Do’s and Don’ts of Local Beef

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

If you just glanced at the title of this column, you maybe surprised as to how the next few paragraphs unfold, however there are a couple of points that I want to make, and feel are warranted after seeing some misleading/untruthful advertisements for local/freezer beef here recently.

First off, I am a big supporter of local food production and direct marketing. When done properly in some production systems there are opportunities to capitalize on demand for locally produced food, serve as a direct link for consumer education, enhance economic sustainability of the farm enterprise, among other benefits.

I have taught dozens of programs on local foods and direct marketing in the last five or so years. In each of those programs I remind participants of these two things with regards to labeling and direct marketing;

  1. Do not misrepresent your product and
  2. Do not misrepresent or make false statements about the product of other producers.

Recently several friends of mine have shared with me several instances of both of the above scenarios. In one such instance a freezer beef producer’s (who shall not be named) attack on beef produced by other producers and the beef industry was Continue reading Do’s and Don’ts of Local Beef

Heifer Development Beginning at Weaning

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

HEIFER SELECTION:  Heifers can be sold at weaning or anytime thereafter.  Select at least 20% excess and continue growing the heifers until breeding.  A second selection at yearling age is helpful.  Let the bull or artificial insemination program select the heifers you keep by maintaining a relatively short breeding season (45 days).  Pregnancy diagnosis after the breeding season provides another opportunity for culling.  A final selection can be made after heifers wean their first calf.  Weaning weight of the first calf is a fairly good, though not foolproof, indicator of future production.

EARLY GROWTH (weaning and yearling weight) AND FRAME:  The traditional method for choosing replacements is pick the big ones at weaning.  Traditional selection is simple and is not necessarily all bad.  If growth is needed, selection on size will provide it. The bigger heifers are generally older, and thus selection is from the earlier calving cows. It also may (or may not) select heifers of heavier milking cows.  Heavier and older heifers are more likely to cycle and breed early and be well on their way to having acceptable lifetime performance.

However, there are problems with the traditional method of selection.  Some of the heaviest heifers at weaning may be fat and offer the potential of poor Continue reading Heifer Development Beginning at Weaning

Scout Now For Cressleaf Groundsel And Other Winter Weeds In Hayfields And Pastures

Mark Loux, OSU Extension Weed Specialist

Fall is a perfect time to scout for AND control cressleaf groundsel and most other biennial weeds of concern.

The next month and a half or so is an ideal time to control a number of weeds that cause problems in hayfields and pastures, and also certain weeds in fencerows and other areas adjacent to fields.  We discussed scouting and fall control of cressleaf groundsel in a C.O.R.N. article last fall, to avoid problems with the toxicity of this weed in hay next year.  Many of these weeds are most problematic in new hay and forage seedings, since the crop may not yet be dense enough to suppress them without the help of herbicides.  A number of winter annuals fit into this category – mustards, marestail, pennycress, chickweed.  For biennials such as wild carrot, poision hemlock, burdock, and teasel, the low growing plant after the first year of growth, which is present now, is more susceptible to control with herbicides compared with plants with elongated stems in spring.  And it’s certainly a good time to go after dandelion, Canada thistle, and curly dock.

Fall herbicide options for grass hay and pastures, and non-crop areas, are considerably greater in number and often also effectiveness than those labeled for use in a first-year legume or legume/grass stand.  For example . . .

Continue reading Scout Now For Cressleaf Groundsel And Other Winter Weeds In Hayfields And Pastures

September Cattle on Feed Summary

– Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

The September Cattle on Feed report was released on Friday afternoon, September 24th. Monthly Cattle on Feed reports provide an estimate of cattle inventory in feedlots with one-time capacity over 1,000 head. Based on a mid-year comparison to total cattle on feed numbers from the July Cattle report, these monthly reports account for about 84% of total cattle of feed. The September 1 estimate came in just over 11.2 million, which was about 1.4% below the 2020 level. Cattle on feed inventory has been running below year-ago since July. A link to the full report can be found here.

Placements did tick upward for the month of August. This is normal, but the magnitude of the increase from July was larger than one would typically expect. August placements were 2% above 2020 after being quite a bit below last year for July. It’s hard to read too much into this given how strange 2020 was. I also think it is very likely that Continue reading September Cattle on Feed Summary

Marketing as Part of the Plan

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman Early Fall, 2021 edition)

Plan now to make the most of your spring calf crop

While summer is winding down there is no shortage of things to keep a beef producer busy this time of year. Depending on the calving season of choice, we are either approaching fall calving or wrapping up the breeding season for some spring calving herds. There is still hay to be made and corn silage harvest is not too far away. Now is the time to manage some pesky pasture weeds and perhaps sneak in that last minute summer vacation.

I mention all the above in an effort to encourage producers to begin thinking about fall and making those management decisions that have positive impacts on the 2021 spring calf crop. So, before we think about kicking back and watching the Buckeyes on the gridiron, consider practices that will add value to the calf crop about to be marketed.

