Reducing Winter Feed Costs

Clif Little, OSU Extension Agriculture Natural Resources, Guernsey County (this article was originally appeared in Farm and Dairy)

Stockpiled fescue with small round bales can be utilized for winter strip grazing. Photo by Clif Little

Winter feed represents one of the largest components of annual cow cost. Approximately seventy five percent of the annual feed cost for cattle is winter feed. One way to increase the profit potential in the cow herd is to reduce this cost by extending the grazing season.

For example, a 1500-pound mature cow will consume approximately 38 pounds of hay per day. If that hay sells for $50 per ton, then her feed cost is ($50 divided by 2000 pounds) times 38 pounds per day = $.95 cents per day.

In a three-year study conducted by OSU researchers Dr. Steven Loerch and Dr. Dave Barker they looked at the cost of extending the grazing season, feeding hay and limit-feeding concentrates. Their results indicated that the average winter feed cost per cow per day over the 112 day feeding period for stockpiled pasture system was Continue reading

Rapid Death in Feeder Calves? It May be Histophilus Somni (Formerly known as Haemophilus Somnus or “Somnus”)

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

October and November are known as two of the most difficult months to buy feeder calves in KY due to major health challenges. Weather is often blamed but is just one of many risk factors that play a role in Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) development. This fall, the bacterium Histophilus somni (formerly known as Haemophilus somnus) has emerged as a major bacterial pathogen responsible for the rapid development of disease and death in feeder operations. While Mannheimia haemolytica, commonly called “Pasteurella”, is the bacterial species known to cause bronchopneumonia and rapid death, Histophilus somni (HS) can cause similar symptoms and is proving very difficult to treat and control with traditional methods. In addition, a more severe form of disease, known as the “septicemic form” of Histophilus somni has been seen in several cases submitted to the UKVDL over the last month. This septicemic form typically hits calves 30-60 days after arrival and the bacteria may affect the brain, heart, larynx, muscles, joints, liver and kidney in addition to the lungs. In some cases, the calves are simply found dead with no clinical signs. The septicemic form usually results in rapid death, generally less than 48 hours from development of symptoms up to the time of death. The joints are frequently involved, and calves may become Continue reading

Posted in Health

Bison Stakeholders: NAHMS seeks your input in selecting the focus of its Bison 2022 study

The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) is developing its second national study of the U.S. bison industry, which is planned for 2022. USDA invites stakeholders now to take a brief online survey to help NAHMS focus the research and build a study that is the most beneficial to industry. NAHMS welcomes responses from people representing all facets of the bison industry, and as a bison stakeholder, your input is crucial to this process.

Click here to access the survey, and please complete by November 15, 2020. The survey takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

In addition to helping USDA identify key bison health and management issues, stakeholder participation will bridge existing information gaps by exploring Continue reading

International Beef Trade Dynamics

– Josh Maples, Assistant Professor & Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

The latest monthly trade data were released by the USDA Economic Research Service last week. The September data continued to show adjustments from the beef production and beef price changes earlier in the year as well as the impacts of global beef demand. According to the ERS data, beef exports totaled approximately 239 million pounds during September. This was down 5.6 percent from September 2019. Through September, beef exports in 2020 were about 6 percent lower than during the first 9 months of 2019.

September showed stronger exports to South Korea, Canada, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Exports to Japan, the largest volume destination for U.S. beef exports, were down slightly according to the ERS data. Beef exports to Mexico continued to lag behind the 2019 pace. During September, beef exports to Mexico were about 38 percent lower than in September 2019 and were 40 percent lower for the first 9 months of 2020 compared to the first 9 months of 2019. Exports to Mexico were 14 percent of total January-September 2019 beef exports in 2019; in 2020, that share has dropped to about 9 percent.

Following up on a topic brought up by David Anderson’s article in September, cattle exports to Mexico continue to be Continue reading

American Forage and Grassland Council Holds Hybrid Conference in 2021

Chris Penrose, OSU Morgan County Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and President Elect, American Forage and Grassland Council

A ‘virtual’ version of the conference will be held January 11-12

In response to feedback, the AFGC Board of Directors has made the decision to host a hybrid conference in January 2021.  This means there will be two events, one in-person and one virtual, on two separate dates.  The Board felt this approach met the feedback received and allows members and attendees the option to choose the event structure that best fit their comfort level.

The AFGC Annual Conference will be held in-person January 3-6 at the Hyatt Regency in Savannah, GA and the AFGC Virtual Conference will be held January 11-12, 2021.  The content offered in person will be recorded and available at the virtual event and the virtual will include sessions by presenters who made the decision to present remotely.

Both events will utilize the same conference app which will be released with directions closer to the events.  Virtual session presentations will be Continue reading

Winter is around the corner; are you ready?

