Evanston hosting second-annual Wyoming-Utah Ag Days

 

Bridger Feuz, extension livestock marketing specialist
Bridger Feuz, extension livestock marketing specialist

Topics ranging from the cattle market outlook to sage grouse and deworming sheep are among topics at Wyoming-Utah Ag Days Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 23-24, in Evanston.

Sessions are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. each day at the Evanston Roundhouse, 1500 Main St., said Bridger Feuz, University of Wyoming Extension educator. Lunch is served each day if participants RSVP before 9 a.m. Jan. 22.

This is the second year for the program.

“The workshops are full of powerful presenters and timely and relevant topics,” said Feuz.

Day 1 topics include irrigation of forages, why grow relationships with the next generation, cattle market outlook, raising backyard chickens, rancher rules of thumb, backyard livestock production, winter livestock feeding and irrigated alfalfa variety performance.

Day 2 topics are weed identification and control, sage grouse and grazing, quantifying deworming in Wyoming sheep, litigation between the Western Watersheds Project and federal land management agencies, landscape-based riparian grazing, beekeeping 101, modern meat cuts (hands-on demonstration) and a question-and-answer session about meat and meat cutting.

Feuz said Cat Urbigkit, co-owner and editor of The Shepherd magazine, will speak about guardian dog use in large carnivore country during her keynote during lunch Tuesday. Urbigkit owns a western Wyoming sheep and cattle ranch. Feuz said she raises working livestock guardian dogs and travels the globe learning about guardian dog use in large carnivore country.

“People can come for the whole time on both days or pick and choose individual topics they wish to attend,” said Feuz.

For more information or to RSVP, contact the Uinta County Extension office at 307-783-0570.

Hello sagebrush birds!

A brown bird, looking but not singing, is perched on a strand of barbed wire.
Sage thrashers, included in the new Thunder Basin Ecology factsheet, incorporate dozens of unique sound fragments into their songs.

A new factsheet on three Thunder Basin bird species gives a quick introduction to inhabitants of the wide-open, wildlife-rich landscapes where the Great Plains meet the sagebrush steppe.

Free from University of Wyoming Extension, Birds of Thunder Basin: Sagebrush Specialists is available at bit.ly/UWEpubs.

The ecology factsheet describes the sage thrasher, Brewer’s sparrow and greater sage-grouse and includes a brief overview of breeding, nesting, migration, and conservation status. Quick ID tips, fun facts and definitions of birding terms round out the introductions.

“Sage thrashers are superb singers,” writes Courtney Duchardt of this sagebrush specialist. “Thrashers are classified as mimids. They incorporate snippets of surrounding noises into their songs, possibly to show potential mates they are familiar with the area and will make good partners.”

Duchardt, a University of Wyoming graduate student in ecology and ecosystem science and management, has spent more than 235 days (and nights) in Thunder Basin camping, photographing and conducting research.

Birds of Thunder Basin: Sagebrush Specialists is the second in a series from University of Wyoming Extension in partnership with the Thunder Basin Research Initiative, area ranchers and energy companies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service and the Thunder Basin Grasslands Prairie Ecosystem Association.

The factsheet is one of more than 600 guides from UW Extension (see bit.ly/UWEpubs) that help extend skills in cooking, canning, calving, conservation and community change, plus gardening, grazing, cropping, habitat restoration and more. YouTube video series from UW Extension include From the Ground Up, Barnyards and Backyards and Exploring the Nature of Wyoming.

New guide provides tools for ranchers, others in sage-grouse country

Nine brown birds in green field, red hillside in back.
Young sage-grouse congregate along an irrigation ditch in a freshly cut hay field. Photo: Leanne Correll

According to its authors, Landowner Guide to Sage-grouse Conservation in Wyoming: A Practical Guide for Land Owners and Managers is meant to enhance understanding and conservation of sage-grouse in Wyoming.

The new guide, which provides tools and resources, is available as a free download from University of Wyoming Extension at bit.ly/UWEpubs.

“It condenses scientific findings into a practical format that is easy to use and understand,” said Derek Scasta, a UW Extension range specialist and co-author.

In 70 compact pages, the guide covers basic sage-grouse biology, life stages, habitat needs, predator impacts, conservation planning and sagebrush monitoring.

More than 40 original Wyoming photographs and seven state-level maps illustrate the lives of these birds that coexist with cattle, other livestock and approximately 350 vertebrate wildlife species, including songbirds and small mammals.

Full-color photos show males in fall mating displays, the sagebrush shape that provides winter cover for nesting females, and the broadleaf flowering plants (forbs)  and insects that provide protein-rich food for chicks in spring. A wire mesh escape ramp in a livestock tank is presented as a simple alteration to reduce sage-grouse drowning.

“Sagebrush ecosystems are complex, and efforts to conserve sage-grouse are multifaceted,” said lead author and photographer Leanne Correll.

Correll heads an agriculture and natural resources consulting business in Saratoga and earned a master’s degree in rangeland ecology and watershed management from UW in 2017.

Wyoming is a sage-grouse stronghold, encompassing almost a quarter of the range-wide habitat and 37 percent of known male populations – more than any other state.

“Those who own or manage sage-grouse habitat play a critical role in conserving this umbrella species in Wyoming and the West,” said Correll. “They were the catalyst for developing this guide.”

Landowner Guide to Sage-grouse Conservation in Wyoming co-authors with Correll are Rebecca Burton and University of Wyoming professors Scasta and Jeffrey Beck.

Contributing support and expertise were local ranchers and conservation experts, other UW faculty members, and representatives of county, state, and federal agencies, including the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The guide is one of many free publications available at  bit.ly/UWEpubs, covering sage-grouse, sagebrush, grasslands, grazing, conservation, and ranch economics.

For more information, contact Scasta at (307) 766-2337 or jscasta@uwyo.edu.

UW team studies how ranch economics affected by sage-grouse conservation efforts

John Tanaka, associate director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station

How greater sage-grouse conservation practices have affected ranch economics across six states is being studied by a University of Wyoming research team.

The group in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management will draw input from local ranchers across Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, said John Tanaka, professor and associate director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station.

The team will develop cow-calf ranch enterprise budgets for use in models to estimate the economic impacts of different conservation practices on ranches, said Holly Kirkpatrick, one of the research assistants.

Partnerships between federal and state agencies and private landowners have reduced threats to greater sage-grouse in 90 percent of the species’ breeding habitat, said Tanaka. He said the practices have changed the way livestock are grazed on millions of acres of land across the western United States, especially on public lands.

“Ranchers manage extensive areas of those lands and are critical to help keep the bird from being listed as threatened or endangered in the future,” said Tanaka. “The project will assess how ranchers and the communities in which they operate have been affected.”

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