Assemble a Calf Crop Resilient to the Challenges of Disease

Justin Kieffer, DVM, Clinical Veterinarian, Assistant Professor, Office of the Attending Veterinarian and Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Completing a number of management techniques and vaccine protocols prior to the stress of weaning, comingling and transport will help assemble a calf crop more resilient to disease challenges.

Now that calving is completed, the days are longer, and the grass is growing (hopefully), it is time to start preparing for the weaning and eventual sale or feedlot finishing of your

calf crop and development of your replacement females. Once the cow calf pairs have been kicked out to pasture in the spring, there is a tendency to put off or ignore the steps needed not only to set the feedlot calf up for success, but also to lay the groundwork for proper health for your new heifers.

Management techniques such as castration and dehorning should take place as soon as possible. Waiting too long to remove the testicles, either by banding or cutting, increases the risk of bleeding and infection, and knocks the calf off feed for an extended period of time. The smaller the calf, the less attached they are to their testicles. Removal of Continue reading

Weaning Diet Options

– Justin Sexten, Ph.D., Director, CAB Supply Development

Spring calving herds, depending on rainfall and temperatures, may be weeks or months away from weaning. For many operations, that will bring the challenge of feeding weaned calves for a short transition period. That’s when nutrition is critical to end-product quality, because it influences both marbling development and calf health, which in turn also affects later quality grade. You may find local forages in short supply if your herd has had to deal with hot, dry weather this summer. One of the few “opportunities” that presents is evaluating alternative forage feeding strategies that may otherwise go untried.

You have to weigh the possible benefits as well as cost for any forage. Although many consider forage relatively inexpensive on a per-pound basis, it’s virtually always the most expensive per Continue reading

What’s a Grazier to Do in August?

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Should I hay it, or graze it?

August often seems to arrive too early and speeds by way too fast. Mentally to me, August 1st starts the countdown to the first frosty morning. That time frame, depending on where you are in Indiana, is generally 60-75 days. There is a lot to do in that time frame.

My first consideration is staging forages. I hope that you are constantly thinking ahead, planning the next move and knowing where, what, and how much forage is available. It’s time to also start thinking about stockpiling forages for fall and winter use.

What fields are going to be Continue reading

Beef and Forage Field Night

This year, in addition to researchers from The Ohio State University (OSU) showcasing their research, field night attendees will have the option to receive certification for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) at the Beef and Forage Field Night at the Jackson Agricultural Research Station on August 23 from 5 – 8:30 p.m. Field night participants will be able to view the research plots and attend sessions that qualify for BQA certification. The research station is located at 019 Standpipe Rd., Jackson, OH 45640.

Dinner will be served at 5 p.m. and the program begins at 6 p.m. with BQA subject areas. Dr. Steve Boyles, Department of Animal Sciences, OSU, will Continue reading

Cattle vs. Beef Cycles

– Josh Maples, Assistant Professor & Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

The latest USDA Cattle report provided the most recent pieces of information to the ever-evolving cattle inventory picture. The big news was the number of heifers held for replacement declined year-over-year and the 2018 calf crop is estimated to be about two percent larger than 2017. The calf crop number tells a story of continued larger beef production for 2019 while the lower heifer retention rate suggests herd growth is slowing. Combine the retention rate with cow and heifer slaughter data and they collectively point to a significantly slowing herd growth rate.

Taken at face value, these two pieces of information can seem a little contradictory. One suggests Continue reading

Financial, Management Benefits of Pregnancy Diagnosis

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator (originally published in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

We are entering an exciting time of the year for cow-calf producers. They have started or soon will be weaning their spring-born calves. Weaning is an excellent time to prepare the calf crop to become herd replacements or for future marketing opportunities by implementing health programs and transitioning to feed rations. It is also a great time to determine the pregnancy status of the breeding herd. Management practices for both these groups can go a long way to determine the ultimate profitability of herd.

The factor that should ultimately sort a female to the keep or cull pen is pregnancy status. The three primary methods used in pregnancy diagnosis are rectal palpation, ultrasound evaluation, or blood testing. Each of these methods can effectively diagnose the female’s pregnancy status when properly implemented. Obviously the preferred result is for the female to be pregnant. Pregnancy diagnosis is relatively inexpensive, especially when Continue reading

Flip this Cow: Adding Value by Reconditioning Cull Cows

– Matt Hersom, University of Florida Extension

Culling cows from the herd is a normal part of annual ranch management. How and when cull cows are marketed represents your last opportunity to generate revenue from each cow. There is an opportunity to add value to cull cows to generate some additional revenue for a cattle enterprise. Just as there are options to be compared before marketing weaned calves, producers should weigh their options before marketing cull cows.

There are a number of reasons for a cow to be culled from the herd. A primary reason is that the cow is open (not pregnant) when the herd is pregnancy tested. Without the prospect of a calf to sell, the open cow becomes an expense. Secondary to pregnancy status is age, as older cows are less productive or have greater risk of health and structural issues. Other reasons to cull a cow include disposition, not weaning a calf, overall poor performance, poor body condition, sickness, or injury. Certainly cows with active sickness/disease or that have not yet cleared withdrawal dates for animal health products should not enter market channels. Cattle producers may have an interest in adding value to their own cull cows, or in creating another potential revenue stream, there is opportunity for improving the value of culls cows.

Adding Value to Cull Cows

Figure 1. Example of the before and after of cull cow 931. (Gainesville FL, Photo credit Matt Hersom).

Before embarking on the process of adding value to cull cows, you need to identify your goals and what resources you have available. Many cull cows are in poor body condition and will require a higher plain of nutrition to add weight. A primary consideration then for adding value to cull cows are economical feed resources. If pastures will be used to provide the base nutrition for reconditioning cows, make sure there is enough extra so that the main herd will not be impacted. Any supplemental feed-stuffs used must provide the opportunity for a low cost of gain. Often these supplemental feeds might be Continue reading

Late Summer Establishment of Perennial Forages

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County and Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Seeding alfalfa requires a firm seedbed

Ohio growers experienced another wet spring and compressed 2018 spring planting season.  On some farms, this caused postponement of plans for spring seeding of alfalfa and other perennial forages.  In some areas, the prolonged wet weather affected forage harvest schedules, resulting in harvest equipment running on wet forage fields leaving ruts, compacted soils and damage to alfalfa crowns.  Some of these forage acres need to be re-seeded.

Late summer, and especially the month of August, provides growers with another window of opportunity to establish a Continue reading

Weekly Livestock Comments for July 27, 2018

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

FED CATTLE: Fed cattle trade was not well established at press. Asking prices on a live basis were mainly $115 to $116 while bid prices were mainly $109 to $110.

The 5-area weighted average prices thru Thursday were $110.10 live, down $3.01 from last week and $176.09 dressed, down $4.09 from a week ago. A year ago prices were $117.18 live and $187.88 dressed.

When cattle finally traded last week, they were $2 higher than the prior week, but cattle feeders and packers continue to be slow coming to terms on price again this week. Packers have been losing dollars in the wholesale market and cattle feeders are marketing cattle that are doing well to break-even in some cases. The struggle between the two has brought Continue reading