Feedbunk Management; Key to Animal Health and Performance

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist (originally published in The Ohio Farmer)

A properly managed bunk impacts profitability of the feedyard!

Feedbunk management plays an important role in both animal performance and preventing acidosis in the feedyard.

A part of feedbunk management is estimating how much feed cattle will eat. Factors such as cattle size, weight, breed, ration-type, weather and health must be taken into account. Previous history of feed intake for a pen of cattle can help in estimations.

How much work do you want to put into gaining an estimate of how your steer or a group of cattle are eating? Estimates can be made prior to a morning feeding, if you are providing a morning feeding, with two additional observations made during the day. A common method is Continue reading

Should we plan for another long, wet, muddy winter?

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Whether winter predictions are correct or not, it’s time to start preparing!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has released their forecast for this winter. “Mild, with soakers” is how Indiana is labeled. I don’t put a lot of weight on these forecasts, but they often line up with other forecasts and occasionally are completely correct. If this forecast holds true, I think we all need to prepare for a winter similar to last year.

This past winter, I kept hoping for some free concrete—frozen ground. I only had about a dozen days and that’s not enough. To add true misery for both me and the livestock, it seemed to rain every two or three days, picking up momentum as we got closer to spring.

I don’t like to see pastures or crop fields torn up. Grazing under wet conditions is bad enough during the growing season, but it’s an Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Geez, what a mess!

– Dr. Les Anderson, Extension Beef Specialist, University of Kentucky

Have you ever looked at your cow-calf operation and had the thought “Geez, what a mess?!” Even if we don’t want to admit it, often our lack of organization and planning sometimes really hinder our opportunity to succeed especially in our cattle operations.

An example; it’s September. Have you pulled your bull? If a bull pen is not available, is your breeding season over? The first step in becoming an efficient, profit-possible operation is controlling the calving season.

How do we transform the calving season? A great example of controlling the calving season occurred on a farm enrolled in the UK Farm Program. This producer had huge Limousin-cross cows (1700-1800 pounds), calved all year long (see table The Beginning), 16 of 17 cows calved and 13 calves were weaned from 2015 calvings. This producer wanted to move to a fall-calving herd because of his time commitments to his grain enterprise.

Steps taken: Continue reading

Mineral Supplementation: The Benefits You May Not See

– Caitlin Hebbert, Livestock Consultant (originally published by the Noble Research Institute, www.noble.org)

It’s no secret that good nutritional management is one of the most vital contributions to a profitable herd.

Within the realm of cattle nutrition, protein and energy tend to receive the most hype due to their direct relationships to growth performance and overall body condition. This hype is rightfully placed since the first step to a good nutrition program is to identify and meet protein and energy requirements. The second step involves the lesser-discussed dark horse of the ruminant nutrition world: minerals.

Much of the discussion surrounding minerals is vague, and information is more often accepted by producers than is understood since the world of minerals is complicated and tedious to navigate. As a result, I often find myself on the receiving end of this conversation: “Mineral is so expensive and consumption seems to be hit-or-miss. What will happen if I stop feeding mineral?”

Mineral consumption does indeed vary — from animal to animal as well as from one month to the next. This is often reflective of Continue reading

The Impact of Basis in Fed Cattle

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

A relationship sometimes overlooked but important to the flow of cattle is the difference between the cash and futures price or the basis. For example, at the end of last week, the 5-area weekly weighted average cash price for all grades of live steers was $101.73. The nearby fed cattle futures price averaged $97.76 last week which was for the October contract. Thus, the average basis was +$3.97.

Changes in basis influence returns from hedging using the futures market. Hedgers swap price risk for basis risk and for those selling cattle, a Continue reading

Spring Forage; Looking Beyond Cereal Rye

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Crawford Country, AgNR Educator

Winter wheat, barley, triticale, and cereal rye planted in the fall can produce high quality forage in the spring when harvest is in the boot stage. These forages are not equal though in there speed of maturity or quality in the soft dough growth stage. Rye grows and matures faster than the other cereals making it the ideal choice for double cropping with corn silage but is also the hardest to manage harvest timing on so that it is not over mature. After this past spring is it time to diversify our spring forage options to spread out harvest timing and risk?

