Forages in modern small ruminant production systems

By Brady Campbell, Ohio State University Extension small ruminant specialist

Because of their versatility, forages play an important role in modern small ruminant production systems as they can be grazed or harvested and stored as fermented or dry feeds for later use. Forages are unique as they contain structural carbohydrates, in the form of cellulose, that can only be digested by rumen bacteria. When compared with grain-based diets, one disadvantage that is associated with forage-based diets is the number of bacteria that are used to digest forages is much lesser than those used to digest grains (3 billion bacteria per milliliter of rumen fluid in forage-based diets vs. 8 billion bacteria per milliliter of rumen fluid in grain-based diets). Rumen bacteria provide ruminants with a large proportion of daily crude protein intake, therefore, diets that are greater in forages may result in less protein available on a per pound basis when compared with grain-based diets and thus require additional supplementation.… Continue reading

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Forage harvest management to speed drying and store high quality forage

By Mark SulcJason Hartschuh, CCAAllen Gahler, Ohio State University Extension

It is forage management season in Ohio.

For dairy quality hay, alfalfa should be stored near 40% neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and grass hay crops should have less than 55% NDF, which happens in the boot stage, or before the first flowering heads begin to emerge. Keep in mind also that the cutting, drying, and storing process results in raising NDF levels at least 3 NDF units above what it was in the standing crop at the time of cutting, and that assumes quick drying and ideal harvesting procedures.

Cutting forage for haylage or dry hay is certainly a gamble but waiting for the perfect stretch of weather can end up costing us through large reductions in forage quality as the crop matures and the fiber becomes less digestible. Before cutting though, keep in mind that the soil should be firm enough to support equipment.… Continue reading

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Adjusting feed as costs rise

By Matt Reese

Skyrocketing feed costs have livestock producers pushing pencils, adjusting and re-adjusting their nutrition plans to manage expenses. 

Nathan Eckel farms around 2,000 acres in Wood County and feeds out Holstein cattle with his brother. Eckel considers it a “good” year when crop prices are high because of some restructuring they have done to meet the nutritional needs for the cattle on the feedlot. 

“My brother and I usually have around 700 head of cattle on feed here all the time in conjunction with our row crop ground we farm in northwest Ohio,” Eckel said. “Pre-pandemic, we saw cattle prices dwindling down. We were looking for a way to mitigate our losses and do more with what we have here on the farm rather than having to rely on other producers to produce the products we feed our livestock. We changed our feeding operation to try to capitalize on our livestock operation as feed prices were ticking up and fat cattle prices were heading down. … Continue reading

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Grass tetany: A complex disorder with easy prevention

By Jeff Lehmkuhler, Extension Professor University of Kentucky and Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Classic “grass tetany” is a rapidly progressing and potentially fatal disorder caused by low magnesium level in the blood, also known as “hypomagnesemia”. It is usually seen in older, lactating beef cows when grazing young, succulent grass in early spring, particularly during cool and rainy weather. Other common names for this disorder, including spring tetany, grass staggers, wheat pasture poisoning, and lactation tetany, reflect the season of the year, symptoms seen, types of forage, or physiology of the animals most often involved.

Magnesium is an essential mineral as its presence is vital for many enzymes of major metabolic pathways, in normal nerve conduction and muscle contraction, and in bone mineral formation. Approximately 60-70% of total magnesium in the body is bound up in the bones. Grass tetany occurs when the magnesium (Mg) level in blood decreases rapidly, resulting in less than adequate Mg reaching the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.… Continue reading

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Grants bring financial aid to Ohio meat processors

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

It’s been a little over two years since news stories were full of photos of empty grocery stores. The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic brought a flurry of panic buying, especially apparent in the meat case (and the toilet paper aisle). Labor issues at national packing plants caused major supply chain disruptions that are still being felt today.  

Ohio meat processors also saw a surge in their businesses as consumers turned to local sources for protein, and livestock producers looked for new avenues to market their products. However, the pandemic merely exacerbated a longer-term issue with limited livestock processing capacity within Ohio. 

