hairy vetch or crimson clover as a cover crop after wheat). The soybeans had just dropped their leaves. In the conventional tillage plot I noticed very few earthworm middens, however in the long-term no-till field I found many.

Pencil-sized nightcrawler burrows can be observed under the middens. (Credit: Sjoerd Duiker)

Very few nightcrawler middens were found in conventional tilled soil plots compared to long-term no-till soil plots. (Credit: Sjoerd Duiker)

Middens are the small mounds that anecic earthworms make on top of their deep, vertical burrows. These burrows can easily go as deep as 3 or 4 feet. Middens consist of crop residue pulled into the burrow by the earthworm (in this case mostly soybean leaves) and earthworm casts that the earthworms deposit at the soil surface. When you carefully remove the midden, you can see the pencil-size earthworm burrow underneath (see top photo).

These burrows are coated by organic substances. In our type of climate, these deep burrows are important pathways for root growth into the subsoil. In a study in Wisconsin, researchers observed that the average rooting depth of no-till corn was 49 inches, but that of tilled corn was 26 inches. The difference was attributed to the prolific nightcrawler activity in no-till: there were no nightcrawler burrows in the tilled fields, but on average 2.3 middens per square foot in the no-till fields – that is about 100,000 middens per acre. The average length of the burrows made by the nightcrawlers was 49 inches or more than 4 feet! In one study in Australia, researchers found that below a depth of 2 feet, almost all roots grew into pores and cracks. These deep roots are very important for facilitating water uptake in dry years.

Licking County rainfall totals for the 2019 growing season

Who would have believed that we would have ended the growing season with normal rainfall.  At the beginning of August we were well ahead of normal and then the rain shut off for much of the county.  On the up side the fall harvest is progressing at a very fast rate and is a long way ahead of last year complete.  On the down side the pastures are disappearing fast.  This is the first year I have ever had to start feeding hay by the middle of October but at least I was able to go 2 months without mowing the yard.  We are getting some rain now and hopefully soil moisture conditions will keep improving until time to plant again.

Rainfall – Licking County 2019

 Township April May June July August September Total
Alexandria 3.49 6.23 7.07 6.46 2.45 .69 26.39
Bennington 3.65 4.65 6.05 4.85 2.30 .90 22.40
Bowling Green 4.05   4.45 5.90 6.95 2.75 .10 24.19
Madison 3.18 3.52 7.48 6.51 2.08 .69 23.46
Newark 3.55 6.55 7.25 6.60 2.10 .40 26.45
Newton 3.00 4.80 6.95 8.50 2.05 .50 25.80
South Union 4.00 4.40 7.40 6.35 4.25 .40 26.80
Union 3.21 4.97 5.10 4.70 7.99 .66 26.63
Burlington 2.90 4.40 6.76 4.46 1.60 .50 20.62
Washington 3.50 4.10 5.25 4.35 .75 trace 17.95
 

County Avg 2019

 

3.45

 

4.81

 

6.52

 

5.97

 

2.76

 

.48

 

23.99

Long term avg. 3.66 4.41 4.57 4.37 3.58 2.99 23.58

 

I would like to give a special thanks to the following individuals and families who graciously devoted their time and effort to keeping track and reporting their totals. Without their help this would not be possible. If you know someone who would like to participate in this project next year, please have them contact the extension office at 740-670-5315.

Rick Black                     Ed Hankinson           Dave Shipley

Larry Coe                      Kayla Hughes             Tom Sorg

Orville Felumlee         Jim Kiracofe

Marcy Williams          Jeff Martin

Meet our new office associate

 

Lisa House is the new Office Associate that will be providing front-line customer service support for the Licking County OSU Extension Office. Lisa comes to us from Columbus State Community College where she served in administrative support roles for over 10 years. She is a current member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals and received the Certified Administrative Professional designation in 2010. Lisa also holds a BS in Applied Management from Ohio University.

Lisa can be reached at house.238@osu.edu or 740-670-5315.

