Pasture-Finished Beef Production Online Workshops August 11-13, 7-9 PM

– Dr. Greg Halich, Associate Extension Professor, Livestock/Forages and Grain Crops Management, University of Kentucky

There has been a quickly growing consumer demand for Pasture-finished beef and the corona virus has added to this demand. Opportunities to direct market a higher value product is appealing to many producers. However, getting adequate growth to reach a “finished” state and addressing market issues can be major challenges. The workshops are led by Greg Halich at the University of Kentucky, and Ed Rayburn at West Virginia University. Both are extension specialists and long-time producers of pasture-finished beef. A producer panel on the last night will offer insights from the full-time producers’ perspective. Participants will receive a pasture-finished beef production manual and copies of all presentation materials. Hard copies of materials will be mailed to participants in VA, WV, and KY, and if available to other states. Electronic versions of the materials will be made available to everyone.

No Cost but need to REGISTER at Continue reading

Management Considerations for Backgrounding Calves

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

If feed resources are available, backgrounding calves allows marketing them at a later time when feedlot capacity may be greater and demand stronger.

Backgrounding is the growing of steers and heifers from weaning until they enter the feedlot for finishing.  Backgrounding and Stocker cattle are similar although backgrounding is sometimes associated with a drylot, and stockering cattle is thought of as pasture-based system.   However any system that takes advantage of economical feed sources can be investigated.

Why might someone consider backgrounding or growing cattle?

  • The producer has time and economical feed resources
  • The market at weaning is not as favorable and is investigating alternative marketing times
  • Some feedyards prefer buying/feeding yearlings. They can expect fewer health problems and can feed two turns of cattle in a year.
  • It could be a way of upgrading mismanaged cattle so as to add value.
  • Since the cattle can be on feed for several months, they can fit the preference by some feeders for preconditioned cattle

There are many systems for backgrounding.  A common one is Continue reading

The “D” word is back, and it’s Déjà vu, all over again!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Adding to marketing complications resulting from COVID-19, and on the heals of one of the wettest springs in history, drought has now returned to Ohio!

After experiencing one of the wettest years ever through mid-May, over half of Ohio suddenly finds itself listed as either Abnormally Dry or in a Moderate Drought condition by the U.S. Drought Monitor. At a time when last year’s depleted inventory of quality forage has yet to be restored, the various aspects of managing feed resources will remain a primary concern for Ohio cattlemen in the coming weeks and months.

As we navigate the path of inadequate forage feed resources which it seems is becoming an annual ritual, we’ve now added challenges that result from a pandemic. COVID-19 related supply chain disruptions in April and May created a backlog of fed cattle that is likely to continue through the summer. This translates into heavier harvest weights and a lack of feedyard capacity that could easily Continue reading

Don’t Stop Managing Now: Preconditioning Pays

Garth Ruff, Extension Educator OSU Extension Henry County (originally published in the Ohio Farmer)

As we approach fall, now is the time to maximize the value of your spring calf crop. Cattle buyers have placed a premium on preconditioned cattle, and as preconditioning becomes more of the norm across the U.S., unweaned, uncastrated, and unvaccinated cattle are receiving greater discounts.

Here in the Eastern Cornbelt where cow herds tend to be smaller, the number one barrier to preconditioning calves is often a lack of facilities to wean, vaccinate, and to feed calves. Even for smaller herds the cost of workable facilities can prove to be a sound investment with the increase in value of a calf crop

Here we will look at the different processes involved in preconditioning calves and the potential for increased revenue from each practice.

Weaning. Across the industry, a standard for many preconditioning programs is to have calves weaned for at least 45 days. CattleFax in their May, 2020 Cow-Calf webinar reported that calves weaned over 45 days had an average value of $898 than calves that were sold right off of the cow at $800. That said, calves that were “trailer weaned” had Continue reading

Could early weaning increase your profits?

Dean Kreager, Licking County Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator (originally published in the Ohio Farmer)

Early weaning can reduce daily forage consumption between 25 and 40%.

