Revisiting grass tetany and magnesium deficiency

Clifton Martin, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Muskingum County

When the spring flush arrives lactating animals will be the most susceptible to grass tetany.

Managing agricultural field fertility through lime applications is a well-known practice with the goal of maximizing plant growth and productivity. One choice in the process is the decision to use calcitic lime or dolomitic lime as a source. Competing variables in the decision might be economics of short-term cost versus managing for a magnesium deficiency in the pasture. Generally, calcitic lime is cheaper to acquire and dolomitic lime is more expensive, but as we seek to manage a magnesium deficiency it may be advantageous to use dolomitic lime to deliver the needed nutrient to plants. This may be a consideration in a hedge to prevent grass tetany in a pasture. With spring just around the corner, it is a wonderful time to revisit the grass tetany challenge in forages.

What does the problem look like?

To get straight to the point, animal death is the outcome of a grass tetany problem if not properly treated. Grass tetany, also called hypomagnesemia, refers to blood magnesium concentration that is Continue reading

Managing Mud: Strategies for Reclaiming Disturbed Areas

– Dr. Chris Teutsch, UK Research and Education Center at Princeton

Fig. 1. Excessive rainfall and high livestock concentration in and around hay feeding areas can result in almost complete disturbance.

Hoof damage from livestock during the winter months can result in almost complete disturbance of desired vegetation and soil structure in and around heavy use areas. Even well-designed hay feeding pads will have significant damage at the edges where animals enter and leave. Highly disturbed areas create perfect growing conditions for summer annual weeds like spiny pigweed and cocklebur. Weed growth is stimulated by lack of competition from a healthy and vigorous sod and the high fertility from the concentrated area of dung, urine, and rotting hay. The objective of this article is to describe two approaches to revegetating these areas.

Regardless of the reclamation strategy that is employed, it is important to create Continue reading

Ohio Beef Cow/Calf Workshop – Optimizing Herd Reproduction and Genetics

Don’t miss this!

Reproduction and genetics are important factors for a cow-calf operation. The long-term investment of genetics plays a critical role in the development and management to ensure longevity within a herd. Join OSU Extension in Licking County on March 8th to discuss and demonstrate the practices that you might apply on your farm to improve your operation with regards to optimizing reproduction and genetics.

Click here for more detail or a registration form.

“Manure Mondays” are Back!

Free, each Monday in March.

Manure Monday webinars are back. Join in starting Monday, March 4th, 2024 at 2 pm to continue conversations about a variety of aspects dealing with manure management.

Registration is free and includes access to all sessions.

Please register at this link.

Subjects to be discussed include:

  • Emerging Technologies for Sand-Laden Manure
  • Manure Application Logistics and Field Strategies
  • Manure Additives
  • Composting Bedded Pack Barns

For more information, please see this attached poster.

Zoom connection details for the new 2024 series will be shared prior to each event. If you have any questions please call 1-877-424-1300 or email

Weekly Livestock Comments for February 23, 2024

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

Fed cattle traded $3 higher compared to last week on a live basis. Prices were largely $183 to $184 on a live basis and $292 to $293 on a dressed basis.

The 5-area weighted average prices thru Thursday were $181.05 live, up $0.75 compared to last week and $286.86 dressed, up $0.49. A year ago, prices were $163.65 live and $259.93 dressed.

Fed cattle trade was slow to develop this week. Packers continue to struggle with negative margins, which has them on the defensive when negotiating cattle prices. Packers want to trade cattle at a negative basis compared to the futures market while cattle feeders are simply attempting to trade finished cattle with an even basis compared to the futures market. It appears most of the trade will still come in with a negative basis this week, but market participants can rest assured that cattle feeders will be pushing for an even basis next week as live cattle futures roll from February to April. There is less than a Continue reading

Precision Technology for your Beef Operation

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock

Use of technology can improve how we manage the cattle.

Precision farming technologies have greatly improved row crop production and many different technologies are available to change the way you manage your beef operation. For beef producers, there are two major classes of technology the first improves how we manage the cattle while the second improves forage and pasture management. Today we will discuss two cattle management technologies.