For several years, agricultural groups had been advocating for the need to improve and expand local meat and poultry processing. In 2021, Governor Mike DeWine announced the new creation of the Ohio Meat Processing Grant Program. The state’s 2022-2023 budget allotted funds for the program in House Bill 110.… Continue reading

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BEST season wraps up for beef exhibitors

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s (OCA) Beef Exhibitor Show Total (BEST) program wrapped up the 2021-2022 BEST season on May 7 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus. Over 800 BEST exhibitors and families gathered to watch youth receive awards for their show success, cattle industry knowledge, photography skills, community service efforts and more. 

This year’s BEST program featured seven weekends of sanctioned shows that wove their way across the state. It was the biggest season yet with over 676 youth participants showing around 1,030 head of market animals and heifers throughout the season. 

 This season’s sponsoring partners were Ag-Pro Companies and John Deere, Bane-Welker Equipment, Bob Evans Farms, Diamond T Land & Cattle Co., Dickson Cattle Co., D&E Electric – The Young Family, M.H. EBY, Inc., Farm Credit Mid-America, Ohio Farm Bureau, The Folks Printing, Jones Show Cattle, R.D. Jones Excavating, Ricer Equipment and Weaver Livestock. 

 “There is no other program in the country like Ohio’s BEST program,” said Karigan Blue, BEST program coordinator.… Continue reading

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 Philippines pork tariffs being discussed

National Pork Producers Council applauded the recent recommendation of an advisory committee to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to extend through the end of the year the country’s reduced tariff rates on pork imports but also urged Manilla to reinstate its higher import quota. The cabinet-level Committee on Tariff and Related Matters approved extending the current 15% duty on imported pork within the country’s quota, known as the minimum access volume (MAV), and the 25% rate for imports above the MAV.

Last May, the Philippines reduced the tariffs to those rates from, respectively, 30% and 40%. Without an extension, the current tariff rates will revert to the old rates May 17. Also in May 2021, the country increased the MAV, raising the quota to 254,210 metric tons (MT) from just 54,210 MT in 2020. That expired Jan. 31. Under the lower tariffs and higher quota, U.S. pork exports to the Philippines increased by nearly 79% in 2021, topping $204 million compared with $114.5 million in 2020.… Continue reading

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Minnesota tour an opportunity for Ohio sheep producers

The Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program in Minnesota is dedicated to changing sheep production to make it more profitable for producers, is excited to offer an idea-filled sheep facility tour. The Pipestone Lamb and Wool program offers this tour every other year and this will be the seventh tour offered. The purpose of the tour is to give producers an opportunity to see various types of sheep facilities, including the latest innovations in sheep buildings, handling systems, feeding systems and facility layout.

The tour will be a full day, visiting five Lamb and Wool producers with new and remodeled facilities. All of these operations have devised their buildings and feeding systems to reduce labor and enable them to run larger numbers of ewes with the same labor. Tour participants will see lambing barns, hoop barns, remodeled buildings along with various feeding systems designed to reduce labor and minimize feed waste. In addition, this will be an opportunity to hear the philosophy of sheep production from successful sheep producers.… Continue reading

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OCA announces Graze On as new beef vendor at industry events

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) is excited to announce a new partnership with Graze On, a mobile catering company out of Waynesfield, who will be the official beef vendor at industry events. Graze On is owned and operated by Ali Muir and her father, Terry, who are OCA members and cattle producers in Auglaize County.

This new venture will replace the popular Steak Barn, which was owned and operated by Jim and Jackie Murray. For almost three decades, the Murrays served beef at the Ohio Beef Expo, the Ohio State Fair, the Farm Science Review and more. 

“Jim and Jackie have been a staple for ag industry events for many years,” said Elizabeth Harsh, OCA’s executive director. “We can’t thank them enough for their tremendous support of the beef industry through the years and wish them a happy retirement.

“Although the Murrays will be hard to replace, we are excited to welcome the Muirs.… Continue reading

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USDA allows more packing plants to return to faster line speeds

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced it approved the Clemens Food Group pork packing plant in Coldwater, Michigan, to run faster line speeds under a one-year trial program. The agency now has let four plants operate with faster harvesting line speeds, which could increase packing capacity and alleviate supply issues in the face of strong pork demand. 

