Stockpiling Forages for Winter Feed

During her July Farm Talk Breakfast, Noble County AgNR Educator Christine Gelley hosted Chris Penrose, AgNR Educator in Morgan County speaking on extending the grazing season through stockpiling. Now is the time to get started stockpiling, and this is Penrose’s presentation describing how to best manage for successful stockpiling.

Risky Weeds in Risky Times

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

Farming is truly risky business. Every moment of every day on the farm holds inherent risk. The main duties of the farm manager in any sector are to identify, evaluate, and mitigate risk. All the little steps of risk mitigation add up to make a big difference that we can’t always see, but can still save us time, money, and distress in the future.

One of the risks forage managers face on a regular basis is the threat of persistent weeds. Weeds are an issue that compound over time if not addressed soon after detection. Choosing to make the investment in weed prevention and control early can help prevent exponential population growth that is increasingly difficult to manage.

Any plant in the wrong place can be considered a weed, but not all weeds are created equal as threats in forage production. The more you know about weeds, forage, and soil health the more complex weed management and weed risk analysis becomes. All plants offer some benefit to an ecosystem, but we must weigh the benefits against the risks when we develop a weed management program in Continue reading

Be Flexible in Your Marketing Plan

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

The marketing process is always a topic of discussion. There have been several vague questions that broach this topic and result in a longer discussion. Given the dynamics of marketing, here are a few thoughts that may be useful.

Selling is not the same as marketing. Anyone that owns cattle can sell cattle, but most do very little marketing. Selling and marketing do not have to take place at the same time. Cattle can be marketed long before they are sold and leave the farm. This can come in the form of marketing using price risk management tools such as futures, options, livestock risk protection insurance, or a forward contract. Thus, the cattle are marketed, but they can be sold later.

Another thought is that producers should attempt to be as flexible as possible in their marketing plan. Cattle producers tend to do the same thing every year as it relates to how and when they sell animals, or they consign their animals to a sale on a specific date. There can be advantages to this approach, but it reduces flexibility to take advantage of strong market prices.

Management Considerations for Backgrounding Calves

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

If feed resources are available, backgrounding calves allows marketing them at a later time when feedlot capacity may be greater and demand stronger.

Backgrounding is the growing of steers and heifers from weaning until they enter the feedlot for finishing.  Backgrounding and Stocker cattle are similar although backgrounding is sometimes associated with a drylot, and stockering cattle is thought of as pasture-based system.   However any system that takes advantage of economical feed sources can be investigated.

Why might someone consider backgrounding or growing cattle?

  • The producer has time and economical feed resources
  • The market at weaning is not as favorable and is investigating alternative marketing times
  • Some feedyards prefer buying/feeding yearlings. They can expect fewer health problems and can feed two turns of cattle in a year.
  • It could be a way of upgrading mismanaged cattle so as to add value.
  • Since the cattle can be on feed for several months, they can fit the preference by some feeders for preconditioned cattle

There are many systems for backgrounding.  A common one is Continue reading

Let’s Talk about Lepto!

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

What is Leptospirosis or “Lepto”? Leptospirosis is a complicated bacterial disease commonly associated with abortions, stillbirths and drop in milk production in cattle. However, this bacterium also causes sickness and death in cattle, dogs, sheep and horses worldwide and is an important zoonotic disease affecting an estimated 1 million humans annually. Farmers and those working in meat processing facilities are at highest risk.

What causes leptospirosis? The disease is caused by a unique, highly coiled, Gram negative bacterium known as a “spirochete” belonging to the genus Leptospira. These “leptospires” are highly motile due to their spiral shape and, once inside a host animal, they enter the bloodstream and replicate in many different organs including the liver, kidney, spleen, reproductive tract, eyes and central nervous system. The immune system will produce antibodies that clear the organism from the blood and tissues except from the kidney. Leptospires take up residence primarily in the kidney and are excreted in the urine for months to even years after infection. Less frequently, leptospires persist in the male and female genital tract and mammary gland of females and may be excreted in semen, uterine discharges and milk.

How do cattle become infected with leptospires? Transmission of the organism is most often through direct contact with infected urine, placental fluids, semen or milk. However, transmission may also occur by Continue reading

Posted in Health

Feeder Cattle Future Price Spreads: Opportunities to Hedge?