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Winter is around the corner; are you ready? Photo by Chris Hollen

The rains are finally replenishing reserves in most areas. Though a bit late for some things, it is still a boost for forages that have been stockpiled and they have leaped in compensatory growth! Ideally, this stockpile is best used after it goes dormant in order to not slow next spring’s growth. Dormancy often requires several nights in a row at 25 degrees or lower. That type of weather isn’t far away. Once dormant, the forage can be grazed with less harm to the plant’s energy reserves. When it is grazed, it can be taken down a bit closer than normal but leaving good residual. That good stop grazing height will slow runoff over winter, reduce any erosion and help springboard growth next season. If you open up the sod too much in early winter, you also possibly open the site up for more weeds too.

It is always a good idea to evaluate and balance grazing livestock with available feed. It is better to know now than later. First, take different grazing animal classes (cows, heifers, stockers, ewes, etc.) and figure an average weight per class and then multiply that number times the number in each Continue reading

Blackleg: Frequently Asked Questions

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

1. What is “blackleg”? This is a rapidly fatal disease of cattle, typically calves 6-12 months of age, caused by the bacterium Clostridium chauvoei. Sheep may also be affected. In a majority of cases, affected calves are simply found dead in the pasture with no symptoms of disease. It usually affects calves in good nutritional condition (the “fattest and slickest”) within a group. As the bacterium grows, it emits a toxin (poison) that kills the muscle cells, typically in the hindquarters or thigh muscles. Most animals will die within 12-24 hours of the onset of disease so clinical signs of lethargy, severe lameness, and muscle swelling are often missed. The swollen muscle starts out hot and painful but quickly becomes cold and insensitive as the muscle dies. The bacterium also produces gas that builds up under the skin, causing the skin to feel similar to “bubble wrap” and makes a crackling, rattling sound known as “crepitation” when pushing the skin down over the affected area.

2. Where is the blackleg organism found? The organism that causes blackleg, the bacterium Clostridium chauvoei, is characterized as a “Gram-positive, anaerobic, spore-forming rod”. This description is important because it describes why and how the bacterium survives for long periods in the soil and the trigger that causes it to be deadly. Clostridial organisms are anaerobes which means they like to live and grow where there is no oxygen. In order to survive where there is oxygen, they change to a spore form. A “spore” is a protective form of the bacteria that allows it to survive unfavorable conditions and also enables it to spread. The spore form is found in both soil and water as well as in the digestive tract of Continue reading

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Livestock Risk Management Webinar

The national Extension Risk Management Education Program and the United States Department of Agriculture are collaborating to deliver a webinar for agricultural producers and professionals focused on livestock risk management. Recent developments and attention to livestock markets, price risk, and the need for better risk management have highlighted the challenges for producers as well as improved tools and opportunities for livestock producers to manage risk.

The webinar is scheduled for 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern on Thursday, November 12 and will start with an overview of current livestock market and risk management issues with two of the Under Secretaries at USDA, Greg Ibach and Bill Northey. The webinar will then include a panel to discuss livestock economics and marketing as well as the utilization of insurance tools including Livestock Risk Protection to Continue reading

Insuring Pastures

– Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Management Specialist, Ness School of Management & Economics, South Dakota State University

The deadline to purchase or change Pasture, Rangeland, Forage – Rainfall Index (PRF-RI) insurance is quickly approaching. The deadline is November 15, 2020 to purchase PRF-RI for calendar year 2021. A producer selects the grid they want to insure. Indemnity payments are computed if the rainfall falls short of the insured level. The indemnity payments can be used to offset the related loss of forage production. At times the product may not work perfectly, but the goal for the insured is long-run viability.

In the 2017 Census of Agriculture, there were 400.8 million acres in permanent pasture, 13.8 million acres of pastured cropland, and 56.9 million acres of forage in the U.S. Most of those acres would be eligible to be insured using PRF-RI. Covered acres have increased from 54.7 million acres in 2015 to 159.9 million acres in 2020. The product is popular on rangeland in the Continue reading

Kentucky Beef Cattle Market Update for November 1

– Dr. Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

October has not been kind to cattle producers and traditional seasonal factors have been amplified this year by uncertainty over the election and back-and-forth discussions about another round of stimulus funds. Federally inspected cattle slaughter remains around 2019 levels. Beef cow slaughter has remained pretty high since summer, but dairy cow slaughter has been down over the same time. Dressed steer weights continue to run about 3% above last year. Seasonally, weights tend to peak in late November or early December.

Fed cattle prices decreased slightly from the first of the month, which is a counter-seasonal move. Spring CME© live cattle futures also dropped sharply throughout the month, which worked to pressure heavy feeder cattle prices in KY. Consistently rising corn prices have also weighed on feeder markets as that impacts feed costs this winter. It really wasn’t until the last two weeks of the month that full price impact was felt in Kentucky markets, so figure 1 really doesn’t show the extent of the drop over the last couple weeks. On a state average basis, an 850 lb M/L #1-2 steer has moved into the low-mid $120’s. Groups and higher quality feeder have not Continue reading