Precision Technology for your Beef Operation

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock

Use of technology can improve how we manage the cattle.

Precision farming technologies have greatly improved row crop production and many different technologies are available to change the way you manage your beef operation. For beef producers, there are two major classes of technology the first improves how we manage the cattle while the second improves forage and pasture management. Today we will discuss two cattle management technologies.

The first technology that is being transferred from the dairy industry is activity monitoring systems that include rumination and eating time. The systems are showing benefits for both cow-calf producers and feedlots. These systems utilize accelerometers mounted to either the cow ear, a collar around the neck, or to the leg. The ear and neck-mounted systems are seeing the greatest adoption in cow-calf operations that are using artificial insemination for heat detection. All of these systems can be Continue reading

Farm Accounting Workshops with Quicken

Choose a location and get registered today.

One of the frequently asked questions we receive is what’s the best way to computerize farm records. Quicken is an option to consider and now a couple of short and hands-on classes are being offered around Ohio this winter. If you want to improve your farm records, don’t miss one of these opportunities!

Find more detail and registration information linked here.

Minerals: Too Much of a Good Thing

Dr. Katie VanValin, Assistant Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Minerals are an essential nutrient for beef cattle. This means like protein and energy, minerals must be supplied in the diet, however minerals make up a very small portion of the total diet. Many feedstuffs are deficient in one or more essential minerals which is why mineral supplementation is a critical component of meeting the nutritional needs of the herd. So, this begs the question, “if a little is good, isn’t more better?”. The truth is we can have too much of a good thing when it comes to minerals, and this can lead to serious and sometimes fatal consequences.

The sulfur requirement for beef cattle is 0.15%, with maximum tolerable concentrations of 0.3% in high concentrate diets (15% roughage or less), and 0.5% in high roughage diets (40% or greater roughage). By-product feeds including corn gluten feed and distillers grains can be high in sulfur content. According to the Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle (NASEM, 2016), sulfur content of corn gluten feed, dried distillers grains, and distillers solubles averaged 0.58%, 0.66%, and 0.82% S, respectively. Sulfur content of forages also needs to be accounted for and can range between Continue reading

Growth performance, carcass traits, and feeder calf value of beef × Holstein and Holstein feedlot steers

M. Pimentel-Concepción, J. R. Jaborek, J. P. Schweihofer, A. J. Garmyn, M.-G.-S. McKendree, B. J. Bradford, A. Hentschl, and D. D. Buskirk

Applied Animal Science 2024 40:56–68

Holstein cattle are a dairy breed that represents approximately 23% of the US fed beef supply from surplus heifer and bull calves. Dairy-type cattle, especially Holstein steers, typically produce USDA Choice or better carcasses and provide a year-round supply of beef. However, dairy-type cattle can have reduced feed efficiency, muscling, and dressing percent compared with beef-type cattle. Compared with beef-type steers, dairy-type carcasses receive greater discounts due to their reduced red meat yield, and the decision of a major US packer to stop buying Holstein fed steers further decreased their value.

Recently, the use of beef sires to breed dairy dams of low genetic merit for milk production has increased substantially in the United States with the aim to increase calf value and overall economic return. From 2017 to 2023, US beef semen sales increased by almost 6.5 million units, whereas Holstein semen sales decreased by around 6.3 million units. These data support the observation that increased beef semen sales are largely attributed to the greater use of beef sires to breed dairy females.  This study was to compare Continue reading

Interest Rates are Likely Impacting Producer Interest in Expansion

– Dr. Kenny Burdine, Extension Professor, Livestock Marketing, University of Kentucky

USDA’s cattle inventory report confirmed that the US cowherd continued to get smaller during 2023. Higher input costs, regional weather challenges and hay supply issues, strong cull cow prices and several other factors have contributed to a prolonged liquidation phase of this cattle cycle. Despite the fact that calf prices were relatively strong during 2023, there is no indication that heifer retention has begun. It would appear that we are likely to see a “slow expansion” when beef cow numbers do start to grow in the coming years. At some point, the cattle market will be strong enough, and weather will be cooperative enough, that we will reverse this trend of decreasing cow numbers.

