Sustaining Optimal Body Condition from Fall Calving to Breeding Season in Ohio’s Cattle Farms

Kate Hornyak, OSU Extension Program Coordinator, Delaware County

Body condition scoring now can help insure a successful calving season next fall.

Maintaining optimal body condition in cattle from fall calving through to the breeding season is pivotal for the success of any beef operation. In Ohio, with its unique climate and agricultural landscape, this task can present unique challenges and opportunities. This article explores comprehensive strategies tailored to Ohio’s environment, helping cattle producers ensure their herds are in peak condition, promoting reproductive success and overall herd vitality.

During the fall, fluctuating temperatures and early frosts can impact the availability and quality of pasture for grazing, necessitating the need for supplementary feeding. Farmers must be vigilant to ensure that cattle have access to adequate nutrition as natural forage sources diminish. Additionally, wet conditions and heavy rainfall can lead to muddy and unsanitary living conditions, increasing the risk of disease and foot problems in cattle.

As winter arrives, the challenges intensify with the onset of freezing temperatures, snow, and ice. Cattle require extra energy to maintain body heat in cold weather, and farmers must Continue reading

How over conditioning influences bull fertility

– Pedro Fontes, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Georgia Extension Specialist

Consider the implications of sire over conditioning on semen quality and fertility.

Sire over-conditioning is a common phenotype observed in the beef industry. Pre- and post-weaning growth are important for profitability; therefore, as an industry, we are interested in identifying bulls with superior genetics for weaning and yearling weights. Nevertheless, young bulls are often not only fed high-energy diets to express their genetic potential at the time of yearling weight collection but also fed these diets to “look good” at sale time. Several Extension programs and bull development stations across the U.S. have reported the general preference of bull buyers for bulls with high rates of average daily gain (ADG) during their growth and development phase. In fact, bull buyers prioritize growth-related traits versus feed efficiency traits such as feed-to-gain ratio (F:G) or residual feed intake (RFI; Oosthuizen et al., 2018).

Another factor that encourages seedstock producers to increase energy intake during sire development is the effect of these dietary strategies on pubertal development. Similar to what has been thoroughly shown in heifers, sires that are exposed to high-energy diets achieve puberty earlier (Cardoso et al., 2018.; Kenny and Byrne, 2018). Yet, most bulls . . .

Continue reading How over conditioning influences bull fertility

What is the Cost of a Cheap Mineral?

– Dr. Katie VanValin, Assistant Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

The quality and cost of mineral supplements can vary greatly, and it can be overwhelming trying to make sense of all the numbers and information listed on the feed tag. While I am always a proponent of trying to manage feed costs, I caution producers against exchanging an adequate mineral for a poor-quality mineral. While saving a couple of dollars on a bag of mineral can certainly add up, it is important that the mineral being provided is still adequate to meet the needs of the herd to prevent mineral deficiencies which can become costly!

In the fescue belt, cattle are especially susceptible to selenium deficiency. Symptoms of selenium deficiency include white muscle disease in calves and decreased immune function and growth. Unfortunately, signs of mineral deficiency can be difficult to spot, and often producers may not realize they have an issue until testing is completed as part of a necropsy. Many complications from mineral deficiencies can be avoided all together by Continue reading

BEEF 509 to be held Feb. 23 and 24 in New Format

Back by popular demand in 2024.

The 2024 edition of BEEF 509 will be held on the campus of Ohio State University on February 23 and 24 and will feature a new format with only one session. Click here for details and the schedule.

BEEF 509 is an educational program sponsored by the beef checkoff and the Ohio Beef Council (OBC) in partnership with the Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences and OSU Extension. Registration is $175 per person with the beef council covering all additional program expenses. A maximum of 30 program spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The program will be held at the OSU Animal Sciences Building located at 2029 Fyffe Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210. The registration deadline is January 3, 2024.

Click here to register. For more information contact Luke McKee at lmckee@ohiobeef.org

2023 OCA Replacement Female Sale Results

Garth Ruff, OCA Replacement Female Sale Manager

The 2023 sale represented a $250 per head price increase over the 2022 sale.

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) held their 11th annual Replacement Female Sale on November 24 at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Company in Zanesville, Ohio. A large crowd was on hand to bid on 113 high quality females in the sale. The sale represented an excellent opportunity for cow-calf producers to add quality females with documented breeding and health records to their herds.

Buyers evaluated 113 lots of bred heifers, bred cows, and cow-calf pairs at the auction. The sale included 80 lots of bred heifers that averaged $2,555, 4 cow-calf pairs sold for $3,475, and 29 lots of bred cows that averaged $2,006. The 113 total lots grossed $276,500 for an overall average of $2,447. The females sold to buyers from Ohio and West Virginia. Col. Ron Kreis served as the auctioneer.

