Now Isn’t the Time for Business as Usual

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator (originally published in The Ohio Farmer on-line)

The fall harvest season has been evident across Ohio over the past several weeks. This certainly applies to both grain farmers and beef cow-calf producers. Grain crops are being harvested and sold or placed in storage for future sales. Cattle producers have even more options as most of the spring 2018 calf crop has been weaned and decisions are being made as to whether calves should be sold as feeders, placed in backgrounding enterprises, sent to a feedlot, or heifers retained as future herd replacement females.

Many important beef management decisions are made late in the calendar year. Any owner or manager of an operation should have a basic awareness of the overall economic situation and long-term outlook for their segment of the beef industry. So where does the beef industry stand today?

The current cattle cycle that began earlier this decade is showing signs of coming to a conclusion. The beef industry has experienced an eventful decade that has seen a rapid decline in cowherd numbers followed by rapid expansion driven by record high prices in 2014 and 2015. Market prices have moderated more recently in response to increases in the supplies of all classes of beef animals. However, market prices have stabilized to the point of giving producers a reasonable chance of profitability. The U.S. consumer who is expected to purchase Continue reading

Stirring the Pot at Weaning

– Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Associate Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

The many challenges facing the beef industry today sometimes can seem a bit overwhelming. Issues such as lab grown meat, trade negotiations, genomics, antibiotic utilization, sustainability, and so many other issues are thrown into the stone soup of beef production. At some point you have to wonder when will the soup be spoiled by so many spices. The best thing you can do is be familiar with the components you are adding. This means we need to be as informed as we possibly can about our industry’s driving forces.

What main ingredient is stirred into the industry “soup pot” every fall? This time of year folks are weaning and marketing their spring-born calf crop. Weaning is a transition phase for calves and, to keep our “soup” from spoiling, we need to be knowledgeable of management practices that can reduce the stress that calves experience due to the many changes during this period. Stressors a calf may experience at this time include Continue reading

Pneumonia in Feeder Calves? Don’t Forget Histophilus somni

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

In this era of advanced vaccine technology and long-acting, expensive, powerful antibiotics, why do cases of Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) continue to increase? One reason is the re-emergence of Histophilus somni (formerly known as Haemophilus somnus) as a major bacterial pathogen responsible for the development of pneumonia in feeder operations. While Mannheimia haemolytica is the bacteria known to cause the dramatic pneumonia signs of fever, depression, appetite loss and rapid death, Histophilus somni (HS) can cause similar symptoms and is proving very difficult to treat and control with traditional methods. The organism is often found in combination with Pasteurella multocida or other BRD bacteria in “biofilms” which are clusters of bacteria in a matrix that serves as protection from antibiotics and host immune system responses. Stress can trigger dispersal of large numbers bacteria from the biofilm that can then invade the lower respiratory system. Once it establishes infection in the lungs, it can travel in the bloodstream to joints, organs (especially the heart), and to the brain. These calves may develop pneumonia, pleuritis (infection of the membrane surrounding the lungs), myocarditis (infection in the heart muscle), thrombotic meningoencephalitis (infection in the brain), tenosynovitis (infection within joints), and otitis media (middle ear infection). The disease can happen anytime in the year but most clinical cases occur between October Continue reading

Posted in Health

Fall is the time to control lice. Or is it?

– W. Mark Hilton, DVM, PAS, DABVP, clinical professor emeritus, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine

Fall is the time of year we think about lice control in much of the country, but is that the correct timing? More and more we hear producers and veterinarians lament about lack of effectiveness of lice control. Are lice getting harder to treat? Here’s a little history.

Cattle can have two types of lice: chewing (or biting) lice and sucking lice. These pests live their entire life cycle on the animal. Yes, some lice can fall off the animal and live in bedding for a few days, but that is of minor significance when we think about controlling the parasite.

The lice causing excessive scratching and hair loss around the neck and shoulders during the winter are actually on the animal the entire Continue reading

A Deep Dive Into The Cattle Inventory

– John Nalivka, Sterling Marketing (originally published in Drovers CattleNetwork)

Over the past few months, I have mentioned where the U.S. cattle inventory may be headed given the level of cow and heifer slaughter this year. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but with 9 months of the year now behind us, the analysis of changes in the size of the U.S. cattle herd on January 1, 2019 are likely somewhat predictable. So, let’s a take deeper dive into the numbers.