Occasionally someone will ask why we tend to expand the cowherd when prices are high. It would seem that the best time to expand would be when prices are low because females are worth less. It’s a good question and I understand why someone would ask it. On the surface it is true that the cost of breeding stock tends to be lower when calf prices are lower and the full cost of developing a heifer is lower when heifer calves are less valuable. But Continue reading

Eliminating Unwanted Woody Weeds from Pastures in the Winter

Dean Kreager, Licking County Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator

When you look at your pastures this winter do you see nice clean pastures, or do you see multiflora rose and unwanted scrub trees reminding you that they are not going away.  Controlling undesirable woody plants such as multiflora rose, honey locust, autumn olive, and ailanthus can improve your pastures by reducing competition for nutrients, saving on flat tire repair, and reducing the number of lame animals from thorns.  A 2005 report by D. Pimentel et al. from Cornell estimated invasive weeds in pastures in the United States cost 1 billion dollars a year in losses and damages.  I can only imagine how high that number would be now, almost 20 years later. Weed control is a never-ending war but even in the winter you can win some battles.  Acting now, while plants are dormant, can be very effective at eliminating woody perennial plants while minimizing damage to non-target plants.


Control by cutting or pulling when the ground is not frozen can be accomplished during winter.  This can provide instant gratification since the results are immediate.  Persistence in the future will be important with mechanical methods since roots that may remain in the ground are often able to generate new plants.


Winter often provides a little Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

February is for Frost Seeding

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

February is here and it comes with a flood of hearts, flowers, chocolates, and romance. It also brings weather that triggers maple syrup season and the ideal conditions for frost seeding pastures. If your valentine is a pasture manager, I have the perfect gift idea ahead!

Say “I love you” with the gift of clover seed! Instead of a bouquet of roses, consider a bag of red clover. Instead of fancy wine, consider an improved variety of white clover. Maybe just go ahead and get all of the above though, just to be safe.

Not convinced yet? Let me explain why February is a fantastic time to share the love of legumes.

The ideal time for frost seeding tends to be mid-February. When the water in the upper horizon of the soil freezes, the water expands, which leads to pressure that forces soil up and out during a freeze. Then when the Continue reading

Pasture Rent

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County (originally published in Farm & Dairy)

A pasture is worth what someone is willing to pay.

What is a pasture worth? A pasture is like a house, crop field, or anything else being rented, and is worth what someone is willing to pay. The price we can charge for land rental is directly related to demand.

If we do not have competition for land, then we will be unable to get top dollar. Some parcels do not have a great deal of livestock producers living nearby. If a farmer must travel great distances to care for livestock, the property is obviously worth less to them.

On the other hand, if we have many neighbors who would benefit from the extra ground, the land becomes more valuable. To coin a real estate phrase, “location, location, location.”

Another factor influencing pasture rental rate is Continue reading

Winter is Here – What’s your Action Plan?

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

Figure 1: The UK Beef Cow Forage Supplement Tool homepage

Winter presents multiple challenges for cattle and those who care for them including cold temperatures, wind, snow, freezing rain, and mud. Unfortunately, drought conditions in the spring and summer significantly reduced the quality and quantity of hay available to feed this winter, exacerbating the difficult conditions. It is important for beef cattle producers to devise a “winter weather action plan” with the goal of maintaining cattle health, comfort, and performance despite what Mother Nature sends to KY. Many telephone conversations with veterinarians and producers confirm cattle are losing body condition this winter and some are dying of malnutrition. The cloudy, wet weather with regular bouts of rain and temperatures hovering right above freezing has resulted in muddy conditions that require diets substantially higher in energy just to maintain normal body temperature. At the UKVDL, we are beginning to see cattle cases presented to the laboratory for necropsy (an animal “autopsy”) with a total lack of fat stores and death is due to starvation. This indicates winter feeding programs on many farms this year are not adequate to support cattle in their environment, especially aged cattle, cows in late pregnancy or early lactation, or their newborn calves, even though bitter cold has not been much of a factor.

The “lower critical temperature” (LCT) is the threshold outside temperature below which the animal’s metabolic rate must increase to maintain a stable internal body temperature. If temperatures fall below the LCT, the amount of Continue reading

Posted in Health

2024 Cattle Inventories in the Southeast

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

The latest USDA-NASS January Cattle Inventory report is the most comprehensive look at the cattle industry, providing a look at what producers did in 2023 and a preview for 2024. Last week’s article by Josh focused on changes to beef cow inventories. This week’s article looks at the state-level inventory data for Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi compared to U.S. cattle numbers.

The report reveals that all three states — Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi — align with the national trend of herd reduction. In Arkansas, there was a 2.5% decrease in all cattle and calves, bringing the total to 1.570 million head. Mississippi’s inventory saw a 4.7% decline to 810 thousand head. Kentucky’s numbers fell by 1.0%, totaling 1.890 million head. These figures represent a Continue reading