Farm Management

Article originally appeared in Coschocton Tribune

Farm Management Resources

By Emily Adams

Every once in a while I hear from clientele that OSU Extension is a best kept secret. Therefore I am constantly trying to get the word out about the useful services and resources that we offer. There are a number of farm management resources that you may not be aware of that are available at This website focuses on all things related to successful farm management including agricultural law, taxes, budgets, farm transition planning, custom rates, cash rent leasing, and more.

In today’s agricultural economic climate, it is as important as ever to make wise business decisions in our farming operations. One program that helps with the decision making process is the Ohio Farm Benchmarking Program. There is a technician based out of Licking County available for our area to complete a financial analysis of your farming operation.  This analysis will help you understand where your areas of profitability are in the business.  We will give you tools to understand the numbers behind your analysis, and will show you how to use them to further your success.  An analysis like this allows you to look at how different decisions could impact the profitability of your farm in the long term. You can learn more about this program at

Another popular publication throughout the year is the custom rate and machinery costs. This is published every other year and is based on survey data collected from farms all over Ohio. The latest report came out last spring based on 2016 data from 365 farmers throughout the state.  Some of the most commonly asked information in my office are rates for general farm labor, bush hogging, seeding pastures, grain storage, making and baling hay, hay storage, and grain harvest. All figures in this document include the average rate with a range of low to high responses. There is no magic number for any of this custom farm work, but this gives you a starting point to set your fee or negotiate a rate.

I am also often asked about rates for cash rental of farmland for crops like corn, soybeans, and hay as well as pasture ground. There is some information available from OSU Extension for Ohio, but at this point it is only for the western part of the state. Since these rates are higher than eastern Ohio, they are not very useful. However, there is some data from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service that is specific for Coshocton County. I also have some local data available at the Extension Office.

Just remember that there are lots of factors that need to be considered when negotiating a rental rate for farmland. The soil type and fertility is obviously important for potential yield. But physical features like the overall size of the field, ease of equipment access, and potential for wildlife damage can all play an important role in determining a rate as well. More than anything, I cannot emphasize enough the recommendation for a written lease. A great resource for leasing information is

Today I’ll leave you with this quote from Stephen Covey, “We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.

Farm Gate to Dinner Plate

Dr. Lyda Garcia is providing a meat science opportunity for older youth and adults on February 17 and 24: From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate.

This is a Mini 509 Workshop sponsored by the Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences and Ohio 4-H Youth Development. The February 17th workshop will include, but not limited to, the following topics: Animal Welfare, Feeding Practices, Live Animal Evaluation, etc. The February 24th workshop will include: Carcass Grading and Fabrication, Retail Identification, Hands-on Grilling, Food Safety.
The location is the OSU Animal Sciences Building, 2029 Fyffe Court, Columbus, Ohio. The targeted audience is youth 14-18 years old, Agricscience Teachers, and 4-H Advisors. The deadline to register for either or both days is February 2.
Note: There are a maximum of 40 seats available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Links to a flyer and registration information can be found here.

Please contact Dr. Lyda Garcia,, 614.292.3642 if you have any questions.

Grazing Workshop Series

It is hard to imagine with the snow cover we currently have, but spring is just around the corner! Now is the time to start planning for changes or improvements in your pastures for this grazing season. Hocking SWCD, Vinton SWCD, Ohio State University Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Ohio Department of Agriculture will be hosting a comprehensive educational opportunity for grazers.  This workshop series will begin the evening of February 20th at the Olde Dutch Restaurant, located at 12791 St. Rt. 664 Logan, OH  43138.  The buffet will be available on your own prior to the meeting, which will be from 6 – 8p.m. in the conference room.  Topics to be covered that evening include: The Basics of Management Intensive Grazing (MIG), Soil Fertility and The Economics of Grazing.  Following this workshop, a series of 6 pasture walks will be scheduled throughout the summer in both Hocking and Vinton counties.  These evening workshops will showcase a variety of grazing and conservation practices local producers are utilizing.  There is no charge for the workshop but reservations are required.  If you plan to attend or have questions please contact the Hocking SWCD at (740) 385 – 3016 or the Vinton SWCD at (740) 596 – 5676 before February 16th.

Upcoming Agricultural Programming in Our Region

There are several exciting and informative agriculture workshops and programs coming up around the region! Below are links or short descriptions on information and registration!

