Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me. Or my Cows!

Haley Zynda, AgNR Educator, OSU Extension Wayne County

Horn flies are considered the greatest pest of pastured cattle costing the U.S. beef industry about $700 million per year!

Farming in the winter is usually not a livestock producer’s favorite time of the year. But, if I must give it a positive aspect, the lack of flies and other flying pests make it somewhat enjoyable compared to when those same critters burst forth in full swing come summer.

Flies, mosquitoes, and biting gnats can cause a plethora of problems on the farm, including the spread of disease and causing undue stress to stock, leading to diminished performance. House flies are the benign, although annoying, fly species that you may encounter in confinement situations, such as freestall barns or covered feedlots compared to pastured animals. Sanitation is the main management strategy to keep them under control. Keep manure and old feed from remaining near animals too long. You may also choose to purchase a parasitic wasp kit for your region. These wasps feed upon the larvae of the flies, preventing the metamorphosis into adulthood. This strategy is to be done in conjunction with increased sanitation.

Biting flies are the major pests of cattle and can be split into Continue reading

Proper Summer Pasture Management Pays Dividends, Especially in Dry Conditions

Stan Smith, PA, Fairfield County OSU Extension

The U.S. Drought Monitor may not show it, but parts of Ohio are very dry!

Today, the U.S. Drought Monitor suggests little of Ohio is in moderate drought, or even abnormally dry. Despite what their map might show, in much of Fairfield County, especially in the northwest third, we have experienced barely 2 inches of rain over the past 7 and a half weeks, and only 0.3 inch over the past nearly 3 weeks. It appears many parts of Ohio are experiencing similar rain patterns. Knowing this, its apparent pasture across much of the state is, or very soon will be, showing the negative impact of dry soils and high soil surface temperatures.

Regardless, it is never too soon to employ summer pasture management strategies in order that forage growth can quickly begin again once adequate precipitation returns. Most importantly, cool season pasture grasses should not be grazed to less than 4 inches in height and should be Continue reading

FAQs about Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) and Beef Cattle

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Lab

What is “BLV”? Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) is an “oncogenic retrovirus” common in cattle throughout the United States. “Oncogenic” means the virus can cause the infected animal to develop cancer. A “Retrovirus” is a unique type of virus that uses an enzyme to reverse its genetic code from RNA into DNA which then gets inserted into the host cell’s DNA and remains there for life. A well-known retrovirus in humans is the human immunodeficiency virus or “HIV” that causes the disease “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome” or “AIDS”. Cattle infected with bovine leukemia virus have the disease known to veterinarians as “Enzootic Bovine Leukosis” or EBL, but it is most often referred to as “Leukosis”.

How common is BLV in beef cattle? Compared with dairy cattle, much less is known about BLV and beef cattle. A survey completed in 2019 of 28 cow-calf herds in the Midwest found at least one BLV-infected animal in 21 of those 28 herds and more than a third of the individual cows tested were positive. A similar study of bulls on 39 Midwest farms found nearly 50% of these operations had at least one positive bull and 45% of the 121 bulls tested were positive.

Why should BLV infection and leukosis be of concern when it is so common in cattle? Up until recently, the economic loss from leukosis was thought to be only due to death from cancer (lymphoma) or carcass condemnation at slaughter. However, like HIV in humans, now we understand the most important impact from BLV is disruption of the immune system that allows more diseases to occur, resulting in suboptimal performance and early culling. Because BLV indirectly allows other disease conditions to flourish, there has been delayed Continue reading

Posted in Health

Summarizing the June Cattle on Feed Report

– Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

USDA released the June Cattle on Feed report on Friday June 25th. This monthly report estimates feedlot inventory in feedlots with one-time capacity over 1,000 head as of June 1st. Total feedlot inventory on June 1st was estimated at 11.7 million head, which was just fractionally higher than June 1st of 2020. On feed numbers had been running well-above year-ago levels for the last several months.

