Approaches for Reestablishing Hay Feeding Areas

– Chris Teutsch, UK Research and Education Center at Princeton

Figure 1. Excessive rainfall and high livestock concentration in and around hay feeding areas has resulted in almost complete disturbance.

Wet conditions this winter have resulted in almost complete disturbance in and around hay feeding areas. Even well-designed hay feeding pads will have significant damage surrounding the pad where animals enter and leave. These highly disturbed areas create perfect growing conditions for summer annual weeds like spiny pigweed and cockle bur. Their growth is stimulated be lack of competition from a healthy and vigorous sod and the high fertility from the concentrated area of dung, urine and rotting hay. The objective of this article is to outline approached for dealing with these areas.

Approach I: Planting cool-season grasses and legumes

The first strategy is to seed cool-season grasses or a mixture of grasses and legumes in the spring. While this commonly done, results are usually less than spectacular in most years. This is due to several reasons. The first is that seedings are normally delayed until late spring or early summer. This does not allow adequate time for the seedlings to develop a large enough root system to sustain them through a hot and often dry summer. The second reason is that Continue reading

Emergency Preparation Considerations for Beef Operations

– Jeff Lehmkuhler, PhD, PAS Associate Extension Professor

As we see the events unfold in response to COVID-19, I thought I would share a few things to consider in any emergency. Emergency preparedness first came to light for me early in my graduate student career when the hurricane hit North Carolina and my swine colleagues shared pictures of boats carrying feed to swine facilities. Being prepared became more evident in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the impacts on beef cattle operations near the coast. Granted we may not be near the coast and hurricanes are not a concern but, when the tornado went through eastern Kentucky a couple years ago, having plans for dealing with emergencies again become evident as we were rebuilding fences and accessing the supplies needed to do so. The following does not pertain to just the current situation and should provide a spark to think about preparing for emergencies you may experience on your operation.

Identify major weaknesses that are critical points in your operation to maintain the necessities for the well being and care of your animals. Start with the basics of nutritional considerations for assuring livestock will have access to feed and water. Then consider animal health management items that may be impacted if supplies are limited or take longer to acquire. This is not to say that you should hoard products, but rather plan well and consider the “what ifs”.

As we are entering spring and pastures are greening up, feed resources may not be Continue reading

Managing Mud Season

Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension, Perry County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

This is not a new topic or an issue that we haven’t seen before.  But this past year has really been a challenge for ruminants.  In a normal year mud season was early fall, then freeze in the winter and then reappear in March.  This year it started after last September’s dry weather, and since then it’s been mud season.  This has made feeding forages and maintaining pastures very difficult.  To further compound the problem last year’s first cutting hay was of very low quality.  I hope that you have taken forage samples and are maintaining body condition scores in preparation for the newborns arriving soon if not already.

Not only is the mud situation bad for our pastures and feeding areas, it also increases the nutrient need for our livestock.  Reports have indicated that cattle in muddy conditions may require 30% more net energy for maintenance.  Shallow depths of mud (4-8”) can reduce feed intake 5-15% and when mud is 12-24” deep, feed intake can be reduced by Continue reading

Semen/Nitrogen Tank Care

Dean Kreager, Licking County Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator

Handle with care. The inner container is only attached to the outer container at the neck and a crack in this connection will cause the tank to quickly fail!

It is almost time to start breeding for the 2021 calf crop. Last week I talked about proper semen handling so this week I thought it was worth providing some information on care and handling of the liquid nitrogen tanks. The nitrogen tanks on our farms are likely storing semen and embryos that are very expensive to replace or maybe can’t be replaced. We need to take care of these tanks to make sure we don’t lose the contents.

Many people may be heading to the Ohio Beef Expo to pick up straws of semen and there are some things you should keep in mind.

Ideally you would have a dry shipper tank to pick up your straws. This is the small tanks they use to send semen to your farm. These are called “dry shippers” because they should not have liquid in them. They contain an absorbent material that soaks up the liquid nitrogen and can maintain a temperature close to the temperature of liquid nitrogen for 1 to 3 weeks. The problem is that these tanks will cost as much or more than your standard storage tank and you need to recharge them with liquid nitrogen before using them.

Legally you can not carry a tank containing liquid nitrogen in an Continue reading

Use of Guard Llamas in an Integrated Predator Control System

– Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students and Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Llamas have proven to be beneficial as a guard animals in livestock production systems that include other small ruminants such as young calves and sheep.

In this latest Ag-note, Animal Sciences students Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson highlight a unique ruminant species (pseudo ruminant that is) that can be used in any livestock operation as a means of control for predators. As Ohio legislation begins to reassess the status of the coyote in terms of being a fur-bearing animal, as a result producers may be limited in how they may be able to trap these predators, producers may be forced to find alternative means to manage this controversial wildlife livestock interaction.

The llama, not to be mistaken with the alpaca, is a large framed, cloven hoofed pseudo ruminant (3 chambered stomach) that originates from South America. Due to their size and natural ‘flocking’ instinct, llamas have proven to be beneficial as a guard animal in livestock production systems, especially with small ruminants. Due to their size alone, llamas pose as a threat to in-coming predators. Llamas have been shown to be most effective against canine species such as coyotes, red fox, wolves, and of course, the domestic dog.

