Using Proven Strategies During Unprecedented Times

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

When calf prices are high, animal health is increasingly important and the economic toll of death loss is amplified.

Well, this was almost a drought management piece, but thankfully we have gotten some much needed moisture across the vast majority of Ohio. But drought west of the Mississippi is the reason we are facing unprecedented times in beef production, especially with regards to cattle prices. For the first time likely ever, a couple of Ohio auction markets have reported $2/lb. fed cattle. Feeder cattle markets remain historically strong, given the limited supply and smaller national cow herd.

I continue to get several questions from producers about management strategies for calves this summer and fall, with the goal of capturing the top of the market prices. Type and kind of cattle aside (more on that later), calf management programs that are good practices when cattle prices are low are often good management programs when cattle are selling high. Why not do Continue reading Using Proven Strategies During Unprecedented Times

Calf Price Discounts

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

While attending a cattle auction in mid-July I was reminded of the physical characteristics and quality differences influencing the price of cattle. There were cattle of nearly every color. Some of them had little to no gut fill while others could be called full. There were cattle carrying mud on their hide and cattle that were as slick and sharp as they come. Every frame and muscle score was represented. There were some cattle with dairy influence and there were cattle that were at least three-quarter Brahman. There was an animal for everyone at the sale, which seems to be representative of many cow herds.

Anyone who has ever thought the sale barn did them wrong because they did not receive the price they think their cattle deserved should sit at the sale barn and pay attention. A cattle producer can learn a lot about why a certain animal or group of animals received a certain price. Prices are discounted for full, muddy, injured, sick, small frame, light muscled, and cattle that do not match well with cattle in a region.

Summer annual forages to improve profit and forage inventory

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Field Specialist Dairy Management and Precision Livestock and Al Gahler, OSU Extension Educator, Sandusky County

Spring oats planted this summer can help fill a forage quantity and quality deficiency.

2023 has been another year for the records books for challenges for forage producers across the state. The US drought monitor as of July 4th still had the majority of counties in Ohio experiencing some drought with a group of 19 counties in the center of the state in a line from east to west having no part of their county still under drought conditions. The drought decreased second-cutting yield across much of the state. And the subsequent shift to wetter conditions while not eliminating the drought made it very hard to harvest dry hay lowering second cutting quality as it bloomed. Quality was also lowered from diseases that infect forages during the hazy days caused by the smoke inversions in late June. If you are concerned your operation maybe short on forage now is the time to plant summer annual forage to keep your livestock fed this winter or give you additional forage inventory to sell.

Oats is traditionally planted as the first crop in early April as a grain crop or an early season forage. One of the beauties of oats is their versatility in planting date. Oats can also be planted in the summer as an early fall forage for Continue reading Summer annual forages to improve profit and forage inventory

Reduce loss when storing bales outside

Clif Little, OSU Extension, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Guernsey County (originally published in the Farm and Dairy)

Even when stored outside, carefully consider storage options. Photo: C. Gelley, SE OH Hay Day

How we store hay makes a difference in the potential for winter forage losses. It is estimated that unprotected round bales of hay stored outside can experience a 4 to 8 inches or more spoilage loss on the outside of the bale over the course of the winter.

A weathered area of 6 inches deep on a 5.6-foot by 5.6-foot bale contains approximately one-third or the total bale volume. If that bale weighs 800 pounds and sells for $65 dollars, then a 6 in spoilage loss is approximately 240 pounds or a value loss of approximately $19.50.

Factors affecting loss

Many factors affect the extent of round bale storage loss each year. These include factors such as bale density, storage time, size of bale, wrap, forage type, weed content, environmental conditions and storage methods.

In this article, we will be discussing methods to reduce loss of uncovered round bales stored Continue reading Reduce loss when storing bales outside

Forage Testing Now Available Through Ohio State

Results may be received via email or U.S. Mail.

The Ohio State University Sustainable Agroecosystems Laboratory is now offering forage analysis. Two forage testing options are available to be done by the lab located on Coffey Road in Columbus.

Details of each option are linked here, and the Submission Form may be found here.

Cutout Slides After July 4th

– David P. Anderson, Professor and Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

We’re past the 4th of July holiday and into the long, Dog Days until Labor Day.  Grilling season is certainly a demand driver in the beef market, especially for some cuts.  But, you still have to sell beef the rest of the year too.  Some interesting things are happening in wholesale and retail beef markets that will have some implications for cattle prices over the next couple of months.

The weekly average Choice cutout dropped to $309.65 per cwt for the week ending July 14th.  That was $29.98 per cwt lower than its peak for the year at $339.93 per cwt for the week of June 16th.  All of the primal cuts have declined over the last 4 weeks but, the biggest declines have been in the middle meats.  The rib and loin primal cuts are $64.75 and $52.23 per cwt, respectively, from their highs during the last month.  The decline in these cut’s prices are the biggest share of the cutout decline.

