Cow Size

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Increasing Mature Body Weight of the United States Cow Herd: There has been a 30% increase in cow mature size over the last 30 years. From 1975 to 2015, cow numbers have decreased by 35%, but beef production has been maintained at a level similar to 1975 In response to the low cow numbers carcass weights have increased. These relationships suggest that the progeny of small cows, similar to the weights observed in the 1950s and 1960s, would not have the potential to produce the carcasses necessary to maintain beef production at the current level with the number of cows currently in the national beef cow herd, unless they take part in a postweaning growing period.

This phenomenon is explained by the increased Continue reading

Consider the Consequences of Bad Behavior

– Dr. Justin Rhinehart, Assistant Professor, UT Beef Cattle Extension Specialist

Temperament of cattle has long been recognized to influence production efficiency by having an impact on cattle handling and performance. More recently, scientists have suggested that flighty behavior of individual cattle can also affect the performance of the entire group. So, letting just one flighty calf slip past the sort could decrease the performance of the entire group. For humans, temperament is defined as the way a person thinks, behaves or reacts. For cattle, a good definition for temperament is the intensity of their “fight or flight” instinct.

Some of the performance measures that are impacted by temperament are health, feed efficiency, weight gain, dressing percentage and Continue reading

Bull Shopping Season!

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator (this article was published previously in the Ohio Farmer magazine at

Bull buying season is well underway throughout the cow-calf regions across the country.  Producers are constantly reminded of this through sale catalogs in the mail, glossy magazine advertisements, and social media posts.  These promotional efforts may make it seem like the Christmas shopping season has returned.  Both of these “shopping seasons” can be equally confusing and frustrating for the buyer that is uninformed and unprepared.

As an Extension professional and a seedstock producer, one of the most interesting discussions I can have with a producer is reviewing their thoughts on what they are Continue reading

Crossbreeding: It Works for Feral Pigs

– Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Crossbreeding, bringing together parents that are distantly related but capable of producing viable offspring, has increased hybrid vigor within domestically raised livestock.

Extensive research has shown positive improvement for several production traits, particularly survival traits that are lowly heritable. Interestingly, sometimes if one looks at what others are intentionally or not intentionally doing, one can learn a lot. The same is true about crossbreeding.

The concept of domesticated livestock mating with their wild relatives is not new and generally not encouraged. The reason comes back to Continue reading

Gestation Length: Calves Arrive Sooner Than They Used To

– Justin Rhinehart, University of Tennessee Extension

What is the gestation length of a cow? This question usually gets the answer of “it averages 283 days.” A better answer is “it can range from about 265 to as much as 295 days.” For breeds that have focused on low birthweight genetics for several generations, the average gestation length has shortened. But, there are several other factors that can shorten or lengthen gestation notwithstanding genetics.

Before considering those factors, it is important to learn what actually triggers the calving process. Since the calf has Continue reading

OCA Members to Offer Over 100 Consignments in Replacement Female Sale

Several members of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will sell over 100 consignments in the OCA Replacement Female Sale on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, at 6 p.m. at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Company facility in Zanesville, Ohio. Consignments include approximately 20 mature cows, less than five years of age, and approximately 90 bred heifers.

Breeds represented will include Continue reading

Problems Beget Problems!

– Dr. Roy Burris, Beef Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Did you hear about the guy that got his nose broken in six places?  He said that he needed to quit going to those places!  Cattle producers are a lot like that guy. We keep making a lot of the same mistakes. However, there are some problems that we should work to eliminate in our effort to have “trouble-free” cow herds.

Let’s start with a few things that should be obvious. Cows should be Continue reading

Bull Sales Closely Follow Market Trends

– Jared Wareham, Allied Genetic Resources (this article first appeared in the April issue of Drovers)

Everyone involved in the cow/calf sector, commercial or seedstock, exited last fall’s sale season reeling from what appeared to be an inevitable storm. Skepticism quickly replaced the optimistic zeal that carried us through the first half of 2015. Feeder and fed cattle were not the only ones feeling the sting of price correction. Bull and replacement female markets slammed head-long into a figurative wall of their Continue reading

How Much is Too Much?

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator (this article first appeared in the March 2016 issue of The Ohio Farmer Magazine)

The onset of the 2016 calving season has provided a backdrop for one of the most frequently debated topics amongst cow-calf producers today.  These discussions are taking place in coffee shops, at local auction markets, and in the pasture.  While there are various ways to pose the question, many producers are debating the subject of whether the cow-calf industry has placed too much emphasis on calving ease in the breeding herd.

The beef industry has a vast array of breeds to utilize in herds located in a wide variety of environmental conditions across the country.  Your own personal production and marketing goals combined with Continue reading

Evaluating Conventional and Sexed Semen in a Commercial Beef Heifer Development Program

– R. N. Funston and T. L. Meyer, University of Nebraska, The Professional Animal Scientist 28:560–563 (Condensed by Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist)

Sex-sorting sperm relies on the fact the bovine X chromosome has 3.8% more DNA than the Y chromosome. However, the process of sorting does damage sperm and reduces fertility when compared with conventional semen. Calves resulting from sexed semen do not exhibit more genetic abnormalities nor does it affect calf characteristics.

Five hundred Heifers were Continue reading