A whole herd beef cattle health management update with Dr. Justin Kieffer

Many health challenges on the farm can be avoided with a proper herd health management program. During the third session of the 2022 Virtual Beef School held on Monday, March 21st Dr. Justin Kieffer, Clinical Veterinarian for the Department of Animal Sciences at OSU, offered a beef herd health management update. Included in his presentation were vaccination protocols for both cows and calves, discussion on how to best implement a vaccination program, and an overview of emerging beef herd health issues including pink eye, anaplasmosis, and antimicrobial use. Embedded below you can listen in as OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist Garth Ruff introduces Dr. Kieffer and his presentation, in its entirety.

The BVD Virus in Cow/Calf Operations: Part 2- How do I Test for BVD Virus?

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

If calf tests negative, then the dam can be assumed negative.

“BVD” or “Bovine Viral Diarrhea” virus is one of the most common and costliest viruses affecting KY cow/calf herds and backgrounding operations. Control of the BVD virus is best accomplished through implementation of three equally important practices: 1) surveillance testing to detect and remove persistently infected cattle, 2) vaccination to increase herd immunity and 3) implementation of biosecurity measures to reduce virus entry into the herd. This article, the second in a two-part series, will address diagnostic testing strategies, how to correctly interpret results, and how to implement BVD virus prevention measures (Part 1 is linked here).

As a reminder, a “persistently infected” or “PI” calf is the result of a pregnant female (cow or heifer) becoming infected with the BVD virus between 42-125 days of gestation. The mature cow or heifer will experience a “transient” BVD virus infection, lasting from a week to 10 days, which is often mild with no overt symptoms of disease. However, the virus will also cross the placenta, infecting her unborn calf. When this calf is born, it is Continue reading

Posted in Health

More Heifers Supporting Feedlot Inventory

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

The latest Cattle on Feed Report raised some eyebrows as it showed a slight (0.6 percent) increase in feedlot inventory from last year. Placements of cattle on feed were up about 6 percent driven by higher 700-900 pound placements. In the current setting of tighter supplies and smaller calf crops, many might be rightfully surprised to see an increase in any cattle inventory numbers. However, there is plenty to unpack in this report that has both short term and long-term implications for cattle markets.


The 11.6. million head of cattle on feed was the second highest October 1 total since 1996 when the series began. It was also the first time in 2023 that feedlot inventories have been Continue reading

The Fall Begins to Turn?

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

Cattle markets showed strength into September but stalled in the last half of the month and weakened into October. October is usually a tough month for cattle and beef markets and we will have to see how the rest of the month plays out but the market fundamental mix and technical picture offer some troubling signals.

Placements of cattle in feedlots were the strongest for the year in May and June and these are the animals to be marketed soon. The inventory of cattle on feed over 120 days and over 150 days is high as revealed by the most recent report. Exports are showing a response to the record high prices in terms of drifting lower. Fed steer and fed heifer weights continue the seasonal increase and are likely for the next month and a half. This weight increase is not being limited by the falling corn price and the beginning of harvest – cash corn prices are surprisingly weak. Packer margins turned a Continue reading

Bale Grazing – Could it work for you?

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

Some of the original bale grazing research happened at EOARDC in Noble County.

Extending the grazing season is one of the best ways to save money on feed and reduce labor on the farm. In order to add grazing days to the calendar, farm managers must approach grazing with a plan and the willingness to be flexible. Rotationally grazing, utilizing multiple forage species and growing seasons, being thoughtful about stocking rates, adding fertility when needed, and having plentiful fence and water will increase chances for success.

Whether you have the ability to graze for a couple extra weeks or a couple extra months, the benefits of preparation will show up in the money you save on harvesting or purchasing supplemental feed. Regardless of how diligent you are about your grazing plans, it is difficult to provide sufficient grazing for livestock 365 days a year in Ohio and eventually you’ll be relying on stored feeds to meet the needs of your livestock. There are still benefits to utilizing your pasture rotations even while feeding hay. Bale grazing may be Continue reading

Forage challenges as the weather turns cooler to keep livestock safe

Kyle Verhoff, OSU Extension Educator, Agricultural and Natural Resources, Defiance County and Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Field Specialist Dairy Management and Precision Livestock

Frost can impact the toxicity of our forages.