One of the most interesting primal cuts this year has been the Continue reading Cutout Slides After July 4th

Cattle Inventory Updates from July’s Cattle, and Cattle on Feed Reports

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas and Josh Maples, Assistant Professor & Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

Two key reports were released on Friday that give the latest insights on cattle herd dynamics. USDA-NASS released the mid-year Cattle report and the monthly Cattle on Feed report. While there is plenty to digest in each report, we note a few key points in this article.

For the 2014-present cattle cycle, July cattle inventories peaked in 2018 and, on average, have been declining by 1.0 percent each year. The latest report estimates July cattle inventories at 95.9 million head, down Continue reading Cattle Inventory Updates from July’s Cattle, and Cattle on Feed Reports

Summer Pasture Weed Control

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources, Licking County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

Fall’s a great time to control next year’s crop of poison hemlock.

As we move into mid-summer, now is a good time to evaluate weed issues in your pastures. Weeds can have a major impact on the productivity of forage and the performance of cattle being raised on the pasture. The most obvious case is with weeds that have toxic effects. Ingestion of plants like poison hemlock, cressleaf groundsel, white snakeroot, nightshade, and many others can result in illness and even death. Even if your weed issues are nontoxic, the weeds may not be palatable or may have very little nutritional value. In both cases the weeds are taking up space and using nutrients that would be better utilized by desired plants.

Different weeds have different growth characteristics which also means there are different methods that can be used for control. I am going to talk about five common pasture weed issues which have control methods that can be used from now through the fall.

Poison Hemlock

This very toxic weed is popping up all over Ohio. At maturity it looks like Continue reading Summer Pasture Weed Control

Start Looking Now for Perilla Mint

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL), JD Green, PhD (Extension Professor [Weed Scientist], UK Plant and Soil Sciences Department), Megan Romano, DVM (Clinical Veterinary Toxicologist, UKVDL)

Poisonous plants can be responsible for considerable losses in livestock although many cases go unrecognized and undiagnosed due to a lack of knowledge of which plants are dangerous and the wide range of signs that may be observed after consumption. The risk posed to animals by a particular plant depends on a variety of factors, including how much of the plant is consumed and over what time period; the stage or maturity of plant growth; which parts of the plant are eaten; whether the plant is green or dried; and the animal’s age, species, and in some cases breed. Most weeds are tough and unpalatable, and cattle will not consume them unless baled in hay or the pasture is limited due to drought or overgrazing and there is little else to consume.

If cattle on pasture suddenly develop symptoms such as diarrhea, salivation or slobbering, muscle weakness, trembling, incoordination, staggering, collapse, difficulty breathing, or rapid death, then poisoning due to plants or any number of other toxicants should be high on the list of possible causes.

Perilla mint (Perilla frutescens), aka perilla, purple mint, mint weed, beefsteak plant, and wild coleus.

Oftentimes poisonous plants affect just a few cattle in the herd. Cases occur more often shortly after animals are moved to a new field. The severity of signs primarily depends on how much of the plant or other toxicant is consumed over what time period (the rate of consumption). If plant poisoning in livestock is suspected, the first thing to do is call a veterinarian, since prompt treatment is critical to the animal’s chances of survival. Until the veterinarian arrives, keep the affected animal quiet and confined where a physical examination can be performed, and treatment given. Other animals should be moved as carefully as possible from the pasture where the suspected poisoning occurred until the cause of illness has been determined. Prevention involves learning to recognize poisonous plants, implementing effective weed control and pasture improvement, and offering supplemental forage or feed when pasture is limited so cattle are not forced to graze toxic weeds. A common summer weed in Kentucky that can cause problems in livestock is perilla mint (Perilla frutescens), also known as Continue reading Start Looking Now for Perilla Mint

Options for Short Season Summer Fall Forages

Bill Weiss, Mark Sulc, and Jason Hartschuh, CCA

Summer annuals still have time to produce 1.5 to 6 tons of dry matter.

Short-season forages planted in late summer can be sources of highly digestible fiber in ruminant livestock rations. There are several excellent forage options that can be considered for no-till or conventional tillage plantings in the late summer or early fall planting window. These forages can be a planned component of the overall forage production plan. They can be utilized on land that would otherwise sit idle until next spring, such as following wheat or an early corn silage harvest.

Oat or Spring Triticale silage
These cereal forages can be planted for silage beginning the last week of July and into early September. Dry matter yields of 1.5 to 3 tons per acre (about 5 to 5.5 tons at 30 to 35% DM) of chopped silage or Baleage are possible if . . .

Continue reading Options for Short Season Summer Fall Forages