OPINION: Tractor safety class good for any family member

Are you a farm spouse or child newly pressed into service as a farm equipment operator? Have you been operating equipment for several years? Do you just want a better understanding of the hazards on the farm?

If so, the Marion County Tractor Safety Class may be for you. Offered by the K-State Research and Extension-Marion County Office, it provides detailed instruction on the safe use of tractors.

The one-day class will be March 11 in Marion. Interested youth and adults are asked to register for the class by contacting the Marion County Extension Office. Class participants will complete an assignment prior to class. Cost for materials is $7.

Although required for youth 14 to 15 years of age who want to work for a farmer other than their parents or guardians, the class has much to offer other family members as well.

Many accidents occur in the first hours of operating a machine. A new operator, male or female, young or old, lacks familiarity with equipment hazards. It takes a while for new operators to get the feel of an implement. Until this happens, they may become confused and make poor decisions.

While this training will not give you hands-on experience, it will give you the knowledge you need to become a safe and careful operator. If you apply this knowledge, you won?t place yourself or others in unsafe situations or abuse the equipment you operate.

The training is even recommended for farm women who do not expect to operate equipment. It will help them to recognize unsafe situations and activities and to suggest safer ways of doing things to family members or employees. Such reminders could be life-saving.

n Commercial Beef Sire Selection. Bull selection is the foundation for building a profitable beef herd. About 88 percent of the genetic makeup of a herd after 10 years for breeding will have come from the bulls used. Clearly, sire selection is the major tool available to producers for changing the genetic potential of their herds.

Sire selection can and should be more accurate today than ever before. Beef breed associations have developed programs that use performance information on a calf?s relatives in addition to its own record to estimate its breeding value for different traits.

When selecting a bull for natural service, the buyer first must know the kind of bull that will meet the breeding program?s needs. The kind of bull needed will depend upon available resources, such as feed, labor, facilities, cow herd, environment, marketing demand, and the breeding plan followed.

The goal is to find a complete functional bull capable of siring calves that will contribute to herd profitability. Producers can no longer afford to try to maximize any single trait.

Once the type of bull needed has been determined, the second step in sire selection is to decide where to buy. Only consider reputable sources that can provide complete performance records on their bulls. Sellers should have results of breeding soundness examinations available.

They should also guarantee that ancestors are not known carriers of genetic defects. Excellent sources are herds actively involved in performance testing. Be sure the information needed to make a wise decision is provided. If it is not presented, ask for it. If this information is not available, look elsewhere for performance-proven bulls.

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