How good or bad is your hay?

From Ted Wiseman and Dean Kreager Extension Educators in Perry and Licking County

You may be thinking enough already with the hay quality talk.  Many articles have been sent out on this topic starting before some people even baled their first cutting.  Last year a lot of the hay was very poor quality and many animals lost significant weight through the winter.  Some animals even died with hay in front of them because the hay did not have enough nutritional value.  Hay quality affects all types of livestock but I will concentrate on beef cows since they are less likely to receive supplemental feed than most other animals.

Thin cows are more likely to produce calves that are less healthy and will not grow as well.  Those cows often take longer to breed back which will carry into the next year with later born calves.  Below is a summary of 45  forage samples from hay made this year.  This data represents 2 important test numbers.  These 2 items do not tell the whole story when it comes to hay quality but they give us a good start.

Percent TDN (total digestible nutrients) is a measure of the amount of energy in the feed.  Basically this equates to the amount of calories.

Percent protein is a measure of the protein that is available to the animal for maintaining muscle and body systems. It is also very important for development of the calf she is carrying.

The vertical blue bars represent 1st cutting hay samples while the vertical orange bars represent 2nd cutting.  There are 4 silage samples included.

When looking at TDN on the graph, the grey bar at 60% represents the needs of a beef cow at the peak of lactation (such as fall calvers).  This bar could be lowered to 54% for last trimester spring calvers.  At 54% it would appear that some of the first cutting would be adequate; however, when we factor in the moisture content and the limitation on the total pounds  a cow can possibly consume none of these first cutting samples completely met the energy needs of the cattle.  If you add in the increased energy needs from rain, mud, cold, and snow, the animals will be loosing body condition through the winter if they are not receiving an energy supplement.

Protein content is represented by the yellow bar on the graph.  Typically you will want at least an 8%-9% protein level to meet the needs of a cow in its 3rd trimester.  You can see that some of the first cutting samples are closer to 5%.  The protein needs are met by more samples than the energy needs but still may require some protein supplementation.

First cutting forages provides the largest amount of your supply compared to second, third or fourth.  Taking inventory of what you have now for each cutting will give you time to plan your winter feeding program.  Most importantly if you haven’t tested your forages before, this would be the year to do so.  The cost of a forage sample is minimal compared the costs associated with lower body condition scores, low birth weights and poor milk production.  I am glad to help with sampling and interpretation.  We can have your hay tested for $25 including shipping for most standard testing.

Once you know what quality of forages you have, work with a nutritionist to help decide what other feed stuffs you can use to develop a proper beef ration.  Just getting the numbers on a spreadsheet or computer program is only the starting point.  Understanding the complexities of the ruminant digestive system and knowing what the limitations of certain feeds is critical.  The Ohio State Beef Team website has some great resources addressing feed and feed shortage issues.

Be Alert to Late-Season Potential Forage Toxicities

Author: Mark Sulc

Livestock owners feeding forage need to keep in mind the potential for some forage toxicities and other problems that can develop late this season. Nitrate and prussic acid poisoning associated with drought stress or frost are the main potential concerns to be aware of. These are primarily an issue with annual forages and several weed species, but nitrates can be an issue even in drought stressed perennial forages. There is also an increased risk of bloat when grazing legumes after a frost. Each of these risks is discussed in this article along with precautions to avoid them.

Nitrate Toxicity

Drought stressed forages can accumulate toxic nitrate levels. This can occur in many different forage species, including both annuals and perennials. Several areas in Ohio have become very dry late this summer into fall. Corn, oat and other small grains, sudangrass, and sorghum sudangrass, and many weed species including johnson grass can accumulate toxic levels of nitrates. Even alfalfa can accumulate toxic nitrate levels under severe drought stress.

Before feeding or grazing severely drought stressed forage, the forage should be analyzed for nitrates. Most labs now offer nitrate tests, so it is likely that you can get forage plants tested for nitrates by your favorite lab.  A number of labs are listed at the end of this article that have nitrate testing available. This list is for your convenience and no labs are intentionally omitted. Check your chosen lab’s web site and follow their specific instructions about how to take and handle the sample.Tthe cost is well worth it against the risk of losing animals.

