Programs Explore Producing Live Calves, Resulting in High-Quality Beef

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Cost has not been a deterrent . . . consumers want high quality beef!

Beef cattle educational programs planned for early in 2020 have been designed to help Ohio cattlemen take full advantage of what’s expected to be continued strength in the beef cattle sector throughout the coming year.

Despite total U.S. beef production being up in 2019 over last year, demand for beef remains strong. While the progress with recent trade agreements certainly bodes well for prices, much of the strength in demand domestically is for high-quality beef as indicated by a weekly Choice-Select spread that has averaged $22.84/cwt. since June, compared to $12.09/cwt. for the same period last year.

Over this decade, cattlemen have made significant progress in the quality of the product we’re producing. While the industry averaged 61% Choice and 3% Prime in 2010, we’re ending this decade with 71% of our cattle grading Choice and 8.5% Prime . . . and it’s still not enough!

As we enter a new decade, Ohio’s cattlemen have several opportunities this winter to explore ways to meet the demands we’re seeing for more high-quality beef. Realizing that genetic choices and nutrition management during gestation not only impact the odds of birthing a live calf, but also the odds of that calf eventually grading Choice or Prime, these far reaching programs will be of value to both cow/calf and feedyard owners. Make plans now to attend as many of these sessions as possible.

January 20, 2020, 6 p.m., OSU Animal Science Building, Columbus Campus.
OCA Cattlemen’s Academy; focusing on bull selection, nutritional management of the prepartum cow, calving facilities, determining calf presentation and calving assistance techniques.

January 29, 2020, 6 p.m., Luckey Farmers Inc. main office in Sandusky Co.
Ohio Beef Cattle Management and Nutrition School session #1; focusing on Continue reading

Posted in Events

Was this the year you expected or hoped for?

Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Morgan Co. (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

I now have been writing articles in this column for around 25 years and I am always trying to come up with something different and beneficial for beef producers around the state. As I thought about a topic, with age and experience, we also gain perspective. For those of us that have been in the beef business for more years than we care to admit, was this the year you expected or hoped for? Many times what we expect and what we hope for are not the same, are they? Maybe we can close the gap between the two. For example, I expected to have more problems this past summer with invasive weeds like Spotted Knapweed, but I hoped I would not and I did not. Why? Because in 2018, I was very aggressive on controlling every plant I could find. I did the same this past summer. I hoped to have had put up more square bales of hay this summer but the help was not there or it was about to rain, so I made more round bales. I expected that might be the case, so I tried to save as many square bales as I could last winter and I have extra two year old hay carried over for this winter to fill in a potential void. I now hope and expect to have enough to get me through the winter, even if it is a bad one.

I hoped I would get hay up sooner this past summer, but I expected that would not happen, so I Continue reading

Breaking the Ice

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

Happy Holidays readers!

With holiday gatherings a plenty right now, I thought maybe you would appreciate a suggestion for a conversation starter.

Why not break the ice about breaking the ice? Owners of livestock and pets will probably sympathize with you over a cup of hot cider by the tree.

With the cold finally settling in, keeping free flowing water available can be a challenge, especially if you do not have access to electricity or in ground waterers. Tis the season to carry a heavy blunt object with you while you check the livestock. To provide the best care possible to our livestock, water access 24/7 needs to continue to be a priority in the winter.

Below is some quality advice from Shawn Shouse – Agricultural Engineering Field Specialist for Iowa State University Extension & Outreach – about how to keep livestock water from freezing. Keep the water and conversation flowing during the Continue reading

Trade and Animal Health Practices: Are they paying?

– Dr. Elliott Dennis, Assistant Professor, Livestock Marketing Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

This past year has seen several important trade agreements agreed to which will directly benefit the beef complex. The Japanese-U.S. trade deal will effectively lower tariffs for 90% of beef commodities from 38.5% to 9% between 2019 and 2033. The European Union-U.S. trade deal will increase the quota limit of hormone free beef for the U.S. to 35,000 tons (~80% of quota limit) over the next seven years. Lastly, this past week the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass USMCA which will now go on to the Senate for final approval. This deal will continue to allow livestock products to be exported to Canada and Mexico, the two largest export destinations for U.S. livestock products.

So why has there been so much attention on securing export deals that are favorable for livestock products and in particular for beef? The short answer is because that is where demand is growing. Figure 1 clearly illustrates this story. I plot monthly data from Glynn Tonsor’s Domestic and Export Demand Indices (see Meat Demand) from 2010 to 2019 side by side. Domestic demand (left panel) for beef products fluctuates year to year but overall demand is trending sideways. Chicken has shown the largest increase in domestic demand since the late 1980’s. Export demand (right panel) tells a different story. Since 2010 export demand for beef has increased 100% and Continue reading

A Strong Finish to the Year

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

Without a doubt, the cattle markets are closing the year far stronger than I expected.  Live cattle futures have pushed into new highs and cash fed cattle prices are back to tracking the price levels and seasonal patterns of last year.  There were some unique market drivers that I discussed last month.  Most are still present, are not typical, and are worth talking through again.

