Early Weaning = Less Health Risk, Enhanced Carcass Value

Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Educator, Henry county

Having grown up in the beef cattle business I realize this is the time of the year in which most of the spring born calves have traditionally been weaned and sent to market. Here in Northwestern Ohio where pasture comes at a premium and preserved forage is fed for a large part of the year, it may be time to consider reevaluating weaning age, in order to increase potential gains within the cow calf system.

Why do we wean calves in the fall? Continue reading

Fall Manure Application Tips

Glen Arnold, CCA, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management and Kevin Elder, Livestock Environmental Permitting, Ohio Department of Agriculture

With warmer than normal weather forecast for the next couple of weeks, corn and soybean harvest in Ohio is expected to get back on track. Livestock producers and commercial manure applicators soon will be applying both liquid and solid manure as fields become Continue reading

Don’t Guess, Forage Test!

Al Gahler, OSU Extension Educator, Sandusky County (originally published in the Ohio Cattleman, late fall 2017 issue)

Color is seldom an accurate indication of hay quality!

Across most of Ohio, 2017 has been a challenging crop year, especially for those in the hay production business.  In 2016, while most producers did not have significant yields, quality was tremendous due to the dry weather which allowed for highly manageable cutting intervals and easy dry down.  Since the end of June, however, 2017 has been just the opposite, with mother nature forcing many bales to be made at higher than optimal moisture levels, and cutting intervals measured in months rather than days.

With adequate moisture throughout most of the state for much of the summer, this equates to substantial yields, which in turn for the beef producer, means hay is readily available at reasonable prices.  However, for the astute cattleman that either makes his/her own hay or knows the nature of the business, this also means high quality hay may just be the proverbial needle in the haystack, and for the most part, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.

While there are many options to manage the situation, Continue reading

Poor Temperament Adversely Affects Profit

– Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension

October is a traditional weaning and culling time for spring-calving herds. Weaning for value-added calf sales is already underway. This is a time when producers decide which cows no longer are helpful to the operation and which heifer calves will be kept for future replacements. Selecting against ill-tempered cattle has always made good sense. Wild cattle are hard on equipment, people, other cattle, and now we know that they are Continue reading

Using Cover Crops with Fall Manure Applications

Glen Arnold, CCA, Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management

Cover crops can recapture nutrients in livestock manure and keep these nutrients from escaping. (oats and rapeseed in this photo)

Fall manure application is underway across the state. Livestock producers and commercial manure applicators are applying manure to fields following corn silage harvest and will soon be applying to harvested soybean and corn fields.

To best capture the nutrients in manure, livestock producers should incorporate fall applied manure and also consider using cover crops. Pen pack beef manure will contain approximately 7.9 pounds of nitrogen per ton (mostly in the organic form), while liquid beef manure from a slatted barn can contain 30 pounds of ammonium nitrogen and an additional Continue reading

Reducing Shipping Fever in Beef Calves

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

Kentucky is a major feeder calf producing state but our calves are generally shipped to other parts of the country where they are “finished”. Feedlots are generally about a 1,000 miles from our farms and calves are sometimes “weaned” on trucks and might even be commingled from several sources. These procedures may represent stress, exposure to disease pathogens and, consequently, economic losses to the beef industry and our cattle producers.

Shipping Fever, or Bovine Respiratory Disease, is the major health problem encountered by beef calves upon arrival at cattle feeding operations. There are many management practices, in addition to vaccinations, that can aid in reducing the occurrence of Continue reading

Bypassing Technology Has a Cost

Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Associate Beef Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Discussions on the potential to expand exports to China are continuing. The optimists will see this as a means to add value to feeders sold to feedyards in response to increase beef demand. The actual impact of this foreign market on the cow-calf operator is yet to be determined, but increasing demand is generally always favorable. Yet nothing is free in this world, and the current proposed guidelines for beef to be exported to China will likely increase production costs.

As I write this, the most recent guidelines for the beef to be exported as reported by USDA AMS are Continue reading

Capture Value Through Weaning

– Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Associate Beef Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Seems like I am a broken record lately. I keep hearing myself say only worry about what you can control and don’t fret over those things you cannot. As fall comes, it occurs to me that these words seem to apply to our beef farms. Everyone wanders when the peak in the market will be. Several ask when is the market going to drop?

Often we worry so much about what the markets will do in the fall, we forgot to focus on what we can control. Many calves make it to the market unweaned, something we can control. Time and time again, the markets show us that weaned calves bring more money than unweaned calves. Let’s consider Continue reading

The Value of Preconditioning Calves

– Brenda Boetel, Professor and Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Preconditioning is a generic term that means different things to different people and encompasses the different operating procedures that may be applied to a calf prior to shipping. Preconditioning activities may include weaning, vaccinations, dehorning, castration, and starting calves on a high energy diet. Several reasons exist for the cow/calf producer to precondition their calves, but the underlying goal is to increase the value of the calf being sold or the Continue reading

Perspective on the Cull Cow Market

– Livestock Market Information Center

The bulk of U.S. beef cattle operations wean calves in the fall months, and that is also when they select cows for culling and begin to sell them. Many cow-calf operations in the drought impacted northern High Plains states have already pregnancy checked their cows, which is earlier than normal. Most of those cows already have or will soon be sent to market.

Over a cattle inventory cycle (typically 10 to 11 years), seasonally cull cow prices typically are lowest in the fourth (fall) quarter of the calendar year (usually November and sometimes October or December). The long-term average decline in cull cow price is about Continue reading