The Cow: Should She Stay, or Should She Go?

Stan Smith, PA, Fairfield County OSU Extension

If she’s bred, today, is a bad udder reason for culling an otherwise healthy cow?

Fed cattle and feeder calf prices are presently ranging in the vicinity of historical highs. But then, so are cull cow prices. Knowing historically the income resulting from cull cows in a beef herd has made up roughly 20% of the beef cattle farm’s annual income, today with careful management it could be even greater.

Presently at a time when cattlemen might be trying to retain any breeding female that can produce a live and marketable calf, let’s carefully consider how we might optimize the profitability of the beef herd by employing a strategic culling plan.

Typically, when discussing culling considerations it might start by Continue reading

Preg Checking has never been more affordable!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Considering the current value of a cull, preg checking a cow at the conclusion of the breeding season has never been more affordable. There’s seldom been a time when the reproductive and ultimately the economic efficiency of a beef herd has been more easily enhanced by performing a post breeding pregnancy examination for every cow and heifer.

During the fifth session of the 2021 Ohio Beef Cattle Management School that was hosted via ZOOM by the Ohio State University Extension Beef Team, a portion of the program included discussion on the economic significance of confirming pregnancy in beef cows and the various diagnostic methods that are available. Keeping in mind this presentation was recorded 3 years ago, listen in below as OSU Extension Educator Al Gahler discusses the economic returns to the operation realized through pregnancy checking cows in a timely fashion, and the various methods through which it can be accomplished.

Start your scouting and preparation for tick and fly season now

Tim McDermott DVM, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

Visit, your guide to ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting pests. Photo: Anna Pasternak, UK entomology graduate student

As I write this article, it is ninety degrees outside in the first week of May! It is time to start thinking about how we can keep our grazing animals safe from the various arthropods that can cause medical problems, production losses, and economic impact. We have always made plans for fly control over the summer, but it is time we consider adding tick control into our prevention and treatment plans as well. I wrote an update on Longhorned ticks and Theileria in the March 7th All About Grazing section, “What to watch for with Longhorned Ticks and Theileria in Ohio in 2024” but here is a quick refresher.

As of the beginning of 2024 we had positively identified ALHT in 11 counties in Ohio including Franklin, Delaware, Ross, Gallia, Vinton, Jackson, Athens, Morgan, Monroe, Belmont, and Guernsey county. We anticipate finding more positive counties in 2024 as this tick likes to feed on many different species of wildlife and therefore can move on wildlife while they are feeding over a 7–10-day period. To learn more about ALHT check Continue reading

Hay barn fires a real hazard when the rain keeps coming

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

At over 20% moisture, mesophilic bacteria release heat, causing stored hay temperature to rise.

Mother nature has been at it again, hardly giving us enough days to make silage or balelage let alone dry hay. There is a risk of pop-up showers every afternoon it seems like. The ground is also wet so the forage laying against the ground does not dry very well. These conditions are very dangerous for hay harvest since wet hay does not just rot it may also burn. Hay fires are caused when bacteria in wet hay create so much heat that the hay spontaneously combusts in the presence of oxygen. At over 20% moisture, mesophilic bacteria release heat, causing temperature to rise between 130 F to 140 F with temperature staying high for up to 40 days. As temperatures rise thermophilic bacteria can take off in your hay and raise the temperature into the fire danger zone of over 175 F.

Assessing your risk
If hay was baled between 15-20% moister and acid preservatives were used there is still potential for a hay fire but Continue reading

Cattle on Feed Inventory Below 2023 for the First Time This Year

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released the May Cattle on Feed report last week, detailing the status of U.S. cattle on feed inventories. As of May 1, 2024, the total inventory of cattle and calves on feed in U.S. feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head stood at 11.6 million head. This figure reflects a 1% decrease compared to the May 1, 2023 inventory. This was the first time inventories were below year-ago levels since fall 2023. This was more a question of when inventories would dip below last year’s levels than if they would.