Forage supplies and profitability and their impact on decisions concerning cows and heifers are the key drivers to the cattle cycle. This year, forage has been the main driver on decisions concerning cows, with beef cow slaughter year-to-date through the first week of October 11% higher than the prior year. This has been the case since early 2018, and beef cow slaughter in 2017 was up 11% from 2016’s 12% increase over 2015 for the same period.

For 2018, year-to-date beef cow slaughter is the highest since 2013. That is mainly due to Continue reading

Now is a Great Time to Manage Fescue

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

If fescue is a problem on your farm, now is a great time to get it under control. I think it is good to start off talking about why it is a problem, how did it get to be a problem, are there some redeeming qualities, and finally, how to get it under control if it is a problem.

Why it is a problem?

If you have “infected” fescue, animals may develop health problems and result in reduced performance. This is caused by a microscopic fungus (endophyte) in the plant that produces alkaloids and problems for animals. Horses can have prolonged pregnancies, little milk production, abortions, and other problems. Ruminants can have hoof loss, increases body temperatures, rough hair coats or fleeces, and other internal issues.

How did it get to be a problem?

Tall fescue (especially Kentucky 31) was quickly recognized in the 1940’s for its conservation qualities of establishing on poor soils and holding the soil. In addition, it was recognized for the year-round grazing value. By 1946, Kentucky growers were harvesting 4,000,000 pounds of seed per year, so a lot was planted.

If you do not want fescue on your farm, the problem of having it happens for a couple reasons. First, infected fescue is Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Be Careful Grazing the Green This Fall

– Sean Kelly, South Dakota State University Extension

With fall grazing upon us, some areas of the Midwest and Central Plains have been blessed with plenty of precipitation this year and other areas are still experiencing drought conditions. Regardless of where your ranch is located, a rancher must be very careful when grazing the fall green up of cool season grasses.

Figure 1. Warm season and cool season growth curves. Source: South Dakota Grassland Coalition Healthy Grasslands.

Cool season grasses have two growing seasons (Figure 1). They grow in the spring and early summer and then get another growth spurt in the fall. Warm season grasses grow later in the season during the summer and late summer and do not get another green up in the fall of the year.

Extreme diligence must be taken not to overgraze during the fall green up of cool season grasses. During the fall green up, cool season grasses are Continue reading

Beef AG NEWS Today, the October Podcast

In this month’s podcast of Beef AG NEWS Today, show host Duane Rigsby visits with OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes about selecting, retaining and managing replacement females, and the impact exports are having on profitability.

Preg Check Your Cows . . . Please!

– Dr. Les Anderson, Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

It’s weaning time and I hope most of you are planning your herd “preg check”. If you have not incorporated this management practice in the past, please do so this year so that you won’t be feed non-productive females this fall and winter. When it comes time to cull cows from your herd, pregnancy status is one of the first criteria that will determine whether a cow stays in the country or goes to town.

According to the results of a survey conducted by the National Animal Health Monitoring System, fewer than 20 percent of beef cow calf producers used pregnancy testing or palpation in their herd. However, the benefits of this practice are fairly simple to realize. First of all, pregnancy diagnosis allows producers to identify “open” or nonpregnant cows. Compare the roughly $5 per head cost of a pregnancy exam with the $100-200 per head cost of hay alone to feed an open cow through the winter (if you can find hay for $30 per roll). It’s easy to see that pregnancy testing quickly pays for itself.

Second, pregnancy testing will provide a producer an estimation of when cows will be calving based on the age of the fetus at the time of the pregnancy exam. An average calving date can be Continue reading

Know the USDA Cull Cow Grades Before You Send Them to Market

– Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University

Some culling of beef cows occurs in most herds every year. The Beef Audits have generally shown that cull cows, bulls, and cull dairy cows make up about 20% of the beef available for consumption in the United States. About half of this group (or 10% of the beef supply) comes from cull beef cows.

Whether we are culling because of drought or to improve the productivity of the herd, it is important to understand the values placed on cull cows intended for slaughter.

Cows in body condition score 7 and above are “Breakers”.

The USDA market news service reports on four classes of cull cows (not destined to be replacements). The four classes are divided primarily on fatness. The highest conditioned cull cows are reported as “Breakers”. They usually are quite fleshy and generally have excellent dressing percentages. Body condition score 7 and above are required to be “Breakers”.

The next class is a more moderate conditioned group of cows called Continue reading