FSIS established the line speeds program last November, after a provision in USDA’s 2019 New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) was struck down by a U.S. District Court in March 2021. Nine pork packing plants that had adopted the NSIS — six of which were operating with faster line speeds — were allowed to apply for the program, under which they need to collect data on the effects of the faster speeds on workers and share it with USDA and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The information could be used to formulate a new regulation for allowing plants to run faster line speeds. … Continue reading

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Gene editing in livestock regulatory structure being developed

A group of agricultural organizations sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expressing continued support for USDA’s effort to develop a “modern” regulatory structure for gene editing in livestock. The groups pointed out that gene editing can help America’s food and agricultural producers address challenges such as zoonotic diseases, climate change and a growing global population. 

Under the current approach, FDA makes case-by-case decisions on gene-edited animals under agency guidance rather than through regulations. 

“This is an untenable way to regulate,” the organizations said, adding that agricultural producers and technology developers and investors need “clear, predictable criteria” and “federal policies that are risk- and science-based and that permit the meaningful adoption of these [gene-edited] products by producers, supply chains, and consumers.” 

USDA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) for regulating gene editing in livestock, and the groups urged the agency to continue that rulemaking process to “ensure U.S.… Continue reading

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New permitting process for black vulture control

By Richard Purdin, ANR/CD Educator for Ohio State University Extension Adams County

Spring has sprung and many producers have been able to get out and accomplish some field work the last few weeks as soil conditions firmed up and the grass begins to grow. Spring is a very busy time for many cattle producers, calving season is in full swing, and many producers are preparing on letting cattle out of the winter lots and in the pasture. It is a wonderful thing to see a newly born calf, lamb, kid, colt, or even pigs on the farm, it is a true sign of spring. On the other hand, spring can have a dark side and an ever-growing problem flying above many green pastures, creating one more challenge for livestock producers these days. The black vulture has become more of an issue for livestock producers especially during birthing season where young livestock are born on open pastures.… Continue reading

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The value of mixed stand pasture (or hay)

 By Haley Zynda, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Wayne County, Ohio State University Extension

Pastures are really greening up in this area of Ohio and producers are antsy to turn livestock out to enjoy the lush greenery. Winter annual weeds are still thriving, patiently waiting for their summer counterparts to start germinating. Perhaps you also frost-seeded clover into pastures to improve feed quality and to cut down on nitrogen applications. If that’s the case, weed control this year will be a different story.

Having a mixed stand, whether for hay or pasture, has several benefits. As mentioned earlier, including legumes like white or red clover or alfalfa, can reduce nitrogen needs for the field. If the field is comprised of at least 25% legume, then the nitrogen fixing capability of the legume should be able to handle the nitrogen needs of the rest of the stand. In a world where nitrogen costs $1/lb, legumes are coming to the rescue.… Continue reading

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Concerns raise over climate related lending restrictions

Senate Republicans recently raised concerns over the Biden administration using the financial regulatory system to compel banks and credit unions to mitigate their exposure to climate risks by restricting lending to certain sectors.

In a letter to the president, 11 senators said such efforts “could harm farmers’ and ranchers’ access to capital and compromise our nation’s food security.” Two weeks ago, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed regulations mandating that publicly traded companies report on their carbon emissions and other climate-related information, including not only their direct greenhouse gas emissions but the GHGs from partner companies, suppliers and distributors.

The National Pork Producers Council is reviewing the SEC proposal and plans to submit comments on it. The Senate lawmakers pointed out that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently issued draft principles warning banks that “climate-related financial risk” may have “impacts on shareholders’ expectations, the bank’s reputation, and [low- and moderate-income] and other disadvantaged households and communities.”… Continue reading

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Ohio Beef Day to be held in Muskingum County

By Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, Ohio State University Extension

Field days have long been a great educational tool used to show farmers new technologies and management practices. OSU Extension is pleased to announce the return of a statewide Ohio Beef Cattle Field Day. It has been several years since an Ohio Beef Field Day has been held, and the program will make it reappearance in Muskingum County on Saturday July 16, 2022.

In order to see several aspects of beef cattle production this event will begin a Muskingum Livestock, 944 Malinda St. Zanesville where we will gather before departing on a multiple stop tour in the Adamsville area. The tour will depart with attendees driving their own vehicles as we caravan from one stop to the next. We recommend carpooling as much as possible due to limited parking at one of the tour stops.