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

Feeder cattle future price spreads across all months have recovered to near pre-COVID-19 levels as quarantine restrictions and packing plant capacity issues have been mostly sorted out. For example, for the week of July 17, 2010, prices reached levels not seen since the beginning of March 2020. Pasture and corn progress are two factors that have the potential to push prices lower in the next coming months. Given current market conditions, producers have some options to lock in a margin.

Pasture Conditions

One the primary factors to continue to watch are declining pasture conditions. The weekly US range and pasture conditions rated “poor” and “very poor” has continued to rise since late May and early June. As of the middle of July, pasture conditions were 15% worse than the five-year average and 20% worse than 2019. Declining pasture conditions are largely the result of a drought progressing from the Southwest into the Great Plains. These conditions are largely consistent with the La Nina weather pattern. Pasture conditions are worse in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico whereas most of the Southern and Western Cornbelt states have pasture conditions in “poor” and “very-poor” below 10%. If pasture conditions deteriorate it could force producers to Continue reading

The “D” word is back, and it’s Déjà vu, all over again!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Adding to marketing complications resulting from COVID-19, and on the heals of one of the wettest springs in history, drought has now returned to Ohio!

After experiencing one of the wettest years ever through mid-May, over half of Ohio suddenly finds itself listed as either Abnormally Dry or in a Moderate Drought condition by the U.S. Drought Monitor. At a time when last year’s depleted inventory of quality forage has yet to be restored, the various aspects of managing feed resources will remain a primary concern for Ohio cattlemen in the coming weeks and months.

As we navigate the path of inadequate forage feed resources which it seems is becoming an annual ritual, we’ve now added challenges that result from a pandemic. COVID-19 related supply chain disruptions in April and May created a backlog of fed cattle that is likely to continue through the summer. This translates into heavier harvest weights and a lack of feedyard capacity that could easily Continue reading

Don’t Stop Managing Now: Preconditioning Pays

Garth Ruff, Extension Educator OSU Extension Henry County (originally published in the Ohio Farmer)

As we approach fall, now is the time to maximize the value of your spring calf crop. Cattle buyers have placed a premium on preconditioned cattle, and as preconditioning becomes more of the norm across the U.S., unweaned, uncastrated, and unvaccinated cattle are receiving greater discounts.

Here in the Eastern Cornbelt where cow herds tend to be smaller, the number one barrier to preconditioning calves is often a lack of facilities to wean, vaccinate, and to feed calves. Even for smaller herds the cost of workable facilities can prove to be a sound investment with the increase in value of a calf crop

Here we will look at the different processes involved in preconditioning calves and the potential for increased revenue from each practice.

Weaning. Across the industry, a standard for many preconditioning programs is to have calves weaned for at least 45 days. CattleFax in their May, 2020 Cow-Calf webinar reported that calves weaned over 45 days had an average value of $898 than calves that were sold right off of the cow at $800. That said, calves that were “trailer weaned” had Continue reading

Replacing “Junk” Forage with “Quality” Forage

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County OSU Extension (originally published in the Ohio Cattleman summer issue)

Do these comments sound familiar to you?

  • “I really need to do something with that junk pasture this year.”
  • “The bales off that hay field are junk. I’m going to reseed it.”

If stand decline is limiting production, perhaps it’s time to reseed.

Issues with “junk forage” can include low yields, weed encroachment, and low-quality feed value. Forage growers tend to lament over junk forage two of the four seasons of the year. One is the summer, when their hay equipment is running, their animals are grazing, and the forage is right in front of their eyes. The other is winter, when forage is in short supply, quality issues are leading to low animal productivity, and when pastures look more like mud spas. The time to make progress on correcting the factors that lead to junk forage is primarily in spring and fall.

Summer is the season for evaluation and making plans for improvement. Before implementing solutions for that junk forage, understanding what factors contributed to stand decline is crucial.

One of the first solutions often considered is Continue reading

Late Summer Establishment of Perennial Forages

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

If no-till is not an option, a firm seedbed is a must to establish a new seeding.

The month of August provides the second window of opportunity for establishing perennial forage stands this year. The primary risk with late summer forage seedings is having sufficient moisture for seed germination and plant establishment, which is a significant risk this summer given the low soil moisture status across many areas.

The decision to plant or not will have to be made for each individual field, considering soil moisture and the rain forecast. Rainfall/soil moisture in the few weeks immediately after seeding is the primary factor affecting successful establishment.

No-till seeding in August is an excellent choice to conserve soil moisture for good germination. Make sure that the field surface is relatively level and smooth if you plan to no-till seed because you will have to Continue reading