2018 Southeast Ohio Sheep & Goat School 

The OSU Eastern Agricultural Research Station will host the 2018 Southeast Ohio Sheep & Goat School beginning February 15, 2018. This six session series will span from February to November featuring presentations by state specialists and regional experts. From “Sheep & Goats 101” to “Finishing”, there is sure to be something for every sheep and goat producer’s interest. Most classes will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and be held at 16870 Twp. Rd. 126 Caldwell, OH 43724. A meal will be included. The cost for the course is $100 for all six sessions or $25 per session. Registration is requested by February 1, 2018. For more details, see the attached flyer or contact Christine Gelley at Noble County OSU Extension 740-732-5681 or


Horse Forage Management Series- Renovation and Care of Pastures and Hayfields

All Horse owners are invited whether you have one horse or many; an exercise lot or acres of pasture. Please join us for this great educational opportunity. Information covered includes; Soil fertility, Understanding plant growth, Forage species selection, Horse Nutrition, Pasture management and design, Poisonous plants, Hay quality and storage, On farm site visit with pasture walk
Series Days
March 20th and 22nd
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
March 24th 9:00 a.m. – Noon
AgCredit Upstairs Conference Room
5362 US HWY 42
Mt. Gilead Ohio 43338
RSVP by March 16th
Contact Information: Carri Jagger
419-947-1070 or


Annie’s Project Retreats in Eastern & Western Ohio

Registration is now open for the Annie’s Project Retreats located on the East and West of Ohio but open to anyone who would like to attend.

Registration forms can be found at the following links:

East Ohio Retreat  January 26-28, 2018

West Ohio Retreat February 2-4, 2018


Our mission is to empower farm and ranch women to be better business partners through networks and by managing and organizing critical information.

Who is Annie?

Annie grew up in a small farm community with a goal to marry a farmer, and she did. Annie spent her life learning how to be an involved business partner with her farm husband. Annie’s Project was designed by her daughter to provide risk management education for women involved in all aspects of the agriculture industry. Since 2000, well over 5,000 women have completed the workshop.

What will you gain?

Annie’s Project participants say they find answers, strength, and friendship – and also grow in confidence, business skills and community prestige through this program. Annie’s Project provides education and a support network to enhance business skills of women involved in all aspects of agriculture. Through the program, you will gain insight and knowledge about:

  • Your personality temperament and how it affects communication
  • The importance of organizational skills and goal setting.
  • How to find resources and work with professionals to meet your goals.


2018 OSU Junior Swine Day

Satuday March 24

Registration is limited contact OSU Extension Putnam County to register and for more information.


Livestock Predator Management Workshop

The USDA-Wildlife Services, the Scioto County Soil and Water Conservation District, and The Ohio State University  Extension will be hosting a Livestock Predator Workshop on February 17, 2018 at The Ohio State University South Centers in Piketon, OH.  Intended for livestock producers.

This will be an all-inclusive workshop where attendees will learn how to use lethal and non-lethal wildlife damage techniques to manage black vultures and coyotes, appropriate laws, the migratory bird depredation permit process(black vultures), as well as various demonstrations.  See the attached “Save the Date” and distribute as you see fit.   Registration is limited to the first 100 people with instructions on the flyer.

This workshop is limited to the first 100 registrants . Registration deadline is February 9thRegister here.

Hope to see at this very important workshop!


Farm Succession Workshops

OSU Extension will be hosting five “Planning for the Future of Your Farm” workshops across Ohio during the winter of 2018.  These planning workshops are designed to help farm families develop a succession and estate plan for their farm business. Attend and learn ways to successfully transfer management skills and the farm’s business assets from one generation to the next. Learn how to have the crucial conversations about the future of your farm.

This workshop will challenge farm families to actively plan for the future of the farm business.  The featured speakers for this event will include: Robert Moore, Attorney at Law, Wright & Moore Law Company, Peggy Hall, Agricultural & Resource Law Field Specialist for OSU Extension, David Marrison, Extension Educator for Ashtabula County, and Chris Bruynis, Extension Educator for Ross County. Farm families are encouraged to bring members from each generation to the workshop. Plan today for the future success of your family business!

The workshops will be offered at the following locations.