Over the last couple of years, making hay in a timely manner has been nearly impossible.  There just were not 3- or 4-day windows of dry weather without water standing in the fields.  The result was a lot of poor-quality hay resulting in poor body condition scores of cows coming out of the winter.  This year, hay production has started out much better for most people.  We had a couple nice dry periods in late May and early June that allowed baling of good quality hay.  The issue this year is quantity.  Many people are reporting reductions of 30 to 50% in tonnage of first cutting hay.  There are probably two factors that are causing this.  First the cold weather and numerous frost and freeze events in April and May slowed the hay down growth.  Much of the alfalfa was at a bud stage on the first of June instead of flowering.  This likely helped the quality but hurt the quantity.  The second factor is that we simply would expect less hay when it is baled at the beginning of June than the end of June.  Time will tell whether the season long hay production remains low or if second and third cuttings make up the difference.

It is never too early to plan.  There are options to consider to be sure enough forage will be available for the winter.  This comes down to either Continue reading

Aborting Heifers Bred by Mistake

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

I had to lean on the knowledge and expertise of Dr. Justin Rhinehart this week with a beef cattle reproduction question. My question to Dr. Rhinehart related to the most economical route to abort heifers because the neighbors bull visited this week.

The key to his response was mainly timing based on when the bull was removed and when I planned on marketing these heifers. For the sake of brevity, my alternatives were to determine pregnancy status of all the heifers exposed and then provide a prostaglandin shot to those found to be bred or to give all of the heifers a prostaglandin shot.

In simple terms, the prostaglandin shot needs to be administered between 10 days after the bull was removed and 30 days after his removal for the best results. The reason this is important is because pregnant heifers in the feedlot is bad for the feedlot and bad for the person who sold the animals. A bunch of bred heifers could tarnish a person’s reputation as a feeder cattle producer and it would all be for something that would cost about $5 per head.

Some Ideas on Converting from Year-round Calving to a Controlled Breeding Season

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

Maintaining a controlled breeding and calving season can be one of the most important management tools for cow-calf producers. A uniform, heavier, and more valuable calf crop is one key reason for keeping the breeding season short. Plus, more efficient cow supplementation and cow herd health programs are products of a short breeding season. However, converting from a year-long breeding season to a shortened 2 to 3 month breeding season should not be done haphazardly.

A system for converting from year-round to a 75-day controlled calving season over a period of two years would present less loss and fewer problems than to try to convert in one year. The following steps are suggested for getting on a controlled breeding Continue reading

Grass Cover Crops Can Be Bedding!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

The value of cover crops as feed may never be more recognized than it has been over the past few years. However, with wheat straw for bedding bringing prices at auction that are similar to those of first cutting hay, perhaps grass covers such as cereal rye are just as valuable for bedding as they are for feed. That becomes even more so in a wet spring when the timely harvest of grass covers like cereal rye is challenged. Feed quality of cereal rye declines quickly as harvest is delayed. All that said, cereal rye becomes a very acceptable alternative to wheat straw for bedding that was discussed in more detail previously in the article, Grass Cover Crops; Bargain Feed or Bedding?. Below is the recent result of the Continue reading

Precision Technology Systems in Alfalfa

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Crawford County, AgNR Educator (previously published in Progressive Forage on-line)

I was recently talking to one of my local farmers who uses precision agriculture to manage his corn and soybean crops. His combine, sprayer and planter are all connected to the cloud, and he uses the data from the last 10 years to manage next year’s crop.

We were discussing ways to use the data he collects to better manage the farm. As we looked at his data, some fields had four years of yield history missing due to his hay business. He commented that it is strange how we are still managing hay fields on a field scale, but the rest of his crops are zone managed; yet alfalfa is often his most profitable crop. How do we improve hay production zones without yield and quality data? There are tools available to better manage forage production.

There has been a surprising amount of work done recently in this area, including remote sensing for yield, quality and stand evaluation; developing yield monitors and soil mapping. Last year started out very disappointing for alfalfa growers in my area, with large areas winter-killed. As we started to assess stand damage, walking every field and accurately documenting damage was not Continue reading