When thinking of llamas, some may remember . . .

Continue reading Use of Guard Llamas in an Integrated Predator Control System

Proposed Coyote Trapping Changes Put on Hold

– Matt Reese, Ohio’s Country Journal editor (Previously published in Ohio’s Country Journal: Febuary 19, 2020)

There are concerns about the ability to control predation of livestock by coyotes

When coyote predation becomes a problem for a livestock operation, it can be a major issue that requires extensive measures to address. For this reason, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife proposal to designated coyotes as furbearers generated concerns from Ohio’s agriculture and hunters and trappers.

“There are a fair amount of hunters that don’t agree with it,” said Mike Rex, who sits on the Ohio Wildlife Council. “They see coyotes as vermin and not a furbearing animal like a fox, and they don’t think there should be any additional regulation.”

With the furbearer designation, coyote trapping by any person (including landowners) would be limited to the existing trapping season for fox, raccoon, skunk, opossum, and weasel which is Nov. 10 to Jan. 31. The current “landowner exemption” for fur taker permits and legal year-round nuisance trapping would remain in place.

Concerns about the proposed changes, though, led to a Feb. 18 announcement from the ODNR that the rule changes have been put on hold for now. ODNR plans engage with . . .

Continue reading Proposed Coyote Trapping Changes Put on Hold

What’s included in your calving book?

– Erika Lundy and Patrick Wall, Iowa State Extension Beef Specialists

Just one example of a pocket sized record book

As we gear up for calving season, now is a good time to consider what information we should be recording in our calving books. The key is not what we weigh, measure, collect, spray, or write down. It’s what we do with the information months later that really counts.

In addition to some key information such as calving date, calf sex, and birth weight, here may be some new columns to include in your calving book. Ultimately, accumulating this information should aid in making more informed decisions about the future of your cow herd.

Cow disposition score – Typically, this is recorded as a score of 1 to 6 with a 1 being maintaining a very docile demeanor whereas a 6 indicates a very aggressive temperament towards her calf, other animals, or people. While a cow’s score may vary the other 364 days a year, her disposition score on the day she calves when you need . . .

Continue reading What’s included in your calving book?

Closed Coyote Trapping Season is Proposed, Nuisance Removal is Unchanged

– Tommy Springer, Wildlife Specialist, Fairfield County Soil and Water Conservation District

Under this proposal, farmers may still trap or kill coyotes year around if they are considered sick, injured or a nuisance to livestock.

When the Ohio Division of Wildlife released its proposed changes to the 2020-2021 hunting and trapping regulations, probably no proposal received more attention than the one to clarify the classification of coyotes as a furbearer and include them in the regulated trapping season along with other furbearers such as raccoon and fox (OAC 1501:31-15-09). Under current regulations, coyotes can be hunted and trapped year-round. This new proposal would only affect the trapping portion. Hunting will remain open all year with no bag limit.

As this proposal clears up the legal language that coyotes are considered furbearers, in addition to having an annual hunting license, this proposal requires hunters and trappers to also purchase the fur taker permit that is required to hunt or trap furbearers. Currently, hunters and trappers targeting coyotes are exempt from purchasing a fur taker permit. Remaining as in the past, landowners hunting or trapping coyotes on their own property are exempt from purchasing a hunting license or Continue reading

Mid-Ohio Small Farm Conference – Sowing Seeds for Success scheduled for March 14

Includes 4 sessions focused on forages, fencing, grazing and livestock!

Do own a few acres that you want to be productive but you’re not sure what to do with it?

Do you have a passion for farming and turning your piece of this wonderful earth into a food producing oasis?

Do you own land or forest that you’re not quite sure how to manage?

Do you want livestock but have questions about fencing and forage?

Do you raise or produce products that you would like to market and sell off your farm but you’re not sure how to make it successful?

If you’re asking yourself these questions you should think about attending the 2020 Small Farm Conference – Sowing Seed for Success. Four of the sessions will focus on forages, fencing, grazing and livestock.

The conference is being held on March 14th from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Mansfield OSU Campus in Ovalwood Hall. The campus is just minutes from I-71 and US Rt 30.

Please see this brochure or visit for class and registration details, or call Carrie Jagger at OSU Extension Morrow County (419-947-1070).

The Art and Science of Developing Heifers

– Les Anderson, Ph.D., Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

The older I get the more I realize that heifer development is as much art as science. The art is understanding what type of female best fits your operation and your marketing scheme. What size cow best fits your management system? Which cows will produce the best replacements?

The science is understanding the principles enabling the “right” heifers to succeed. The first week of January is an extremely important “check-point” in spring heifer development programs.

Regardless of management system, one key factor dictating cow productivity is a heifer’s ability to breed early in her first breeding season. Data from many studies ranging back to the 1960’s clearly demonstrate the key to cow productivity is timing of her first breeding as a heifer. Heifers that breed early in their first breeding season wean heavier calves, breed back more quickly, and become more productive cows. So the key, then, is to optimize Continue reading