MISSISSIPPI STATE -- While eating apples each day is supposed to cut down on doctor visits, a more fun way to do the same thing is to own a pet.
Research has shown that people benefit in many ways from having a pet. Companion animals have more consistent behavior and give unconditional affection that humans rarely offer.
A survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association found that more than half the pet owners surveyed, if stranded on a deserted island, would choose the companionship of their pet over another human.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A projected soybean increase of 200,000 acres is pushing Mississippi's planted acreage up for 1997, despite drops in cotton and corn.
Mississippi is expected to plant 3.9 million acres in the state's top four crops -- soybeans, cotton, corn and rice -- compared to 3.76 million acres last year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Planting Intentions Report, released March 31, revealed few surprises. Rice was the only other row crop expected to increase acreage in 1997, jumping 19 percent to 250,000 acres.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Feeding unfit food to broilers can cost a major poultry operation $90,000 a week, but a test has been developed to ensure quality products are fed to these birds.
Researchers at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine developed a way to test fish and poultry by-products that are fed to broilers. The test detects biogenic amines, or toxins, produced when by-products deteriorate.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As television has evolved from being a good source of family entertainment to an issue of concern for many parents, Americans have developed different ways of protecting their children from television smut.
Recently, some networks have addressed these concerns by introducing movie-like ratings for TV programs.
Dr. Louise Davis, extension child and family development specialist at Mississippi State University, said parents should be ready to help children interpret TV programs appropriately.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Knowing that proper landscaping can add as much as 15 percent to a house's value makes it easier to avoid the temptation to hire someone to do the work just because they are cheap.
Patricia Knight, assistant horticulturist with the South Mississippi Research and Experiment Station in Poplarville, said landscaping takes time to learn and do correctly. Hiring someone to do landscaping without knowing their credentials or references can be a big mistake.
VERONA -- Pictures might help some home landscapers choose plants, but others may prefer an up-close-and-personal look at a demonstration landscape.
A visit to the Magnolia Botanical Gardens could be a surer way to see how the plant will fit into a landscape plan. The four-acre botanical gardens are the latest addition to the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.
The horticulture commodity group developed plans for the gardens following a recommendation at the center's 1996 Advisory Committee meeting.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi River flooding and an open spillway northwest of New Orleans may spell disaster for the 1997-98 oyster harvest.
Oysters grow in the brackish (part salt) waters of the Sound, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico along the coastline. As the water is diluted to become freshwater, they die, said Dr. David Veal, director of the Mississippi State University Sea Grant Advisory Service in Biloxi.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Frequent rains are dampening Mississippi farmers' chances for a repeat of last year's profitable wheat crop.
Record yields and prices in 1996 inspired Mississippi wheat growers to increase planted acreage about 6 percent last fall. Mississippi growers averaged 49 bushels per acre on 230,000 harvested acres last year. Many 1996 farmers priced their crop near the $6 level, after wheat briefly reached the historic $7 per bushel mark.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Although they don't carry a donor card, four-legged furry blood donors are just as essential for their kind as humans are to their's.
Dogs and cats often give blood to save other pets' lives, said Lisa Halford, the supervising technician in small animal internal medicine/ICU at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Laboratory animals need love just as much as do any family dog or cat. For the people who work daily with these animals, love is an easy gift to give and receive.
"We get so attached to these animals. They are just like our own children, except they mind better," said Kay Gray, laboratory animal technician at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "Identical animals are like a set of twins; when you know them well, you can tell them apart. They are unique individuals."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Although termites are not welcome house guests, they are actually helpful when they aren't in our homes.
Termites are one of the few animals with the ability to digest cellulose, or wood, and they are valuable contributors of nitrogen to the air we breath. However, when termites invade personal homes, they cross the line between being helpful and being harmful.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A record-breaking number of people were trained around the state Feb. 18 as private pesticide applicators of restricted use pesticides.
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Lester Spell suspended certification of private applicators Dec. 4, following criminal abuses of methyl parathion. The Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Bureau of Plant Industries resumed training and certification in February. After Extension's training, the BPI tested applicants and certified those who passed as private pesticide applicators.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Turkey hunting can be exciting because of the skills required, but it shouldn't be exciting because of the risks involved.
Turkey hunting is one of the most dangerous sports because hunters are heavily camouflaged, make turkey calls and sit very still. From March 22 to May 1, hunters will take advantage of the gobblers-only season as they try for the one gobbler per day, three per season bag limit.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cattle and pregnant horses could suffer serious health problems this spring from a grass intended for cool-season nourishment.
Dr. Michael Brashier, an assistant professor at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, encouraged veterinarians to be on the lookout for fescue toxicity. Brashier addressed the concern during the recent meeting of the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Bunnies and chicks with pastel fur have become one of the most recognizable symbols of Easter, but don't give in to the temptations of buying a pet impulsively.
"Young bunnies and chicks are heavily marketed during the Easter season, but too many people buy these animals on the spur of the moment without being prepared," said Dr. Richard Hopper, extension leader of veterinary medicine at Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The most common victims of poisonings are the tiniest members of society, the ones most trusting of their often dangerous environments.
Children ages 1 to 3 face the highest risk of being poisoned. Much of this is due to their inquisitive nature and inclination to put things in their mouths. But adults are to blame in some cases for carelessly or unknowingly leaving poisonous items within their reach.
March 16 through 22 is National Poison Prevention Week. The theme "Children act fast ...
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many pet owners and veterinarians depend on trained veterinary technicians to identify animals needing pain relief.
Dr. Stephen Jaffee, a veterinary consultant with Fort Dodge Laboratories, said technicians are the "front line of pain management" for animals.
Jaffee recently addressed members of the Mississippi Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians. The association held its winter conference in conjunction with the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association meeting in Starkville.