Pregnancy Checking; the Economics and Alternative Methods for Beef Cows

If you’re breeding for January calves, the time when you might begin to confirm pregnancy in those cows is approaching. During the fifth session of the 2021 Ohio Beef Cattle Management School that was hosted via ZOOM by the Ohio State University Extension Beef Team this past winter, a portion of the program was focused on managing reproductive efficiencies in the beef herd and included discussion on the economic significance of confirming pregnancy in beef cows and the various diagnostic methods that are available. Listen in below as OSU Extension Educator Al Gahler discusses the economic returns to the operation realized through pregnancy checking cows in a timely fashion, and the various methods it can be accomplished.

Breeding for Cow Longevity and Utilizing Available Tools to Accomplish a Productive Beef Cow Herd

The fourth session of the 2021 Ohio Beef Cattle Management School was hosted via ZOOM by the Ohio State University Extension Beef Team on February 8th. During that fourth session the focus turned to genetics, reproduction and breeding management. More specifically, in this portion of the evening’s program OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist Garth Ruff introduces John Grimes, OSU Extension Associate Professor Emeritus and owner of Maplecrest Farms in Hillsboro, Ohio, as he offers insight into genetic selection considerations that result in a genetically sound and productive beef cow herd.

Find recordings from all the 2021 Ohio Beef School sessions linked here.

Taking the Bull from the Sale Ring or Winter Storage, Making Him the Athlete He Needs to Be

Stan Smith, PA, Fairfield County OSU Extension

Bulls need to be transitioned from their winter diet to grass carefully before turn out.

Recently we visited in this publication about the value in having a bull that’s passed a breeding soundness exam (BSE) and is ready to go to work when called upon. One thing we’ve perhaps yet to discuss is what needs to happen after the bull has passed his BSE, or is purchased, and until he goes to the breeding pasture. While a bull might have been a “potentially satisfactory breeder” on the day of his BSE, it is important that the time that passes from then until the day he must go to work are spent in a way that allows him to remain sound while also transitioning to the pasture he’ll be working.

For those of you who this season will be using young bulls, or even mature bulls that maybe have yet to be properly transitioned from winter ‘storage,’ OSU Extension Beef Specialist Dr. Stephen Boyles offers the following suggestions from his publication “Bull Nutrition and Management” regarding the pre-breeding season management of yearling bulls.

Post-purchase Management of Yearling Bulls: The yearling bull deserves some special Continue reading

Minerals for Beef Cattle

Proper mineral and vitamin nutrition contributes to strong immune systems, reproductive performance, and calf weight gain. However, when it comes to selecting mineral supplementation to use for your beef herd it can often be a confusing decision as not all mineral mixtures are the same.

To help better understand what minerals are needed for beef cattle, OSU Extension in Coshocton County offered a webinar titled “Minerals for Beef Cattle” on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. During the session, participants learned the ball-park levels for mineral supplements for beef cows on forage-based diets, and discussed macro minerals, trace minerals, and best practices for mineral supplementation. Sample mineral tags were reviewed, and participants learned what to look for and how to fine tune mineral supplementation based on their hay sample analysis.

The program featured Dr. Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist, and Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Field Specialist for Beef Cattle, and is embedded below.

Beef Sire Selection for the Dairy Herd

Creating half blood bull calves with sexed beef bull semen can increase profitability on the dairy farm.

By some estimates, fed cattle that include dairy genetics make up something in the neighborhood of 25% of the U. S. beef supply. With improvements in the utilization of male sexed beef bull semen, many dairymen are choosing to utilize beef genetics to add value to their calf crop.

On March 10th Al Gahler, Ag and Natural Resources Educator in Sandusky County, presented via zoom during the OSU Extension Beef Team’s 2021 winter beef school series on making beef cattle sire decisions for the dairy herd. Al covered EPD’s and traits to consider in order to maximize the value and marketability of crossbred beef on dairy calves.

