Making Observations Count

– Justin Sexten, Ph.D, Director, Supply Development, Certified Angus Beef

This time of year, you probably spend more time observing than working cattle. Calving is complete and bulls have been turned out with the spring herd. Fall calves are weaned and grass cattle are moving through pastures.

As the temperature rises, so does water intake for cattle. Their grazing activity moves to early morning and late evening, which presents the best opportunities to check the herd because “shaded up” cattle can be hard to find. We check cattle to watch for estrus and bull activity, monitor flies and look out for early symptoms of pinkeye or foot rot.

In my youth, a disproportionate amount of time in the summer was spent Continue reading

Controlling Pasture Flies on Cattle

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County

Horn flies and face flies are the two most common flies that bother cattle in pasture settings.  From an economic standpoint, horn flies cause the most damage.  Research indicates that a good horn fly control program can result in 12 to 20 pounds of additional weight gain for calves as well as reduced weight loss for nursing cows.  The economic threshold for horn flies is generally considered as equal to or more than 100 flies/side or 200 per animal.  Face flies do not cause the same type of economic damage and no economic threshold number is available, but they can Continue reading

USDA Detects a Case of Atypical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in Alabama

– USDA APHIS, Washington D.C., July 18, 2017, Contacts: Donna Karlsons and Lyndsay Cole

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a neurologic disease of cattle, in an eleven-year old cow in Alabama.  This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) have determined that this cow was positive for atypical (L-type) BSE.  The animal was showing clinical signs and was found through routine surveillance at an Alabama livestock market.  APHIS and Alabama veterinary officials are Continue reading

Priming the Calf Immune System for the Challenges Ahead

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

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 Continue reading

Safety Considerations for Hay Baling Season

Kent McGuire – OSU Ag Safety and Health Coordinator

As we progress into summer, hay baling moves to the forefront of things to be done on the farm. Hay baling season can come with its own set of hazards that can cause injuries. These include equipment hazards, working in hot temperatures, lifting injuries, and even the stress of getting hay down, dried and baled in a narrow window to beat the weather. Some guidelines to use to prevent injuries this hay baling season include:

• Review the Continue reading

Plan to Have it Made in the Shade

– Justin Sexten, Ph.D, Director, Supply Development, Certified Angus Beef

It’s been an interesting year for climate, as we could tell halfway through the spring. A parade of wind storms, fires, blizzards and floods moved swiftly by, leaving every cattle farm and ranch to cope with those and the peculiarities of an early or late spring, with too little or too much moisture. Still, cattle are one of the most adaptable food-animal species, proven by their thriving herds in operations across North America in heat, humidity, cold, wet and everything in between. Seasonal stocking rates for a cow-calf pair vary from less than 2 acres to more than 80. Feed and forage options are just as variable, depending on the ranch environment and local resources. Despite these differences, cattle remain the best option to convert solar energy into the most flavorful protein.

That flavor advantage is what keeps beef “king” for millions of consumers, the driving force in beef demand, food trends and taste preferences. As we’ve said before, consumer wants and needs make up the one constant that unites all ranch environments. And since the current market still reflects their preference for high-quality beef, let’s look at some opportunities to produce more of the best by addressing the next seasonal challenge.

Summer means there will be Continue reading

Using Artificial Insemination in Very Warm Weather

– Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension

As the breeding season for spring calving herds is getting closer, understanding heat stress in cattle takes on increased importance. Producers that choose to synchronize and then artificially inseminate replacement heifers or adult cows will begin the process very soon. If the hot weather arrives during the AI breeding season, some management and breeding alterations may be helpful.

For years, producers that bred artificially upon detected standing estrus (heat), would wait 12 hours before breeding the female in heat. If she was first observed in standing heat in the morning she would be inseminated that evening. If she was first observed in standing heat in the evening she would be inseminated the following morning. (This was called the AM/PM rule of artificial insemination.) More extensive research with dairy cattle has indicated that there is Continue reading

Poison Hemlock: Time to Take Action!


Stan Smith, PA, OSU Extension, Fairfield County

Poison hemlock plants in Seneca County, Ohio in January of 2017

As we’ve discussed a couple of times in the past, poison hemlock is a biennial member of the carrot family that can be fatal to livestock if ingested in sufficient quantities. That said, while much of the poison hemlock we’re seeing today has been alive but dormant much of the winter, those plants are now in the early stages of bolting across much of Ohio, and also positioned nicely to be controlled at this time.

While the taste of poison hemlock leaves to livestock is unpleasant and toxic quantities are seldom consumed, if grazing animals are turned out in early spring onto pastures with less than adequate forage, the risk Continue reading

Castration; Earlier is Better

– Justin Sexten, Ph.D.  Director, Supply Development Certified Angus Beef (reprinted with permission)

Everybody knows bull calves sell at least $5/cwt back of steers at weaning, and the discount grows for any still intact as yearlings. That’s because virtually all of them are bound for the feedyard, where steers are the rule. The only question revolves around when the bulls become steers.

Castration at weaning means one more stress at a stressful time and mandates a Continue reading

Understanding the BVD Virus

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL)

Concern is mounting in KY regarding the identification and subsequent movement of cattle persistently infected with the Bovine Viral Diarrhea virus (or “BVD-PI” animals) into livestock sales. The BVD virus is known to cause severe immunosuppression and also works synergistically with other viruses to make them more deadly, resulting in substantial respiratory disease and death loss in the stocker/backgrounder industry. What is largely unrecognized is the effect of a BVD-PI calf on the cow/calf operation where it was born or raised. Infection can cause Continue reading