See the following references for more details:

https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/forage/nitrate-poisoning-in-cattle-sheep-and-goats/

http://forages.tamu.edu/PDF/Nitrate.pdf

Nitrate accumulation in frost forages. Freezing damage slows down metabolism in all plants, and this might result in nitrate accumulation in plants that are still growing, especially grasses like oats and other small grains, millet, and sudangrass.  This build-up usually isn’t hazardous to grazing animals, but greenchop or hay cut right after a freeze can be more dangerous. When in doubt, send a forage sample to a forage testing lab for nitrate testing before grazing or feeding it.

Prussic Acid Toxicity

Several forage and weed species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues, or under drought conditions. Several labs provide prussic acid testing of forages. Sampling and shipping guidelines should be carefully followed because prussic acid is a gas and can dissipate during shipping leading to a false sense of security when no prussic acid is found in the sample.

Drought stress can affect prussic acid poisoning risk. Drought-stunted plants can contain or produce prussic acid and can possess toxic levels at maturity. Prussic acid poisoning can be associated with new regrowth following a drought-ending rain, which is likely the case in some parts of Ohio now. Rain after drought plus young stages of plant maturity (see below) could combine to cause toxic levels of prussic acid in forage this year.

Plant age affects toxicity. Young, rapidly growing plants of species that contain cyanogenic glucosides will have the highest levels of prussic acid. Pure stands of indiangrass can have lethal levels of cyanide if they are grazed when the plants are less than 8 inches tall.

Species with prussic acid poisoning potential. Forage species that can contain prussic acid are listed below in decreasing order of risk of toxicity:

  • Grain sorghum = high to very high toxic potential
  • Indiangrass = high toxic potential
  • Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghums = intermediate to high potential
  • Sudangrass hybrids = intermediate potential
  • Sudangrass varieties = low to intermediate in cyanide poisoning potential
  • Piper sudangrass = low prussic acid poisoning potential
  • Pearl millet and foxtail millet = rarely cause toxicity

Species not usually planted for agronomic use can also develop toxic levels of prussic acid, including the following:

  • Johnsongrass
  • Shattercane
  • Chokecherry
  • Black cherry
  • Elderberry

It is always a good idea to check areas where wild cherry trees grow after a storm and pick up and discard any fallen limbs to prevent animals from grazing on the leaves and twigs.

Frost affects toxicity. Cyanogenic glucosides are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. Prussic acid poisoning potential is most commonly associated the first autumn frost. New growth from frosted plants is palatable but can be dangerously high in prussic acid.

Fertility can affect poisoning risk. Plants growing under high nitrogen levels or in soils deficient in phosphorus or potassium will be more likely to have high prussic acid poisoning potential.

Fresh forage is more risky. After frost damage, cyanide levels will likely be higher in fresh forage as compared with silage or hay. This is because cyanide is a gas and dissipates as the forage is wilted and dried for making silage or dry hay.

Prussic Acid Toxicity Symptoms

Animals can die within minutes if they consume forage with high concentrations of prussic acid. Prussic acid interferes with oxygen transfer in the blood stream of the animal, causing it to die of asphyxiation. Before death, symptoms include excess salivation, difficult breathing, staggering, convulsions, and collapse.

Ruminants are more susceptible to prussic acid poisoning than horses or swine because cud chewing and rumen bacteria help release the cyanide from plant tissue.