The market has handled the steady seasonal climb in fed animal dress weights, continues to move fed animals in a timely manner, the packing sector continues to run substantial Saturday slaughter, and we are on the cusp of Tyson’s Holcomb facility returning to substantial operations.  Packer margins are softer but remain above $400 per head and atypically retailer beef margins continued to shrink.  I see the retailer and food service as driving the strength into Continue reading

Farm Succession and Red Angus: An Eye to the Future?

Clifton Martin, OSU Extension Educator, Muskingum County (originally published in the Ohio Farmer)

Utilization of an advisory team can help with the support required to sustain a farm business for future generations.

This was a game-changer. When I departed a farm tour this fall I was struck by a deep sense of the importance of what I had just witnessed. The layers were peeled back to provide a brief glimpse into the life of one particular farm family, their farming operation and their triumphs and struggles. In an effort to improve what they do and out of a commitment to their continued success, they allowed our tour group into the potentially vulnerable space that is their lives, finances, and future of their farm.

When I stepped foot on the farm I felt I had entered a fairly average farm, though as many are it was a place of beauty and pride. A long farm lane took a sharp left and ended in the drive of a small older home. Behind the home off the right corner were a few grain bins one hundred yards out. Down the slope to the right was the main farm lot with two smaller-sized farm buildings: one for equipment and the other for handling livestock. The buildings were older, painted white, unheated, showing a few signs of Continue reading

Cattle Transport and Concerns for Beef Quality

By the start of 2020, the major beef cattle processors have requested that any livestock hauler delivering cattle to their facilities be certified in Beef Quality Assurance – Transportation (BQAT). Any professional hauler or farmer delivering loads of cattle directly to a processor should plan on participating in BQAT training and certification prior to delivering their first load of cattle next month. Much like producer BQA, the goal of the BQAT program is to ensure that cattle transporters are implementing good animal handling and transport practices in order to safeguard beef quality from feedyard to consumer.

To learn about upcoming in-person training opportunities contact your local extension office or Steve Boyles (, OSU Extension Beef Specialist. In addition to in-person trainings that will be offered from time to time, BQAT may also be taken on-line by going to

Also, any upcoming BQA Transportation programs will be listed at the OSU Beef Team website in the Events/Programs section.

In this recent video, Dr. Boyles reviews many of the basics that are included in BQA Transportation training.

Reducing Hay Storage and Feeding Losses

– Jessica A. Williamson, Ph.D., Extension Forage Specialist, Penn State

Storage losses of uncovered hay can be upwards of 30%!

On most livestock operations, the greatest operational cost is stored and harvested feed, so it only makes sense that striving to reduce storage and feeding losses of harvested feeds as much as possible can help improve forage quality, quantity, and overall profitability of an operation. Reducing waste, even by a few percent, can have a direct reflection on farm financial status almost immediately. Dry hay has the potential to meet most ruminant livestock nutrient requirements if harvested correctly and at the optimal stage of maturity to meet the class of livestock’s nutrient requirements, and if quality is maintained throughout the storage period. However, supplemental nutrition is often a necessity as a result of hay quality and quantity losses through storage and feeding.

Storage losses of uncovered hay can be upwards of 30%, including weather and respiration, resulting in one of the largest outlets for lost dollars on a livestock operation. Some factors affecting the amount of forage loss due to weather include bale density, weather and climate conditions throughout the duration of storage, and Continue reading

Winter Application of Manure – Remember Setbacks

Winter manure application rates should follow the NRCS 590 standards, which limit solid manure application amounts to five tons per acre and liquid manure application amounts to 5,000 gallons per acre.

Some Ohio livestock producers will be looking to apply manure to farm fields frozen enough to support application equipment.  Permitted farms are not allowed to apply manure in the winter unless it is an extreme emergency, and then movement to other suitable storage is usually the selected alternative. Thus, this article is for non-permitted livestock operations.

In the Grand Lake St Marys watershed, the winter manure application ban from December 15th to March 1st is still in effect.  Thus, no manure application would normally be allowed from now until March 1st.

In the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) watershed, the surface application of manure to frozen and snow-covered soils require there to be a growing crop in the field.  This could be a pasture, alfalfa, clover, ryegrass or a rape crop.  There must be enough vegetation visible to provide a 90% cover of residue and growing vegetation.  Radishes and oats would not qualify as a growing crop as both are typically . . .

Continue reading Winter Application of Manure – Remember Setbacks

Weekly Livestock Comments for December 13, 2019

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

FED CATTLE: Fed cattle traded steady to $1 higher compared to last week on a live basis. Prices on a live basis were mainly $119 to $120 while dressed prices were mostly $188 to $190.

The 5-area weighted average prices thru Thursday were $118.81 live, down $0.14 from last week and $188.11 dressed, up $0.37 from a week ago. A year ago, prices were $117.00 live and $186.51 dressed.

The strength in live cattle futures provides a little promise that finished cattle could trade over $120 before the end of the year. Whether it does or does not, there is likely to be few complaints from cattle feeders. A few cattle traded at $120 this week, but the weekly weighted average has yet to reach that level. The two thoughts on many cattle feeders’ minds now is avoiding Continue reading