Each of these crops has slightly different management strategies but many are the same. Planting date has been critical for maximizing tonnage with highest yields being achieved with planting dates 10 days sooner than the hessian fly free date but be cautious of hessian fly infestation and barley yellow dwarf virus. Timely planting leads to plants absorbing more nitrogen from last year’s crop improving tillering. Variety selection can also be an important factor in yield and rate of maturity. Most of the cereal rye planted is Continue reading

Posted in Forages

BQA Transport Training & Certification

Beginning in 2020, several packers will require BQA Transportation certification of the hauler/drivers delivering cattle to their plants.

By the start of 2020, the major beef cattle processors have requested that any livestock hauler delivering cattle to their facilities be certified in Beef Quality Assurance – Transport (BQAT). Any professional hauler or farmer delivering loads of cattle directly to a processor should plan on attending a BQAT training and certification prior to delivering their first load of cattle in 2020. Much like producer BQA, the goal of the BQAT program is to make sure that cattle transporters are implementing good animal handling and transport practices.

Transportation quality assurance plays a critical role in the Continue reading

Hauling Cattle

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Handle/transport all cattle in such a fashion to minimize stress, injury, and bruising. Use vehicles to transport cattle that provide for the safety of personnel and cattle during loading, transporting, and unloading. Follow these guidelines when transporting your own livestock:

  • Perform a structural check of trailer/truck and tires prior to loading livestock.
  • Inspect trailer/truck for cleanliness (biosecurity) as well as broken gates that may injure/bruise cattle. • Check weather and route to ensure a safe and uneventful trip.
  • Verify withdrawal on any animals being sold.
  • Verify that all animals are fit to ship.
  • Back up squarely and evenly to the loading chute.
  • Load using Low Stress Handling Practices.
  • Pull away from the chute slowly and drive to allow cattle a chance to gain their balance in transit.
  • Minimize time in transit by limiting stops and using prior preparation to ensure an organized event.

This information was Continue reading

Eastern Ohio Beef and Forage School begins October 1

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County

OSU Extension and the Eastern Agriculture Research Station has made plans for the 2019 Fall Beef School. The dates for the school are Tuesday, October 1, 8, and 15, starting at 6:00 p.m. to 8 pm. The programs will be held at the OSU Eastern Agricultural Research Station in Belle Valley, (16870 Bond Ridge Rd Caldwell, Ohio 43724). A meal will be provided with registration. The school has been designed to address practical issues facing beef producers.

The first night will cover cattle handling. The second night will cover winter feed supplementation. The last night will focus on cattle health management and beef production record keeping.

The cost of the program is $25, which covers registration for one or all three days. Registration deadline is September 27. Please register by completing and returning the registration form found linked here.

Posted in Events

Heart of America Grazing Conference, October 29-30

Make plans now to attend the 2019 Heart of America Grazing Conference — Kicking the Hay Habit: Optimizing Profitability. The keynote speaker, Jim Gerrish, is an independent grazing lands consultant providing services to farmers and ranchers on both private and public lands across five continents. With a BS in Agronomy from the University of Illinois and MS in Crop Ecology from University of Kentucky, he served 22 years of beef-forage systems research and outreach while on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Forage Systems Research Center (FSRC). His research encompassed many aspects of plant-soil-animal interactions and provided the foundation for many of the basic principles of Management-intensive Grazing. He was also a co-founder of the very popular 3-day grazing management workshop at FSRC. Aside from his monthly column in The Stockman Grass-Farmer magazine for over 12 years, Gerrish has authored two books on grazing and ranch management – “Management-intensive Grazing: The Grassroots of Grass Farming” published in 2004 and “Kick the Hay Habit: A Practical Guide to Year-Round Grazing” published in 2010. Today, he is an instructor in the University of Idaho’s Lost River Grazing Academy held twice annually near Salmon, ID. He typically speaks at 40 to 50 producer-oriented workshops, seminars, and field days around the US and Canada each year.

To find the complete agenda, or to register online, go here: https://2019hoa.eventbrite.com