What is a Mineral?

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County OSU Extension

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about proper mineral supplementation.

A mineral is a naturally occurring, inorganic element or compound that has an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties. Sometimes minerals are described as rocks. But rocks are actually aggregates of one or many minerals bound together. Minerals primarily make their way into our diets through plants that draw them from the soil or through animals that ate those plants.

We all know that vitamins and minerals are important things to include in our diets so that our bodies function and are healthy. The same is true for our pets and livestock. Knowing how much is needed and how to supply them can be challenging to understand, especially when the answer is- “it depends”.

Mineral needs vary vastly due to many factors including where you live, what you eat, your life stage, and even your genetics! Fortunately, in the United States we have access to many food items that supply most of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that we need and if Continue reading

Truth or Fallacy: Cattle cannot digest whole shelled corn?

Jerad Jaborek, Michigan State University Extension Beef Feedlot Systems Educator

Don’t let your eyes trick you into believing whole shelled corn digestion is inefficient.

Can cattle digest whole shelled corn? To answer this question, we must first have a basic understanding of corn kernel composition and how it travels through the ruminant digestive tract. Relative to other cereal grains, corn is made up of a greater percentage of starch, which is found in the endosperm. A corn kernel contains 60 to 90% starch depending on the variety of corn. During ruminant digestion, starch is fermented into volatile fatty acids (VFA) in the rumen, and to a lesser degree in the large intestine. Starch is digested into glucose in the small intestine to provide the animal with energy. The starch granules inside the corn kernels are protected by a protein matrix and further protected by a thick multi-layered fibrous shell, called the pericarp, that surrounds the entire corn kernel. In order to access and breakdown the starch from inside the corn kernel, the rumen microbes (i.e., bacteria, protozoa, and fungi) and other digestive enzymes must be able to penetrate the fibrous pericarp and protein matrix that protects the starch contained inside of the corn kernel. For ruminal digestion of the starch from an intact corn kernel to occur, the pericarp of the corn kernel must be damaged by either chewing or some type of grain processing, including grinding, rolling, steam-flaking, ensiling, or tempering.

Research from The Ohio State University set out to answer questions about the digestion of whole shelled corn when fed to beef cattle. Published in the 2005 article, “Effect of cattle age, forage level, and corn processing on diet digestibility and feedlot performance”, by the Journal of Animal Science, the study investigated factors such as animal age, forage level in the diet, time on feed, and grain processing on . . .

Continue reading Truth or Fallacy: Cattle cannot digest whole shelled corn?

A look into the costs of mud in terms of cow and calf performance

Mud, like we’re experiencing this winter and also as has been experienced in most recent winters, can have significant impact on performance in a cow/calf operation. During last winter’s Ohio Beef School webinar series, then OSU Animal Sciences’ PhD candidate Kirsten Nickles’ shared her research into the impact of mud on the cow herd. In this 8 minute excerpt from that session, Nickles summarizes the long term costs of mud in terms of cow and calf performance if adequate supplemental nutrition is not provided to compensate for the added cow energy requirements created by a muddy environment.

Sampling Corn Grain for Vomitoxin

Pierce A. Paul, Department of Plant Pathology, Ohio State University Extension

Accurate testing depends on thorough and appropriate sampling and sample processing.

Moldy grain and vomitoxin levels vary considerably within the grain lot. This is largely because the number of ears infected with Gibberella zeae, the fungus that causes Gibberella ear rot and produces vomitoxin in the grain, and number of infected kernels on a given ear within a field are highly variable. In addition, ears, and kernels with a similar appearance in terms of surface moldiness may have vastly different levels of internal fungal colonization, and consequently, different levels of vomitoxin contamination. In addition, pockets of warm, humid area in the grain lot coupled with moldy grain may lead to vomitoxin “hot spots” that can affect vomitoxin test results if sampling is inadequate. This may lead to price discounts or rejection of grain lots that are less contaminated than test results suggest, or conversely, acceptance of lots that are more contaminated than indicated by the results. For instance, if a single sample is drawn and the location from which it is drawn happens to be a hot-spot, then the overall level of contamination of the lot will be overestimated. Conversely, if the sample misses the hot spots completely, vomitoxin contamination may be . . .

Continue reading Sampling Corn Grain for Vomitoxin

Can Greenhouse Gas Emissions be Reduced in the Beef Cattle Industry?

– Alejandro Pittaluga, Fan Yang, James Gaffney, Mallory Embree and Alejandro Relling of the OSU Animal Science Department

Greenhouse gas emissions are a major concern in the beef industry. This study entitled Effect of supplementation with ruminal probiotics on growth performance, carcass characteristics, plasma metabolites, methane emissions, and the associated rumen microbiome changes in beef cattle examined the effects of supplementation with ruminal probiotics consisting of three native ruminal microbes (NRM) for their influence on methane reduction and growth performance of beef cattle.

Eighty Angus × SimAngus-crossbred cattle were grouped by sex and weight, randomly assigned to a treatment group, control or NRM supplementation, and subsequently fed commercially relevant diets for at least 134 d with or without NRM supplementation until they reached a target finishing weight. Methane emissions and growth performance metrics were recorded at regular intervals. Cattle-fed diets with NRM had a greater average daily gain during most part of the experimental period, required fewer days to reach the finishing weight, and emitted less methane than cattle in the control treatment. Supplementing NRM can be a viable method to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving the performance of beef cattle-fed concentrates-based diets.