Feeder cattle prices continue to be strong, perhaps better than predicted during our cow-calf outlook program around the first of the year. While I am not an economist, my colleagues across the Land-Grant system contribute the strong prices in part to the slight Continue reading Marketing as Part of the Plan

Preparing for Weaning and Beyond

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Preconditioning programs for feeder cattle have long been recognized by the beef industry as a way for cow-calf operators to add credibility and, therefore, value to their annual calf crops. These programs prepare the calf for the known stressors ahead associated with weaning, transportation, and commingling that make calves more likely to get sick with bronchopneumonia, also known as Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD). Most preconditioning programs recommend starting vaccinations 2-3 weeks prior to weaning because it allows sufficient time to develop protection before natural exposure to the BRD “bugs”. At minimum, preconditioning programs require two rounds of viral vaccine (at least one must be modified-live vaccine or “MLV”) and Clostridial (blackleg) vaccinations, a Mannheimia haemolytica toxoid (“Pasteurella” shot), deworming, castration of bull calves and healed, heifers guaranteed not pregnant, and a minimum of 45-60 days weaned. Some programs require producers to use products manufactured by only one pharmaceutical company. In addition, weaned calves are expected to know how to eat from a feed bunk and drink from a fountain or tank but should not be over-conditioned or “fleshy”. Buyers prefer weaned calves that have been properly fed and with documented vaccinations and parasite control compared to similar quality non-vaccinated and non-weaned calves, which can translate to price premiums that vary in size depending on the Continue reading Preparing for Weaning and Beyond

When All Else Fails, Read the Feeding Instructions

– Jeff Lehmkuhler, PhD, PAS, Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

This is the time of year when calves are starting to come to market. Backgrounders and fall stocker programs are buying lightweight feeders for their operations. Some operations in consultation with their veterinarians may obtained a veterinary feed directive (VFD) for medicated feed to help in the prevention or treatment of bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Medicated feeds are a tool in the toolbox and managers should familiarize themselves with the use of such tools.

A common feed medication is chlortetracycline (CTC). This feed grade antibiotic can be used for a variety of disorders. The feed additive is labeled for use for the control of anaplasmosis, reduction of liver abscesses, control of bacterial pneumonia associated with shipping fever (i.e. BRD) and treatment of bacterial enteritis caused by E. coli. Would it surprise you to learn then that there are different target doses for the control or treatment of these disorders?

For the control of bacterial pneumonia in feeder calves, the approved label dose is 350 mg/hd/d. “Control” is essentially the dose to help calves to avoid serious infection whereas “treatment” is the dose to treat active infections in sick calves. The approved treatment dose for feeder calves is Continue reading When All Else Fails, Read the Feeding Instructions

Whole Herd Performance Data Reporting

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

This article is based on information by J. Bormann and M. Rolf. See: Beef Sire Selection Manual 3rd Edition, page 13

Some breeders choose to report performance data only on calves that they want to register. However, this is not in the best interest of either the producer or their customers as this practice leads to biased and inaccurate EPDs. Complete reporting of every animal in the herd is critical to obtain the best estimates of genetic merit. By only reporting the best calves, producers are inadvertently penalizing their highest-performing calves. In the following example, we will use weaning weight ratios to illustrate the effect of only reporting the best calves. Suppose we have 10 calves with an average adjusted weaning weight of Continue reading Whole Herd Performance Data Reporting

Corn Market Update

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

Corn harvest season has started in some areas and should pick up in the major corn production areas of the U.S. over the next month or so depending on weather. There are still plenty of unknowns concerning the size of the U.S. corn crop, but information is increasing weekly. The latest Crop Progress Report shows 5 percent of the corn harvested across the 18 states in the report with most of the harvest occurring in the southern states at this early point in the harvest season.

Corn prices have dropped in recent weeks. The December corn contract closed today at $5.22 per bushel. This is down about 50 cents per bushel from mid-August and down even more from the peak back in the spring when the December contract was trading over $6 per bushel. In the graph below, weekly Continue reading Corn Market Update

Market Beef Budgets updated by OSU Extension

Now, run budgets based on whether cattle are Bunk-Fed or Self-Fed

During the past 18 months, for many, finishing and marketing fed cattle has been a roller coaster ride. Considerable commodity market disruptions have caused wide swings in not only the value of cattle, but also the cost of feed and related feeding and marketing expenses.

To provide tools that allow cattlemen to quickly compare and speculate on potential cattle feeding margins, OSU’s Market Beef Budgets have recently been updated. They may be downloaded in spreadsheet form from the OSU Extension Farm Office website at:

To provide a view of differences found in efficiencies when self-feeding versus bunk feeding, two different budgets are offered. Each spreadsheet is designed similarly and allows the user to Continue reading Market Beef Budgets updated by OSU Extension