According to a Texas Cooperative Extension Factsheet, “Animals consuming forages with nigh nitrate levels cannot complete the conversion of nitrate to protein, and toxic nitrite levels accumulate. Nitrite is adsorbed directly into the bloodstream through the rumen wall, where it combines with hemoglobin to form methhemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen in the blood, but methhemoglobin does not. The formation of methhemoglobin can cause an animal to die from asphyxiation, or lack of oxygen. The animal’s blood turns brown instead of the normal bright red. Monogastrics (i.e., hors-es, mules, swine, etc.) are less sensitive to nitrate toxicitythan ruminants. An animal’s conditioning affects its ability to assimilate or tolerate nitrates, so consult your veterinarian before feeding forage that contains nitrates.”
(see http://forages.tamu.edu/PDF/Nitrate.pdf).

Grazing Precautions

The following guidelines will help you avoid danger to your livestock this fall when feeding species with nitrates or prussic acid poisoning potential:

  • Under drought conditions, allow animals to graze only the upper one-third to one-half of the plant or the leaves of coarse-stemmed forages if the nitrate levels in these plant parts is safe. Monitor animals closely and remove them quickly when the upper portion of plants is grazed off.
  • Generally, forage nitrate levels drop significantly 3 to 5 days after sufficient rainfall, but it is always safer to send in a sample for testing before grazing or feeding forage soon after drought stress periods.
  • Making hay does not reduce nitrate levels in the forage, but the hay can be tested and diluted sufficiently with other feeds to make it safe for animals.
  • Ensiling forage converts nitrates to volatile nitrous oxides, or “silo gases”. These gases are highly toxic to humans. Safety practices include removing tarps from a portion of the silo a day or two before removing the silage from the bunker.
  • Do not graze on nights when frost is likely. High levels of toxic prussic acid are produced within hours after a frost, even if it was a light frost.
  • Do not graze after a killing frost until plants are dry, which usually takes 5 to 7 days.
  • After a non-killing frost, do not allow animals to graze for two weeks because the plants usually contain high concentrations of prussic acid.
  • New growth may appear at the base of the plant after a non-killing frost. If this occurs, wait for a killing freeze, then wait another 10 to 14 days before grazing the new growth.
  • Don’t allow hungry or stressed animals to graze young growth of species with prussic acid potential. To reduce the risk, feed ground cereal grains to animals before turning them out to graze.
  • Use heavy stocking rates (4-6 head of cattle/acre) and rotational grazing to reduce the risk of animals selectively grazing leaves that can contain high levels of prussic acid.
  • Never graze immature growth or short regrowth following a harvest or grazing (at any time of the year). Graze or greenchop sudangrass only after it is 15 to 18 inches tall. Sorghum-sudangrass should be 24 to 30 inches tall before grazing.
  • Do not graze wilted plants or plants with young tillers.

Greenchop

Green-chopping will not reduce the level of nitrates and is not likely to greatly reduce the level of prussic acid present. However, green-chopping frost-damaged plants will lower the risk compared with grazing directly, because animals are less likely to selectively graze damaged tissue. Stems in the forage dilute the high prussic acid content that can occur in leaves. However, the forage can still be toxic, so feed greenchop with great caution after a frost. If feeding greenchopped forage of species containing cyanogenic glucosides, feed it within a few hours of greenchopping, and don’t leave greenchopped forage in wagons or feedbunks overnight.

Hay and Silage

Prussic acid content in the plant decreases dramatically during the hay drying process and the forage should be safe once baled as dry hay. The forage can be mowed anytime after a frost if you are making hay. It is rare for dry hay to contain toxic levels of prussic acid. However, if the hay was not properly cured and dried before baling, it should be tested for prussic acid content before feeding to livestock.

Forage with prussic acid potential that is stored as silage is generally safe to feed. To be extra cautious, wait 5 to 7 days after a frost before chopping for silage. If the plants appear to be drying down quickly after a killing frost, it is safe to ensile sooner.

Delay feeding silage for 8 weeks after ensiling. If the forage likely contained high levels of cyanide at the time of chopping, hazardous levels of cyanide might remain and the silage should be analyzed before feeding.

Species That Can Cause Bloat After Frost

Forage legumes such as alfalfa and clovers have an increased risk of bloat when grazed one or two days after a hard frost. The bloat risk is highest when grazing pure legume stands and least when grazing stands having mostly grass.

