Body Condition Scoring, Beef Cow Nutrition and Reproduction

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Net calf crop or number of calves weaned per cow exposed is an important calculation for commercial cow-calf producers.  A 9-point system is commonly used to condition score beef cows. The importance of body condition at calving on subsequent reproductive performance has been documented extensively.   Cows should have an optimum Body Condition Score (BCS) of 5 to 6 at calving that should be maintained through breeding to ensure optimal reproductive performance. The most important factor influencing pregnancy rate in beef females is body energy reserves at calving.  In addition, low energy intake before calving appears to be the major culprit to reduced reproductive performance during the subsequent breeding season.   Body condition score is a better indicator of the nutritional program than is body weight.

Calving Interval and Profitability: One of the major constraints in the improvement of reproductive efficiency of beef cows is the postpartum interval (PPI), defined as the period from calving until cows resume estrus activity. Calving interval, defined as the period between the birth of one calf until the birth of the next calf, is significantly affected by the postpartum interval. If a cow is to calve on a 365-day interval, with a 283-day gestation length, she has to conceive within 82 days of calving. It takes approximately 40 days for the uterus of a well managed cow to recover after calving, and this leaves a 42-day window in which to conceive. Cows that Continue reading

Grouping the Cowherd for Winter Feeding

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Young-bred heifers and young cows that have just weaned their first calf should be fed separately from the mature cows in the herd. The young animals are smaller, still growing, and are replacing their temporary teeth. They may be pushed away from feed by cows in their prime and settle for what hay is left and is likely of lower higher quality. The results of feeding young stock with the main cowherd is thin heifers and maybe overfed cows.

Older cows that are kept for being exceptional producers (or are just special to the cattle producer) merit some special attention. Consider feeding them with the younger heifers and cows. Keep a close eye on this groups because they may be missing some teeth and decline in body condition.

Grouping the herd according to fall body condition could allow for thinner cows to catch up with cows are already in adequate condition. Admittedly, wintering facilities and number of feeding areas can limit the degree of grouping of cows. Grouping cows will also allow you to ask the question, “which cows are my easy keepers and which cows are my hard keepers?”

OCA Replacement Female Sale Catalogues 84 Lots

John F. Grimes, OCA Replacement Female Sale Manager

84 quality replacement females sell this Friday, November 27

This is the final reminder to attend the eighth annual Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Replacement Female Sale.  The sale will be held this Friday, November 27, at the Muskingum Livestock facility located at 944 Malinda Street in Zanesville and will begin at 6:00 p.m. This sale represents an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to add quality young replacement females to their herd.

There will be approximately 84 lots selling in the sale consisting of bred heifers, bred cows, and a cow-calf pair.  Breeds represented include Angus, Hereford, Limousin, Maine, Red Angus and Simmental. All females selling are less than five years of age at sale time.  A detailed listing of the cattle selling with complete breeding information and videos of the cattle have been Continue reading

Weekly Livestock Comments for November 20, 2020

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

FED CATTLE: Fed cattle traded steady com-pared to last week on a live basis. Prices on a live basis were primarily $108 to $110 while dressed prices were mainly $170 to $172.

The 5-area weighted average prices thru Thursday were $109.59 live, up $0.13 com-pared to last week and $171.73 dressed, down $0.15 from a week ago. A year ago, prices were $115.96 live and $183.56 dressed.

The steady trade compared to last week can probably be considered a win in that margins on most cattle remain positive. Packers continue to demand cattle to fill the holiday pipeline. It will be interesting to see if holiday meat purchases are different this year given that many family gatherings will be smaller and less traveling. If consumers lean heavier on beef then packers will continue to have a strong demand for cattle to keep the pipeline full and to re-stock meat counters following the holiday purchases. Heavy cattle continue to put pressure on some regional markets, but it is becoming Continue reading

Fall Grazing Thoughts

Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Morgan County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

Would placing water in strategic locations improve your pasture management?

Well, the growing season may be over but the grazing season may not. My whole career I have heard many talking about how long the grazing rotation should be: maybe 14 days in the spring or 60 in late summer during dry weather. I have also heard the discussion over which is more of a management challenge. Over 30 years ago I heard someone say that the greatest challenge is the 150 plus day rotation during the winter months. That one took me a while to process but once I did, it made a lot of sense. Few have accomplished it and many have made it a long way. I really don’t think of it as whether you succeed at it but if you can get better at it. The greatest cost of keeping grazing livestock is stored feed, and if we can reduce how many days we feed, we will be better off. You may not make the rotation last 150 days, but can you make it last longer, say 90 days? Every day I am not feeding hay means a day I am not Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Cover Crops, They’re Feed Too!

In this short video made in early November, Jason Hartschuh and Amanda Douridas share the fall growth on August seeded cover crops at Farm Science Review, and discuss the benefits of using cover crops on your farm.

Black vulture depredation: Lessons learned from my first calving season at the UKREC

– Dr. Katie VanValin, Assistant Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

This year has held a lot of “firsts” for me, including my first calving season at the UKREC in Princeton, KY. Our beef herd is comprised of 150 fall calving cows. We are now at the very tail end of our calving season, however early on in our calving season it became apparent we had a black vulture problem on our hands.

You could make your own black vulture effigy to deter live birds.

Black vultures are native to Kentucky, but increased populations have made them a problem for livestock producers across the state. Like most animals us humans deem a nuisance (like I do snakes), black vultures play an important role in our overall ecosystem. These birds consume and dispose of animal carcasses. However, when their feed supply becomes limited, they will resort to killing live animals, such as newborn calves.

Vultures are keenly aware of one another, which can work to our advantage when combatting them. The use of vulture effigy’s can be a deterrent to live birds causing them to leave the area. In order to harvest a vulture for use as an effigy you must Continue reading

Emerging Grain Market Conditions and Impacts on Calf Prices

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

Feed grain and oilseed prices have undergone some dramatic changes over the past couple of months. These changes are indicative of changes to underlying fundamentals in those markets and will impact the value of feeder cattle and calf prices well into next year. It is worth examining the changes to crop market conditions and thinking about possible prices.

Corn and soybean futures have advanced substantially since early August. The 2020 harvest corn contract has increased about $1 per bushel in that time period and the harvest soybean contract has increased roughly double that amount. Importantly, the increases have also been seen in the deferred contracts. DEC 2021 corn is a little stronger than $4 per bushel and NOV 2021 soybeans are just short of $10 per bushel. The price changes communicate more than Continue reading

Watch Vomitoxin Levels in Feed

Erika Lyon, Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reports from the field suggest that vomitoxin may be higher near tree lines around the perimeter of corn fields. Figure 1. Gibberella ear rot. Photo by the Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University,

High vomitoxin levels are leading to the rejection of some corn at grain elevators this year. Vomitoxin detected in corn so far is enough that at some elevators, trucks are not permitted to leave scales until a vomitoxin quick test is completed. One central Ohio elevator has been rejecting corn at 5 ppm, with estimates of 10% of corn being rejected this season. The average level of vomitoxin in corn passing through central Ohio elevators is estimated at 2 ppm. What exactly does this mean for livestock owners who use this corn as a source of feed?

Vomitoxin, or deoxynivalenol (DON), is a secondary metabolite or mycotoxin produced by Fusarium molds that can cause health and productivity issues in livestock. The common source of DON in corn is the species F. graminearum, which is also occurs in other small grains such as wheat, barley and oats. Some livestock species, such as swine, are more sensitive to DON, while ruminants can typically transform the toxin into a less toxic product as it passes through their digestive tract (due to their rumen microbes). However, Continue reading