Forage Shortage: Considering Early Weaning

Garth Ruff, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension, Henry County (originally published in Ohio’s Country Journal on-line)

Less than ideal conditions have led to forage shortages throughout the Midwest. Photo: Ohio’s Country Journal

Low hay inventory this past winter combined with poor pasture stands due to excessive moisture have led to a greater proportion of thin beef cows both across the countryside and on the cull market. As we evaluate the toll that this past winter took on forage stands, especially alfalfa, hay is projected to be in short supply as we proceed into next winter as well.

For a beef cow to be efficient and profitable, we must meet her nutritional requirements for maintenance in addition to those for reproduction and lactation. As a reminder, the hierarchy of nutrient use is as follows: Maintenance, Development, Growth, Lactation, Reproduction, Fattening. This applies to all nutrient categories, not just to energy alone. As we conclude calving season, we are entering the most challenging time in production cycle when it comes to providing adequate nutrition. If the cow does not intake enough nutrients and is in suboptimal body condition at calving (BCS < 5), reproduction is the first to fail. With that in mind, one strategy available to minimize body condition and reproductive losses when forage is in short supply is to early wean calves.

Early weaning is certainly not a new concept and is one that is often employed when Continue reading

Remember your BQA Ps and Qs

– Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

There are many things a rancher can count on as spring makes its way across the landscape. Green grass, spring flowers and waving a happy adios to winter are among them.

Beyond that, spring means calving season for many. And calving season means calf working time isn’t far behind.

As the majority of the calves reach their second month of life, it is time to castrate the male calves if this has not already been done and immunize all of the calves to protect them against blackleg. In some situations, calves may be vaccinated for the respiratory diseases such as IBR and BVD. Check with your large animal veterinarian about these immunizations.

That’s where your Continue reading

Genetic Markers and Their Use in Feedlot Cattle

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Carcass characteristics are economically important but can be difficult to measure pre-harvest. Therefore, genetic markers associated with these traits may provide valuable information to decision makers. The success of genetic markers depends on the accuracy of molecular breeding values (MBV). Researchers at Oklahoma State University evaluated molecular breeding values for yield and quality grades for commercial beef cattle and reported it in their publication:

Yield and quality grade outcomes as affected by molecular breeding values for commercial beef cattle.
N. M. Thompson, E. A. DeVuyst, B. W. Brorsen, and J. L. Lusk.
J. Anim. Sci. 2015.93:2045–2055

Independent validations report significant correlations between molecular breeding values and the traits they predict. However, many of these molecular breeding values explain Continue reading

Beef AG NEWS: Vaccination Programs Considerations for the Beef Breeding Herd

With calving season into full swing throughout much of Ohio, breeding season is around the corner. A well planned breeding herd vaccination program can improve fertility and conception rates.

In this edition of the Beef AG NEWS, host Duane Rigsby and OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes offer considerations for implementing your pre-breeding season whole herd vaccination program.

Sanitation Procedures When Implanting

Stephen Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Sanitation is paramount when administering implants for beef cattle. Manure, dirt and bacteria must be removed and a disinfectant solution should be applied to the implant injection site area of the ear. Growth implant efficacy and return on investment decreases if an abscess forms because of unsanitary practices. In one study, average daily gains were decreased 8.9% (3.18 versus 2.92 pounds) and feed efficiency decreased 8.5% (5.62 versus 6.14 pounds of feed per pound of gain) by abscessed growth implants.

A number of years ago a method called “scrape, brush and disinfect” was introduced to raise the awareness of ear sanitation prior to implanting by cattle processing personnel. Make an initial assessment of ear Continue reading

When is the best time to castrate bull calves?

– W. Mark Hilton, DVM, PAS, DABVP (beef cattle), Clinical Professor Emeritus, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine

A Kansas State University study showed that bulls castrated and implanted at an average of 3 months of age weighed 2 pounds more at 7.5 months of age than did the intact bull calves in the same study. At 7.5 months, the bulls were castrated, and then both groups were weighed 28 days later to assess gain.

The steers castrated as calves gained 48 pounds, while the bulls that were cut at an average of 578 pounds only gained 33 pounds. That is a lost potential gain of 15 pounds, as these late-castrated bulls had to deal with the stress of healing from surgery.

The fallacy is that there is a positive “testosterone effect” that justifies not castrating until bulls weigh 500 pounds or more. This is a myth. When bull calves were Continue reading

Time to Step Up Your Game

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator (originally published in the Winter issue of The Ohio Cattleman)

Nearly every business is faced with evolving business models due to changing consumer preferences. History provides us plenty of examples of how traditionally accepted products or services can quickly be replaced by a newer or “better” version. Some call this progress while others prefer simpler, more traditional choices.

The beef industry is certainly no stranger to the concept of changing types and preferences. The size and shape of cattle have changed significantly over the years of modern history. The smaller framed British breed cattle prevalent in the 1950’s and 1960’s were forever changed by an influx of Continental breeds staring around the beginning of the 1970’s. This started a trend towards larger framed, growthy, leaner cattle that were very popular through the 1980’s and into the early 1990’s. The past 20-25 years have seen a trend towards Continue reading

New Year, New Expectations for Beef

– Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, OSU Extension Noble County

If you have consistently, or even occasionally, read my column in 2018, you should be aware that there are changes in store for the beef industry as we ring in 2019.

Some segments of the beef supply chain will expect cattle producers to be certified in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) at the turn of the year. Ohio State Extension has been working with the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association and the Ohio Beef Council to provide certification programs for interested producers across the state throughout 2018.

Certification programs will continue to be offered in 2019. Upcoming Ohio BQA training opportunities are listed here. Training can also be Continue reading

Is Your Herd Focused on Meeting Demand?

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County (originally published in The Ohio Farmer on-line)

Despite the higher price, consumers want quality, and are willing to pay for it!

To say the least, suggesting it’s been a wild ride on the path to profitability in the cow-calf sector during this decade is an understatement. Beginning in 2009-10 cattlemen saw the most dramatic increase in cattle prices ever. From there prices climbed to the point where we experienced historic highs just four years later. As would be expected, at the same time consumers were experiencing historic high beef prices in the meat case.

What might not have been expected was that while lower overall beef supplies were causing these historically high live cattle and retail meat prices, demand by consumers for premium priced branded beef continued to climb Continue reading

It Is a Matter of Trust

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

Changes on the horizon suggest that simply having the best PRODUCT is no longer enough, merely telling the best STORY is no longer enough, and delivering great CUSTOMER SATISFACTION is no longer enough. We must also elevate consumer TRUST.

Over the past week or so, two of the largest buyers of beef in the U.S. have placed stronger requirements for the beef they will purchase in the future. McDonald’s and Wendy’s have both announced major policies that no doubt have their customers and societal pressures in mind. These policies will surely have an impact on all facets of the beef industry.

McDonald’s has announced that they will be collaborating with suppliers and beef producers to measure and understand the current usage of antibiotics in their top 10 beef sourcing markets. They will establish reduction targets for medically important antibiotics for these markets by the end of 2020. Starting in 2022, McDonald’s will be reporting progress against antibiotic reduction targets across our top 10 beef sourcing markets.

McDonald’s stated overall approach to responsible use of antibiotics focuses on refining Continue reading