Selecting Your Next Herd Sire

Brooks Warner, OSU Extension Educator, Scioto County

We are in bull sale season and many of you are looking for a new herd sire.

Before making sire selections, I encourage you to ask yourself, “What are my operation’s goals?” and select your next herd sires with your operation goals in mind. Operations should buy the bulls you need and not the bulls you want.

Wanting to go for the stylish bull, the thickest bull and/or the biggest weaning and yearling weights is easy. However, beauty is (sometimes) only hide deep, and single-trait selection is never a good idea.

For most operations, the main goal is profitability, and a few different aspects come together to help you achieve a profitable beef herd. Some of the most important aspects of the profitable beef herd equation are:

  • Live calves
  • Fertile, easy keeping, productive cows
  • Optimal performance at the farm and ranch, in the feed yard, on the rail and on the consumer’s plate

Sire selection should be a combination of Continue reading

Don’t Let Tradition Impede Progress

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

“No matter how your Granddaddy or your Daddy did it, if you are trying to do exactly like you did last year you are probably wrong.

If you’re trying to farm like you did last year you are probably wrong. Unless you did it wrong last year, and that might be the case. Then maybe you get it right this year because every year is different.”

The above quote was one of the many valuable pieces of insight during our 2022 Beef Outlook webinar taught by Dr. Andrew Griffith, Associate Professor of Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of Tennessee. You can find the recording on the OSU Extension Beef Team YouTube page.

That thought really stuck me as timely. We know fertilizer, seed, feed, and chemical inputs are going to cost more for the foreseeable future. Inflation and increasing interest rates are daily discussion topics. Weather continues to be a wild card, not just with drought in the west but with excess moisture here at home. Even though commodity prices look favorable, especially cattle and beef, it is borderline insanity to Continue reading

Adding Value to the Calf Crop Through Reproductive Technology

– Dr. Pedro Fontes, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, University of Georgia

A companion article by Dr. Fluharty in this newsletter highlights the changes in carcass quality that have observed in the beef industry, where over the last couple of decades, our industry has substantially increased the proportion of carcasses grading Choice and Prime. More importantly, while the proportion of superior carcasses have increased, the consumer demand for a higher quality product continues to grow. Cow-calf producers have traditionally struggled to capture value when marketing calves with superior genetics for terminal traits. However, today, this scenario is changing.Cattlemen that produce genetically superior calves that will perform well in the feedlot and produce superior carcasses can take advantage of value-based marketing opportunities to differentiate themselves and add value to their calf crop.

Artificial insemination (AI) is currently the most effective way to rapidly introduce superior terminal genetics into commercial beef herds and consequently increase the genetic merit of the calf crop for carcass-related traits. Cattle producers that utilize AI benefit from the widespread . . .

Continue reading Adding Value to the Calf Crop Through Reproductive Technology

2021 OCA Replacement Female Sale Results

– Garth Ruff, OCA Replacement Female Sale Manager

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) held their ninth annual Replacement Female Sale on November 26 at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Company in Zanesville, Ohio. A large crowd was on hand to bid on 80 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 80 lots of bred heifers and bred cows at the auction. The sale included 56 lots of bred heifers that averaged $1,701, and 24 lots of bred cows that averaged $2,155. The 80 total lots grossed $152,875 for an overall average of $1,910. The females sold to buyers from Ohio and West Virginia. Col. Ron Kreis served as the auctioneer.

Sales prices for quality females were slightly higher year over year, as the 2021 sale represented a $66 per head price increase over the Continue reading

Ninth Annual OCA Replacement Female Sale this Friday

Selling bred heifers, cows and pairs, all less than 5 years old.

This is the final reminder to attend the ninth annual Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Replacement Female Sale.  The sale will be held this Friday, November 26, at the Muskingum Livestock facility located at 944 Malinda Street in Zanesville and will begin at 6:00 p.m. This sale represents an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to add quality young replacement females to their herd.

Approximately 42 bred heifers, 33 bred cows and cow/calf pairs are being offered at this year’s sale. Females selling will have pregnancy status verified within 60 days of sale and are eligible for interstate shipment. Breeds represented include Continue reading

Expected Progeny Differences and their Accuracy

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

This article is a condensed version of material written by M. Spangler. See Beef Sire Selection Manual 3rd Edition, page 19-20

Expected Progeny Differences (EPD) and have been proven to be the most reliable tool to generate change from selection.  Expected Progeny Differences are predictions of genetic merit of an individual as a parent. As the name would imply, they are predictions of the differences in individuals’ offspring performance. Historically, most beef breed associations conducted a genetic evaluation twice annually, meaning that EPD were updated twice a year. However, with the advent of genomic information, new data are continually available. This has necessitated weekly genetic evaluations, and thus updated EPD are available on a weekly basis for the majority of beef cattle breeds.

How Do You Use EPD?

Simply knowing an animal’s EPD for a given trait has no meaning without something to compare it to. This comparison can be between animals or an animal and a point of reference, such as the Continue reading

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