Livestock Mortality Composting Certification

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 livestock mortalities. Transportation costs are increasing as well. Composting offers a year round on-farm 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 composting mortalities compared to other disposal methods.

Presently there are two opportunities in Ohio to gain Livestock Mortality Composting Certification. The first is in Darke County on February 13, and the second is on March 12 in Wauseon. Advance reservations are required for both. Find details linked under the Events/Programs link at the top of this page.

When is the best time to castrate bull calves?

– W. Mark Hilton, DVM, PAS, DABVP (beef cattle), Clinical Professor Emeritus, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine

A Kansas State University study showed that bulls castrated and implanted at an average of 3 months of age weighed 2 pounds more at 7.5 months of age than did the intact bull calves in the same study. At 7.5 months, the bulls were castrated, and then both groups were weighed 28 days later to assess gain.

The steers castrated as calves gained 48 pounds, while the bulls that were cut at an average of 578 pounds only gained 33 pounds. That is a lost potential gain of 15 pounds, as these late-castrated bulls had to deal with the stress of healing from surgery.

The fallacy is that there is a positive “testosterone effect” that justifies not castrating until bulls weigh 500 pounds or more. This is a myth. When bull calves were Continue reading

This Winter Has Been Tough on Cows!

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Agriculture Educator, Monroe County

To add on too the great nutrition article in last week’s newsletter, I want to mention a resource available for producers to help monitor their cow’s body condition score. An Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet may be found at https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-54.

Dr. Boyles, last week, gave us all the nuts and bolts for providing the necessary energy and protein to fulfill the cow’s nutritional needs. However, we should also monitor our livestock’s body condition scores to insure the feed being provided coincides with what we see in our livestock’s physical appearance.

Timid animals may not always get enough nutrients even though we are providing them. Our calculations could be wrong also. We hear about so many 1000-1200 pound cows, but there are very few of them at my place. Of my mature cows, more will tip the scale over Continue reading

The Winter of 2019; A case for stockpiled forages and feeding pads!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

I wasn’t going to talk about the weather in this issue. I will say though, that I believe most livestock producers are really appreciating any rock pads that they have built. It’s one thing to have snow on top of ice, but in much of the state, that was over the top of mud. I also was a bit envious of the northern portion of the state that I’ve referred to before as being in semi permafrost, until the polar vortex hit.

Heavy forage cover helps to reduce negative impact on soils, but even that has met its challenges this winter. (Photo: Chris Hollen)

I really don’t mind mud occasionally, it’s certainly expected in the livestock business, but not for weeks or months on end. Most producers are done grazing for the winter or their pasture wishes they were done. The impact of a bunch of cows on water saturated soils can be quite disturbing, no pun intended.

Areas with heavy vegetation from stockpiled forage are also barely able to hold up, even moving animals every day. If there is not much vegetation left, then the chance of it being “plowed” is Continue reading

Managing Cattle Through Winter Weather Conditions

– Warren Rusche, South Dakota State University Extension Beef Feedlot Management Associate

Winter weather conditions often present challenges to cattle managers in the Northern Plains (and upper Midwest). Although we can’t alter the weather, there are management steps that can be taken to help maintain cattle health and performance.

Bedding: Providing bedding is the most useful tool to improve cattle comfort, especially in outside yards. Bedding helps cattle preserve body heat and mitigate the negative effects of cold stress on maintenance energy requirements.

Feeders should consider bedding sooner rather than later when extreme cold weather is expected. Waiting until cattle are exhausted before providing bedding results in calves simply “resting up” on the bed pack instead of maintaining dietary intake. This could result in diminished Continue reading

Can “Ag-gag” Prevent Secretly Filming at Livestock Facilities?