The first technology that is being transferred from the dairy industry is activity monitoring systems that include rumination and eating time. The systems are showing benefits for both cow-calf producers and feedlots. These systems utilize accelerometers mounted to either the cow ear, a collar around the neck, or to the leg. The ear and neck-mounted systems are seeing the greatest adoption in cow-calf operations that are using artificial insemination for heat detection. All of these systems can be Continue reading

Farm Accounting Workshops with Quicken

Choose a location and get registered today.

One of the frequently asked questions we receive is what’s the best way to computerize farm records. Quicken is an option to consider and now a couple of short and hands-on classes are being offered around Ohio this winter. If you want to improve your farm records, don’t miss one of these opportunities!

Find more detail and registration information linked here.

Minerals: Too Much of a Good Thing

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

Minerals are an essential nutrient for beef cattle. This means like protein and energy, minerals must be supplied in the diet, however minerals make up a very small portion of the total diet. Many feedstuffs are deficient in one or more essential minerals which is why mineral supplementation is a critical component of meeting the nutritional needs of the herd. So, this begs the question, “if a little is good, isn’t more better?”. The truth is we can have too much of a good thing when it comes to minerals, and this can lead to serious and sometimes fatal consequences.

The sulfur requirement for beef cattle is 0.15%, with maximum tolerable concentrations of 0.3% in high concentrate diets (15% roughage or less), and 0.5% in high roughage diets (40% or greater roughage). By-product feeds including corn gluten feed and distillers grains can be high in sulfur content. According to the Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle (NASEM, 2016), sulfur content of corn gluten feed, dried distillers grains, and distillers solubles averaged 0.58%, 0.66%, and 0.82% S, respectively. Sulfur content of forages also needs to be accounted for and can range between Continue reading

Growth performance, carcass traits, and feeder calf value of beef × Holstein and Holstein feedlot steers

M. Pimentel-Concepción, J. R. Jaborek, J. P. Schweihofer, A. J. Garmyn, M.-G.-S. McKendree, B. J. Bradford, A. Hentschl, and D. D. Buskirk

Applied Animal Science 2024 40:56–68

Holstein cattle are a dairy breed that represents approximately 23% of the US fed beef supply from surplus heifer and bull calves. Dairy-type cattle, especially Holstein steers, typically produce USDA Choice or better carcasses and provide a year-round supply of beef. However, dairy-type cattle can have reduced feed efficiency, muscling, and dressing percent compared with beef-type cattle. Compared with beef-type steers, dairy-type carcasses receive greater discounts due to their reduced red meat yield, and the decision of a major US packer to stop buying Holstein fed steers further decreased their value.

Recently, the use of beef sires to breed dairy dams of low genetic merit for milk production has increased substantially in the United States with the aim to increase calf value and overall economic return. From 2017 to 2023, US beef semen sales increased by almost 6.5 million units, whereas Holstein semen sales decreased by around 6.3 million units. These data support the observation that increased beef semen sales are largely attributed to the greater use of beef sires to breed dairy females.  This study was to compare Continue reading

Interest Rates are Likely Impacting Producer Interest in Expansion

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

USDA’s cattle inventory report confirmed that the US cowherd continued to get smaller during 2023. Higher input costs, regional weather challenges and hay supply issues, strong cull cow prices and several other factors have contributed to a prolonged liquidation phase of this cattle cycle. Despite the fact that calf prices were relatively strong during 2023, there is no indication that heifer retention has begun. It would appear that we are likely to see a “slow expansion” when beef cow numbers do start to grow in the coming years. At some point, the cattle market will be strong enough, and weather will be cooperative enough, that we will reverse this trend of decreasing cow numbers.

Occasionally someone will ask why we tend to expand the cowherd when prices are high. It would seem that the best time to expand would be when prices are low because females are worth less. It’s a good question and I understand why someone would ask it. On the surface it is true that the cost of breeding stock tends to be lower when calf prices are lower and the full cost of developing a heifer is lower when heifer calves are less valuable. But Continue reading