The effect of feed efficiency classification on visceral organ mass in finishing steers

– Cunningham-Hollinger , Z. Gray, K. Christensen, W. Means, S. Lake, S. Paisley, K. Cammack and A. Meyer

Canadian Journal of Animal Science, Vol 102(4), December 2022 (

Meat production is projected to increase by 48,000 kg by the year 2027, and beef production specifically is projected to be 21% greater in developing countries and 9% greater in developed countries in 2027. To allow for this increase in production, improvements in feed efficiency will be required to maintain or reduce input costs while increasing productivity. Residual feed intake (RFI) has been used as a measure of feed efficiency in both research and production fields, as it allows for selection of improved animal feed efficiency without increasing mature body weight.

Hereford-Angus crossbred steers (year 1: 59 steers); year 2: 75 steers) from a single contemporary group in each year (birth to slaughter) were used in a 2-year study.

The presence of small intestinal mass differences only in year 1, when the Continue reading

“You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know”

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

Centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Socrates coined the phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know”. I randomly heard this last week, and it struck me how apropos this is to cow-calf producers and the beef industry. So, what “don’t you know”?

According to the USDA NAHMS survey in 2017, less than 20% of cow-calf producers in the US obtain a breeding soundness exam (BSE) on their bulls. A breeding soundness exam is performed by your herd veterinarian and is designed to identify INFERTILE bulls; those bulls that do not have the ability to breed cows. A BSE is inexpensive insurance that your bull can breed cows. It eliminates bulls that have physical issues that would prevent them from breeding cows, and it eliminates bulls that no longer can produce viable sperm. A producer occasionally, but not always, can tell if a bull pulls up lame and if they have an injury to the reproductive tract. But it is impossible to determine if the bull no longer produces viable sperm without performing a BSE. So “you don’t know what you don’t know” unless you have a BSE done annually in your herd sires.

This same USDA survey, less than 20% of cow-calf producers have pregnancy diagnosed in their herd. Pregnancy diagnosis is another simple, inexpensive tool that can be used to help increase Continue reading

Effects of extended days on feed on rate of change in performance and carcass characteristics of feedlot steers and heifers and Holstein steers

– L. Galyean, W. T. Nichols, M. N. Streeter, and J. P. Hutcheson, Applied Animal Science 2023. 39:69–78

Additional days on feed increased marbling scores, but hurt yield grade.

Performance and carcass measurements from 7 experiments with beef steers, 6 experiments with beef heifers, and 2 experiments with Holstein steers, representing a total of 687 pen observations, were analyzed. Cattle were fed high-grain diets and managed under industry-standard conditions. All experiments included extended days on feed.

Slope values in the overall analyses for all 3 classes of cattle were generally significant, reflecting increased final shrunk body weight and hot carcass weight, greater carcass fatness, and shifts toward higher quality grade and yield grade with extended days on feed.

Example application of the extended days on feed slope estimates for a feedlot beef steers fed for an additional Continue reading

Considerations for Selecting & Installing an Electric Fence Charger

, Michigan State University Extension and , MSU Dept. of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

An energizer must be adequately grounded to energize to its potential.

If properly constructed, a good fence should keep livestock contained and last 25 to 30 years without major repairs or total replacement. The old saying, “a good fence makes for good neighbors,” is true. Choosing high-quality materials when building your fence will ensure that it will be effective and last for many years. In some cases, electric fencing may be a significant part of a livestock operation’s fencing plan.

Electric fence technology has made notable advances in recent years. These technological advances have allowed livestock producers to increase their grazing operations’ management potential by attributing flexibility to the rotation of grazing resources. The major component of an electric fence is the charger or energizer; these two terms are used interchangeably throughout this . . .

Continue reading Considerations for Selecting & Installing an Electric Fence Charger

Precision Livestock Farming to Improve Efficiency

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Can we capitalize on gained efficiency within the production system?

Over the winter meeting season, it’s been said many times that there are opportunities to be profitable given the current state of the beef industry. In the most simple of economic terms, Profit = Revenue – Input Costs. In order to increase profits we can do one of the following: 1) increase revenue, 2) reduce input costs, or 3) improve efficiency throughout the production cycle.

When every pound of calf produced has record (or near record) value, how do we capitalize on gained efficiency within the production system?

First off, we cannot manage what we do not measure, or record. Keeping Continue reading

ROI; Is it time for a fresh look?

