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  1. #1

    Default FYI Blister beetle stuff

    soooo,we've been getting some odd calls here lately and maybe we have missed some thing but:

    in regard to "certified blisted beetle free alfalfa" hay....there is no test that can be made of baled hay (grass or otherwise) that can tell you if bettles are in or have been in the hay....none...nada...zip....other then a visual inspection of the hay itself...AND there is no way to tell if the resins and oils from the little nasties are present even visually...every bale would have to be opened and checked by hand....


    now it is possible to live too far north for the bugs to live (so many days of frost kills them out) and you can spray for them before you cut...but this term above is total marketing and nothing more...as Calvin told a big NY dealer yesterday...

    pay for quality...not marketing

    best
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  2. #2
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    Wink

    Hmmmm! Wouldn't spraying leave their dangerous little carcasses there?

    We do make hay here in the frozen North, and blister beetles are not a problem..
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  3. #3
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    Default

    Pardon my ignorance, but what is a blister beetle and what do they do to the horse if ingested?



  4. #4
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    semantics...

    Anyone can "certify" anything. It's like when something is "award winning" ... well WHAT award? Who issued it? The company founder's grandmother?

    If hay were grown and baled in an area that absolutely, positively did NOT support blister beetles, I would think that a company could "certify" that hay as being BB free. They could even issue a fancy "certificate" saying so, if they wanted. But I have no idea what the geographic distribution of blister beetles are.

    Here's an article from 1998 in The Horse about Ontario, Canada alfalfa. I guess this is why the major distributors of alfalfa cubes are Ontario, Canada companies? (I just thought it was because I lived near Ontario that all mine are from companies there)

    http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=513
    Last edited by gabz; Jan. 13, 2009 at 02:01 PM. Reason: added link to The Horse



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Personal Champ View Post
    Pardon my ignorance, but what is a blister beetle and what do they do to the horse if ingested?
    http://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/symposium...roceedings.pdf

    go to page 4; paragraph title Blister Beetles

    then you can google on Blister Beetles alfalfa hay horses and find some more. : )



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabz View Post
    http://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/symposium...roceedings.pdf

    go to page 4; paragraph title Blister Beetles

    then you can google on Blister Beetles alfalfa hay horses and find some more. : )
    YIKES! No wonder I've never heard of them, we feed grass mix hay and live too far north. But that's gross!



  7. #7
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    I'm not sure how far north is "safe"... since the Dakotas and Minnesota report Blister Beetles ...

    I think Michigan also is subject to the nasty buggers.

    1st cutting alfalfa is typically "safe", and very early, or late cutting for second harvest can usually be "safe" either before or after the BBs feed on the blossoms.

    I would think that October harvests of alfalfa or alf blends would also be okay based on what I read.

    What Tamara is concerned about are hay producers claiming certified BB-free hay in order to increase sales over those who also produce hay but don't stick their necks out claiming something that Mother Nature has so much control over. : )



  8. #8
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    I know we (idahoans) send out a lot of alfalfa to other states since we do not have blister beetles. I don't think it has anything to do with whether or not a location has a frost or even a hard freeze since I have lived a winter both in OK and KS and they certantly had freezing weather (should I admit I had no idea what an "ice storm" was before moving to OKC?) and blister beetles!



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabz View Post

    What Tamara is concerned about are hay producers claiming certified BB-free hay in order to increase sales over those who also produce hay but don't stick their necks out claiming something that Mother Nature has so much control over. : )
    pretty much....and if someone would "play" in that "grey shaded area" in that way, then what else is grey and shaded...oh and by the by, beetles like grass hay just as well....you've all been warned

    the the poster who asked about spraying...the spray basically "chases them away" and you have about a 3 day window to work in before they stagger back in

    we have just been getting some really odd calls and it does sound like some one has kicked up a marketing blitz somewhere....we don't have much internet time to chase every odd notion out there hence the post here...

    best
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyracing View Post
    I know we (idahoans) send out a lot of alfalfa to other states since we do not have blister beetles. I don't think it has anything to do with whether or not a location has a frost or even a hard freeze since !
    there is a basis in how many freezing days in a row and how deep the freeze goes...they feed on grasshopper eggs...no grasshopppers,not many beetles...

    best
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  11. #11
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    Tamara -
    Any of the references I found all said it was strictly alfalfa. Can you point me in a direction regarding them being in grass hays?