Knox County Join us in Central Ohio for this workshop split over two nights in January.  These sessions will be held on Thursday, January 11 & 18, 2018 from to 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. at the Brandon Baptist located at 13513 Sycamore Road in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Pre-registration is required and is limited to 50 persons.  The registration fee is $35 per person or $50 per family. This fee includes a hot meal at 5:30 p.m. prior to each session.  The registration deadline is January 4, 2018.  Make Checks payable to OSU Extension. Mail checks and registration to: OSU Extension – Knox County, P.O. Box 1268 Mt. Vernon, Oh. 43050. More information can be obtained by calling the Knox County Extension office at 740-397-0401 or by visiting

Clinton County– Join us in south central Ohio for this workshop on Friday, January 19, 2018 from 9:00 to 3:30 p.m.    This workshop will be held in the community room of the Clinton County Extension office located at 111 South Nelson Avenue in Wilmington, Ohio.

Pre-registration is required and is limited to 40 registrants. The cost is $20 per person or $45 for family. The registration fee includes lunch and one set of program materials per family. Registration deadline is January 12, 2018. Payment options are credit card, check or cash. Registration and payment by credit card may be completed in person at the Clinton County Extension Office. Make checks payable to OSU Extension- Farm Plan and mail with this registration form to: OSU Extension- Clinton County, 111 S. Nelson Ave., Suite 2, Wilmington, OH 45177.  More information can be obtained by calling the Clinton County Extension office at 937-382-0901.

Williams County– Travel to the far northwest corner of Ohio for this program on Monday, February 5, 2018 from 9:30 to 4:00 p.m.  This workshop will be held at the Williams County Extension office located at 1425 East High Street, Bryan, Ohio.

Pre-registration is required by January 26, 2018. The cost is $10 per person. This fee includes snacks, lunch and a program notebook.  Make checks payable to OSU Extension and return to the OSU Extension- Williams County, 1425 E. High St., Suite 112, Bryan, OH 43506.  More information can be obtained by calling the Williams County Extension office at 419-636-5608.

Coshocton County– Join us in historical Roscoe Village in Coshocton County on February 23, 2018 from 9:00 to 4:00 p.m. for this workshop. The program will be held in Montgomery Hall on the Central Ohio Technical College Coshocton Campus located at 200 North Whitewoman Street, Coshocton, Ohio.

The registration fee for this workshop is $20 which includes lunch and one binder of the program materials per family.  Additional binders can be requested for $15 each. The class is limited to 40 persons and the registration deadline is February 16, 2018. Payment options are credit card, check or cash. Registration and payment by credit card may be completed at: Registrations by mail can be made by making a check payable to OSU Extension and mailing the registration form to: OSU Extension- Coshocton County, 724 South 7th Street, Room 110, Coshocton, OH 43812. More information can be obtained by contacting the Coshocton County Extension office at:  740-622-2265

Darke County– Join us in western Ohio in Darke County for our final workshop of the winter on February 27, 2018 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  This program will be held at Romers located at 118 East Main Street in Greenville, Ohio.

Pre-registration is required and is limited to the first 60 registrants.  The cost is $20 per person which includes program materials and lunch. The registration deadline is February 20, 2018.  Make checks payable to OSU Extension and return to OSU Extension, Darke County, 603 Wagner Avenue, Greenville, Ohio 45331. More information can be obtained by calling the Darke County Extension office at 937-548-5215.

More details:

Each of the program flyers can be obtained at:

More information about farm succession can be obtained by contacting David Marrison at the Ashtabula County Extension office at 440-576-9008 or by email at

Are You Ready and Willing to Change?

This article was originally published in The Ohio Farmer followed by a post on the Ohio Beef Cattle Letter which can be found here.

– John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

There is no doubt that in nearly every aspect of life, change is inevitable. You don’t have to look too hard to find examples of this in everyday life. Changes such as automated steering in farm equipment, self-driving cars, the home delivery of meal kits, “smart” phones, DNA tests in humans and animals to identify genetic traits and defects, Facebook, and YouTube are a few of the changes that have impacted countless lives since the turn of the century. These changes remind me of the phrase that goes “Not all change is progress but progress is certainly change!”

The cow-calf sector of the beef industry is currently undergoing significant change. In a period of less than five years, the herd will grow from a historic low of 29 million cows in 2014 to an expected 32 million cows by the beginning of 2018. It appears that the bulk of herd expansion has already occurred and numbers will stabilize somewhat for the short to intermediate term. However, the fact remains that the nation’s larger cowherd is going to produce a larger calf crop. We are seeing the time-tested laws of supply and demand kick in as prices of all classes of cattle have moderated from the record highs of 2014 and 2015.

