Ag Briefs: Over 5000 poultry lost in fire

Wisconsin State Farmer
Wisconsin briefs


Over 5000 chickens lost in fire

Firefighters from nine fire departments battled a barn fire in rural Columbia County on March 23 that claimed over 5,000 chickens and a steer, according to the Pardeeville Fire Department's Twitter feed.

Authorities say the fire broke out in a 30x200-foot barn at an Amish farm on Vaughn Road between Pardeeville and Cambria around 5:45 p.m.. Inside the structure were 2300 chickens and 3000 chicks and the steer. Firefighters remained on the scene until 2 a.m.

Damage from the fire is estimated at between $125,000 and $150,000. No immediate cause of the fire was listed. No one was injured in the blaze.


Animal fat leak plugs 2,000 feet of sanitary sewer

An accident at the Land O’ Lakes facility last week leaked an unknown amount of animal fat into the city of Mauston’s sanitary sewer system, resulting in an estimated 5,000 gallons of untreated wastewater being released as the problem was being cleaned up, according to a press release from the city’s Public Works department.

The animal fat — used as an ingredient at Land O’ Lakes’ animal feed manufacturing facility — got into the sanitary sewer system, solidified and clogged about 2,000 feet of the the sewer, Star Times reported.

The blockage was removed in about three hours, and an estimated 5,000 gallons of untreated wastewater was discharged, and contained in a ditch before it could enter the river system, the release said.


Boxes of Fun for Easter

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced a new line of “Boxes of Fun” through the Something Special from Wisconsin™ (SSfW) program, including holiday options for Easter. Boxes are available for purchase online through Christine's Kitchens, a SSfW member, at

Holiday boxes are available in two varieties until April 12, 2022: The Easter Basket ($39) and Adult Easter Basket ($79). General boxes range in price from $39 to $79 and are available year-round in four varieties: A Pampering, Small Snack Box, Morning Madness, and A Surprise Gift. A build-your-own option is also available. Vendors in these boxes include, but are not limited to, Cream City Caramels & Confections, CJ’s Premium Spices, Honestly Cranberry, Artas’n Meats, The Maple Dude, and Slide Gourmet Potato Chips. Prices do not include shipping.


UW-RF to host Ag Tech contest April 2

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls will welcome back to campus over 1,000 middle and high school students representing over 60 schools from both Minnesota and Wisconsin to partake in 15 different competitions during the annual Agricultural Technology Contest on April 2. 

The contest encompasses competitions focusing on agricultural technology and mechanics, agronomy, dairy cattle evaluation, farm business management, floriculture, forestry, horse evaluation, livestock evaluation, milk quality and products, nursery and landscape, poultry, veterinary science, and wildlife. Nine of these competitions serve as qualifying contests for the Wisconsin FFA Association Career Development Events held in Madison.

To learn more about the contests, visit  For more information, call Kendra Jentz at 608-642-1253 or email


AgSource acquires agronomy lab, announces brand update

AgSource Cooperative Services announced its acquisition of Dairyland Laboratories, Inc. Agronomy Services Division in Stratford, Wis.

Effective March 23, all soil, plant tissue and manure analyses, as well as nutrient management services, will be provided by AgSource.

Another change for the AgSource brand was recently announced by URUS, the parent company of the AgSource and VAS brands. Effective March 1, both companies will operate as independent brands under the URUS umbrella.


Purple Door holds contest for new ice cream flavor

Purple Door Ice Cream is holding a contest to give people the chance to come up with its next ice cream flavor, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Then, after the ice cream company narrows it down, customers will be able to try them out and vote for their favorite. To enter the contest, people need to fill out a form that includes their flavor idea, flavor name, suggestions for ingredients and their contact info.

The form must be printed out and submitted in person at Purple Door in Milwaukee, 205 S. 2nd St., or at its Mequon Public Market location, 6300 W. Mequon Road. Emailed entries will not be accepted, the website said. Submissions are being accepted until 8 p.m. April 28.


Register now for Jersey Spring Spectacular

There is still time for register for the 23rd annual Wisconsin Jersey Spring Spectacular set for May 6-7 at the Vernon County Fairgrounds in Viroqua.

Entry forms are available by contacting Karla Peterson at 608-606-1818 or email There is a $20 exhibitor fee $20 and $10 per animal fee up to April 22. Entry fees submitted between April 23-30 are $25, and rise to $100 after that date.