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

This old project book prompted a fresh look at ROI

Each year as I work through the pile on my farm desk at tax time, I come across the first SOE project book I completed when I began Freshman ag. Considering what we’ve sold cattle for this past year, it really caught my eye when I recently glanced at it again.

That old Livestock Production Enterprise record book showed that I purchased two Hereford crossed steers in November of 1965 for less than a quarter a pound, totaling just over $100 each. I sold them 8 months later for about $260 each. As I think about some fed cattle in Ohio auction barns recently selling for $3000 each, and quality feeder calves commonly bringing $1000 plus, I wonder if perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at return on investment in the beef cattle industry and the value it represents during this time in the cattle price cycle.

Return on investment, or what we might commonly know as ROI, has always been at the forefront of any purchase decision made by profitable and forward-thinking businesses. Agriculture is no different. If the investment isn’t going to return more than its cost, why do it?

The consideration that might make those ROI decisions unique for agriculture is it takes Continue reading

Enhanced Soil Carbon Farming as a Climate Solution: Pastures and Hayfields in Ohio

How do perennial forages vs annual crops affect soil carbon stocks and sequestration?

The Sustainable Agroecosystems Lab at The Ohio State University, Departments of Horticulture & Crop Science and Animals Sciences is seeking farmers to participate in an on-farm soil assessment to evaluate soil carbon sequestration under perennial pasture fields and annual crops fields.

Project description: This is a multi-state and multi-institution $15 million project led by researchers at the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center (CMASC) at The Ohio State University.  Different soil management practices and uses are being assessed in 17 states for their impact on soil carbon stocks. This research will provide on-farm data to farmers, stakeholders and policymakers on the importance of soil carbon farming practices to mitigate climate change.

As part of the project, our lab is focusing on how perennial forages, for grazing or hay, and annual crops, such as corn and soybean, affect soil carbon stocks and sequestration. We are looking to compare fields under long-term use as perennial forage or to . . .

Continue reading Enhanced Soil Carbon Farming as a Climate Solution: Pastures and Hayfields in Ohio

Breeding Soundness of Bulls

Brooks Warner, OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Extension Educator, Scioto County (originally published in Ohio Farmer on-line)

Are you certain your bull is ready to work?

Breeding season for most beef herds is upon us or rapidly approaching here in the Midwest, and whether you plan to use your old bull or purchase a new one, it is important to know that the bull you have is fertile. The best way to know if your bull is fertile is by sending him through a Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE).

It is important to understand what a fertile and productive bull looks like before you open your billfold to purchase a bull. Aside from the initial cost of purchasing a sub-fertile bull, the economic loss due to sub-fertile bulls is far greater in the long run. For every 21-day period of the breeding season that a cow remains open, there is a loss of ~55lbs of weaning weight the following year for the calf she finally conceives.

Not only does a bull need to fit the physical criteria and the inherent drive to breed cows, but he needs to Continue reading

The Toolbox

– Jason Duggin, Public Service Assistant, University of Georgia Department of Animal and Dairy Science

From a herd management standpoint, there are tools you shouldn’t do without.

At our operations and even our homes we tend to not always have every tool that we may need. It may be that we need a seed drill, but it’s more economical to lease one. Still, some tools are an absolute necessity like a pair of fencing pliers. From a management standpoint, there are tools that we might be able to do without, but others we really shouldn’t do without.

Here is a short list of tools that every operation needs:

1) Eyes: Every operation needs good eyes on their herd. Health is probably the first thing that comes to mind and rightly so. However, this also overlaps with nutrition. Being able to assess . . .

Continue reading The Toolbox

You Get What You Pay For, Until You Don’t

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Are you getting what you pay for?

There are many things I could write about for the Expo issue of the Ohio Cattleman, buying bulls (more on that later), mud (it’s been everywhere), cost of raising replacement heifers (not cheap if done right). Instead let’s talk about a topic that’s been on my mind and the minds of others recently given the economy and other issues: Value.

Meriam Webster defines Value in several different ways 1) the monetary worth of something: MARKET PRICE, 2) a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged, 3) relative worth, utility, or importance.

To determine Market Value, I subscribe that it’s up to a buyer and the seller/provider to determine value themselves for a good or service and it’s up to the buyer to know where their cost threshold is. I would also propose in many instances that you get what you pay for, until you don’t. Let me provide Continue reading