Don’t Let Tradition Impede Progress

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

“No matter how your Granddaddy or your Daddy did it, if you are trying to do exactly like you did last year you are probably wrong.

If you’re trying to farm like you did last year you are probably wrong. Unless you did it wrong last year, and that might be the case. Then maybe you get it right this year because every year is different.”

The above quote was one of the many valuable pieces of insight during our 2022 Beef Outlook webinar taught by Dr. Andrew Griffith, Associate Professor of Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of Tennessee. You can find the recording on the OSU Extension Beef Team YouTube page.

That thought really stuck me as timely. We know fertilizer, seed, feed, and chemical inputs are going to cost more for the foreseeable future. Inflation and increasing interest rates are daily discussion topics. Weather continues to be a wild card, not just with drought in the west but with excess moisture here at home. Even though commodity prices look favorable, especially cattle and beef, it is borderline insanity to Continue reading

Why are my cattle bloating?

Jerad Jaborek, Michigan State University Extension Beef Feedlot Systems Educator

An example of an animal with a severe case of bloat from a Veterinary Clinics: Food Animal Practice article by Meyer and Bryant.

Bloat is a digestive disorder that results from the accumulation of excessive gas within the rumen and can lead to death of the animal by asphyxiation. Gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are normal by-products produced during microbial fermentation of feed stuffs. The gases produced in the rumen can either be absorbed through the rumen wall, travel through reticulum and the remaining digestive tract, or predominately, they are eructated or belched out through the esophagus. Eructation of gas from the rumen through the esophagus is done by a series of muscular contractions that is initiated by the accumulation of gas within the rumen to signal for its release. However, proper rumen function and motility can be impaired by large amounts of acids produced during ruminal fermentation. If normal rumen contractions are prevented or if the esophagus is obstructed, bloat can . . .

Continue reading Why are my cattle bloating?

More on the Impact of Bunk Management on Animal Performance and Health

As Dr. Jaborek mentions in the previous article, feedbunk management plays an important role in both animal performance and preventing acidosis in the feedyard.

During the first session of the 2020 Ohio Beef Cattle Nutrition and Management School that was hosted by the OSU Extension Beef Team, Dr. Francis Fluharty, Ohio State University Professor Emeritus and current Professor and Head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science at The University of Georgia, focused a portion of his presentation on the significant impact that proper feed bunk management has on feed conversion, prevention of acidosis, and overall profitability. Here, in less than 8 minutes, Dr. Fluharty explains why bunk management is so important, nearly doubling the rate of gain and improving feed conversion by greater than 40% in one study.

Six Things to Consider When Developing a Price Risk Management Strategy

– Dr. Kenny Burdine, Extension Professor, Livestock Marketing, University of Kentucky

Over time, I have probably done more programs focused on price risk management than any other cattle marketing topic. This article will not be focused on specific risk management tools and how they work, but rather will focus on some overarching considerations as cattle producers look at ways to manage price risk. Some of these are based on generally accepted strategies, while others are things that I felt important to share based on my experience working with producers. I often share some of these ideas at the conclusion of my risk management programs, but wanted to briefly walk through a few of them for this article. While they are in no particular order, these are some things that I think producers should understand as they develop their risk management plans. I also think the timing is good as the market is currently offering feeder cattle pricing opportunities that we have not seen in quite some time.

Know what risk management tools are available
For the first 10 years of my career, my price risk management extension programs were almost always focused on futures and options strategies. I would also briefly cover forward contracts, although they tend to be used on a limited basis in Kentucky. As internet sales became more common, I was able to discuss using internet sales with delayed delivery. Over the last 15 years, I have been able to also discuss Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) Insurance, which opened the door for smaller scale operators to better manage price risk. And, recently increased subsidy levels have made LRP much more Continue reading

Tightening Supplies

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

Cattle and beef markets continue to show good and improving strength into 2022. The opening weeks of February communicate potential tightening of, most notably, feeder animal supplies into the summer. Likewise, the strong volumes of fed slaughter suggest that the substantial volume of long-fed cattle are being worked through. All this is reasonably bullish news for cattle markets.  And a fairly substantial change from the past three years of large numbers and abundant supplies at the farm and ranch level. These abundant supplies have compounded the market dynamics also attributable to supply chain disruptions experienced since the beginning of COVID in the US. 2022 gives the appearance of change.