Learn more about this study here: Effect of supplementation with ruminal probiotics on growth performance, carcass characteristics, plasma metabolites, methane emissions, and the associated rumen microbiome changes in beef cattle

Consider Feeding Options for Challenging Conditions

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Strategically placed large round bales, where they will be fed, can work well under good soil conditions.

I probably have said it before, but I think it was Robert Frost that said, “You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” I disagree! I already miss not seeing grass on the landscape and I know that there are a lot of livestock that feel the same way.

I’m not a stickler to making or keeping new year resolutions and maybe I should be.  As the old year becomes even more a piece of the past with the changing of a digit, my first thought is usually what can I do differently in this new run of 12 months that I wasn’t successful doing in the last.

We all make mistakes or make wrong decisions.  A wise man recognizes those errors and works to not make them again.  Life is full of lessons. You just have to pray that you learn them right the first time.  Instead of making resolutions that you probably won’t keep, take some time and really study something that didn’t work last year and figure out how to improve it.  For me, that’s time management.  I’m not “old,” but I’m also not young and winter is Continue reading

Winter Pasture Management

Jordan Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Gallia County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman,  Winter 2023)

Here in Ohio, winter can vary from one part of the state to the other. If I were to ask you, what are a couple things that we can think of as farmers that comes along with winter? Answers will probably be similar like cold and snow, but another one is likely mud.

In early November you may have thought some mud would be nice because of how dry the fall was. But nevertheless, when it gets cold out and the temperature is hanging around freezing, are you really wanting to deal with mud?

Last year on my family’s farm, we were fortunate that the ground remained frozen for much of the winter. Our pasture management made feeding cattle easier compared to other years. As we get closer to winter, we may get a better handle on what mother nature is going to throw at us, but it is almost impossible to predict what will come our way in the terms of the weather. So, what do we do to prepare for winter when it is so hard to predict what mother nature is going to give us? You can come up with a few different plans that may be useful to you. Every farm is going to be different in the way they can handle their pastures for the winter.

One of the first things that should be considered is Continue reading

Adjusting for Cold Weather

Dean Kreager, Licking County Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator

A few years ago, I used to smile a little when my wife complained that our house was too cold at 64°. Now I find myself sneaking over to the thermostat and bumping it up a couple degrees. It is easy for us to know when we are cold but how do we know when livestock are cold? In some situations, it is easy to see, such as if they are hunched up and shivering. Often it is hard to tell when they are cold. Their comfort range is not the same as ours.

Research has shown, that below a certain point, our grazing animals will increase their metabolism to produce heat. This maintains body functions such as rumination and keeps the animal comfortable. To meet the needs of increased metabolism, the animal will consume more feed. How much extra feed they can consume is related to the quality of the feed. The more digestible the feed, the faster it moves through their digestive system, and the more nutrients they can utilize in a given amount of time.  An over mature stemmy hay will back up the digestive system. It is slow to break down, and the animal will not be able to eat enough to get the needed energy from the hay alone. In very cold conditions a ruminant can increase its metabolism by 25-30%; however, there is a limit to how much Continue reading

Don’t let the performance of your cattle get stuck in the mud

Jerad Jaborek, Michigan State University Extension Beef Feedlot Systems Educator

Muddy conditions can decrease performance by increasing energy demands. Photo credit: Kirsten Nickles

Tis the season! No, not that season, mud season. For many cattle producers across the United States the spring and fall months often brings about the dread of muddy pens or lots. This is especially true in parts of the U.S. that receive greater levels of precipitation in the form of rain and/or snowmelt. In addition, animal stocking density, soil type, and ground drainage also influence the severity of mud challenges. Many of us can relate to the struggles of walking through the mud and trying not to lose our rubber boots to the suctioning force that challenges us with each step. What about the cows and calves? What kind of stress does mud have on cattle?

The combination of mud and manure accumulation presents a list of potential problems for cattle producers. Extra energy is required by the animals to walk through mud, whether to the feed bunk, water tank, or bedding pack. This extra energy demand can impact cattle behavior and their willingness to move throughout different areas of the pen.

Increased mud and manure affect animal cleanliness and the insulative properties of their hair coat, which then require additional energy to stay warm. For fed cattle being raised for beef, this presents potential . . .

Continue reading Don’t let the performance of your cattle get stuck in the mud

Don’t Restrict Energy This Winter

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Are you having trouble keeping body condition on grazing livestock? Do you have heifers or ewe lambs that struggle getting rebred? If so, there is a good chance that a lack on available energy in your pasture or ration may be the culprit.

I have these types of discussions with producers fairly often, and usually (not always) supplementing additional energy into the diet seems to aid in rectifying the situation.

As managers we must remember that livestock utilize nutrients in waste not, want not hierarchy. Think of an order of operations where Maintenance > Development > Growth > Lactation > Reproduction > Fattening.

Therefore, an animal that is not maintaining body condition is less likely to reproduce. That first calf heifer that is thin at weaning, still has a requirement for growth and development before we ever think about getting her to a point where she will breed back in a timely fashion.

How do we address this lack of energy in a pasture-based system? Supplementation in some form or fashion is the Continue reading