Sustaining Optimal Body Condition from Fall Calving to Breeding Season in Ohio’s Cattle Farms

Kate Hornyak, OSU Extension Program Coordinator, Delaware County

Body condition scoring now can help insure a successful calving season next fall.

Maintaining optimal body condition in cattle from fall calving through to the breeding season is pivotal for the success of any beef operation. In Ohio, with its unique climate and agricultural landscape, this task can present unique challenges and opportunities. This article explores comprehensive strategies tailored to Ohio’s environment, helping cattle producers ensure their herds are in peak condition, promoting reproductive success and overall herd vitality.

During the fall, fluctuating temperatures and early frosts can impact the availability and quality of pasture for grazing, necessitating the need for supplementary feeding. Farmers must be vigilant to ensure that cattle have access to adequate nutrition as natural forage sources diminish. Additionally, wet conditions and heavy rainfall can lead to muddy and unsanitary living conditions, increasing the risk of disease and foot problems in cattle.

As winter arrives, the challenges intensify with the onset of freezing temperatures, snow, and ice. Cattle require extra energy to maintain body heat in cold weather, and farmers must Continue reading

How over conditioning influences bull fertility

– Pedro Fontes, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Georgia Extension Specialist

Consider the implications of sire over conditioning on semen quality and fertility.

Sire over-conditioning is a common phenotype observed in the beef industry. Pre- and post-weaning growth are important for profitability; therefore, as an industry, we are interested in identifying bulls with superior genetics for weaning and yearling weights. Nevertheless, young bulls are often not only fed high-energy diets to express their genetic potential at the time of yearling weight collection but also fed these diets to “look good” at sale time. Several Extension programs and bull development stations across the U.S. have reported the general preference of bull buyers for bulls with high rates of average daily gain (ADG) during their growth and development phase. In fact, bull buyers prioritize growth-related traits versus feed efficiency traits such as feed-to-gain ratio (F:G) or residual feed intake (RFI; Oosthuizen et al., 2018).

Another factor that encourages seedstock producers to increase energy intake during sire development is the effect of these dietary strategies on pubertal development. Similar to what has been thoroughly shown in heifers, sires that are exposed to high-energy diets achieve puberty earlier (Cardoso et al., 2018.; Kenny and Byrne, 2018). Yet, most bulls . . .

Continue reading How over conditioning influences bull fertility

Should we use smaller frame cattle for the freezer beef business?

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

Should we use smaller frame cattle for the freezer beef business?

If a person knows they can sell every animal as a freezer beef then smaller frame cattle have the benefit of finishing at a lighter weight, more quickly than larger frame cattle, and at a lower cost than larger frame cattle. Thus, there can be some efficiencies in feeding smaller frame cattle if all cattle are sold as freezer beef.

The other side of the coin is when not all cattle are sold as freezer beef and have to be sold through the traditional market. Small frame cattle will be heavily discounted in the traditional market, which in many cases is a loss to the producer.

An alternative strategy would be to manage a herd of moderate frame cattle that produce calves that will finish between 1,100 and 1,250 pounds. In this scenario, producers can benefit from feeding and finishing animals that will still finish fairly quickly, but the producer also has an animal that can fit the traditional production system.

It is a balancing act that will take effort, but it provides multiple outlets for the calf crop.

Eleventh Annual OCA Replacement Female Sale Features 101 Catalogued Lots

Don’t miss this Black Friday sale featuring bred heifers, cows and pairs!

Make plans now to join us at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 24, at the Muskingum Livestock facility, 944 Malinda Street in Zanesville, for the 11th annual OCA Replacement Female Sale. Consignment details including videos of the three cow-calf pairs, 33 bred cows and 65 bred heifers can be found on-line at and the most current catalogue listing is linked here. Breeds of this year’s offerings include Angus, Red Angus, Hereford, Crossbred, Limousin, LimFlex, and Simmental.

The consigned females are all under the age of five as of January 1, 2024, and are registered or have commercial background. Bred females are bred to a bull with known EPD’s, and the calves at side of cows are sired by bulls with known EPD’s. An accredited veterinarian has verified the pregnancy status, and all consignments have fulfilled specific health requirements.

Take advantage of this opportunity to add quality young replacement females to your herd.  If you have questions about the sale, contact Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist, (740-651-7140 or or the OCA office at 614-873-6736 or

Presynchronization and Improving Fertility of Beef Cows

The second session of the 2023 Ohio State University Extension Beef Team’s Virtual Beef School was broadcast via ZOOM on February 8th. The evening’s program focused on improving fertility and getting cows bred. More specifically, to lead off OSU Grad Student Alex Crist shared her research during her presentation entitled Presynchronization and Improving Fertility of Beef Cows. Following that OSU Extension Educator Dean Kreager presented on Estrus Synchronization While Utilizing Natural Service. Listen in here as Garth Ruff introduces Alex Crist and her presentation Presynchronization and Improving Fertility of Beef Cows during the first segment of the evening’s program.

EDITOR’s NOTE: Dean Kreager’s presentation entitled Estrus Synchronization While Utilizing Natural Service that followed can be found on YouTube linked here.

Revisit the 2023 OSU Beef Team Virtual Beef School

Enjoy 2023 Virtual Beef School sessions linked here for your convenience.

