Marketing as Part of the Plan

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman Early Fall, 2021 edition)

Plan now to make the most of your spring calf crop

While summer is winding down there is no shortage of things to keep a beef producer busy this time of year. Depending on the calving season of choice, we are either approaching fall calving or wrapping up the breeding season for some spring calving herds. There is still hay to be made and corn silage harvest is not too far away. Now is the time to manage some pesky pasture weeds and perhaps sneak in that last minute summer vacation.

I mention all the above in an effort to encourage producers to begin thinking about fall and making those management decisions that have positive impacts on the 2021 spring calf crop. So, before we think about kicking back and watching the Buckeyes on the gridiron, consider practices that will add value to the calf crop about to be marketed.

Feeder cattle prices continue to be strong, perhaps better than predicted during our cow-calf outlook program around the first of the year. While I am not an economist, my colleagues across the Land-Grant system contribute the strong prices in part to the slight Continue reading

Preparing for Weaning and Beyond

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Preconditioning programs for feeder cattle have long been recognized by the beef industry as a way for cow-calf operators to add credibility and, therefore, value to their annual calf crops. These programs prepare the calf for the known stressors ahead associated with weaning, transportation, and commingling that make calves more likely to get sick with bronchopneumonia, also known as Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD). Most preconditioning programs recommend starting vaccinations 2-3 weeks prior to weaning because it allows sufficient time to develop protection before natural exposure to the BRD “bugs”. At minimum, preconditioning programs require two rounds of viral vaccine (at least one must be modified-live vaccine or “MLV”) and Clostridial (blackleg) vaccinations, a Mannheimia haemolytica toxoid (“Pasteurella” shot), deworming, castration of bull calves and healed, heifers guaranteed not pregnant, and a minimum of 45-60 days weaned. Some programs require producers to use products manufactured by only one pharmaceutical company. In addition, weaned calves are expected to know how to eat from a feed bunk and drink from a fountain or tank but should not be over-conditioned or “fleshy”. Buyers prefer weaned calves that have been properly fed and with documented vaccinations and parasite control compared to similar quality non-vaccinated and non-weaned calves, which can translate to price premiums that vary in size depending on the Continue reading

When All Else Fails, Read the Feeding Instructions

– Jeff Lehmkuhler, PhD, PAS, Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

This is the time of year when calves are starting to come to market. Backgrounders and fall stocker programs are buying lightweight feeders for their operations. Some operations in consultation with their veterinarians may obtained a veterinary feed directive (VFD) for medicated feed to help in the prevention or treatment of bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Medicated feeds are a tool in the toolbox and managers should familiarize themselves with the use of such tools.

A common feed medication is chlortetracycline (CTC). This feed grade antibiotic can be used for a variety of disorders. The feed additive is labeled for use for the control of anaplasmosis, reduction of liver abscesses, control of bacterial pneumonia associated with shipping fever (i.e. BRD) and treatment of bacterial enteritis caused by E. coli. Would it surprise you to learn then that there are different target doses for the control or treatment of these disorders?

For the control of bacterial pneumonia in feeder calves, the approved label dose is 350 mg/hd/d. “Control” is essentially the dose to help calves to avoid serious infection whereas “treatment” is the dose to treat active infections in sick calves. The approved treatment dose for feeder calves is Continue reading

Whole Herd Performance Data Reporting

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

This article is based on information by J. Bormann and M. Rolf. See: Beef Sire Selection Manual 3rd Edition, page 13

Some breeders choose to report performance data only on calves that they want to register. However, this is not in the best interest of either the producer or their customers as this practice leads to biased and inaccurate EPDs. Complete reporting of every animal in the herd is critical to obtain the best estimates of genetic merit. By only reporting the best calves, producers are inadvertently penalizing their highest-performing calves. In the following example, we will use weaning weight ratios to illustrate the effect of only reporting the best calves. Suppose we have 10 calves with an average adjusted weaning weight of Continue reading

Corn Market Update

– Josh Maples, Assistant Professor & Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

Corn harvest season has started in some areas and should pick up in the major corn production areas of the U.S. over the next month or so depending on weather. There are still plenty of unknowns concerning the size of the U.S. corn crop, but information is increasing weekly. The latest Crop Progress Report shows 5 percent of the corn harvested across the 18 states in the report with most of the harvest occurring in the southern states at this early point in the harvest season.

