How Much Rest Does Your Pasture Need?

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

More residual left and more rest; more roots, more production and animal performance.

I took the time to walk through most of my pastures a few days ago. I recommend doing this fairly often to keep a mental forage inventory. It is best to record the findings. Some use fancy electronic data sheets, some track on paper charts, some just have notes in their pocket datebook or smart phone. I use a combination. I like the paper charts for long term planning, but for a quick assessment, I like a white board.

I have a white board, you know, one of those new-fangled chalk boards that you use erasable markers on. I took 1/8-inch black tape and used it to outline the boundaries of all the fields. If I get present yield estimates taken, I put those numbers on the board with the date collected. But I use the board more for tracking grazing patterns and, more importantly, rest.

Animal groups are color coordinated and enter and exit dates are marked on the board. If animals are strip grazed across the field, then Continue reading

Beef Contribution in 2018 from Dairy Cattle

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

Dairy cattle continue to be a significant contributor to the commercial U.S. beef supply. Despite growing beef cattle inventories since 2014, dairy animals have been a stable source of beef and continue to play a key role in filling U.S. beef demand. In 2018 the dairy sector contributed 5.6 billion pounds (21.0 %) of beef to the U.S. commercial beef supply from finished steers, finished heifers and cull cows. Although down from the peak of 24% in 2015, the dairy cattle contribution is still significant.

In 2018 total U.S. commercial beef production was 26.9 billion pounds, the highest production since 2002. Between 2002 and 2018 U.S. commercial beef production has ranged from a low of 23.7 billion in 2014 to a high of 27.0 billion in 2002, with dairy animals contributing 22% in 2014 and 18% in 2002. The contribution from dairy cattle varies based on Continue reading

Fed Steer Marketings Ramp Up Seasonally

– David P. Anderson, Professor and Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Steer slaughter has begun to ramp up, seasonally, over the last month. Slaughter is up about 9 percent from mid-March to mid-April. The almost 30,000 head per week increase is relatively close to the increase in slaughter seen over the last five years, on average, and last year.

One of the interesting notes in the cattle market over the last year has been the relatively low level of steer slaughter. While the cow herd and the calf crop have continued to grow, steer slaughter over the last 52 weeks is 1.5 percent below the previous 52 weeks. So far this year, steer slaughter is about 2.7 percent below a year ago. Over time, steer slaughter should, roughly, match the growth in the calf crop. Unlike heifers, there’s not much else to do with a steer.

Steer dressed weights normally decline until late May to early June. Weights this year have followed Continue reading

A Few Final Thoughts

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator, retired

I have had the pleasure of writing articles regularly since 2011 for this publication and the Ohio Cattleman magazine. Over the years, I have written about several wide-ranging beef management topics and timely industry issues including a few “editorials” along the way. I hope you have found them worth the time it took you to read them and gained some useful information along the way. Since I retired yesterday from over 33 years of employment with OSU Extension, I want to thank you for allowing me to work with you through many OSU Extension and Ohio Cattlemen’s Association programs over the years.

I have tried to think of an appropriate way to wrap up this column. I really could not think of a single topic that I thought would make a fitting conclusion. Rather than focusing on a single topic, I thought I would touch on a few of the subjects that I admit that I am passionate about relating to beef industry. I believe each of these topics have seen many changes throughout my Extension career. Many advancements have been made in each area but I believe there are still improvements to be gained. These are a few of my parting Continue reading

Manure Sampling for Nutrient Analysis

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County

Acquiring a representative manure sample is the first step to effectively utilizing manure as a source of soil nutrients.

Applying livestock manure based on nutrient content is one factor involved in using manure more effectively. There are two main challenges to sampling manure for a nutrient analysis; determining when to sample and then collecting a representative sample. Ideally, a manure sample is submitted before application and the results are used in calculating the field application rate. In practice, this is difficult especially for liquid manure systems that require agitation before application. In reality, manure is easiest to sample at the time of application, when it is being loaded and hauled to the field. The main disadvantage is that the results are not available to guide the present application. However, manure nutrient values typically remain fairly consistent and constant within a farm, provided the livestock production system does not change significantly between years. In this case, the analysis results can serve to guide future applications. Annual manure sampling across manure types will allow the farm to establish baseline nutrient values.

