Breeding Soundness of Bulls

Brooks Warner, OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Extension Educator, Scioto County (originally published in Ohio Farmer on-line)

Are you certain your bull is ready to work?

Breeding season for most beef herds is upon us or rapidly approaching here in the Midwest, and whether you plan to use your old bull or purchase a new one, it is important to know that the bull you have is fertile. The best way to know if your bull is fertile is by sending him through a Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE).

It is important to understand what a fertile and productive bull looks like before you open your billfold to purchase a bull. Aside from the initial cost of purchasing a sub-fertile bull, the economic loss due to sub-fertile bulls is far greater in the long run. For every 21-day period of the breeding season that a cow remains open, there is a loss of ~55lbs of weaning weight the following year for the calf she finally conceives.

Not only does a bull need to fit the physical criteria and the inherent drive to breed cows, but he needs to Continue reading

Antibiotic Stewardship-What to do Now to Prepare for Changes Ahead

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Beginning soon, a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship must exist to use many drugs that are currently purchased over the counter.

On June 11th, 2021, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a Guidance for Industry (GFI) #263, which outlines the process for animal drug manufacturers to change all remaining antibiotic formulations used in animal health care from over-the-counter (OTC) to prescription status. Products commonly used by beef producers such as injectable penicillin and oxytetracycline (for example, LA300) will no longer be available without a prescription from a veterinarian as of June 2023. Specifically, all dosage forms of medically important antimicrobials approved for use in animals will only be available from, or under the supervision of, a licensed veterinarian, and only when necessary for the treatment, control, or prevention of specific diseases. Producers will need to consult a veterinarian to obtain all antibiotics in any form (injectable, bolus, topical, intramammary) or to request a prescription to purchase them from a distributor.

FDA’s goal through GFI #263 is to curb the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and, in turn, reduce the risk of human infections that are difficult to treat due to ineffective antibiotics. To accomplish the goal, FDA is promoting the implementation of “responsible antibiotic stewardship practices in veterinary medicine” which are defined as “actions that preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics while maintaining animal health”. Examples of responsible practices include 1) only using Continue reading

Posted in Health

Not all protein sources are the same

Jerad Jaborek, Michigan State University Extension

Feedstuffs can vary in their protein and amino acid concentrations, amino acid composition, and site of digestion.

Protein is one of the main macronutrients needed by cattle to survive and grow. As you may know, cattle are ruminants, and therefore have a four-compartment stomach that consists of the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. The largest stomach compartment in ruminants is the rumen, which contains a vast diversity of microbes. In the rumen, ingested feedstuffs undergo microbial fermentation and breakdown allowing for nutrient absorption. The rumen microbes also use the dietary carbohydrates and protein consumed by cattle to maintain, grow, and reproduce themselves. As a result, the passage of microbes from the rumen to the lower gastrointestinal tract can provide cattle with two-thirds to three quarters of their protein requirements. We can think about the metabolizable protein requirements of cattle as the sum of rumen degradable protein (RDP), microbial protein (MCP), rumen undegradable protein (RUP), and small contributions from endogenous protein. Rumen degradable protein consists of dietary protein and amino acids, and non-protein nitrogen (NPN), such as urea, that are used by the rumen microbes to reproduce or replicate.  The microbes themselves provide the small intestine with MCP, in addition to dietary RUP that is not degraded by the rumen microbes, endogenous protein from sloughed cells within the digestive tract, and digestive enzymes reaching the small intestine.

Not all protein sources are the same because they are comprised of different concentrations of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and the animal requires a certain concentration of each amino acid to meet its growth requirement. Therefore, if one amino acid is deficient or limiting, it can . . .

Continue reading Not all protein sources are the same

Beef Cow, Heifer, and Steer Cattle Slaughter

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

Weekly cattle slaughter began 2023 trending lower than a year ago. Beef cow slaughter, heifer slaughter, and steer slaughter have each begun 2023 with lower slaughter totals than in 2022.

The recent decline in beef cow slaughter is perhaps the most interesting given the large cow slaughter totals seen in 2022. Drought and higher input costs relative to calf prices lead to really high beef cow slaughter in 2022 (about 11 percent above 2023). However, beef cow slaughter has moderated to begin 2023 as shown in the chart above. Over the first 10 weeks of 2023, beef cow slaughter totaled 683,700 head which is nearly Continue reading

Assuming reduced supply, can beef demand remain resilient throughout 2023?

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

A question was asked this week concerning beef supply and demand in 2023, which is an appropriate question given the reduced cattle inventory.