The safest management is to wait a few days after a killing frost before grazing pure legume stands – wait until the forage begins to dry from the frost damage. It is also a good idea to make sure animals have some dry hay before being introduced to lush fall pastures that contain significant amounts of legumes. You can also swath your legume-rich pasture ahead of grazing and let animals graze dry hay in the swath.  Bloat protectants like poloxalene can be fed as blocks or mixed with grain. While this an expensive supplement, it does work well when animals eat a uniform amount each day.

Frost and Equine Toxicity Problems

(source: Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska)

Minnesota specialists report that fall pasture, especially frost damaged pasture, can have high concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates, like sugars.  This can lead to various health problems for horses, such as founder and colic.  They recommend pulling horses off of pasture for about one week following the first killing frost.

High concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates are most likely in leafy regrowth of cool-season grasses such as brome, timothy, and bluegrass but native warm-season grasses also may occasionally have similar risks.

Another unexpected risk can come from dead maple leaves that fall or are blown into horse pastures.  Red blood cells can be damaged in horses that eat 1.5 to 3 pounds of dried maple leaves per one thousand pounds of bodyweight.  This problem apparently does not occur with fresh green leaves or with any other animal type.  Fortunately, the toxicity does not appear to remain in the leaves the following spring.

Where to Test Forages for Nitrates

Brookside Laboratories, Inc.
New Bremen, Ohio
www.blinc.com/
419-977-2766

Cumberland Valley Analytical Services
Waynesboro, PA
www.foragelab.com/
800-282-7522

Dairyland Labs
www.dairylandlabs.com
Wisconsin & Minnesota
608-323-2123

Dairy One
dairyone.com
Ithaca, NY
800-344-2697

Holmes Lab
holmeslab.com
Millersburg, Ohio
330-893-2933 or 330-893-1326

Rock River Lab
www.rockriverlab.com
Wooster, OH
330-462-6041

Spectrum Analytic
www.spectrumanalytic.com
Washington Court House, Ohio
800-321-1562

Sure-Tech
www.winfieldunited.com/research-and-innovation/suretech-laboratories
Indianapolis, Indiana
800-266-7176

Interested in hemp as an alternative crop? Ohio’s proposed hemp rules are out.

Ohio’s proposed hemp rules are out

By Peggy Kirk Hall and Ellen Essman

OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Ohio’s newly created hemp program is one step further toward getting off the ground.   On October 9, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) released its anxiously awaited proposal of the rules that will regulate hemp production in Ohio.   ODA seeks public comments on the proposed regulations until October 30, 2019.

There are two parts to the rules package:  one rule for hemp cultivation and another for hemp processing.   Here’s an overview of the components of each rule:

  1. Hemp cultivation

The first rule addresses the “cultivation” of hemp, which means “to plant, water, grow, fertilize, till or havest a plant or crop.”  Cultivating also includes “possessing or storing a plant or cop on a premises whre the plant was cultivated until transported to the first point of sale.”  The proposal lays out the rfollowing egulatory process for those who wish to cultivate hemp in Ohio.

Cultivation licenses.  Anyone who wants to grow hemp must receive a hemp cultivation license from the ODA.  Licenses are valid for three years.  To obtain a license, the would-be hemp cultivator must submit an application during the application window, which will be between November 1 and March 31.  The application requires the applicant to provide personal information about the applicant, and if the applicant is a business, information about who is authorized to sign on behalf of the business, who will be primarily responsible for hemp operations and the identity of those having a financial interest greater than ten percent in the entity.    The cultivation license application will also seek information about each location where hemp will be grown, including the GPS coordinates, physical address, number of outdoor acres or indoor square footage, and maps of each field, greenhouse, building or storage facility where hemp will grow or be stored.  Cultivators must pay a license application fee of $100, and once licensed, an additional license fee of $500 for each growing location, which is defined as a contiguous land area or single building in which hemp is grown or planned to be grown.  All applicants and anyone with a controlling interest ithe hemp cultivation business must also submit to a criminal records check by the bureau of criminal identification and investigation.