Sales prices were higher year over year and the cattle were of high quality, as the 2023 sale represented a Continue reading

Make Price Risk Management a Priority in 2024

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

A few weeks ago, Kenny wrote about the downward trend in cattle prices that started in mid-September. This downward trend is driven by normal seasonal patterns in cattle markets and bearish news from a few USDA reports. These past few months are why we use price risk management even during times of high cattle prices. There are still market fluctuations and seasonal patterns to manage.

There are several tools available to producers to manage price risk. Each of these products has its’ own pros and cons. Hedging strategies with futures contracts is a risk management concept that most people are familiar with. Forward contracting is another strategy that is well-known. Options on futures contracts are another strategy, albeit more complicated, if you need to Continue reading

Managing Manure Application When STP >50

Greg LaBarge, OSU Extension Field Specialist (previously published in the Ohio Country Journal)

I often get questions about managing manure applications in fields where Soil Test P (STP) is above the maintenance limit of 50 PPM in the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybean, Wheat, and Alfalfa, Bulletin 974. Be aware that the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations provide recommendations for the economical use of purchased fertilizer. The 50 PPM maintenance limit is the STP level where “no agronomic response, either higher yield or benefit of a higher STP, results from added fertilizer.” The Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations only address crop agronomic needs, not P’s environmental impact. If you need to apply manure to a field with STP greater than 50 PPM, how can it be done to limit field P loss?

The publication Assessing Nutrient Loss Risk in Ohio, NRCS, 2020 provides environmental P loss criteria based on the STP in a field. You can download a copy at https://go.osu.edu/lossrisk. The guidelines suggest reducing manure application rates with the Continue reading

Should we use smaller frame cattle for the freezer beef business?

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

Should we use smaller frame cattle for the freezer beef business?

If a person knows they can sell every animal as a freezer beef then smaller frame cattle have the benefit of finishing at a lighter weight, more quickly than larger frame cattle, and at a lower cost than larger frame cattle. Thus, there can be some efficiencies in feeding smaller frame cattle if all cattle are sold as freezer beef.

The other side of the coin is when not all cattle are sold as freezer beef and have to be sold through the traditional market. Small frame cattle will be heavily discounted in the traditional market, which in many cases is a loss to the producer.

An alternative strategy would be to manage a herd of moderate frame cattle that produce calves that will finish between 1,100 and 1,250 pounds. In this scenario, producers can benefit from feeding and finishing animals that will still finish fairly quickly, but the producer also has an animal that can fit the traditional production system.

It is a balancing act that will take effort, but it provides multiple outlets for the calf crop.

Eleventh Annual OCA Replacement Female Sale Features 101 Catalogued Lots

Don’t miss this Black Friday sale featuring bred heifers, cows and pairs!

Make plans now to join us at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 24, at the Muskingum Livestock facility, 944 Malinda Street in Zanesville, for the 11th annual OCA Replacement Female Sale. Consignment details including videos of the three cow-calf pairs, 33 bred cows and 65 bred heifers can be found on-line at https://www.ohiocattle.org/events-programs/replacement-female-sale and the most current catalogue listing is linked here. Breeds of this year’s offerings include Angus, Red Angus, Hereford, Crossbred, Limousin, LimFlex, and Simmental.

The consigned females are all under the age of five as of January 1, 2024, and are registered or have commercial background. Bred females are bred to a bull with known EPD’s, and the calves at side of cows are sired by bulls with known EPD’s. An accredited veterinarian has verified the pregnancy status, and all consignments have fulfilled specific health requirements.

Take advantage of this opportunity to add quality young replacement females to your herd.  If you have questions about the sale, contact Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist, (740-651-7140 or ruff.72@osu.edu) or the OCA office at 614-873-6736 or cattle@ohiocattle.org.

Sales Timing Pushes Cattle on Feed Inventory Higher

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

The timing of feeder cattle sales led to higher year-over-year November 1st inventories of cattle on feed despite tighter overall cattle supplies this year. Total cattle on feed was reported at 11.9 million head on November 1 which is 1.7 percent above a year ago. This increase might seem at odds with the lower calf crop totals in recent years. However, the “larger-than” feedlot inventory months are likely to be short-lived as the backdrop to cattle markets continues to be herd liquidation and tight supplies.

Placements of cattle into feedlots during October 2023 totaled 2.2 million head which was 3.8 percent above October 2022. This follows a 6.1 percent increase in cattle placed during September 2023 compared to a year ago. While higher than a year ago, placements in October were lower than the average of pre-report estimates. The increase was Continue reading