Placements in feedlots during April 2024 totaled 1.66 million head, representing a 6% decrease compared to April 2023. The detailed breakdown by weight category reveals specific trends: placements at less than 600 pounds were 7% lower year over year, 600-699 pounds were 10% lower, 700-799 pounds were 9% lower, 800-899 pounds were 4% lower, and Continue reading

Weekly Livestock Comments for May 24, 2024

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

Beef prices found support last week as retailers prepared for the holiday weekend.

Fed cattle traded $3 higher compared to last week on a live basis. Prices were largely $189 to $191 on a live basis and mostly $303 to $304 on a dressed basis.

The 5-area weighted average prices thru Thursday were $190.12 live, up $3.09 compared to last week and $303.48 dressed, up $3.95 from a week ago. A year ago, prices were $177.71 live and $284.36 dressed.

It is a little easier for packers to pay higher prices for finished cattle when wholesale beef prices increase. This does not mean they want to pay more, but they do have more wiggle room. They also know cattle feeders are aware of wholesale beef prices, which in a time of reduced cattle numbers provides the cattle feeder with further leverage. Cattle feeders should be making a profit on these animals given cash prices. However, the premium in cash relative to Continue reading

Prioritize a water source in a rotational grazing system

Dean Kreager, Licking County Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator

Water, the most important nutrient!

Water is the most important nutrient for grazing animals.  Without it they won’t live a week and with limited or poor-quality sources they won’t perform up to their potential. Often availability and placement of good quality water sources is the biggest limiting factor to designing pasture lots.  Figuring out ways to split pasture lots and still have a nearby water source is a challenge.

We are often reminded of the benefits of rotational grazing and frequent movement of animals. Improved pasture productivity, increased stocking density, better distribution of nutrients back onto pastures, and reduction of weed issues all sound great, but what about a water source. Research has shown that beef cattle need 5-20 gallons per day, sheep and goats 2-3 gallons, horses 10-15 gallons, and dairy cattle 15-30 gallons. Finding ways to meet the needed water demands can improve the efficiency of pasture use.

The amount of water that needs to be available at Continue reading

Understanding and Managing Flies

John Yost, OSU Extension Educator, AgNR, Wayne County

Horn flies are considered the greatest pest of pastured cattle.

The increase in temperatures is also bring with it an increase in flies.  Flies, if left unmanaged, can present a significant challenge to the welfare and production of all our livestock species.  Fly control is not a one-and-done treatment strategy.  They require season long management, that may require a variety of approaches to seasonally address.  The three main types of flies that we are concerned about are face, horn, and stable flies.  The species have similarities but also some subtle differences that you need to take into account when selecting potential control options.

Horn flies are the most economically damaging species for livestock.  Research has shown that calf weights can be reduced by 4 to 15% and replacement heifer weights of up to 18% when populations reach a threshold of 200 flies/animal.  Milk production, for dairy cattle, can be decreased by up to 15%.  Horn flies are blood feeders and will consume about 30 meals per day.  They spend the majority of their time on the animal and will Continue reading

Kill Poison Hemlock Now!

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

While hemlock may still be vegetative today, it will soon look like this.

Poison hemlock has already emerged in a vegetative state around Noble County and beyond. Soon it will be bolting and blooming on stalks 6-10 feet tall. All parts of the plant are toxic to all classes of livestock if consumed and is prevalent along roadsides, ditches, and crop field borders.

It is a biennial weed that does not flower in the first year of growth but flowers in the second year. The earlier you can address poison hemlock with mowing and/or herbicide application, the Continue reading

2024 National Feeder and Stocker Receipts Down 6 percent from 2023

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

The number of feeder and stocker cattle sold during the first 19 weeks of 2024 was about 6 percent below the number sold during the same period in 2023 according to data from the USDA-AMS National Feeder and Stocker Cattle Summary. The combination of fewer cattle and  better pricing opportunities have led to some interesting patterns in the receipts data to start 2024.

There have been roughly 330 thousand fewer feeder and stocker cattle sold at auction so far in 2024 than in the same time period of 2023. Compared to the 5-year average (2018-2022), receipts in 2024 were down 3 percent (163 thousand head) year to date. This dataset includes auction, direct, and video/internet sales that are reported to USDA. It does not Continue reading