Ventilation; Critical to Cattle Comfort and Performance

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Crawford County

Spring is one of the most challenging seasons on the farm to keep barns properly ventilated. We often see temperatures in the teens and less than a week later see highs in the 70’s. Our ventilation system recently roared to life as temperatures in the barn crossed 65° F reminding me that we still had not gotten around to winter fan maintenance as belts squealed and louvers hung half shut.

Fan vent in need of cleaning

Fan maintenance is critical to keeping your cows cool and saving energy. Ventilation systems often consume between 20-25% of the total energy used on the farm. Lack of cleaning can reduce a fans efficiency by as much as 40%. Meaning that your electric bill stays the same, but less air is moving through the barn. Monthly maintenance through the summer is critical to keep fans clean. Even a thin layer of dirt on the fan blades, shutters, and protective shrouds decreases air movement and increase the power requirements from the fan. Heavy cleaners and a pressure washer work well to remove dirt from the fans.

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Biosecurity Considerations when Transitioning Newly Purchased Cattle into the Herd

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

New animals should be quarantined for at least 30 days and batter yet 60 days before being introduced into the herd.

The objective is to avoid new diseases introduced through replacement stock and airborne diseases. Typically, new animals are quarantined for at least 30 days and more typically for 60 days before being introduced into the herd. If on-site, the isolation area should be of some distance and downwind from other animals. Practicing all-in, all-out procedures will make it easier to clean and reduce opportunities by personnel to introduce contaminants to the main herd. Minimize cross-contamination of feeding/watering equipment.  Here are some suggested procedures Continue reading

There is more than one right way to finish a steer

– Dr. Katie VanValin, Assistant Extension Professor, University of Kentucky.

About a year ago, our industry buzzed with talk about finishing local beef. Our friends and neighbors found empty grocery store shelves and instead turned to their local beef producers to fill their freezers. Last year shed light on direct-to-consumer beef production. This concept of local beef is not a new one. Instead, it is more a case of what was old is new again. There was a time when small local meat lockers were a staple in many small towns. With reports of some processors booking into 2022, it appears that this trend for local beef may outlast the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently a group of UK extension agents and specialists wrapped up a 4-week series of virtual meetings focusing on producing freezer beef in northern Kentucky. The UK beef extension team will also be launching a new program for the fall of 2021 called “Master Finisher” to provide additional resources for folks interested in finishing beef cattle here in Kentucky.

One of the things that I have come to appreciate while working with producers in small-scale finishing systems is that there is more than one right way to finish a steer (or heifer). Regardless of if you are producing beef in grass-finished, grain-finished or a hybrid grain-on grass system, what works for one operation may not be the best option for another. Answering several questions can help you narrow in on the right production system for your operation. A few examples include: Continue reading

Being Moderate in an Extreme World

– Kevin Laurent, Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

No this is not about the current political state of our country. So far, I have resisted the urge to join in the numerous ongoing social media conversations. No, this is just some of my personal thoughts and observations about the world we live in and more specifically how it relates to the beef business. We live in a world of extremes. There are extremes in the weather and the markets. Extremes can create changes in the marketplace. Sometimes positive change, sometimes negative. Grain prices go up, cattle prices go down and so on.

Extreme stories also get the most attention, whether it’s current events in the media or bragging at the coffee shop about our weaning weights. And although extremes get attention, many times it’s the extreme methods, actions or mindset that can get us in trouble. It is human nature to gravitate towards extremes. The most, the biggest, the heaviest, the tallest are all easier to identify than the moderate or optimum. Any of us over the age of 50 can remember the tall cattle of the 1980’s. My good friend Terry Burks regularly posts historical pictures on Facebook of prominent sires in the Simmental breed. It’s interesting to see that the original sires that came into the US were fairly moderate cattle by today’s standards with decent feet and leg structure. But some of the pictures of Continue reading

The Buckeye Beef Byte; a Conversation with OCA/OBC Executive Director, Elizabeth Harsh

As Executive Director, Elizabeth Harsh directs and coordinates all activities of the Ohio Beef Council and the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association. She is responsible for compliance with the beef checkoff Act & Order and for all OBC/OCA financial statements, and supervises all OBC/OCA staff.