Corn prices have dropped in recent weeks. The December corn contract closed today at $5.22 per bushel. This is down about 50 cents per bushel from mid-August and down even more from the peak back in the spring when the December contract was trading over $6 per bushel. In the graph below, weekly Continue reading

Market Beef Budgets updated by OSU Extension

Now, run budgets based on whether cattle are Bunk-Fed or Self-Fed

During the past 18 months, for many, finishing and marketing fed cattle has been a roller coaster ride. Considerable commodity market disruptions have caused wide swings in not only the value of cattle, but also the cost of feed and related feeding and marketing expenses.

To provide tools that allow cattlemen to quickly compare and speculate on potential cattle feeding margins, OSU’s Market Beef Budgets have recently been updated. They may be downloaded in spreadsheet form from the OSU Extension Farm Office website at:

To provide a view of differences found in efficiencies when self-feeding versus bunk feeding, two different budgets are offered. Each spreadsheet is designed similarly and allows the user to Continue reading

USDA Seeks Comments on the Labeling of Meat and Poultry Products Derived from Animal Cells

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published today an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit comments and information regarding the labeling of meat and poultry products made using cultured cells derived from animals under FSIS jurisdiction. FSIS will use these comments to inform future regulatory requirements for the labeling of such food products.

“This ANPR is an important step forward in ensuring the appropriate labeling of meat and poultry products made using animal cell culture technology,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Sandra Eskin. “We want to hear from stakeholders and will consider their comments as we work on a proposed regulation for labeling these products.”

On March 7, 2019, USDA and FDA announced a formal agreement to jointly oversee the production of human food products made using animal cell culture technology and derived from the cells of livestock and poultry to ensure that such products brought to market are safe, unadulterated and truthfully labeled. Under the agreement, FDA will . . .

Continue reading USDA Seeks Comments on the Labeling of Meat and Poultry Products Derived from Animal Cells

Water is Everything

Chris Penrose, Agriculture and Natural Resources, OSU Extension, Morgan County

Originally constructed in the ’60’s, this spring tank was recently rebuilt.

Over the years as I have worked with producers developing a grazing system, you would expect fencing to be the major issue. As the paddocks are set up, water almost always becomes the major issue. If you are fortunate enough to have reliable ground water or public water, this issue is minimized. I recall the droughts back in 2012 and 1988 and feed for livestock was not the issue, it was water. As creeks, springs and ponds dried up, options were limited and expensive, many had to haul water. On our family farm, I rely exclusively on creeks and springs and have developed most springs on the farm for the cattle. The first springs that were developed back in the 1960’s that had an estimated lifespan of 20 years lasted much longer and have been rebuilt except one that is still going strong. Since the drought of 88, I have developed the remaining springs to try to minimize issues in dry weather and provide multiple water sources in each paddock.

An important consideration, if an option, is will the livestock go to the water or will you take the water to the livestock? When possible, it is almost always the best option to take the water to the livestock because water is generally the most powerful force determining where livestock will spend their time. A three year study at the Forage System Research Center in Missouri showed Continue reading

Managing risk by utilizing multiple winter annual small grain forages

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Crawford County (originally published in Progressive Forage Grower)

Photo 1: Timeliness is impossible if it rains when harvest should happen!

Winter annual forages have become a mainstay for many dairy and beef rations across in the country. Winter annuals have increased farm profitability by serving not only as double crop forage with corn silage, soybeans, or corn grain but also a cover crop that helps to trap nitrogen and protect soils from heavy winter and spring rainfall. The greatest challenge for many of my local producers is managing harvest timing to maximize quality with spring rain fall events that not only delay custom harvesters but also cause your perfectly timed harvest to come to a halt. Such as in 2020 when our plots in Photo 1 spent a week in standing water when we should have been harvesting triticale and wheat for the highest quality. To harvest at least some of your summer annuals at the highest quality possible two strategies of diversification can be applied either planting on multiple dates or using Continue reading

Learn about Environmental Assessment of Pasture at FSR

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Inadequate cover and erosion. Photo courtesy of ARS

The environmental benefits of well-managed pasture include:

  • reduced soil erosion,
  • improved air and water quality,
  • better plant diversity, vigor, and production,
  • improved fish and wildlife habitat.

Improving grazing management will result in more grass cover and improved soil structure that will allow a higher percentage of the rainfall to infiltrate the soil, where it can be used for plant growth, rather than running off resulting in soil erosion and sedimentation problems. The ecological processes, including decomposition of manure and increase in a highly managed pasture. Nutrients can then be recycled several times during the growing season. The overall soil quality improves with improved grazing management.

Water Quality Improves with Pasture Quality

Water quality improves as the pasture vegetation becomes denser and the soil conditions improve. A university study showed that pastures are the best “crop” for Continue reading