Land use restrictions.  The proposed rules state that a licensed hemp cultivator shall not:

  • Plant or grow cannabis that is not hemp.
  • Plant or grow hemp on any site not approved by the ODA.
  • Plant, grow, handle or store hemp in or within 100 feet of a residential structure or 500 feet of a school or public park, unless for approved research.
  • Comingle hemp with other crops without prior approval from ODA.
  • Plant or grow hemp outdoors on less than one-quarter acre, indoors on less than 1,000 square feet, or in a quantity of less than 1,000 plants without prior approval from ODA.
  • Plant or grow hemp within half a mile of a parcel licensed for medical marijuana cultivation.
  • Plant or grow hemp on property that the license holder does not own or lease.

Hemp harvesting.  Licensed growers would be required to submit a report to ODA at least 15 days before their intended harvest date and pay a pre-harvest sample fee of $150.  ODA then has to sample the hemp for THC content, and only if approved can a cultivator harvest the crop, which in most cases must occur within 15 days after the sample is taken.  Failing to harvest within the 15-day window might require a secondary sampling and sampling fee.  A cultivator would be required to have a hemp release form from ODA before moving any harvested materials beyond the storage facility.

Random sampling.  The proposed rules also allow for random sampling of hemp by ODA and provide details on how ODA will conduct the sampling and charge sampling fees.  Any cultivator is subject to random sampling in each location where hemp has been cultivated. ODA will report testing results that exceed 0.3 THC to the cultivator, who may request a second sample.  A cultivator must follow procedures for destroying any leaf, seed, or floral material from plants that exceed 0.3 THC and any material that was co-mingled with the 0.3 THC materials, but may harvest bare hemp stalks for fiber.

Destruction of hemp.   Under the proposed regulations, a license holder must submit a destruction report before destroying hemp and ODA must be present to witness the destruction.  The proposed rules also authorize ODA to destroy a crop that was ordered destroyed, abandoned, or otherwise not harvested and assess the costs against the licensee.

Reporting and recordkeeping are also important in the proposed rules.  Licensed cultivators must submit a planting report on an ODA form for each growing location by July 1 or within 15 days of planting or replanting, which shall include the crop’s location, number of acres or square footage, variety name, and primary intended use.  The rule would also require licensees to submit a completed production report by December 31 of each year.    A licensee that fails to submit the required reports would be subject to penalties and fines. Cultivators must maintain planting, harvest, destruction and production reports for three years.

Control of volunteer plants.  A licensee must scout and monitor unused fields for volunteer hemp plants and destroy the plants for a period of three years past the last date of reported planting.  Failing to do so can result in enforcement action or destruction of the plants by ODA with costs assessed to the licensee.

Pesticide and fertilizer use.  The laws and rules that apply to other crops will also apply to hemp, except that when using a pesticide on a site where hemp will be planted, the cultivator must comply with the longest of any planting restriction interval on the product label.   ODA may perform pesticide testing randomly, and any hemp seeds, plants and materials that exceed federal pesticide residue tolerances will be subject to forfeiture or destruction without compensation.

Prohibited varieties.  The proposed rule states that licensed cultivators cannot use any part of a hemp plant that ODA has listed as a prohibited variety of hemp on its website.

Clone and seed production.  Special rules apply to hemp cultivators who plan to produce clones, cuttings, propagules, and seed for propagation purposes.  The cultivator can only sell the seeds or plants to other licensed cultivators and must maintain records on the variety, strain and certificate of analysis for the “mother plants.”  The licensee need not submit a harvest report, but must keep sales records for three years of the purchaser, date of sale, and variety and number of plants or seeds purchased.

Cultivation research.  Universities may research hemp cultivation without a license but private and non-profit entities that want to conduct research must have a cultivation license.  Cultivation research licensees would be exempt from many parts of the proposed rules, but must not sell or transfer any part of the plants and must destroy the plants when the research ends.