Feeder cattle movements are reasonably strong through January and February.  Prices likewise remain strong as cattle feeding organizations are more aggressively chasing available animals and lighter animals.  This is in the face of Cattle on Feed reports that have communicated reasonably strong placements through the fall – for certain placements have not backed off. Dry weather in the northern plains and in the mountain west, as well as deteriorating wheat pasture conditions, are pushing animals to the feeding sector – which is all too pleased to pay better than $2 a pound for 5 weight animals. It is anticipated that Continue reading

Is using herbicide impregnated fertilizer an option for pastures on a budget?

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

Weed and feed products that combine herbicide and fertilizer application into one have long been available for lawn care use. Dry and stable fertilizer can be coated with a herbicide and top dressed onto a lawn to provide nutrients to the growing grass and help combat competing weeds. If the process shows favorable results in a lawn, could it work in a pasture or hay field?

Theoretically, yes it could work. But, there are distinct differences between the management and use of a lawn versus that of a crop that will be eaten by livestock. Pairing the appropriate herbicide with the fertilizer, adhering to any waiting periods for grazing or harvest, environmental conditions, and the scale of applying to multiple acres rather than a few hundred or thousands of square feet all create a more complicated equation for the feasible use of herbicide impregnated fertilizers on pastures and hay fields.

At this year’s American Forage and Grassland Council Conference, Corteva Agriscience offered a session on the potential uses of a newly released herbicide impregnated fertilizer product called Continue reading

BQA and many more upcoming Beef Opportunities

Allen Gahler, OSU Extension, Sandusky County

Are you due to be REcertified?

Opportunities abound to educate yourself and become a better beef producer throughout February, March, and early April.  Some online webinars, some in person classroom style meetings, and even some on farm workshops will be taking place all around Ohio, courtesy of the OSU Beef Extension team and several county educators.

Perhaps the most critical of those meetings to attend for many Ohio producers are the Beef Quality Assurance training sessions.  Anyone who has not already been BQA certified and intends to sell cattle of any kind this year or any time in the future, no matter what type of sale method will be used, should consider getting certified as soon as possible.  This not only benefits you as a producer by opening up marketing opportunities because you are certified, but it assures your potential customers that you value the use of humane, sustainable, and wholesome beef production practices.  In fact, rather than opening up marketing opportunities, today BQA certification should be viewed as a necessary tool in your Continue reading

Mid-Ohio Small Farm Conference; Sowing Seeds for Success

Register today!

No need to feel alone in the field. Our new and small farm conferences provide connections that will last long after the event.

  • Do you own a few acres that you want to be productive but you’re not sure what to do?
  • Do you have a passion for farming and turning your piece of this wonderful earth into a food producing oasis?
  • Do you own land or forest that you’re not quite sure how to manage?
  • Do you raise or produce products that you would like to market and sell off your farm but you’re not sure how to make it successful?

If you’re asking yourself these questions, this conference is for you! Targeted to new and small farm owners, we cover topics like Continue reading

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Record Beef Exports in 2021

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

The latest monthly Livestock and Meat International Trade dataset was released last week and included the December trade estimates. This release provides a complete look at beef trade during 2021 which was a record setting year for beef exports that exceeded expectations.

According to the report, during December 2021, beef exports totaled 288 million pounds. This was one percent above December 2020 levels and exports to mainland China saw the biggest increase and exports to Mexico experienced the largest decline among the top destinations. Imports Continue reading

Small Feedlot Activity

– Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Management Specialist, Ness School of Management & Economics, South Dakota State University
Last week, SDSU hosted LMIC’s Katelyn McCullock. Our students appreciated her insights! She visited with several classes and one of her topics was projecting cattle on feed levels. That discussion focused on projecting placements starting with auction totals for feeder cattle. One can only start there, as not all cattle are sold at AMS-reported auctions. The LMIC staff also incorporates seasonality and considers international trade volumes. Projecting marketings starts by monitoring estimated and actual slaughter volumes coming in throughout a given month. These are also augmented by LMIC staff with trade volumes. The discussion should help our students think critically about future projections.

Building on those ideas, one can look at the current cattle on feed situation. Among feedlots with 1,000+ head capacity, the total on feed from the January Cattle on Feed report was 12.0 million head, up slightly from a year earlier. The feeder cattle auction totals have receipts in January below year-ago levels (see LMIC Table 2.520). Direct deliveries of slaughter cattle may serve as a proxy for marketings, being down slightly in January compared to a year earlier. Those could be combined to infer changes in the Continue reading