Grouping the Cowherd for Winter Feeding

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Young-bred heifers and young cows that have just weaned their first calf should be fed separately from the mature cows in the herd. The young animals are smaller, still growing, and are replacing their temporary teeth. They may be pushed away from feed by cows in their prime and settle for what hay is left and is likely of lower higher quality. The results of feeding young stock with the main cowherd is thin heifers and maybe overfed cows.

Older cows that are kept for being exceptional producers (or are just special to the cattle producer) merit some special attention. Consider feeding them with the younger heifers and cows. Keep a close eye on this groups because they may be missing some teeth and decline in body condition.

Grouping the herd according to fall body condition could allow for thinner cows to catch up with cows are already in adequate condition. Admittedly, wintering facilities and number of feeding areas can limit the degree of grouping of cows. Grouping cows will also allow you to ask the question, “which cows are my easy keepers and which cows are my hard keepers?”

Black vulture depredation: Lessons learned from my first calving season at the UKREC

– Dr. Katie VanValin, Assistant Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

This year has held a lot of “firsts” for me, including my first calving season at the UKREC in Princeton, KY. Our beef herd is comprised of 150 fall calving cows. We are now at the very tail end of our calving season, however early on in our calving season it became apparent we had a black vulture problem on our hands.

You could make your own black vulture effigy to deter live birds.

Black vultures are native to Kentucky, but increased populations have made them a problem for livestock producers across the state. Like most animals us humans deem a nuisance (like I do snakes), black vultures play an important role in our overall ecosystem. These birds consume and dispose of animal carcasses. However, when their feed supply becomes limited, they will resort to killing live animals, such as newborn calves.

Vultures are keenly aware of one another, which can work to our advantage when combatting them. The use of vulture effigy’s can be a deterrent to live birds causing them to leave the area. In order to harvest a vulture for use as an effigy you must Continue reading

Bison Stakeholders: NAHMS seeks your input in selecting the focus of its Bison 2022 study

The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) is developing its second national study of the U.S. bison industry, which is planned for 2022. USDA invites stakeholders now to take a brief online survey to help NAHMS focus the research and build a study that is the most beneficial to industry. NAHMS welcomes responses from people representing all facets of the bison industry, and as a bison stakeholder, your input is crucial to this process.

Click here to access the survey, and please complete by November 15, 2020. The survey takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

In addition to helping USDA identify key bison health and management issues, stakeholder participation will bridge existing information gaps by exploring Continue reading

Freezer Beef Sales Explode During COVID-19 . . . Will Your Customers Be Ready to Buy Again?

Mike Estadt, OSU Extension Educator, Pickaway County

Do you know if your freezer beef customers are satisfied?

It is well documented that early in the coronavirus pandemic, major meat processing facilities across the United States became supply bottlenecks due to employee infections shutting down production.  In response to seeing less meat available in the retail case, or limits on the amount of proteins that a consumer could purchase, farm raised, direct marketed meat, especially beef, experienced high demand.

Today it is still unlikely that you can schedule the processing of a steer until the early part of 2021.  Due in part to limited space in coolers and limited workers skilled in meat processing, both custom and inspected processing facilities are struggling to meet the demand of producers wanting beef processed for direct sales to consumers.

Where is the beef supply currently and what can the consumer and local producer expect to see in the retail sector of the beef business?  Cattle coming to market are Continue reading

Online Mortality Composting Certification

Amanda Douridas, Champaign County Ag and Natural Resources OSU Extension Educator (originally published in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

Multi-bin system with a concrete pad and wooden sides.

Composting livestock mortalities can be an efficient and inexpensive method of disposing of on-farm mortalities. Rendering facilities are becoming harder to come by and so are landfills that accept mortalities. Transportation costs are increasing as well. Composting offers a year-round alternative that may be more cost effective than other disposal methods. Once the compost cycle is complete, the finished product can be land applied to the farm’s fields as a nutrient resource.

To start composting livestock mortalities, one must complete a certification course taught by OSU Extension. This course teaches producers how to properly compost mortalities. It covers topics like where to place the compost site, how large of an area is needed, how to manage a pile to compost completely and efficiently, and the economics of Continue reading

Forage Focus: Baling Hay at Farm Science Review

In this edition of Forage Focus Christine Gelley of OSU Extension and Brent Raines of Krone North America discuss equipment and methods for baling dry and wet hay crops. Together they address features of balers on the market, options for bale wrap, setting bale parameters, and evaluating bale quality for all classes of livestock.

This demonstration was filmed on 9/23/2020 for Farm Science Review Online. Additional hay demonstrations from Farm Science Review featuring OSU Extension and 2020 Exhibitors are also available for viewing:

Solid Manure Spreader Calibration

It’s that time of year when hay and/or harvested grain fields are becoming available for the application of manure nutrients. Have you ever given thought to how much manure you might be spreading per acre? If not you might be surprised by the amount you are applying, and perhaps more importantly how easy it is to determine the tonnage being applied per acre. This brief video from the recent ‘virtual’ Farm Science Review explains a simple calibration process.

If you missed any of the ‘virtual’ sessions from the 2020 Farm Science Review, find them all archived here at your convenience:

Tips to Improve the Success of Weaning Beef Calves

– Jeff Lehmkuhler, Associate Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Fall is officially here and with it will bring the country sound of calves bawling as weaning occurs on beef cattle farms. This time of year can be busy with field crops, getting the last cutting of hay and other farm activities. Take some time to prepare for weaning of the beef calves to add value to the calf crop prior to marketing. Weaning preparation can reduce stress for you and the calves.

A Few Tips to Successful Weaning

1) Minimize Transitional Stress – have castration, dehorning, first round vaccines and other procedures done prior to weaning; minimize diet changes and wean on pasture if possible and/or provide the same grain mix if calves were creep fed; consider fenceline weaning if facilities allow; watch the weather forecast and avoid weaning when Continue reading

Thinking About Weaning and Preconditioning Calves to Add Value? Know the “Lingo”

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Traditionally, many KY beef producers with winter/spring born feeder calves market through Special Graded Feeder Calf Sales held in the fall. At these sales, feeder cattle are graded according to the USDA Feeder Cattle Grading Standards, are weighed and sorted into groups (load lots of 48,000-50,000 lbs) and are then sold. Buyers take advantage of these sales to buy larger groups of feeder cattle with similar traits. Most of these calves are weaned “on the truck” on the way to the sale, unvaccinated, and the bull calves are still bulls. With this marketing strategy, producers who work to improve genetics or have an effective herd health program do not earn premiums for their extra effort because calves are sold based on the average weight and grade of the group.

Preconditioning of feeder cattle has been recognized by industry experts as a way for cow-calf operators to add value to their annual calf crops. Most preconditioning programs specify two rounds of viral and Clostridial vaccinations, a Mannheimia haemolytica toxoid, deworming, castration of bull calves and healed, heifers guaranteed not pregnant, and a minimum of 45 days weaned. Some require producers to use one pharmaceutical company’s products. In addition, weaned calves are usually expected to know how to eat from a feed bunk and drink from a fountain or tank. Buyers prefer weaned calves that have been properly fed and vaccinated compared to similar non-vaccinated and non-weaned calves, which can translate to price premiums of $10 to $15 per cwt depending on the market that day. However, to capture this added value, this information must be Continue reading