Too Much, Too Early

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

Fall- and spring-calving herd managers don’t often find themselves facing the same decision as those who buy calves for backgrounding, but this is one of those times. Should you implant the calves and if so, what product should be used? Answers will vary, of course.

It’s simple if increasing gain is the singular goal. Given adequate nutrition, the return on investment to growth-promoting implants makes it one of the best dollars you can spend. But let’s examine that given: are there adequate dietary resources to support the implant? Data suggests calves need enough nutrition to gain at least a pound per day to make any implant pay. Few operations plan for gains lower than that, but for those who try to hold calves back to change marketing windows, this may be a consideration.

Another reason implants may not make sense is a contradiction with your marketing plans, such as those who sell natural or non-hormone treated calves (NHTC) at a premium. Implanting would limit marketing to conventional outlets, where facts may not support perceptions. I hear of ranchers forgoing the calf performance from implants because they think non-implanted calves bring more in the everyday market, but there’s evidence to the contrary. Calves that are verified Natural or NHTC may Continue reading

Use Your Eyes and Records to Decide Which Cows to Cull

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL)

Bad hooves or claws are an example of structural problems that adversely affect performance.

Which cows in your herd are consistently making you money? Every year, the cow-calf producer needs to critically evaluate each animal in the herd and decide if she is paying her upkeep. Open cows (those that are not pregnant) at the end of breeding season obviously are high on the cull list. With variable costs running $400-$500 per year per head and an additional $100-$300 in fixed costs, keeping open cows is difficult to justify financially. Beyond pregnancy status, what other variables are important to evaluate? Structural soundness, body condition score, age, annual performance, and disposition are significant factors to consider when developing a culling order specifically for your farm. This culling order is essentially a ranking of the cow traits you consider most important for a cow to be productive on your farming operation. Culling is exceptionally important during times of Continue reading

Loose Animals

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Loose animals can be livestock like cattle and horses or wildlife like deer and elk or even dogs and alligators. Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that vehicle-animal collisions are responsible for an annual average of 155 occupant deaths, and three out of four of these involve deer. These collisions also account for tens of thousands of injuries each year, according to the National Safety Council.

Trailer accidents, barn fires, escaped animals onto the highway, and animals caught in mud or broken through ice are all events emergency responder have been called to. Many districts do not have protocols, formal training or specialized equipment to rescue livestock. While the incidence of loose livestock is minimal in urban environments it can still happen. Loose livestock can be a frequent issue in some rural districts. Succession planning is a critical element of organization strategy. This relates to the Unites States Fire administration operational objective to Continue reading

Today, BQA Means More Than Just Needles in the Neck!

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

Simply becoming BQA certified is a start, but it isn’t enough anymore. Consumers want to be confident what we produce is nutritious, sustainable and humanely raised.

Do you remember when nearly everyone had a friend, neighbor or relative who had farm raised eggs, fresh from the farm raised meat, or milk straight from the cooler that you could make ice cream with? What about the days when no one questioned your livestock or crop management practices, didn’t question why you treated a sick animal with antibiotics in hopes of getting it well, and simply knew that if you were feeding it to your family, it was equally safe and nutritious for their family?

Unless you’re at least 40 or 50+ years old, perhaps you don’t.

Today, consumers are increasingly expressing concern for not only safety and quality in the foods they feed their families, but also animal health and the sustainability of the production systems their food’s raised in. These evolving consumer concerns have caused Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) to come to the forefront in most any recent conversation involving the future of our beef cattle market.

BQA originated in the ‘80’s due to injection-site lesions on cattle that started drawing the negative Continue reading

Eastern Ohio Beef & Forage School Begins October 2nd

The 2018 Eastern Ohio Beef and Forage School will consist of three consecutive Tuesday evening classes beginning October 2, 2018 at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (16870 Bond Ridge Road Caldwell, OH 43724). Classes will be held from 5:30 to 8:00 PM and include a meal. The cost to attend is $25 flat rate for one or all three classes combined.

Call Guernsey County Extension at 740-489-5300, or complete this registration form to participate.  Please register by September 24.