What can the cow-calf producer do to combat the reality of downward price trends that we will likely experience? Are you going to be willing to change your business model or will you continue to do things the way you always have and hope for a positive result? What can the producer do to maintain and potentially expand their access to markets in the future?

Producers need to be willing to implement practices that can add value to their calf crop. 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 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.

One of the most highly debated subjects in the industry relates to weaning management of calves. Do you sell your calves straight off the cow or do you implement some type of weaning and preconditioning program? The common excuses given for not weaning prior to sale include a lack of facilities, a lack of time, or the belief that the seller does not get paid for the extra expense of weaning and preconditioning programs. While these reasons may have had some validity in the past, buyers today are less willing to take the risk of buying higher stress cattle with little or no health and management history. They may be willing to buy a “bawling” calf at the weekly auction but it will be at a discounted price.

Consider utilizing one of the VAC-45 type programs where calves are weaned for at least 45 days, bunk broke, and follow a recommended vaccination program. These calves should be identified with a traceable ear tag for source and age verification programs. Also don’t overlook the basic management practices of castration, dehorning, and parasite control. The producer that is willing to implement these various management strategies will be on their way to becoming a source of “reputation” feeder cattle.

Even purebred beef cattle associations are taking measures to help add value or identify quality differences in feeder cattle. Several major breeds are promoting a variety of programs targeted at identifying value differences amongst feeder cattle and providing source verification information for producers who purchase bulls from their respective breeds. This information will hopefully add value to the bull customer’s calves in the eyes of feeder calf purchasers.

If you have a smaller number of calves, marketing can be very challenging. Large feedlots in the Midwest like to purchase similar color, weight and sex in semi-load lots of approximately 48,000 lbs. They won’t be buying 5-10 head at a time if at all possible. If you aren’t already, I suggest that you visit with your local livestock marketing agent to provide them with all the information and history on your calves. Work with any other local producers with similar genetics and management to market larger groups of calves. Seek out any feedlots in your area to try any direct marketing options.

If I haven’t convinced you that there are significant changes coming in feeder calf marketing, please ponder the following hypothetical situation. If you (the commercial cow-calf operator) suddenly became a feedlot operator, would you expose your enterprise to greater financial risk by purchasing feeder calves that were not weaned, not vaccinated, and with no other genetic or management history? Feeder calves selling for $750 – $1,000 per head become very expensive when they find their way to a sick pen or become death loss.

Cow-calf producers are facing new economic realities in the immediate future. The producers that will be successful in the long-term must be willing to change their management practices as dictated by the current economy. Those unwilling to do so face an uphill battle to stay viable in the beef industry.

The Challenge of Cow Size

This article was originally posted on the Ohio Beef Cattle Letter which can be found here.

The Challenge of Cow Size

– Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Size has been the common denominator in revenue generation for cow-calf, backgrounding and feedlot operators.

The process of raising cattle has been quite steady, with a general acknowledgment that growth is key to success.

That is a true statement because calf weight, the product of the cow-calf producer, and carcass weight, the product of the feedlot, drive total dollars. What also is true is that bigger cows producer bigger calves, but the discussion becomes clouded when factoring mature cow size into the discussion.

Often, cow size discussions open debate rather than offer further understanding of the issue. Dollars generated as take-home pay depend on net return above expenses, labor and management and, ultimately, offer a return on assets, which are not totally driven by the physical growth of the calf. The challenge is realizing that this issue has three distinct players: the cow, the bull and the calf, which have grown in physical size.

The impact on the maternal and paternal animals and progeny is simply larger cattle. Calf growth, at least among those harvested, is a function of time. Bulls are selected to produce progeny that fit market specifications, so mission accomplished. The same is true for the cows, except herds have more cows and they must be maintained year-around.

The cow is the progenitor and the caregiver for the progeny, which means she carries the bulk of the expenses. As a result, cost control and production efficiency must come from the cow. Heifers (future cows) are a byproduct of a very fine-tuned steer production system. Thus the dilemma: How are the cows replaced and appropriately sized if they are simply the counterpart of fast-growing steers?

Producers need to be cognizant as expenses creep upward while trying to maintain an ever-increasing size of the maternal unit, the cow. The solution is finding moderately sized cows that produce steers that meet current market desires and specifications.