The tour stops are as follows: 

• Michel Livestock is a diversified farm operation, where Dennis Michel manages the cattle feeding operation.… Continue reading

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OSU Animal Health and Handling Certificate Program 

Are you interested in gaining hands-on experience working with cattle and calves in key management areas? Faculty at The Ohio State University are offering a two-day in-person program for farm owners and employees that aim to provide marketable skills for participants while promoting the health and welfare of dairy animals.

Learn about proper drug administration, low-stress animal handling, dehorning, record keeping and residue avoidance, and clinical examinations. The course will be on May 6 and 7, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Lunch and materials are provided. Cost is $50 per family/farm and additional farm participants may register for $25. The course will be held at the CFAES Wooster Krauss Dairy (2250 Oil City Rd., Wooster, OH 44691). Please email Shaun Wellert at to register by April 15. … Continue reading

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Early season manure application

By Glen Arnold, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

Last fall was not favorable for manure application to farm fields. Thus, many producers are interested in spring application with an eye on capturing the nitrogen contained in the manure to reduce the need for purchased nitrogen.

In-crop applications of manure make the best use of the manure’s nitrogen content for crop uptake. At the early vegetative stages, the timing is close to the crop’s maximum nutrient uptake period. In corn, placement of the manure below the surface preserves a higher percentage of nitrogen through reductions in volatilization losses. When used as a substitute for purchased nitrogen fertilizer, the economic case for manure used in this way is very attractive and provides an incentive to haul manure greater distances.

Preplant applications of manure can work almost as well as in-crop manure application. The challenge is to get the manure incorporated, to capture the nitrogen, without delaying spring planting due to the field being too wet or the field made too rough for planting.… Continue reading

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Global beef demand still going strong

U.S. beef exports posted another strong performance in February, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), led by excellent value growth in key Asian and Latin American markets. Pork exports trended lower year-over-year, as larger shipments to Mexico and Japan did not offset the continued decline in demand from China/Hong Kong. Lamb exports continued to gain momentum, reaching the highest monthly value since 2014.

“Rarely have we seen so many outside forces creating headwinds for U.S. meat exports and such uncertainty in the global marketplace,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF President and CEO. “Yet consumer demand for high-quality beef, pork and lamb has proven resilient, and USMEF sees opportunities for further growth in both established and emerging markets.” 

Beef export value approaches $2 billion after just two months

Beef exports totaled 108,501 metric tons (mt) in February, up 5% from a year ago, while value climbed 35% to $904.4 million.… Continue reading

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Winter dairy webinar recordings

By Jason Hartschuh, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Crawford County, Ohio State University Extension

This winter, the Ohio State University dairy working group hosted a series of four webinars to help producers with challenges on their operations. If you missed these webinars, they were recorded and can be viewed at your convenience on YouTube at the following links.   

Dairy Risk Management Programs for 2022: Dairy Margin Coverage and Dairy Revenue Protection

Risk management is critical to any farm operation. There are two USDA subsidized programs available to dairy farmers to help manage risk. One protects the margin between milk price and feed cost, while the other allows for protection from a price decline. While milk price and futures are strong now protecting that strong futures price may be a worthwhile investment on your farm. Learn more about they Dairy Margin Coverage Program for 2022 from Dianne Shoemaker and the Dairy Revenue Protection program from Jason Hartschuh by watching this recording:   

Recording: reading

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Cressleaf groundsel management

Reminder about the potential for spring infestations of cressleaf groundsel in wheat, forages, and hayfields. This weed, poisonous to livestock, is a winter annual that emerges in the fall and flowers in the spring. It’s most likely to occur in new stands that are seeded the previous summer/fall. 

Growers are often not aware of this weed’s presence until it does flower, at which point the only course of action is to destroy the first cutting of hay to avoid risk of poisoning. Fields should ideally be scouted and treated in the fall when groundsel is easier to control. Where that didn’t occur, scout now and treat when it’s still small.  More information on cressleaf groundsel can be found in a previous C.O.R.N. articlefact sheetvideo, and slides.… Continue reading

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