  • October 2 will include Beef Quality Assurance Certification Training and Newborn Calf Care.
  • October 9 will focus on farm costs and profits with sessions on identifying and framing key factors in the cost of production and the cost of replacement cows.
  • October 16 will focus on forages and grazing with sessions on regenerating pastures after pipelines & winter feeding and improving water quality with forages.

Contact the Belmont, Guernsey, Monroe or Morgan County OSU Extension office for more information.

Beef and Forage Field Night

This year, in addition to researchers from The Ohio State University (OSU) showcasing their research, field night attendees will have the option to receive certification for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) at the Beef and Forage Field Night at the Jackson Agricultural Research Station on August 23 from 5 – 8:30 p.m. Field night participants will be able to view the research plots and attend sessions that qualify for BQA certification. The research station is located at 019 Standpipe Rd., Jackson, OH 45640.

Dinner will be served at 5 p.m. and the program begins at 6 p.m. with BQA subject areas. Dr. Steve Boyles, Department of Animal Sciences, OSU, will Continue reading

BQA; A Commitment to Quality

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

What is Beef Quality Assurance (BQA)? BQA is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program that provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions.

BQA is certainly not a new program. The precursor to BQA, “Beef Safety Assurance”, originated in the late 1970’s and through the 1980’s emphasized targeting real and perceived beef safety issues. The primary emphasis of the program was educating stakeholders about the proper use of pharmaceutical products and the honoring of withdrawal times. BQA programs as we know them today began in the early 1990’s.

Current BQA programming is expanding with information to help producers implement best management practices that improve both quality grades and yield grades of beef carcasses. USDA Quality Grading is a composite evaluation of factors including carcass maturity, firmness, texture, and color of lean, and the amount and distribution of marbling within the lean. These factors affect the palatability of Continue reading

Calf Castration Considerations

– Lew Strickland, Extension Veterinarian, University Of Tennessee

One of the questions that I hear the most concerning castration is; when should I castrate my calves Doc? Many producers will castrate their calves when they are two or three days old, which is my preferred period. Castration should occur when the calf is rather young. The older the calf, the more likely that calf will suffer a setback (which cost the producer money). In addition, larger calves are more difficult to handle and restrain for the procedure. The latest castration should be done is one month prior to weaning to avoid any extra stress from the weaning process. Bull calves castrated at or following weaning can retain a stag like appearance and attitude that the feedlot operator discounts. Purebred operators can still castrate bull calves that are culls and still realize some profit.

The choice of castration method is the preference of the operator, age and weight of the calf, and the time of year performing the procedure. In all techniques, sanitize the hands and castration instruments between each calf to prevent the spread and/or introduction of disease.

There are three methods of castration, which range from Continue reading

Beef Quality Assurance National Guidelines

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program to ensure that beef and dairy cattle are maintained in a manner which will result in a safe and wholesome beef product for the consumer. Times and locations for the series of upcoming BQA certification programs being held for producers throughout Ohio are posted under the EVENTS/PROGRAMS link at our OSU Beef Team website: http://beef.osu.edu.

Producers interested in getting BQA certified can also do it on-line at the National BQA website https://www.bqa.org/

The following are the BQA Guidelines being relayed at the Ohio BQA events. Continue reading

Gaining Greater Market Access for Ohio Feeder Calves

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

You do not have to look long and hard to find plenty of evidence that feeder calf marketing is undergoing significant changes across the country. The market is currently sending a clear message that buyers are demanding more for their purchasing dollars. Significant discounts are occurring in the market place for feeder calves that are not weaned 45-60 days, castrated & healed, dehorned, and given 2 rounds of a modified live vaccine for the shipping fever complex. In 2019, a major restaurant chain is going to start requiring their suppliers of fed cattle to be Beef Quality Assurance certified. This will in turn be pushed down to the producer level. Exports to China and other countries are going to require age and source verification. These are growing realities for cow-calf producers if they want access to as many markets as possible.

The OSU Extension Beef Team is pleased to announce that they have completed two pre-recorded presentations under the theme of “Gaining Greater Market Access for Ohio Feeder Calves”. These videos contain Continue reading