Ellen Essman, Sr. Research Associate, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Nationwide, it seems as though “ag-gag” laws are being challenged and overturned left and right. “Ag-gag” is the term for laws that prevent undercover journalists, investigators, animal rights advocates, and other whistleblowers from secretly filming or recording at livestock facilities. “Ag-gag” also describes laws which make it illegal for undercover persons to use deception to obtain employment at livestock facilities. Many times, the laws were actually passed in response to under-cover investigations which illuminated conditions for animals raised at large industrial farms. Some of the videos and reports produced were questionable in nature—they either set-up the employees and the farms, or they were released without a broader context of farm operations. The laws were meant to protect the livestock industry from reporting that might be critical of their operations—obtained through deception and without context, or otherwise.

Here in Ohio, we do not have an ag-gag law; instead we have the Ohio Livestock Care Standards, which are rules for the care of livestock in the state. The rules are made by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, which is made up of farmers, food safety experts, farmers’ organizations, veterinarians, the dean of the agriculture department from an Ohio college or university, consumers, and county humane society representatives. There are standards for the care of different species of livestock, as well as standards for euthanizing livestock, feeding and watering livestock, transporting livestock, etc. Violating the standards could lead to Continue reading

Feeding Management to Minimize Hay Waste

Stephen Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Feeding hay to cattle is expensive. Hay costs between $0.02 and $0.07 per pound of dry matter; usually more than double the cost for the same amount of nutrients from pasture. Hay is expensive because (1) it requires a large investment in equipment, (2) it requires labor to make and feed, and (3) more than 50 percent of it is wasted by either poor storage methods or improper feeding practices.  This article focuses on the last of these expenses — losses associated with feeding hay.

You wouldn’t dream of throwing away one-third of your hay.  That is what happens, though, when livestock are allowed unlimited access to hay.  Livestock trample and waste 25 to 45 percent of the hay when it is fed with Continue reading

Beef AG NEWS Today, the January Podcast; Cow Stress, and Addressing the Nutritional Concerns

In this month’s podcast of Beef AG NEWS Today, show host Duane Rigsby visits with OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes about the weather related stress cows have been under, and addressing the resulting nutritional concerns. That conversation evolves into a preview of the 2019 Ohio Beef School being hosted in several Ohio counties on February 5.

Winter Application of Manure

Glen Arnold, CCA, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management

During winter, solid manure application should be limited to five tons per acre and liquid manure application amounts to 5,000 gallons per acre.

This past fall was particularly tough on livestock producers and commercial manure applicators trying to land apply livestock manure. Weather conditions were warmer and wetter than normal with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) station at South Charleston recording 32 days with measurable rainfall totaling 9.91 inches in November and December. In these same two months the OARDC station at Hoytville recorded 24 days with measurable rainfall totaling 6.04 inches. The wet weather prevented many acres of cover crops being planted and has severely limited the number of days that field conditions were dry enough or frozen enough for manure application equipment to operate.

A substantial number of livestock producers across the state will be Continue reading

Calving Seasons of the Mind

– Justin Sexten, Ph.D., Director, CAB Supply Development

Winter came early for much of cow-calf country, and now calving season is at the gate. Even those who call it “spring calving” often start in January, but if you’re not out checking a heifer, this is a good time of year to catch up on reading. Calving dates and “housing” options for the herd were explored in a 2019 Nebraska Beef Report article by Terry Klopfenstein and others, who evaluated March, June, or August calving dates on the range, or two July calving systems in year-round confinement or in semi-confinement with grazed corn stalks from fall to April weaning. Even if none of these models fit your operation, the production and cost principles they illustrate can help develop a system that does match your resources.

Confinement for beef cows ranges from enclosed buildings to a more extensive dry-lot model, with greatly varying costs based on capital investments. Confinement in an open dry lot costs less, but if you have to deal with inclement weather, heat, cold, rain or snow, the added shelter may be worth the added investment.

Either of the confinement options could also make sense where expansion on range or pasture is limited by land availability. Confinement models can increase ranch stocking rates by using use forage resources more efficiently, with options for strategic supplementation and preventing overgrazing.

The top concern for any herd management system may be Continue reading