Showmanship starts at 3 p.m. Friday, May 6 followed by the cattle show the next day at 9 a.m. The event will also include a silent auction to help support the show.


SCOTUS agrees to review Calif. law on pork sales

The Supreme Court said Monday it would review a challenge to a California law that set certain conditions for pork sold in the state.

The case stems from a 2018 ballot measure where California voters approved the nation's toughest living space standards for breeding pigs. Two agricultural associations challenging the law say almost no farms satisfy those conditions.

They say the "massive costs of complying" with the law will "fall almost exclusively on out-of-state farmers" and that the costs will be passed on to consumers nationwide.

The law had a Jan. 1 effective date, but California is currently allowing the continued sale of pork processed under the old rules.

The groups challenging the law are the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The case is expected to be argued after the court begins its new term in October.


Iowa to kill 1.5M more hens, turkeys due to bird flu

Iowa ag officials announced two more bird flu outbreaks in commercial flocks on Tuesday that will require the killing of more than 1.5 million hens and turkeys.

One of the new outbreaks will lead to the killing of 1.5 million chickens at an egg-laying farm in Guthrie County, about 60 miles west of Des Moines. The other was at a turkey farm in Hamilton County, about 65 miles north of Des Moines, where 28,000 birds will be killed.

The USDA says 17 states have had outbreaks in commercial or private outdoor flocks this year. The virus has been found in wild birds in at least 25 states.

With the addition of the new Iowa cases, the U.S. poultry industry has had to kill more than 15.6 million chickens and 1.3 million turkeys since Jan. 1.


Buttermaking short courses set

The Center for Dairy Research (CDR) is holding two in-person short courses on buttermaking. The Advanced Butter Buttermaking Short Course will take place June 14-16 in-person at Babcock Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

This course is a three-day deep dive into producing and evaluating butter. It covers fundamental buttermaking topics as well as subjects from buttermilk, microfixing, and addressing defects. The course also includes hands-on laboratory, manufacturing, and sensory sessions. For more information or to register visit

The Buttermakers Apprenticeship Workshop, June 20-24 at Babcock Hall, is an intensive five-day course covering buttermaking production principles and technology. This course is for aspiring buttermakers who have completed Buttermaking Fundamentals and/or Advanced Buttermaking and need apprenticeship hours for their buttermakers license.

This workshop provides the opportunity to complete a 40-hour apprenticeship with Wisconsin licensed buttermakers and includes unique topics not covered in our other butter short courses. For more information or to register visit


Plan would pay farmers to grow less to save water

California would pay farmers not to plant thousands of acres of land as part of a $2.9 billion plan aimed at letting more water flow through the state's major rivers and streams to help restore the unique habitat in one of North America's largest estuaries.

The agreement, signed Tuesday between state and federal officials and some of California's biggest water agencies, would result in about 35,000 acres of rice fields left unused — or about 6% of the state's normal crop each year, according to the California Rice Commission.

The money will come from the state and federal governments and the water agencies themselves, which for the first time have agreed to tax themselves to help pay farmers — who often have more senior water rights — not to plant some crops, Associated Press reported.


USDA publishes origin of livestock final rule for organic dairy

The USDA published the Origin of Livestock (OOL) final rule for organic dairy. This change to the USDA organic regulations will promote a fairer and more competitive market for all organic dairy producers, by making sure that certified USDA organic dairy products are produced to the same consistent standard.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the final rule provides clear and uniform standards about how and when livestock may be transitioned to organic dairy production, and how transitioned animals are managed within the organic dairy system.

USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) will oversee the new rule.


Ag groups call for CRP flexibility in face of global grain shortages

Ag groups are calling on the Biden administration to provide flexibility for prime farmland in the Conservation Reserve Program as the Russian/Ukraine conflict has the potential to impact global food security.

Ag economist Scott Irwin at the University of Illinois tells Brownfield Ag News that Ukraine produces about 60 million acres of crops which are at risk this growing season.

He proposed the idea of opening CRP land to meet global supply needs, saying it opens about 5 million acres deemed prime farmland.

The types of additional crops would depend on where CRP flexibility is granted, but Irwin says countries in the southern hemisphere are most likely to benefit in filling global shortages on the wheat side since their cropping season is ending.

Farm groups say if Ukraine is unable to safely plant crops this season there could be a humanitarian crisis across the global food supply chain.