Ventilation; Critical to Cattle Comfort and Performance

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Crawford County

Spring is one of the most challenging seasons on the farm to keep barns properly ventilated. We often see temperatures in the teens and less than a week later see highs in the 70’s. Our ventilation system recently roared to life as temperatures in the barn crossed 65° F reminding me that we still had not gotten around to winter fan maintenance as belts squealed and louvers hung half shut.

Fan vent in need of cleaning

Fan maintenance is critical to keeping your cows cool and saving energy. Ventilation systems often consume between 20-25% of the total energy used on the farm. Lack of cleaning can reduce a fans efficiency by as much as 40%. Meaning that your electric bill stays the same, but less air is moving through the barn. Monthly maintenance through the summer is critical to keep fans clean. Even a thin layer of dirt on the fan blades, shutters, and protective shrouds decreases air movement and increase the power requirements from the fan. Heavy cleaners and a pressure washer work well to remove dirt from the fans.

Be sure to Continue reading

A Mineral Program is Key to Successful Grazing

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension (originally published in Farm & Dairy)

A good mineral program is just as important as good forages in a successful grazing program.

The grass is getting greener by the day and the grazing season is within sight. In previous editions of this column my colleagues have covered a variety of topics to consider before turning livestock out to pasture this spring. While checking fences, watering systems, pasture fertility, and forage establishment are often on our minds before spring turnout, another thing we need to consider is our mineral program.

Having a sound, balanced mineral program in place is important throughout the year as minerals are involved in most if not all metabolic functions of our livestock, including growth, reproduction, and lactation. However, it is often on pasture where we run into mineral imbalances and issues. While some issues are harder to detect such as reduced daily gain or lost milk production, others like Continue reading

Forage Focus: Tips for Spring Grazing

In this episode of Forage Focus, Host- Christine Gelley- Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County and OSU Extension’s Beef Cattle Field Specialist- Garth Ruff met in the pasture at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station to offer tips for spring grazing.

In March and April, pasture green-up is an exciting sight, but it does present some challenges for managing both the animals and the forages. Garth and Christine discuss how to know when to turn animals out on fresh grass, the risks of grass tetany, the benefits of high-mg mineral, fly control, renovating winter feeding sites, soil fertility, timely fertilization (or not) and more!

Spring Pasture Management Impacts Overall Production

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Poison Hemlock is already up and growing!

Yes, it’s getting to be that time of year — new spring green growth!  The cows start complaining about eating hay and bellowing when they hear my voice or even just see me.  It’s not that the hay is any less delectable, it’s just not what they know is available across the fence.  It’s about like a kid walking by a candy store; the focus is on the treat.

I’ve listened to several pretty intense arguments over the years on the topic of when to start grazing in the spring.  Some spoiled cows are never denied their micro-greens and sadly, the pastures usually show it.  I’ve heard some say, “the cows know best.”  They do have excellent biological feedback from their stomachs that tells them there is usually more energy and protein in that lush new forage.  This is even more true with small ruminants such as sheep and goats who can and will sometimes select specific plant parts because of differences in energy or nutrients that are needed at the time.  Perhaps this is the ruminant animals “gut” instinct.

Unfortunately, just like eating too much candy from the candy store, ruminants eating too much lush green cotton candy growth early in the year can have Continue reading

Spring control of winter weeds in hay and pasture

– OSU Extension Agronomy Crops Team CORN newsletter

Cressleaf groundsel has been a problem in recent years in both forage and row crop fields throughout Ohio.

Now is the time to scout hay and pasture fields for the presence of winter annual and biennial weeds, especially those that are poisonous to livestock such as cressleaf groundsel.  These weeds are resuming growth that started last fall and they are most effectively controlled with herbicides while still small.  In addition to cressleaf groundsel, weeds of concern that should be treated soon include the following:  poison hemlock, birdsrape mustard (aka wild turnip), wild carrot.  Herbicides are most effective on these weeds in the fall, but they can be controlled in spring, preferably when still in the rosette stage.  Control becomes more difficult once stem elongation (bolting) starts.

