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April 2020 Newsletter; Article “Masks & Mowers”

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Catawba Valley Cattlemen’s Association
(meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month)
This month’s meeting is canceled


  • PPP Paycheck Protection Program applies to all producers who have employees but it is first come first serve. So contact your bank or accountant to see how to retrieve this money to help pay your employees. The best POC for questions on the Paycheck Protection Program is the Lender Relations Specialist in your local SBA Field Office. The local SBA Field Office may be found through their website. If you want full details please text or call and I will send you the info via email.
  • Cooperative Extension in the Piedmont Region has a number of webinars they are offering for different types of livestock. Which you may take advantage of all or a few in April and May.
    April 16: Equine Pasture Management Tips
    April 23: Getting Started Selling Local Meats
    April 30: Caring For Your New Chicks
    May 7: Small Ruminant Pasture Management Tips
    May 14: Managing Fire Ants in Pastures
    May 21: Parasite Control in Cattle
    6:30 p.m. | Free | Registration Required

Safety Article “Masks and Mowers”

Since our meeting is canceled and we all are thinking about using masks to avoid spreading COVID-19. We all have long been familiar with mask and their value. For example, we now even have a required fit test for mask by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services which Extension finds itself helping to give to any of you who request it. In production agriculture, farmers and ranchers can be exposed to toxic gases and contaminated particulate matter that can cause short- and long-term health problems.

Wearing masks for spraying and for COVID-19 are not the only reasons for using a mask. The three main respiratory illnesses associated with not using mask with production agriculture are farmer’s lung, silo filler’s disease, and organic dust toxicity syndrome.

Our community of cattlemen are probably most effected by Farmer’s Lung. Farmer’s lung, or farmer’s hypersensitivity pneumonitis (FHP), is a noninfectious allergic disease that affects normal lung function. It results from the inhalation of mold spores from moldy hay, straw, or grain. The mold spores that cause farmer’s lung are microorganisms that grow in baled hay, stored grain, or silage with high moisture content (30%).

Exposure to mold spores is greater in late winter and early spring. Mold spores, which are not always visible, are so tiny that 250,000 spores can fit on the head of a pin. Because the spores are so small, it is easy for a farmer or rancher to breathe in millions of spores in a few minutes. Due to their size, the mold spores easily move into and settle in the lower part of the lungs.

Symptoms usually begin four to six hours after exposure to mold spores and can include increased coughing, coughs that bring up mucus, fever, chills, shortness of breath, discomfort in the lungs, and a tightness and/or pain in the chest. Symptoms may become most severe from 12 to 48 hours after exposure. Allergic reaction to mold spores can be acute or chronic. An acute attack typically resembles the flu or pneumonia. Chronic reactions can resemble a nagging chest cold.

A producer who has been diagnosed with farmer’s lung should avoid additional exposure to mold spores; otherwise, the producer’s condition could worsen and render him or her inactive. In some cases, farmer’s lung can be fatal. If you think that you may have farmer’s lung, contact your physician, and explain your symptoms and occupation.

If your physician is not familiar with farmer’s lung, you may need to request a referral to a specialist for testing, diagnosis, and treatment. To reduce the risk of contracting farmer’s lung, take the following steps:

  1. Identify and minimize contaminants in your work environment.
  2. Avoid exposure to contaminants and mold spores.
  3. Limit the growth of mold spores by using mold inhibitors.
  4. Harvest, bale, store, and ensile grains at the recommended moisture level to reduce mold growth.
  5. Convert from a manual to a mechanical or automated feeding or feed-handling system to reduce the release of airborne mold spores.
  6. Move work outside and avoid dusty work in confined areas whenever possible.
  7. Mechanically remove air contaminants through ventilation with fans, exhaust blowers, and so on.
  8. Wear appropriate respirators, dust masks, or other personal protective equipment (PPE).Retrieved from: Respiratory Illnesses Associated with Agriculture

With the spring rain falling and temperatures rising, the grass is growing. We are bringing out the tractors and equipment to fertilize, spread manure, and mow. I want to remind everyone to be safe around PTO equipment and especially when using mowers-of all kinds. Most injuries with bushhogs and mowers are related to PTO entanglement, thrown objects, or contact with rotating parts. Most of these injuries could have been avoided if the operator had been properly trained, aware of their surroundings, and inspected the work area prior to using the equipment.

It is always good to review safety measures before the busy season is upon us.

  1. Make sure to review the operators manual and if you don’t understand something (call Donald, he’s retired!) call someone who will kindly answer your questions.
  2. If you do not have an operator’s manual call the company and request one.
  3. Check all shields guards and safety signs to see that they are correctly in place to prevent possible cut injuries or entanglement. If you have older equipment without guards spend a little money. Ask your dealer to bring it up to safety codes and standards.
  4. To prevent bystanders from being hit with thrown objects, you should make sure discharge deflectors are in place and working properly.
  5. Always wear your seat belt to prevent falling from the tractor and being run over. You should also avoid using a tractor without a Roll Over Protection Structure (ROPS).
  6. Do not allow riders to either sit or stand on a moving tractor as this can result in serious injury or death should they slip or fall.
  7. Never, never, never attempt to adjust, repair, or perform maintenance on your equipment without first stopping all moving parts, including the engine.
  8. Before you work near or under a cutter deck, make sure it is securely supported and/or held in place to prevent being struck by any falling object.
  9. Whenever you travel on public roads, make sure all reflectors are clean and visible, the SMV sign is properly located and attached, and any lighting required by Federal, State, or local law is working properly.

If you would like to get additional information go to the ADMA website which is the Agriculture Driveline Manufacturers Association, which is where I retrieved the above info.