As the year begins to wrap up and temperatures drop, there are countless things to consider including how the coming frosts impact the toxicity of our forages. This past week many portions of the state began to flirt with possible overnight frosts which raises concerns of prussic acid poisoning, nitrate poisoning, and increased bloat as a result of feeding certain fall forages.

What is prussic acid toxicity?
Prussic acid toxicity is the accumulation of prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in forage plant tissue. Prussic acid is the product of a reaction between two naturally occurring plant molecules, cyanogenic glycosides and degrading enzymes. Plant cell walls usually separate the two, but a frost event Continue reading

Supply Chain Challenges in Grain Markets: Crop Basis and the Mississippi River

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

I want to use this week’s article to review a recent supply chain disruption to grain markets. It is a particularly relevant topic for all of us in the Southeast. The issue is low water levels on the Lower Mississippi River, transportation costs, and crop prices. This issue draws on familiar economic concepts that we used to describe the pandemic-induced shocks to beef processing. My hope is that this discussion provides a fresh perspective as we think about the future of cattle and beef markets.

The Lower Mississippi River is historically low. The graph above shows stream gauge measurements from the U.S. Geological Survey monitoring station in Memphis, Tennessee. Gage height is a relative measurement of water level and anything below -5 feet is classified as Low Stage. At -12 feet, measurements are no longer reliable. The most recent data shows the Mississippi River at -11.80 feet at the Memphis monitoring station.

When the Mississippi River is low, it becomes more costly to Continue reading

The BVD Virus in Cow/Calf Operations Part 1- What does it look like and where did it come from?

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

“BVD” or “Bovine Viral Diarrhea” virus is one of the most common and costliest viruses affecting KY cow/calf herds and backgrounding operations. Control of the BVD virus is best accomplished through implementation of three equally important practices: 1) surveillance testing to detect and remove infected cattle, 2) vaccination to increase herd immunity and 3) implementation of biosecurity measures to reduce virus entry into the herd. But how would a producer know that BVD virus is circulating in his or her herd? This article, the first in a two-part series, is written to help understand how BVD virus enters a beef herd and how to recognize its effects, and targets for control. Part 2 will address diagnostic testing strategies, how to correctly interpret results, and how to implement BVD virus measures.

One of the initial problems with this virus is its name. Although BVD stands for “Bovine Viral Diarrhea”, rarely does an animal show any symptoms of diarrhea. Instead, cow-calf producers may observe one or more of the following disease manifestations in the Continue reading

Posted in Health

LRP Trends

– Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Management Specialist, Ness School of Management & Economics, South Dakota State University

Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) has become so popular that people may stop using it. LRP has often sparked the interest of cow-calf producers and smaller cattle feeders looking for a cost-effective way to transfer downside price risk to others. A few years ago, the premium subsidy on LRP was substantially increased and the impact on LRP sales has been dramatic. In fiscal year 2020, fewer than 80,000 head were covered as feeder cattle. In fiscal year 2023 almost 4.2 million head were covered as feeder cattle. The feeder cattle coverage was popular in Texas, South Dakota, and Nebraska, as each state had more than 400,000 head insured. In fiscal year 2019 fewer than 4,000 head were covered as fed cattle. In fiscal year 2023 there were over 850,000 head covered as fed cattle. The fed cattle coverage was popular in Nebraska, Texas, and Iowa, as each state had more than 100,000 head insured.

For perspective, the 2022 U.S. calf crop was 34.5 million head. Thus, the share covered is growing, but nothing like the shares of corn or wheat acres insured. There were still only 19,259 policies sold for feeder cattle and 6,768 policies sold for fed cattle in 2023. The 2017 Census of Agriculture reported 729,046 operations had beef cows. During 2022 the 26,000 feedlots marketed 25.9 million head of finished cattle. With the sharp increases in Continue reading

Balance of Trade has Shifted as Beef Production has Decreased

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

While the vast majority of beef produced in the US is consumed domestically, international markets are a significant piece of the US beef system. For perspective, the US exported the equivalent of about 12.5% of its beef production during 2022, while importing roughly 12%. This was a fairly typical balance of trade, especially for a year with high beef production levels like last year. However, as beef production is on track to see a significant drop in 2023, trade patterns are also being impacted.

Through August, exports of US beef are down by 14% from the first eight months of 2022. A drop of that magnitude certainly warrants some question, but can largely be Continue reading