Confessions of a Cattleman; Lessons learned in the chicken house!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County (originally published in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

Can cattlemen achieve the same uniformity we see in these broilers?

Perhaps you’ve heard me say before that my ancestors settled near the banks of the Sycamore Creek in 1826. Like most back then, during their first 130+ years in Fairfield County they farmed a little bit of everything while providing for each of the several generations of Smiths that followed. They had some dairy, beef, hogs, chickens, a few sheep and whatever crops it took to feed the livestock.

Like most farms back then, they grew most of their meals. In fact, around the Smith farm as recently as the late 1950’s and early 60’s, perhaps the greatest treat one of the kids could experience was being chosen to help Grandma snare an old hen to make pan fried chicken for lunch. Much like the cattle in the dairy were then, those old leghorns were a dual-purpose critter that served us well. The extra eggs were sold to the local creamery, and the spent hens had just enough muscle to Continue reading

Heifer Development Beginning at Weaning

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

HEIFER SELECTION:  Heifers can be sold at weaning or anytime thereafter.  Select at least 20% excess and continue growing the heifers until breeding.  A second selection at yearling age is helpful.  Let the bull or artificial insemination program select the heifers you keep by maintaining a relatively short breeding season (45 days).  Pregnancy diagnosis after the breeding season provides another opportunity for culling.  A final selection can be made after heifers wean their first calf.  Weaning weight of the first calf is a fairly good, though not foolproof, indicator of future production.

EARLY GROWTH (weaning and yearling weight) AND FRAME:  The traditional method for choosing replacements is pick the big ones at weaning.  Traditional selection is simple and is not necessarily all bad.  If growth is needed, selection on size will provide it. The bigger heifers are generally older, and thus selection is from the earlier calving cows. It also may (or may not) select heifers of heavier milking cows.  Heavier and older heifers are more likely to cycle and breed early and be well on their way to having acceptable lifetime performance.

However, there are problems with the traditional method of selection.  Some of the heaviest heifers at weaning may be fat and offer the potential of poor Continue reading

Whole Herd Performance Data Reporting

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

This article is based on information by J. Bormann and M. Rolf. See: Beef Sire Selection Manual 3rd Edition, page 13

Some breeders choose to report performance data only on calves that they want to register. However, this is not in the best interest of either the producer or their customers as this practice leads to biased and inaccurate EPDs. Complete reporting of every animal in the herd is critical to obtain the best estimates of genetic merit. By only reporting the best calves, producers are inadvertently penalizing their highest-performing calves. In the following example, we will use weaning weight ratios to illustrate the effect of only reporting the best calves. Suppose we have 10 calves with an average adjusted weaning weight of Continue reading

Make Plans Now for 2021 OCA Replacement Female Sale

In 2020, 83 total lots grossed $159,025 for an overall average of $1,844

The 2021 date for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) ninth annual Replacement Female Sale will be Friday evening, November 26. The sale will be held at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Co. in Zanesville, Ohio and will begin at 6:00 p.m.

The 2021 OCA Replacement Female Sale will provide an opportunity for both buyers and sellers to meet the need for quality replacements in the state. Consignments may include cow-calf pairs, bred cows and bred heifers. Females must be under the age of five as of January 1, 2022 and may be of registered or commercial background. Bred females must be bred to a bull with known EPD’s and calves at side of cows must be sired by a bull with known EPD’s. Pregnancy status must be verified by an accredited veterinarian through traditional palpation, ultrasound or by blood testing through a professional laboratory. Analysis must be performed within 60 days of sale. Consignments will also be Continue reading

Management Considerations for Beef x Dairy Calves

Regardless the genetics of cattle you’re feeding, you will find value in listening to this three part webinar series.

While dairy steers have been an important part of the beef supply chain for some time, feeding half blood dairy steers sired by beef bulls has become a popular and more common practice in recent years. During the spring of 2021, Garth Ruff, Ohio State University Extension Beef Field Specialist, and Jerad Jaborek, Feedlot Systems Extension Educator at Michigan State University, hosted a three part webinar series on management considerations for beef sired calves from dairy cows that covered a variety of topics related to marketing, genetics, and management of crossbred beef x dairy cattle.

During the first session (embedded below) held on April 21 the focus was on marketing dairy beef calves and featured Larry Rose and JT Loewe of JBS as they discussed the quality of the cattle they seek to purchase, their pricing structure, and the demands they have for high quality, consistently sized and correctly finished dairy crossed beef cattle. Regardless the genetics being fed, the speakers shared a strong message for the value of consistency and proper finish the market is demanding in all fed cattle Continue reading

Beef Sire Selection for the Dairy Herd

Creating half blood bull calves with sexed beef bull semen can increase profitability on the dairy farm.