The second challenge is collecting a representative sample to send to the lab. The small sample sent in to the lab must Continue reading

What are your Bedding Options, is Keeping a Thin Wheat Stand Worth It?

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Crawford Country, Agricultural and Natural Resources Educator

Wheat fields are finally turning green, as we do stand evaluations (https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2019-07/estimating-wheat-yield-stem-counts) many producers are weighing poor stands versus their need for livestock bedding. As you weigh your options be sure to consider alternative agronomic crop fodder or cover crops as a bedding source. The two most common beddings wheat straw and sawdust are both already in short supply across the state.

Precut Rye Straw

The first harvestable option is to look at cover crops you or a neighbor have planted. One option that has gained some popularity is precut rye straw. If your wheat stand is present but not thick enough to take to head you could follow these same principles making precut wheat straw then planting soybeans a month earlier for improved yields over double crop soybeans. There are two options when making precut straw, both of them take place just after the head emerges but before pollination and seed formation. The most common process is to spray the rye with Glyphosate and let stand in the field as it dries and bleaches yellow. The PHI for cereals on some glyphosate products is 7 days between application and grazing or harvest. The best rye straw comes from having a couple tenths of Continue reading

Healing the Mess: Early Season Pasture Management

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Morgan County (originally published in the Ohio Cattleman, Expo issue)

This exhibits what seemed to be the rule rather than the exception last winter. Photo: Landefeld

For those with pastured livestock, this past winter is one we would like to forget, but damage done is preventing that from occurring. Many farmers talked about the loss of livestock due to the wet weather and mud. To make matters worse, more hay had to be fed to deal with the additional stress on animals from the muddy conditions. The result was animals in a lower body condition and fields in a mess from livestock, feeding hay in the fields, and equipment trying to get hay to livestock.

Damage to fields was worse than most can remember. What can we do to fix the problem? We can start off with these two options: doing nothing or working the ground and re-seeding. Doing nothing may not seem to be the best option but if the area was not damaged too bad, it may heal itself. I noticed in late March some areas where I had bale rings, grass was starting to grow where the bale was located. Where the cattle stood, it was bare and not rutted too much. In a situation like that, you may be able to take a Continue reading

April Cattle on Feed

– Stephen R. Koontz, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics – Colorado State University

Now, that was a Cattle on Feed report. Close to record high inventories with strong placements. One week to think about it and then the futures market reacted hard. Cattle on feed inventories were 11.964 million head as of April 1, 2019. This is the highest on-feed number – since 1996 with this version of the report – for any month except December of 2011. That record level was 12.110 million head. All but the upper Midwestern states in the report had higher inventories than the prior year. Placements were 5% above the prior year and 8% above the prior month. Placements in Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma were 21%, 16%, and 13% above the prior year. All states detailed in the report except Nebraska, Iowa, and Arizona placed animals in excess of the prior year. Understandably, placements in Nebraska were 11% below the prior year. Fed cattle will be abundant through Continue reading

The Great 2019 Hay Debate . . . Quality or Quantity?

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

If there was ever a year to focus on hay quality over quantity, weather permitting, this has to be it! Most of the reasons should be obvious. Perhaps a few are less so. However, with some aggressive planning and a little cooperation from Mother Nature, perhaps we can have both quality and quantity this year. Following are some points to consider.

Generally speaking, we’re out of quality hay in Ohio. The condition of our cows confirms it, the prices of hay at auction markets confirm it, and laboratory forage analysis confirms it. Not only was 2018 a challenging year for forage harvest, but we started that year with less inventory. Last spring in their hay stocks report, USDA NASS reported hay inventory on Ohio farms on May 1, 2018 was down 33% from that same time in 2017.

As we’re now nearing the end of April, cows need feed and to add insult to injury, forages have been slow to get started this spring. It’s safe to assume first cutting hay will likely be short due to a late spring start of growth. Regardless, hay needs to come off in a timely fashion this year.

The first reason is Continue reading

Forage Focus – Pasture Fertility, Soil Testing and Grazing Management

In this month’s Forage Focus podcast, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County, talks with Washington County ANR Educator Marcus McCartney about pasture fertility. They also discuss ways to use management intensive grazing and soil testing to improve pasture productivity.