But, as can be seen in the chart above, 2020 on feed inventory rose sharply from May to June. So, this is the first time in a while that Continue reading

Now’s a Great Time to Plan, and Assess Forage Inventory

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Morgan County

Since May 21st, I have had three great chances to make hay and was lucky enough to finish last week before the rains arrived, I was lucky. I know other areas have not had a chance or just got started. When we finish first cutting hay, it seems to me to be a great time to assess our pasture condition and hay supplies. We will now know how much hay we have and how much more we will need, plus a little extra just in case it turns dry. Do you or will you have enough once first cutting is finished? Are your pastures holding up well?

Options: If you are going to have plenty of hay, can you graze some of those fields? It is always cheaper to graze than to make hay. Speaking of hay, prices are good right now; if you don’t need the fields to graze, can you make some extra to sell if you need the income? If you are short on hay, can you get enough in subsequent cuttings? If not, have you recently soil tested your fields? Improving fertility will help improve yields for the rest of the season.

How are your pastures holding up? So far this year, it looks like many are Continue reading

Forage Focus; Consider the Benefit of Multi-species Grazing

In this episode of Forage Focus, Dr. Brady Campbell of the OSU Animal Sciences Department joins our host Christine Gelley for a discussion on forages for goats. While this is not necessarily a topic focused on cattle, multi-species grazing is often best accomplished with the addition of goats because their weed suppression ability is hard to beat.

Goats have distinctly different preferences and eating habits than other livestock. From water to fence and from meat goats to dairy, this episode covers the ins and outs of creating and maintaining pasture environments to keep goats productive, entertained, and healthy in any grazing system.

To Crack or Not to Crack, A Common Question

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

As grain and commodity prices shoot up, beef producers begin to look for other feedstuffs to find bargains. In many cases, there are no bargains to be found as commodity brokers know the value of the feeds they market. However, occasional opportunities do present themselves from plant shutdowns, shipping issues, and other various reasons. Yet, many folks look past the common feeds available such as corn, oats, wheat, distillers grains and other local feedstuffs hoping to save a few dollars. Corn is a constant in our area and should always be considered as an energy source in ruminant diets.

One of the first questions I get when I start talking about feeding corn to beef cattle producers is whether it has to be cracked or ground. Seems like an easy question with a simple answer. However, the impact of grain processing has been studied for decades and continues to be researched. The hammer mill was invented in 1840 to process grains for feeding. Flaking of corn was developed in 1962 to gelatinize starch and increase efficiency. Reviews on grain processing were presented in papers dating back almost 50 years by the National Research Council. Yet today, research continues to investigate the impact of grain processing on cattle performance.

A review paper on grain processing published around 25 years ago summarized research of finishing cattle and the impact of grain processing. Similar daily gains were noted when corn was fed whole or cracked. Intakes were slightly lower improving feed efficiency when grain was left whole. Ohio researchers published a paper in 2020 in which dry rolled corn was Continue reading

Upcoming Acreage Report

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

USDA will release their annual Acreage report on June 30th. This report will include an update of how many crop acres are planted this year. These reports can have a big impact on futures markets. We have already seen an example of that from the Prospective Plantings report released in March which showed lower prospective planting corn acreage than expected and led to sharp increases in corn future prices.

The chart above is for CME December 2021 Corn futures prices. Kenny discussed last week how the higher corn prices are a longer-term impact because of the Continue reading

Milkweed and Hemp Dogbane – Who’s Who?

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

hemp dogbane

common milkweed

Both milkweed and hemp dogbane have become more apparent over the past week. These two plants are related but have some distinct differences that can help landowners identify them and implement control measures when needed.

Similarities between the two include having creeping roots; leaves that appear on opposite sides of the stem; and they produce a milky sap. Differences include that young milkweed leaves have fine hairs and hemp dogbane are nearly hairless; milkweed stems are generally thick and green, but hemp dogbane stems are usually red to purple and thinner in comparison; hemp dogbane frequently branches in the top canopy, while milkweed will typically not branch unless mowed; and seed pod shape is distinctly different after flowering with milkweed producing an upright tear drop shaped pod and hemp dogbane producing a long bean-like pod that hangs from the plant.

While the usefulness of milkweed in the landscape is often justified for monarch butterfly populations, hemp dogbane has fewer redeeming qualities. Historically hemp dogbane has been Continue reading