By some estimates, fed cattle that include dairy genetics make up something in the neighborhood of 25% of the U. S. beef supply. With improvements in the utilization of male sexed beef bull semen, many dairymen are choosing to utilize beef genetics to add value to their calf crop.

On March 10th Al Gahler, Ag and Natural Resources Educator in Sandusky County, presented via zoom during the OSU Extension Beef Team’s 2021 winter beef school series on making beef cattle sire decisions for the dairy herd. Al covered EPD’s and traits to consider in order to maximize the value and marketability of crossbred beef on dairy calves.

The session begins as OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist Garth Ruff introduces Al Gahler to discuss effectively utilizing beef sires to add value to the dairy based calf crop.

Beef Sire Selection for the Dairy Herd Webinar

This one hour presentation comes to you virtually beginning at noon on March 10.

By some estimates, fed cattle that include dairy genetics make up something in the neighborhood of 25% of the U. S. beef supply. With improvements in the utilization of male sexed beef bull semen, many dairymen are choosing to utilize beef genetics in an effort to add value to their calf crop.

If you are intrigued by the opportunities presented through the utilization of beef bulls on dairy cows, plan to join the OSU Extension Beef Team’s Al Gahler on March 10 to discuss and learn more about making beef cattle sire decisions for the dairy herd. Al will cover EPD’s and traits to consider to maximize the value and marketability of crossbred beef on dairy calves.

This virtual presentation begins at noon on the 10th and is free. Just pre-register at this link to attend: https://osu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Wk8Gb-GWQJipBkj96Q287Q

Matching the Cow’s Milk Production to Your Forage Resources

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist (this originally appeared in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

Genetics and cow type must match the available feed resources and herd management style

Type differences exist due to size, milk production, suitability to the environment and desirability of different types for profit. All these factors affect the amount of nutrients required by the individual. The nutrient requirements of the various types can determine different management schemes.

There are several segments of the industry that influence size of beef cattle. The packer-grocery store segment has preferred USDA Choice carcasses in the 700 to 900 lb range.  The feedlot operator is looking for calves that have an acceptable dressing percent and attain USDA Choice grade at 1100 to 1400 lbs (weights have been somewhat heavier in 2020).  Various combinations of different bulls and cows can accomplish this goal.

Size and Nutrition:  Considerable changes in outputs and requirements per animal may be induced by changes in cow size.  Table 1 illustrates the Continue reading

Having Your Cake . . .

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

My colleagues and I like to rib each other about which discipline is more important in beef production nutrition, genetics, health, or reproduction. Of course, I argue that reproductive efficiency is the most important because reproductive rate drives gross revenue. But we all know it’s not that simple. All disciplines need to be managed and blended to optimize reproductive potential.

Have you ever baked a cake? I am not a baker, but to make a great cake one needs to have eggs, sugar, flour, butter, milk, and flavorings (chocolate is my favorite). These ingredients mixed in the proper proportions can make an incredible product; a moist, flavorful cake. Adjust or ignore any of the key ingredients and the ability to make a delicious cake is greatly impacted. No flour, no cake. No sugar, and the cake tastes awful. No flavoring and, again, a cake that is not satisfying. Alter any of the ingredients or even the amount used, and the cake can be unsatisfying. To make a GREAT cake, it takes the right ingredients, mixed in the correct amount by a careful practitioner.

If you think about it, reproduction or reproductive rate is the cake and genetics, nutrition, the health program, etc are all essential ingredients. One of the most essential ingredients is Continue reading

Entry Deadline for the 2020 OCA Replacement Female Sale Approaches

John F. Grimes, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Replacement Female Sale Manager

On Friday evening, November 27, the OCA will be hosting their eighth annual Replacement Female Sale. The sale will be held at the Muskingum Livestock facility in Zanesville and will begin at 6:00 p.m. The entry deadline for consignments for the sale are due to the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association by October 1, 2020.

The 2020 Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Replacement Female Sale will provide an opportunity for both buyers and sellers to meet the need for quality replacements in the state. Consignments may include cow-calf pairs, bred cows and bred heifers. Females must be under the age of five as of January 1, 2021 and may be of registered or commercial background. Bred females must be bred to a bull with known EPD’s and calves at side of cows must be sired by a bull with known EPD’s. Pregnancy status must be verified by an accredited veterinarian through traditional palpation, ultrasound or by blood testing through a professional laboratory. Analysis must be performed within 60 days of sale. Consignments will also be fulfilling specific Continue reading