    And... la la la la... Louisanna State University brochure ...
    http://www.lsuagcenter.com/NR/rdonly...sterBeetle.pdf

    says, "Purchase certified blister-beetle-free hay"



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabz View Post
    Tamara -
    Any of the references I found all said it was strictly alfalfa. Can you point me in a direction regarding them being in grass hays?

    yep...http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:...nk&cd=12&gl=us


    And... la la la la... Louisanna State University brochure ...
    http://www.lsuagcenter.com/NR/rdonly...sterBeetle.pdf

    says, "Purchase certified blister-beetle-free hay"
    LSU is trying to be helpful I guess...but they are incorrect in their phraseology...to tell you how rare it is...the U of TN sees about one genuine case a year...... and we keep insurance in case our hay should ever cause it

    good management and reputable sellers are your best bet...all round...but in the dead of winter everyone has some hay to peddle...just be careful folks...

    best
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  13. #13
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    Um .. Tamara - that link referred to MIXTURES containing alfalfa. Not straight grass hays.

    Alfalfa hay is the highest risk hay type to contain these beetles, but timothy and alfalfa or orchard grass and alfalfa mixed hay may also contain the beetles.
    Thank you for the warning... but I don't think it's necessary to go overboard. So unless you can point me to a valid source showing that Blister Beetles can be found in grass hay (NOT mixtures), I'll continue to buy my first cutting mixes and second cutting pure grass hays with little worry.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabz View Post
    Um .. Tamara - that link referred to MIXTURES containing alfalfa. Not straight grass hays.
    Thank you for the warning... but I don't think it's necessary to go overboard. So unless you can point me to a valid source showing that Blister Beetles can be found in grass hay (NOT mixtures), I'll continue to buy my first cutting mixes and second cutting pure grass hays with little worry.
    well, I did not think I was trying to make anyone worry...the fact remains that
    due to their swarming nature (like buzzards converging on one spot) you need not have alfalfa for half a mile and still have them ...it just depends on where they rest and when the cutter goes over them...it's just a known risk you take as a grower...

    best
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  15. #15
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    Default

    Tamara in TN in gray

    soooo,we've been getting some odd calls here lately and maybe we have missed some thing but:

    in regard to "certified blisted beetle free alfalfa" hay....there is no test that can be made of baled hay (grass or otherwise) that can tell you if bettles are in or have been in the hay....none...nada...zip....other then a visual inspection of the hay itself...AND there is no way to tell if the resins and oils from the little nasties are present even visually...every bale would have to be opened and checked by hand....

    now it is possible to live too far north for the bugs to live (so many days of frost kills them out) and you can spray for them before you cut...but this term above is total marketing and nothing more...as Calvin told a big NY dealer yesterday...

    pay for quality...not marketing


    Calvin is my main man and he's forgotten more about hay than I'll ever know, but I've had some unfortunate experience with blister beetles.

    As I understand it, no matter how far north alfalfa, alfalfa/grass mix, hay is grown - how high in altitude it's grown - or how much insecticide is sprayed - cantharides (aka "blister") beetles can still infest meadow. The bugs are everywhere, but it's not their presence that determines the blister beetle content of hay, it's the method used to put up hay.

    Today, most alfalfa is run through a conditioner (think rotating ribbed rubber squeeges) in order to crimp/crush stems and leaves and hasten the drying process before baling. Unfortunately, running a swarm of beetles through a conditioner kills them and causes their poisonous guts to be concentrated in a relatively small area, often with deadly results if Dobbin happens to get a bellyful of cantharides beetle toxins.

    If a cutting is not run through a conditioner; instead, windrowed, allowed to dry naturally, then baled, the beetles are usually not present in significant numbers after a few days. Of course, if it happens to rain on those windrows, the producer might lose an entire cutting, which explains the popularity of conditioners.

    Before conditioners, nobody ever heard of "blister beetles", but modern conditioners have made blister beetle roulette a fact of life for anyone feeding alfalfa hay to horses. If it's been run through a conditioner, your horse is at risk and doesn't make a damn if the alfalfa, alfalfa/grass mix, came from Montana or Texas.
    Tom Stovall, CJF
    No me preguntes cualquier preguntas, yo te diré no mentiras.



  16. #16
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    I will never, ever forget the passing through infestation of blister beetles we had one time when I lived in Arizona. The ground was absolutely crawling with them (the English Racing version, I took one to the Ex. Agent), and there was nothing to do but wait for them to finish eating and move on, which took days. And keep the horses locked up. Ugh.
    We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamara in TN View Post
    oh and by the by, beetles like grass hay just as well....you've all been warned
    Yes! Not very common but it happens. There were some blister beetles found in a batch of bermudagrass hay in SC last year - quite surprising
    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

    Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!



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