It seems certain domestic supply of beef will decline in 2023 relative to 2022, because there should be fewer animals making their way through the fed cattle system and a reduction in non-fed slaughter. However, feedlots will likely attempt to support domestic supply by feeding cattle longer and harvesting cattle at heavier weights. It is unlikely heavier weights will make up for the reduced slaughter, which means the market is likely to see an increase in the quantity of beef imported.

The demand side is a little less certain. Consumers have been resilient with beef demand through this period of inflation and higher interest rates. How much longer they can remain resilient may the biggest question for the industry to answer. With supplies expected to decline, there is a good chance beef prices will push higher, but it is unknown if it will be high enough to temper beef demand.

Marketing Your Freezer Beef

Kate Hornyak, OSU Extension Program Coordinator, Delaware County (originally published in Ohio Farmer on-line)

Are you raising what your freezer beef customers want?

Global supply chain issues, high input costs, and disquiet concern of inflation are all taking a toll on our livestock producers’ return on investments. Meanwhile, direct marketing beef continues to rise, allowing the “farm to table” theory to become more profitable per head. During the 2020 COVID-19 crisis, there have been shortages and increases in price value. The meat prices increased to 21.7% by the end of May 2020 due to contraction in meat supply. The highest price jump (>100%) was observed in ground beef in May 2020 compared to previous months (Frontiers, 2021). Hence, this eventuality caused more producers to be able to capitalize on the need for farm raised beef at a “normal” price compared to the grocery store. The demand for locally raised beef is still on the upswing.

Before you offer your product to consumers, it is critical to make sure you are producing the best quality product. Creating a high-quality beef product starts with the Continue reading

The Toolbox

– Jason Duggin, Public Service Assistant, University of Georgia Department of Animal and Dairy Science

From a herd management standpoint, there are tools you shouldn’t do without.

At our operations and even our homes we tend to not always have every tool that we may need. It may be that we need a seed drill, but it’s more economical to lease one. Still, some tools are an absolute necessity like a pair of fencing pliers. From a management standpoint, there are tools that we might be able to do without, but others we really shouldn’t do without.

Here is a short list of tools that every operation needs:

1) Eyes: Every operation needs good eyes on their herd. Health is probably the first thing that comes to mind and rightly so. However, this also overlaps with nutrition. Being able to assess . . .

Continue reading The Toolbox

Understanding Beef Sire Summaries

– Heather Schlesser, Agriculture Educator in Marathon County, Wisconsin Extension

EPDs predict the genetic potential of future offspring of a particular bull.

Selecting a herd bull is one of the most important decisions a producer has to make. The decision of selecting what bull to mate to each cow or heifer has long lasting genetics effects in the herd. Sire summaries have been developed to aid producer’s in this decision. Sire summaries are updated on an annual basis and provide information on traits that are economically important to cattle producers.

The producer needs to decide which traits are most important to their farming operation. For example, a farm marketing feeder calves may place a greater emphasis on weaning weight rather than yearling weight. Most breeds also have Index values. An Index takes multiple traits and combines their values to create one number or ranking per bull, simplifying the amount of information producers need to analyze. Depending on the breed, Index’s may be general, or specific to maternal or terminal traits.

Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) predict the genetic potential of . . .

Continue reading Understanding Beef Sire Summaries

Stockmanship and Stewardship Event Coming to Caldwell Ohio

Make plans now to attend.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) in partnership with Merck Animal Health and the checkoff funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, are hosting four regional Stockmanship and Stewardship (S&S) events. These regional events are intended to bring together cattle producers from a large area for a two-day cattle handling and educational program. Events will highlight proper stockmanship techniques as well as local stewardship information.

We are pleased to announce that one of these events is being hosted in Caldwell, Ohio on September 29 and 30, 2023! This unique Stockmanship and Stewardship event is focused on live low-stress cattle handling demonstrations, Beef Quality Assurance training, and industry updates you won’t find anywhere else. Participants will gain an edge on Continue reading

A Summary of Cost and Returns for the 2022-2023 Hay Crop

– James Mitchell (University of Arkansas) and Brian Mills (Mississippi State University)

As we transition to spring in the coming months, we will naturally shift gears and begin thinking about and preparing for 2023 hay production. It is difficult to overstate how important it is for us to have improved forage and hay production in the Southeast. We hope it will be different than last year. In 2022, most Southern states experienced some degree of drought. Input prices for agricultural chemicals, fuel, supplemental feed, and labor were all at their highest in recent memory. As a result, hay production declined by 16%, 13%, and 20% in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Kentucky, respectively.

Part of planning for this year’s hay crop is re-examining costs and breakeven prices. This article uses results from the Continue reading