Glenn Selk: Shorten Breeding Season To Produce Uniform Calf Crops

By: Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist. Previously published by Drovers online.

In low margin businesses such as cow/calf ranching, taking advantage of every profit-enhancing tool in the tool box is important to long term success and survival.

Well-defined 60-day breeding and calving seasons will pay off in heavier, and more uniform groups of calves to sell at marketing time.  If a small cow operation can market a sizeable number of calves together in one lot, it will realize a greater price per pound (on the average) than similar calves sold in singles or small lots.  Proof of this concept has been reported in at least 5 different states.  Studies in Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona have shown advantages in sale price for uniform lots of calves compared to singles and small lots (5 or less). Continue reading

Meat vs COVID-19; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Supply and Demand

By: Stan Smith, OSU Extension, Fairfield County

While supply chain issues have caused short term disruptions in some retail meat cases, livestock inventory is more than adequate to meet demand.

To suggest that supply in local meat cases has been disrupted since schools closed and ‘stay-at-home’ orders were issued last month might be an understatement.

The good is simply this. We have more than adequate supplies of market ready livestock on the farm to accommodate the consumer’s demand for meat.

The bad is that COVID-19 caused disruption to the meat supply chain that created short term shortages in the meat case, and fluctuations of price in both the meat case and especially livestock at the farm.

The ugly is these concerns are likely to affect both the farmer and the consumer for weeks, and perhaps even months to come. The solution to the chain of events that have caused the problems in the supply chain all revolve around how quickly COVID-19 is arrested and the lives of consumers and all the members of the meat supply chain can return to normal. Continue reading

Meat Production Threatened With Disruption

By: Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University

The U.S. meat industry faces unprecedented threats as COVID-19 sweeps through labor forces at meat processing facilities nationwide.  Production of beef, pork and poultry are simultaneously threatened as COVID-19 infections affect labor availability and processing capacity in multiple facilities across all meat industries.

Reduced processing capacity could cause backups in live animal supplies if animals cannot be processed in a timely fashion. The severity of impacts will depend on specific situations and locations but could include costly delays in holding animals until slaughter, backlogs in production facilities, or even disposal of animals.

Such disruptions could result in reduced flows of fresh meat to consumers, compounded by the continuing bottlenecks created by the drastic reduction in the food service sector, roughly half of total food distribution. Since early March, those bottlenecks resulted in limited meat availability in retail grocery despite an ample supply of meat production. Continue reading

Don’t Buy the Cheapest Mineral Out There

By: Francis Fluharty, University of Georgia Animal Sciences, and Stan Smith, OSU Extension

The mineral content of forages is always a concern when feeding the brood cow, but it’s of even greater concern after wet weather and rapid forage growth like that which was experienced the past two springs and early summers. In this 4 minute excerpt from the 2020 Ohio Beef Cow/Calf Workshop, Dr. Francis Fluharty explains the benefits, and also his concerns for feeding the cow herd highly digestible minerals in the appropriate amounts.

What To Do About Mold In Feed

By: Erica Lyon, OSU Extension Harrison & Jefferson Counties. Originally published by the Ohio Farmer online.

Now that we are getting into the summer months, moldy feed might not be on your mind right now, especially if your livestock are grazing. But now is a great time to be cognizant of the conditions that lead to moldy feed in the winter months. The conditions that forages are grown and harvested in can determine the risk of mold developing later in storage.

First, let’s talk about what mold is. When we say something appears “moldy,” it usually has a dusty or fuzzy appearance or seems off-color. Maybe it produces a certain moldy odor. While many microbes might be referenced when we say mold, it is usually one group of microbes that is causing the problem: fungi. Continue reading

Ohio State Fair Announces Ractopamine-Free Swine Show For 2020

Source: Ohio Ag Net online

It has been announced that swine exhibited at the 2020 Ohio State Fair — and a growing number of county fairs — are required to be ractopamine-free.

Recently, ractopamine-free swine production became a market specification through much of the U.S. pork packing industry. Although ractopamine (sold under the trade names Paylean or Engain for swine) is an approved product used to increase lean growth rate, it has been banned in many international pork markets. In short, ractopamine-free means that a pig has never been fed or exposed to ractopamine from the time of birth to the time of market.

In response, the Ohio Pork Council, Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Ohio State Fair have collaborated to put a comprehensive plan in place for a ractopamine-free swine project. Continue reading

The Art and Science of Developing Heifers

By: Les Anderson, Ph.D., Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

The older I get the more I realize that heifer development is as much art as science. The art is understanding what type of female best fits your operation and your marketing scheme. What size cow best fits your management system? Which cows will produce the best replacements?

The science is understanding the principles enabling the “right” heifers to succeed. The first week of January is an extremely important “check-point” in spring heifer development programs. Continue reading

Goals for Your Cow Herd in 2020

By: Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Henry County

Each year I like to look evaluate any upcoming opportunities and set goals for the New Year in an effort to better myself both professionally and personally. I prefer to call them goals rather than New Years Resolutions because many people tend to let resolutions fall through the cracks. When developing goals, the key is to write them down! Call them whatever you want, in just a few minutes of looking back and reflecting on some observations made in the last year I was able to come up with a few goals focused on improving profitability and the quality of calves marketed in 2020.

Sharpen the Pencil. Do you have a projected budget for the year? How much does it really cost you to feed a cow for the year? Put together an enterprise budget to use as a decision making tool. There are many templates available online from various universities and institutions, chose one that’s geographically relevant and considers the variables that affect your operation (find the OSU Farm Budgets linked here). Be realistic in valuing feed, labor, and livestock values. Knowing cost of production and breakeven points are useful in making cattle marketing decisions as well. Continue reading

Have You Prepared Your Barn for Lambing?

Dr. Gary E. Ricketts, University of Illinois, Department of Animal Sciences Emeritus Professor
(Previously published with University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Livestock Trail, Sheep and Goats: January 29, 1999)

Although this piece was originally published over 20 years ago, it still holds a lot of valuable information. As we enter the new year, lambs will be soon arriving and with the business of life it’s easy to forget some of the basics. No worries though, this piece will be sure to assist!

Having the barn ready before the first lambs arrive is one way to get the lambing season off to a good start. Not all ewes have a 150-day gestation period. There is considerable variation in gestation length and it may range from 143 days on the short side to 157 days on the long side. Gestation length is affected by many things such as breed, age, season of the year, and number of lambs, just to mention a few. A good rule of thumb is to have the barn ready by at least 140 days after the ram was turned in or the first ewe was marked. Consider the following in getting your barn ready: Continue reading

Ohio Beef Expo set for March 19-22

Ohio Cattlemen’s Association

The Ohio Beef Expo to showcase Ohio’s beef industry is set for March 19-22 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus. This annual event, coordinated by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, includes a kickoff social; breed sales, shows and displays; beef quality assurance sessions; a multi-day trade show; and a highly competitive junior show.

The Ohio Beef Expo kicks off with the opening of the trade show at 3 p.m. March 19. This is the second year for the Expo to open on Thursday, allowing more time for attendees — especially those who exhibit cattle at the Expo — to visit with vendors in the Voinovich building. Continue reading