The Ohio State University Extension Beef Team hosted the 2023 Virtual Beef School on the second Wednesday of each month, January through April. In case you missed any of the session, or would like to review them, find the recording of each linked below:

  • January 11; A Look at Input Costs with Barry Ward, OSU Extension Leader for Production Business Management and Market Outlook with Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist (view the recording here)
  • February 8; Presynchronization and Improving Fertility of Beef Cows (click link to see presentation) with Alex Crist, OSU Animal Sciences and Synchronization and Natural Service (click here to see presentation) with Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator
  • March 8; Asian Longhorn Tick and Theileria (click here to see presentation) with Dr. Risa Pesepane, OSU Vet Preventative Medicine and Managing Anaplasmosis (click here to see presentation) with Dr. Justin Kieffer DVM, OSU Animal Sciences. Dr. Kieffer also explained what the Veterinary oversight of OTC antibiotics would mean to cattlemen, and what the meaning of VCPR is.
  • April 12; OSU Beef Team Live Roundtable, Q & A session with OSU Extension Beef Team members. (click here to see recorded presentation)

Finding the Cause for Abortions and Stillbirths in Cattle- Why is it still so Difficult?

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Determining the cause of abortions and stillbirths in cattle remains a significant challenge for veterinary diagnostic laboratories, despite vast improvements in the tests used to detect infectious organisms. Most studies find that only 20-50% of abortion cases submitted are “solved”, meaning the first initiating event resulting in the death of the fetus was discovered and answered “why” the calf died. Diagnosis of the cause of an abortion is exceptionally challenging because characteristic visible clues in the fetus rarely occur, sample tissues are often rotting and unsuitable for examination, and the most important tissue for analysis, the placenta, is seldom submitted. Instead, veterinary diagnostic laboratories can often recognize the final mechanism resulting in death of a fetus or calf, such as anoxia (lack of oxygen) or trauma, that answers “how” the calf died instead of “why”. Veterinarians understand the limitations of abortion diagnostics and are best suited to help the producer determine if and when an investigation is warranted and how to collect and submit the appropriate samples. Abortion outbreaks can cause serious economic losses, so it is of value to identify potential causes and how to reduce or eliminate them. For some producers, a single pregnancy loss may trigger an investigation while for others, multiple losses need to occur before calling a veterinarian. A loss of 2% for abortions is often quoted as “acceptable” but this percentage usually does not Continue reading

What are we missing out on when having a year- round breeding season?

– Pedro L. P. Fontes, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, University of Georgia

Consider the many economic advantages of a controlled breeding season.

One of the most important management practices for a cow-calf operation is the establishment of a controlled breeding season. Nevertheless, data collected by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates that approximately half of the cow-calf operations in the United States do not have a controlled breeding season. There are a number of benefits that producers miss out on when they fail to adopt a controlled breeding season, benefits that will be discussed in this article.

Using a controlled breeding season can help cattle producers optimize the nutritional program of their herd. Cow-herd nutrient requirements vary greatly depending on the stage of production. For example, cows in peak lactation have greater nutrient requirements compared with cows in late lactation. Similarly, cows during late gestation have greater nutrient requirements compared with cows in mid-gestation. When herds are managed in a year-round breeding season, cows are . . .

Continue reading What are we missing out on when having a year- round breeding season?

Don’t rock the boat while breeding heifers

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

The topics of Reproduction and Nutrition are only two of the topics that participants will explore during the Ohio Stockmanship & Stewardship program on September 29 and 30 in Caldwell. The summary below of the research project Nutritional Management Post-AI to Enhance Pregnancy Outcomes from 2013 Range Beef Cow Symposium by S.L. Lake, R. Arias, P. Gunn, and G.A. Bridges  further examines why reproduction and proper nutrition are closely related.

Nutrition during the 21 days post breeding

Maternal recognition of pregnancy takes place around days 15-17 post-insemination and that transporting animals near this time compromises conception.  However, moving heifers within the first 5 days post-insemination does not cause this reduction. Although, research suggests that conception rates are compromised when heifers are placed on early growth pasture forages. Researchers hypothesized that feeding this high moisture pasture forage at turnout is limiting dry matter intake which in turn causes a temporary energy deficiency that results in temporary heifer weight loss during the critical stages of early embryonic development and maternal recognition of pregnancy. Therefore, it is beneficial to Continue reading

A Breeding Soundness Exam: Insurance for Your Breeding Season

– Dr. Les Anderson, Beef Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

I received the call last week. I seem to receive this call 6-8 times each year. This cow-calf producer had just finished getting his cows diagnosed for pregnancy. He had 43 cows falling calving cows. Last fall, these cows were synchronized for artificial insemination and were exposed to one bull for about 5 weeks and a second bull for 7 weeks. Only 22 cows conceived and all of them conceived to the AI. The first question I asked this rancher was the obvious one; did you get a breeding soundness exam (BSE) performed on your bulls? His response: the bulls had one when he bought them, but he had not had one done since (2-3 years). The bulls were checked and, sure enough, both were infertile.

What is a BSE? A BSE is a fertility exam performed on bulls by a veterinarian. A BSE has three components: scrotal circumference, a physical exam, and a semen evaluation. Scrotal circumference is highly correlated with semen output and serving capacity. It is recommended that a 12–13-month-old bull have a scrotal circumference of at least 30 cm. The physical exam is performed to simply ensure that a bull is physically up to the challenge of the breeding season. Are his feet and legs structurally correct? Is he free from Continue reading