Protecting Mental Health During Social Distancing

People by nature are social creatures. The average person has 12 social interactions per day*. Each interaction creates a risk for spreading COVID-19.  Although social distancing is effective at reducing the spread of the virus, the unintended consequences can result in social isolation accompanied by intense feelings of anxiety, fear, loneliness, and depression — especially for those who reside alone within their residence. Maintaining mental health during these uncertain times is crucial for overall health and well-being. Here are some activities that can reduce worry, anxiety and depression:

1- Limit the amount of pandemic related news and social media that you watch/read. While it is important to stay up-to-date with what is happening, the news will still be there after you take a brain break.

2- Talk to someone about how you are feeling. You would be surprised how many people may be feeling the same way but are too embarrassed to admit it.

3- Stay connected with loved ones, friends or co-workers has been suggested by many mental health experts. In today’s age of technology, it is easier than ever to stay physically distanced but socially connected via phone, text, or video chatting. This is also a good time to look up old friends that you have not talked to for sometime. While chatting through technology may not be a perfect substitute for face-to-face interaction, it keeps you connected, contributes to happiness, combats loneliness, and gives you and others a sense of belonging. It can even help to pass time.

4- Be kind. Being socially distant from others does not mean that you cannot practice acts of kindness. Checking in on others and being a source of light for them contributes to a person’s sense of purpose and belonging.

5– Enjoy a new book or TV series.

6- Seek warmth. Whether having hot coffee or taking a shower, psychology has taught us that warmth can mimic the sensation of physical touch. Such comfort can provide ease in times of isolation and loneliness.

7- Be active! Exercise contributes to overall physical and mental health, well-being and life quality. Being active can make you feel happier, increase energy levels, reduce risk of chronic diseases, boost brain health and memory, help regulate sleep and relaxation, and can even add years to your life. Going for a walk will not only provide you with fresh air but the sun is also good for your mind and body, and can provide some comforting warmth as well.

8- Maintain a schedule with regular sleep and wake times.

9– Don’t be hard on yourself – this is not a time to expect increased amounts of productivity – we are worried and grieving and adjusting – and that takes a lot of emotional energy.

10- Finally, remember that if you are a bit down during the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not mean anything is “wrong” with you.  You are doing a vital service with your part in reducing the spread of disease in your community. If you are feeling like you need support call SAMHSA’s free 24-hour Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990. They can provide counseling services, information on how to recognize distress, and tips for healthy coping. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours every day at 1-800-273-8255.

Excerpt from article by former UK Pasture Evaluation intern Sydney Biedleman, now on the UK Agriculture Safety Coordination Team.


Detailed Ag Weather Forcast

We all know not to cut hay if it’s going to rain tomorrow, but have you ever wondering about the drying conditions: humidity + cloud cover + wind speed + temperature. The University of Kentucky Ag Weather Service provides this kind of detailed forecasts in 3hr time intervals (see below). It can be found on the Forage Website under the Hay & Storage tab and then click Hay Making Weather. Or simply go to and enter your zip code.


Is Spring Grazing Hard or Easy?

Spring — the time of year when pastures are green, growing, and soil moisture is plentiful. So, does that make grazing decisions easier or more difficult compared to mid-summer or fall when pastures are slower to grow and moisture may be lacking? Long-time grazing consultant Jim Gerrish likes to turn out at the two- to three-leaf stage of grass development. Others have suggested when grasses are about 6 inches tall.

“The grazing strategy we have used to minimize the effect of an explosive spring flush is to get across all of our pastures twice in the first 45 to 60 days of the growing season,” explains Gerrish in the upcoming issue of Hay & Forage Grower. “We move our cattle every day and have been doing so for over 30 years. We give fairly large areas and expect to make the first cycle in just 20 to 25 days. Utilization rate is low as we are just trying to get a bite off of most plants.

“We slow down on the second cycle by giving smaller areas while taking 25 to 35 days to get around. Our objective on this cycle is to take a little deeper bite to remove elongating stems. When undeveloped seedheads are being elevated from the base of the plant, they are highly nutritious and palatable. As we make paddocks smaller and increase stock density, the likelihood of grazing stock removing undeveloped seedheads is high,” he adds.

Ultimately, the goal of spring grazing is to stay ahead of the growth flush and avoid having cattle in paddock after paddock that consist of a sea of seedheads by late spring.  ~ excerpt from Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower, 4/7/20

Read the full article here.


Featured Forage Publication: Hay Fire Prevention and Control

Virginia Cooperative Extension 442-105

Fires that damage or destroy hay and barns cost farmers thousands of dollars in building and feed replacement costs and in lost revenues. Many of these fires are caused by the spontaneous combustion of hay that usually occurs within six weeks after baling. This publication discusses the cause and prevention of hay fires and provides techniques for measuring bale temperature and what temperatures indicate a high risk of fire. Read the full publication here.


Forage Timely Tips: May

  • Graze cover crops using temporary fencing.
  • As pasture growth begins, rotate through pastures quickly to keep up with the fast growth of spring.
  • Creep-graze calves and lambs, allowing them access to highest-quality pasture.
  • As pasture growth exceeds the needs of the livestock, remove some fields from the rotation and allow growth to accumulate for hay or haylage.
  • Determine need for supplemental warm season forages such as pearl millet or sudangrass.
  • Flash graze pastures newly seeded with clovers to manage competition.

Garbage In, Garbage Out: Improving Hay Quality

You have probably heard the expression “garbage in garbage out”.  This adage is not only true for hay and silage, but also completely appropriate.   Baling or ensiling poor quality forage will NOT improve its nutritional value.  How we manage hayfields this spring can have a major impact on both yield and nutritive value.  Fertilization and timely cutting are even more critical when we need to refill hay barns after a long winter.  The following tips will help you to optimize hay production this spring.

  • Fertilize and lime according to soil test
  • Apply nitrogen early to promote rapid spring growth
  • Harvest at the boot stage
  • Mow early in the day and use a mower-conditioner
  • Lay down wide swaths
  • Rake or ted at 40-50% moisture content
  • Bale at 18-20% moisture
  • Store under cover and off the ground
  • Do not cut hay fields too close (leave 3-4”)
  • Apply nitrogen following the first cutting
  • Allow hayfields to go into summer with some regrowth
  • Apply nitrogen in late summer
  • Allow stands to replenish carbohydrates in the fall.

Read the full story in the May issue of Cow Country News. Past issues of CCN are available here. Join the KY Cattlemen’s Association to receive the paper issue each month, here.IMG_7282