Enforcement.  The proposed rule grants authority to the ODA to deny, suspend or revoke cultivation licenses for those who’ve provide false or misleading information, haven’t completed a background check, plead guilty to a felony relating to controlled substances within the past 10 years, or violated the hemp laws and rules three or more times in a five-year period.

  1. Hemp processing

The proposed rules package by ODA also addresses processing, which the rule defines as “converting hemp into a hemp product” but does not include on-farm drying or dehydrating of raw hemp materials by a licensed hemp cultivator for sale directly to a licensed hemp processor.    Because of this definition, many farmers who want only to grow and dry hemp would need only a cultivation license.  Growers who want to process their licensed hemp into CBD oil or other products, however, must also obtain a processing license.  The processing rules follow a similar pattern to their cultivation counterpart, as follows.

Processing licensesIn addition to submitting the same personal, business and location information as a cultivation license requires, a hemp processing license application must list the types of hemp products that the processor plans to produce.   An “extraction operational plan” including safety measures and guidelines is required for processors who want to extract CBD from hemp to produce their product, and an applicant must indicate compliance with all building, fire, safety and zoning requirements.  The amount of the license fee depends on what part of the hemp plant the processor plans to process.  Processing raw hemp fiber, for example, requires a $500 license fee for each processing site, whereas processing the raw floral component of hemp requires a $3000 fee for each site.  Like the cultivation license, a processing license is valid for three years.  Applicants and those with a controlling interest in the business must submit to a background check.

Land use restrictions.  The proposed regulations would prevent a licensed processor from:

  • Processing or storing any cannabis that is not hemp.
  • Processing or storing hemp or hemp products on any site not approved by ODA.
  • Processing, handling, or storing hemp or hemp products in or adjacent to a personal residence or in any structure used for residential use or on land zoned for residential use.
  • Processing hemp within 500 feet of a school or public park, except for approved research.

Financial responsibility.    A licensed processor must meet standards of financial responsibility, which require having current assets at least $10,000 or five percent of the total purchase of raw

hemp materials in the previous calendar year, whichever is greater, and possessing a surety bond.

Inspection and sampling.  As with cultivation licensees, hemp processing licensees would be subject to inspection and sampling by ODA under the proposed rule.

Food safety regulations.  The proposed rule requires hemp processes to comply with federal and state food safety regulations.

Sources and extraction of cannabinoids (CBD). A processor who wants to extract or sell CBD products must obtain the materials from a licensed or approved cultivator or processor in Ohio or another state with hemp cultivation licenses.  The regulation outlines components of the extraction operational plan that a processor must submit with the processing application, as well as acceptable extraction methods and required training.

Product testing.  A hemp processor must test hemp products at an accredited testing laboratory before selling the products.   The proposed rule describes the testing procedures, which address microbial contaminants, cannabinoid potency, mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticide and fertilizer residue and residual solvents.  There are testing exemptions, however, for hemp used exclusively for fiber, derived exclusively from hemp seed and hemp extracts.  The testing laboratory must create a certificate of analysis for each batch or lot of the tested hemp product.

Processor waste disposal.  Under the proposed rule, a licensed processor must follow procedures for proper disposal of hemp byproducts and waste and must maintain disposal records.

Product labeling requirements are also proposed in the rule.  A processor must label all hemp products except for those made exclusively from hemp fiber as outlined in the rule and in compliance with federal law and other existing Ohio regulations for standards of identify and food coloring.

Recordkeeping.  As we’d expect, the proposal states that hemp processors must maintain records for five years that relate to the purchase of raw, unprocessed plant materials, the purchase or use of extracted cannabinoids, and the extraction process.

Prohibited products.  Finally, the proposed rules include a list of hemp products that cannot be offered for sale, which includes hemp products with over 0.3 percent THC by dry weight basis, hemp products which laboratory testing determines do not meet standards of identity or that exceed the amount of mytoxins, heavy metals, or pesticides allowed, and any hemp products produced illegally.