Simply put, cattle are not near their maximum capacity for growth and mature size. Cattle simply will keep getting bigger. Somewhere, producers must implement breeding systems that will develop cattle that moderate maternal growth.

Let’s focus on 300 pounds of cow rather than the actual size of the cow. So regardless of the size of a cow, the issue for the day is 300 pounds of cow weight.

What does that mean, and how does 300 pounds of additional cow weight impact beef production? The Dickinson Research Extension Center has focused on two cow herds that differ in mature weight by 300 pounds. The numbers are not exact, but the principle is there. Let’s just say, as a beef producer, one can decide to add or subtract 300 pounds to the mature weight of the cow herd.

What’s the impact? For the past three years, the center has been feeding heifers individually to get a handle on the difference between the calves from large-framed cows and smaller-framed cows. The heifers’ daily diets have been the same.

Essentially, the heifers have been eating approximately 2.2 percent of their body weight, so let’s assume these heifers will continue to eat 2.2 percent of their body weight for their productive lives. Feed consumption will change through time, but again, let’s not get lost in the decimal places; the point is 300 pounds of mature weight.

So the extra 300 pounds times 2.2 percent is 6.6 pounds of feed per day. In a year, 6.6 pounds times 365 days means 2,409 pounds of feed may be consumed to sustain the extra 300 pounds of mature cow weight.

Let’s review the two cow sizes at the center. Based on total cow weight, a 1,400-pound cow would consume 30.8 pounds a day, or 11,242 pounds per year. In four years, the cow would have consumed 44,968 pounds of feed.

The 1,100-pound cow would have consumed 24.2 pounds per day, or 8,833 pounds per year. In four years, the cow would have consumed 35,332 pounds of feed, or 9,636 pounds less than the 1,400-pound cow.

That 9,636 pounds of feed directly relates to the 9,636 pounds of extra feed needed to add 300 pounds of mature weight to a cow. In simple terms, reducing cow size 300 pounds saves enough feed to support one additional cow for four years.

Let me repeat: If the center has 44,968 pounds of feed, the producer could feed four 1,400-pound cows or five 1,100-pound cows. By lowering cow size 300 pounds, a producer can support an extra cow with roughly the same amount of feed every four years.

Yes, cattle growth is important, but controlling expenses is as well. The actual size of cow is not as critical as the concept of simply lowering cow weight to lower expenses. At the same time, those 20 percent more cows will offer 20 percent more calves, the real benefit of trying to lower cow size within a herd.

What is the right cow size? The answer will vary, but think about it. The impact is real.

May you find all your ear tags.



New Dicamba Rules

The rules for applying Dicamba products are changing. The new formulations being released will be restricted use to hopefully help combat drift issues. Find more information here .


I will update as more specifics come but as always feel free to contact me with any questions or 740-596-5212.

The leaves are changing, but why?

Vinton County is home to a host of tree species that give us a beautiful canvas of colors each fall.  Our county is home to deciduous, coniferous and evergreen families of trees. The deciduous trees provide the beautiful fall canvas. Dropping leaves each fall is the beginning of the tree going dormant for the winter. Dormancy over the winter is a self-preservation tactic and allows the tree to survive and produce leaves again the next spring. There is more to the color change before the fall of the leaves than meets the eye. The process of the color change in leaves begins as the days begin to get shorter. Deciduous trees and many other plants are highly sensitive to the amount of sunlight they receive. The green color that you see on the leaves throughout the summer is due to that abundant sunlight breaking down chlorophyll.  When the amount of sunlight we receive in a day decreases, the other pigments start to be expressed. Carotene and xanthophyll are the pigments responsible for the yellow and orange colors. Anthocyanin is responsible for reds and purples. The amount of each pigment is highly variable between species, trees and even leaves. That variability is what gives us the range of colors in our fall canvas. The expression of pigment is also dependent on the moisture levels in a certain season. Anthocyanin is water-soluble so in wet years, there may be reds and purples expressed as opposed to more yellows and oranges in dry years. People travel to south east Ohio just to view the changing of the leaves, we only have to drive down the street or even look out the back yard. Take time to enjoy the beautiful but brief canvas before it is covered in snow!

Ag Outlook

My colleague in Ross County, Chris Bruynis has put together a great program on the Fall Outlook for Agriculture! The program will cover both market prices and marketing opportunities as well as financing and interest rates. The day will round out with a fall/harvest weather outlook. Lunch is included with registration.  RSVP to the Ross County office!


Click here for more info!