In this episode we visit with Elizabeth to discuss the work on behalf of Ohio’s beef cattle industry by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, the Ohio Beef Council and their effort to increase demand for beef, and the differences between the two organizations.

If you would complete this brief survey, we’d enjoy your comments or suggestions regarding this episode of The Buckeye Beef Byte.

The Buckeye Beef Byte; a Conversation with OSU’s Meat Lab Manager Ron Cramer

Ron Cramer is the Manager of the Meat Laboratory at the Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences. In this episode we discuss trends in the beef industry, the current status of beef processing, getting involved in meat processing, and the daily student education that goes on in the Meat Laboratory. If you’re involved in any aspect of the beef supply chain, take a few minutes and listen in to this conversation with a man that’s been involved in the meat processing industry for 40+ years!

Resource Kit Available for Those Exploring a Meat Processing Business

This “Tool Kit” is designed to be intuitive as entrepreneurs move through the business planning process.

A team of Ohio State business and meat science specialists have compiled a Meat Processing Business Tool Kit for people who are exploring the meat processing business. Designed as a decision making aid for people exploring investing in or expanding a meat processing facility, this online tool kit can help entrepreneurs evaluate the business and navigate business planning. The Meat Processing Business Tool Kit may be found linked here on the OSU South Centers webpage.

Extension Meat Specialist Offers Workshops to Tackle Meat Industry Labor Challenges

A hands-on opportunity to learn about food animal processing.

When COVID-19 hit the US meat industry in early 2020, many disruptions quickly surfaced impacting our livestock and meat industries. As large-scale meat plants were in the process of slowing their operations, and in some cases even stopping, local meat processors were looked at to relieve the pressures brought forth by COVID-19. As local meat processors stepped up to fill these needs, significant stresses were quickly felt by the employees on the front lines. As many of the small scale meat processors were accustomed to a slower, steadier pace, the onset of doubling or tripling work load caused employees to reconsider their future.

In the world of the meat industry, physical labor is a major component to the job that not many can, or even might choose to do. Smaller meat processors offering a slaughter service are accustomed to harvesting significantly fewer number of animals when compared to large-scale meat processors. For instance, a small-scale meat processor may harvest and process from a few hundred to four thousand beef cattle annually, whereas a large-scale beef plant will harvest over 125,000 head. A small meat processor typically operates with Continue reading

The Buckeye Beef Byte; a Conversation with Jessica Pempek, Extension Animal Welfare Specialist

This is the second in a six-part series of discussions with Beef industry specialists at OSU and in Ohio. In this edition, show hosts Clifton Martin and Garth Ruff  visit with Jessica Pempek, an Assistant Professor, and Animal Welfare Extension Specialist, in the Department of Animal Sciences at Ohio State.  The conversation focuses on animal welfare issues in Ohio and in particular the beef industry.

You can also find a draft of the transcript of the conversation with Dr. Pempek linked here.

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Beef Cattle Biosecurity Plan for Disease Prevention

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Biosecurity plays a key role in Beef Quality Assurance

In support of cattle producers across the country dedicated to preventing disease, improving animal welfare and reducing production losses, the Beef Checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program developed a Daily Biosecurity Plan for Disease Prevention template. The template, which helps cattle producers implement daily biosecurity measures on their operations, is available digitally as a PDF or can be printed for handwritten plans.

The template was specifically designed to be customizable, giving producers flexibility in determining management practices that work best for their cattle operation and covers everything from animal movement to worker training. The goal of this program is to provide beef producers with the information needed to implement biosecurity plans. It provides an opportunity for producers to have Continue reading