What’s next for the hemp rules?

Keep in mind that these rules are not yet set in stone; they are a simply a proposal for hemp licensing rules in Ohio.  Those interested in cultivating or processing hemp in the future should read the draft rules carefully.  The proposed rule for hemp cultivation is here and the proposal for hemp processing is here.  Anyone can submit comments on the proposed rules here.  Your comments could affect what the final hemp rules require for hemp cultivators and processors.  After ODA reviews all comments, it will issue its final hemp licensing regulations.

Federal law requires that after Ohio finalizes its rules, ODA must submit them to the USDA for approval.  That approval won’t occur, however, until USDA completes its own hemp regulations, which are due out in proposal form any day now.  Ohio’s rules will become effective once USDA approves them, hopefully in time for the 2020 planting season.  Stay tuned to the Ag Law Blog to see what happens next with hemp production in Ohio.

 

Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District Election and Banquet

Dear Fellow Conservationist:

As we continue our 75th Anniversary celebration throughout 2019, we cordially invite you to join us for our Annual Banquet and celebration!

Celebrating 75 Years of Community Conservation

November 6, 2019

at The Grove by the River, Newark from 5:30 – 8 pm

 

Board of Supervisors Election  5:30 – 6:30 pm
Every Licking County resident and landowner can vote.  One Supervisor will be elected by landowners and residents of Licking County to help guide our mission.   Candidates are David Grim and Mamie Hollenback.    Candidate information can be found here:  https://lickingswcd.com/who-we-are/board.html

Volunteer and Sponsor Appreciation Reception  5:30 – 6:30 pm
Enjoy complimentary appetizers and a cash bar while we celebrate the wonderful volunteers who helped us in 2019.  All those who spent time volunteering throughout the year receive a thank you gift!  There is no charge for attending the reception.  If you can only join us for the reception, please RSVP here:   https://lickingswcd.com/news-events/event-calendar.html/event/2019/11/06/volunteer-sponsor-appreciation-reception/264531

Dinner, Tribute, and Awards  
6:30 – 8:00 pm
The evening includes thanking our wonderful volunteers, a tribute to Pat Deering, conservation awards and a tasty buffet dinner.  Awards will be presented for Ag Conservationist, Urban Conservationist, Volunteer, and Educator of the Year. Celebrate the partnerships and successes in our 75th year of conserving natural resources.  Registration is required. Tickets are only $10.  Register for the dinner here:  https://lickingswcd.com/news-events/event-calendar.html/event/2019/11/06/75th-community-conservation-celebration-banquet/264530

 

We hope to see you on November 6th!

 

Kristy Hawthorne

Administrative Assistant

740-670-5330

Farm Safety Day Camp – 80 and Sunny!

There is still time to register and the weather forecast is perfect.  This takes place Tuesday July 23rd.  Call 740-670-5315 to register.

Accidents on farms can be life changing for rural families.  Many times these accidents could have been prevented.  The Licking Valley FFA and OSU Extension are working together to provide a Farm Safety Day Camp.  There are many dangerous situations that can be encountered by kids on farms.  Our goal is to make the attendees aware of some of these situations and how they can react safely.  This is not just for kids that are raised on farms.  Anyone that has children that visit friends or family that have even the smallest farm should send their kids.  We are able to provide this camp, a t-shirt and lunch for $10 per participant thanks to our support from the Licking County Farm Bureau and the Professional Agrarians of Licking County.  Please click on this link for registration information. AG Farm Safety Day 07.23.19

Women in Agriculture Dinner at Raven’s Glenn Winery

Join other area women for an evening of learning, networking, idea sharing, and a delicious meal.
The theme for the evening will be “Managing Agriculture’s Topsy-Turvy Ride.”
Come learn about the current influences on agriculture markets, tools for decision making,
and strategies to cope with the stresses of agricultural life.

Please click on this link for details: Women in Ag Dinner 2019 Registration Flyer