Options for control in pure legume stands . . .

Continue reading Spring control of winter weeds in hay and pasture

Dairy Beef Management Program Offered

Offered free to anyone interested and we ask that you pre-register online

Dairy producers over the past few years have faced a variety of challenges: low milk prices, increased feed costs, and often a surplus of heifers to enter the herd. In an effort to manage heifer numbers and add value to bull calves, breeding dairy cows to beef sires has become a more popular, and common practice than ever before.

Join Ohio State University Extension and Michigan State University Extension on April 21, 28, and May 5 at 12:00 p.m. EST, for a webinar series titled “Management Considerations for Beef x Dairy Calves.”

Dairy steers have been an important part of the beef supply chain for some time, this program will cover a variety of topics related to Continue reading

Prospective Plantings, Implications for Livestock Markets

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

Last week USDA-NASS published their annual March Prospective Plantings report. The report provides initial insights on farmer’s planting intentions for the 2021 crop. There were a few bullish surprises in this report that are worth discussing.

The above graph plots corn and soybean planted acreage with 2021 estimates. Corn planted acreage is estimated at 91.1 million acres, a 0.4 percent increase over last year. Most of the corn belt intends to plant fewer acres to corn this year. Corn planted acres are estimated down 4 percent in Illinois and Indiana and down 3 percent in Iowa. Corn planting intentions are down 5 percent in Kansas and 3 percent in Nebraska. Overall, planted acreage is expected to be Continue reading

The First Quarterly Report on Levels of Negotiated Trade by Region under the Industry’s 75% Rule

– Elliott Dennis, Assistant Professor & Livestock Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Last year several pieces of legislation were introduced in both the US House of Representatives and US Congress whose principal aim was to increase the level of negotiated cash trade.[1] The cattle industry responded to proposed legislation by creating a voluntary framework, known as the 75% rule, that includes cattle feeder and packing plant triggers based on levels of negotiated trade and marketplace participation. The overarching objective is similar to the introduced legislation – to increase the frequency and price transparency in all major cattle feeding and packing regions.

The details and updates to this framework can be found here. To review, the 75% rule framework functions off a series of minor and major triggers. There are eight minor triggers (four cattle feeding and four packer participation). Minor triggers are summed within a quarter and aggregated up from weekly thresholds where three minor triggers equal a major trigger. A major trigger occurring in two of four rolling quarters would prompt the industry to seek legislative action.[2] This policy can be adjusted given updates from literature, industry, and qualifying Black Swan events or ad hoc events that Continue reading

Biosecurity Considerations when Transitioning Newly Purchased Cattle into the Herd

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

New animals should be quarantined for at least 30 days and batter yet 60 days before being introduced into the herd.

The objective is to avoid new diseases introduced through replacement stock and airborne diseases. Typically, new animals are quarantined for at least 30 days and more typically for 60 days before being introduced into the herd. If on-site, the isolation area should be of some distance and downwind from other animals. Practicing all-in, all-out procedures will make it easier to clean and reduce opportunities by personnel to introduce contaminants to the main herd. Minimize cross-contamination of feeding/watering equipment.  Here are some suggested procedures Continue reading

Breeding for Cow Longevity and Utilizing Available Tools to Accomplish a Productive Beef Cow Herd

The fourth session of the 2021 Ohio Beef Cattle Management School was hosted via ZOOM by the Ohio State University Extension Beef Team on February 8th. During that fourth session the focus turned to genetics, reproduction and breeding management. More specifically, in this portion of the evening’s program OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist Garth Ruff introduces John Grimes, OSU Extension Associate Professor Emeritus and owner of Maplecrest Farms in Hillsboro, Ohio, as he offers insight into genetic selection considerations that result in a genetically sound and productive beef cow herd.

Find recordings from all the 2021 Ohio Beef School sessions linked here.