The session begins as OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist Garth Ruff introduces Al Gahler to discuss effectively utilizing beef sires to add value to the dairy based calf crop.

Is your bull ready for work?

Dean Kreager, Ohio State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Licking County

Should a person wait until the hay is mowed before looking at the rake and baler to fix any problems that carried over from last year? Would they head out on a cross country drive without at least checking the oil and tires? If most people answered no to these questions, then why do so many people just turn their bull in with the cows without first being sure that he is ready to do his job. A cow/calf producer’s income comes from having calves in a timely manner and half of that is up to the bull. A breeding soundness evaluation (BSE) is an often-overlooked way to avoid some potentially major problems in this year’s breeding season. Typical prices are in the $50-$100 range and some facilities will establish days in the spring when producers can bring their bulls to a central location for testing.

A BSE is a test performed by a trained veterinarian to estimate the readiness of the bull to settle cows. This evaluation concentrates on 3 aspects: 1) Physical soundness, 2) Reproductive soundness, 3) Semen quality.

Physical soundness includes evaluation of feet and legs, body condition, eyes and any other condition that could affect the bull’s ability to breed cows. Soundness of feet and legs are extremely important as the bulls increase steps taken while walking with the cow herd, but they must also be able to Continue reading

Managing the Breeding Season and Reproductive Performance of the Beef Herd

The fourth session of the 2021 Ohio Beef Cattle Management School was hosted via ZOOM by the Ohio State University Extension Beef Team on February 8th. During that fourth session the focus turned to genetics, reproduction and breeding management. More specifically, in the portion of the evening’s program embedded below, OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist Garth Ruff introduces Alvaro Garcia Guerra, Assistant Professor for cattle reproduction in the Department of Animal Science at Ohio State, as he discusses considerations for managing the breeding season and factors that will maximize pregnancy rates including bull management, the use of estrus synchronization programs and artificial insemination in the beef herd.

Find recordings from all the 2021 Ohio Beef School sessions linked here.

Let’s Talk Bulls!

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Being that Ohio Beef Expo is only a couple weeks away and breeding season for most of Ohio’s cow herd is around the corner, let’s talk bulls. Making a bull purchase is a herd management decision that should not be taken too lightly as selecting the wrong bull for your operation could result in missed opportunities for increased calf revenue for several years.

When discussing bull selection it is important to set some goals for your cow herd in terms of performance, efficiency, and marketing. Often calving ease and performance are the first two criteria that come to mind, because ultimately nobody wants to pull calves, (less of a concern if only breeding mature cows) and here in Ohio most calves are sold at or post weaning across the scales. If you don’t know what selection criteria are important to your operation, it’s quite possible you may never find the right herd sire. Consider the following when Continue reading

The Buckeye Beef Byte; a Conversation on Reproductive Management with Alvaro Garcia Guerra, Assistant Professor, OSU Dept of AnSci

In this third of a six-part series of discussions with Beef Industry specialists at OSU and in Ohio, we visit with Alvaro Garcia Guerra, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the Ohio State University. In this conversation we discuss reproductive management in the beef herd, trends in management, and current and future research projects.

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


Don’t Quit Now!

– Les Anderson and Jeff Lehmkuhler, Beef Extension Specialists, University of Kentucky

Many things in life make sense on the surface. Mark Twain once said “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”. A great example is using water to put out a fire. On the surface this makes sense but if it’s a grease fire using water is a huge mistake. Beef cattle production has several examples of this but reducing feed to late gestation cows is one of the most common.

On the surface, reducing feed to late gestation cows makes some sense; less feed, potentially smaller calf, fewer calving problems, and a smaller feed bill. Fewer calving problems means more calves, more potential revenue, and, on the surface, this strategy is logical. But, like many things in life, the logical “just ain’t so”.

Fortunately, a great deal of research is available to help us understand the issues with nutrient intake of cows during the last trimester of pregnancy. As a pregnant cow moves from the second to the third trimester, her energy and protein requirements increase. Much of this increase is due to supporting the Continue reading