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

A conversation with OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist Garth Ruff

Last week OSU Extension Educator Clifton Martin had the opportunity to visit with Garth Ruff about Garth’s recent hiring as the OSU Extension Beef Specialist and current trends in the Beef Industry. During that conversation they covered trends in Ohio, the role of the OSU Extension Beef Specialist, opportunities for outreach, the status of Beef Quality Assurance, and key opportunities for producers to stay ahead of the curve.

Enjoy that conversation here:

The transcript of this recording may be found in Continue reading

Weaning – Improving Outcomes Through Decreasing Stress

– Katie VanValin, Assistant Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

The classic definition of stress according to Hans Selye is, “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. Dr. Selye was an endocrinologist by training and is largely regarded as the grandfather of the study of stress. By any definition though, I think it’s probably safe to say that 2020 has been a stressful year.

We saw cattle markets take a wild ride and grocery store shelves empty out of meat and toilet paper in response to COVID-19. That initial response to COVID-19 that saw bare shelves and low cattle prices is a great example of a stress response. Now here we are months later, and we’ve adapted to some of that initial stress. While things are certainly not normal, we know now that we will be able to go to the store and get the things we need, when we need them.

This scenario is not that different than how cattle respond and adapt to stress events. I would argue that the single most stressful period in a beef animals’ life is weaning. Up to this point that calf has relied on its dam for almost everything. Now its weaning time, and no matter what we do this is going to be a stressful period, we can’t control that. However, we can control how Continue reading

Lessons Learned by a Cattleman in 2020

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

Having grown up in the 50’s and 60’s, the experience of social distancing and self-quarantine in recent months hasn’t really been too much of a struggle for me. Afterall, if you grew up on a farm in rural Ohio in those days, the only time you saw anyone but your closest neighbor was at the feed mill, church, or baseball practice. Speaking of baseball, another lesson from those days that’s served me well is when in a close game, you don’t want to be sitting on a fastball if the pitcher you’re facing can throw a changeup for a strike. Suffice to say, Mother Nature continues to prove she can throw any pitch she wants, at any time, and throw it for a strike.

To suggest we’ve needed to remain flexible this year would be an understatement. However, much like experiences from past years serve us well today, at some point we’ll draw on the challenges of 2020 to our benefit. Until then, let’s reflect on our recent past.

Too wet + Too dry is not just right

After experiencing three consecutive Ohio winter and springs of near record precipitation, followed by dry summers, is it time to assemble a feed management plan that buffers the cow herd against stresses resulting from foul weather? Feeding pads, managed rotational bale grazing, or stockpiled forage all go a long way towards keeping cows out of the mud. While managed grazing requires less investment, a feeding pad allows forages to be processed and bunk fed for more efficiency, and when needed, blended with additional protein or energy from by-product feed sources.

We can’t starve a profit into a cow, and Continue reading

Transportation Shrink in Beef Cattle

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

A better understanding of factors affecting shrink should help buyers and sellers of cattle to arrive at a fair pencil shrink under specific marketing conditions.

Types of Shrink. There are two types of shrink.  One is excretory which is the loss of urine and feces.  When ambient temperatures are low (below freezing, urine and fecal output can comprise 30-35% of shrink.  When temperatures are hot, urine and fecal losses account for about 15-20% of shrink.  Much of this loss is replaced when cattle are again allowed to eat and drink.

The second type is loss is tissue loss.  It is the loss of fluid from the cells.  Tissue shrinkage occurs after holding cattle off feed and water. It also occurs when cattle are subjected to stresses such as hauling. It becomes more important than excretory shrink the longer the shipping time. Since it is actual loss of tissue weight, it is harder to Continue reading

Considerations for Corn Silage Harvest

Moisture, maturity and the potential for high nitrates must be considered as corn silage harvest begins.

Corn silage harvest has begun in parts of Ohio, and is still weeks away in other places where corn planting was delayed by the spring weather. At the same time, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, all of Ohio remains rated as Abnormally Dry causing concern for the potential for nitrate problems.

In this week’s C.O.R.N. newsletter, Laura Lindsey, Mark Sulc, Peter Thomison and Bill Weiss have contributed to following articles regarding corn silage harvest considering the present crop and weather conditions.

Making Corn Silage in Dry ConditionsBill Weiss

Corn Silage Harvest TimingMark Sulc, Peter Thomison, Bill Weiss

Potential for Nitrate Problems in Drought Stressed Corn – Peter Thomison, Laura Lindsey

Assemble a Calf Crop Resilient to the Challenges of Disease

Justin Kieffer, DVM, Clinical Veterinarian, Assistant Professor, Office of the Attending Veterinarian and Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Completing a number of management techniques and vaccine protocols prior to the stress of weaning, commingling and transport will help assemble a calf crop more resilient to disease challenges.

Now that calving is completed, the days are longer, and the grass is growing (hopefully), it is time to start preparing for the weaning and eventual sale or feedlot finishing of your calf crop and development of your replacement females. Once the cow calf pairs have been kicked out to pasture in the spring, there is a tendency to put off or ignore the steps needed not only to set the feedlot calf up for success, but also to lay the groundwork for proper health for your new heifers.

Management techniques such as castration and dehorning should take place as soon as possible. Waiting too long to remove the testicles, either by banding or cutting, increases the risk of bleeding and infection, and knocks the calf off feed for an extended period of time. The smaller the calf, the less attached they are to their testicles. Removal of horns, if present, can be done at birth or shortly thereafter using caustic dehorning paste on the horn buds. If scooping of the horns is the method you employ, make sure to do this before the horns reach 2 inches in length to avoid having an open sinus cavity in the head, which is prone to infection and fly-strike. In both of these techniques, pain control for these procedures is highly recommended and easy to perform. This is critical both from a welfare perspective, and the added bonus of keeping the calf on feed during the healing process.

Vaccinations are also a critical aspect of calf prep that are often misunderstood or under-utilized. As you may know, when a calf hits the ground they have no immune globulin proteins circulating in Continue reading

Ownership and Marketing Agreements for Custom Fed Cattle

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Last week in the OSU Beef Team Newsletter we had an article on Custom Cattle Feeding; a Retained Ownership Option.  A cattle feeder and reader of the article shared this valuable, additional information on ownership and marketing topics.

Having fed in several custom lots, I would not deliver cattle without having a Bailor/Bailee Agreement in place. This is different than a lien. The banks put liens on you, the cattle are collateral. They don’t care if they get paid from the sale of cattle or a load of turnips.

The Bailor/Bailee Agreement shows all parties involved (cattle owner, feedlot and should it get to this, banks, stockyards, packers, sheriff, courts) who is/are the owner(s) of the cattle. Without this it’s one person’s word against another’s regarding who’s cattle they are. I could tell you some real horror stories and unfortunately, possession Continue reading