OCA BEST kicks off in December

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) Beef Exhibitor Show Total (BEST) Program is excited to commence a new season with this year’s theme “On a Quest to be the BEST,” alongside sponsoring partners: Evans Cattle Company, Ag-Pro, Bob Evans Farms, Diamond T Land & Cattle Co., D&E Electric, M.H. EBY Inc.,  Ricer Equipment, Weaver Leather Livestock, The Folks Printing, Dickson Cattle Co., Jones Show Cattle, RD Jones Excavating, Shepard Cattle Company, and Six R Farms. 

BEST is a youth development program of OCA that recognizes Ohio’s junior beef exhibitors for participation and placings through a series of sanctioned cattle shows that include showmanship competitions, educational contests, leadership opportunities and community service. Juniors earn points for participation in each sanctioned show which they are rewarded for at the end-of-season banquet.

The schedule for this year’s season is as follows:

• AGR Holiday Classic, Columbus — Dec. 9-11

• Scarlet & Gray Midwest Showdown, Columbus — Jan.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s pig farmers donate pork to Second Harvest Ohio

Ohio pig farmers, through Ohio Pork Council, the National Pork Board, and Farmland, a brand of Smithfield Foods, are partnering with country music superstar Luke Bryan’s fall Farm Tour to donate more than 160,000 servings of protein to Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio. The donation will help fill the protein gap often faced by food banks and help nourish the food insecure throughout the area. With Farm Tour stops across Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota, Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio is one of six organizations that is receiving donations to aid communities in need.

The six-location donation will total an estimated 210,000-pounds of pork, which is more than 1 million servings of protein provided to those in need. Supporting people and communities in this way are just a few of the We Care Ethical Principles pig farmers live by.

“Caring for our communities is at the heart of what pig farmers do every day, which is why we are excited to give back at this scale with the support of Farmland and Luke Bryan,” said Jess Campbell, National Pork Board member and Ohio Pork Council board member.… Continue reading

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Thankful for turkey farmers

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Farm Bureau

By now we have all heard that Thanksgiving dinner, according to American Farm Bureau, is going to cost consumers about 20% more than it did just a year ago for a number of different reasons, including inflation. Turkey producers, the farmers that work hard to put that centerpiece on the table are feeling the pinch of inflation as well.

“A lot of it has come to play with the rising cost of inputs, the electric, fuel, parts, also the cost of feed, the cost of employment for everyone involved,” said Curt Menchhofer, who farms with his brother, Eric, in west central Ohio.

The turkey alone is about 21% more expensive than 2021, but turkey farmers like the Menchhofers aren’t seeing an increase in their bottom line at the farm level.

“No, not necessarily,” Curt said. “There, again, due to our rising input cost, it’s costing more to produce that same turkey on our own, let alone our contractors and with feed costs and employment costs.”… Continue reading

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Asian longhorn tick spread in Ohio in 2022

By Matt Reese

It was not the first time, and probably will not be the last. This summer, Morgan County Extension educator Chris Penrose came into his office to find a jar of some questionable critter to identify. In many cases, the contents of the jars prove to be unremarkable. That was not the case with this one.

“When I opened it up, I saw a whole bunch of ticks in there and I said to myself, ‘uh oh,’” Penrose said. 

After sending samples from the jar for further analysis in Columbus, Penrose’s suspicions were confirmed: the Asian longhorned tick had made its way to Morgan County cattle pastures. 

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced in the summer of 2020 the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the discovery of an Asian longhorned tick in Gallia County. The tick was found on a stray dog. The tick was identified by Ohio State University and sent to the federal lab for confirmation.… Continue reading

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Challenges to Ohio sheep production

By Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

Ohio sheep production faces many challenges, however, in my opinion, some of the greatest arise from environmental changes, land mass availability, and predators. To start, we’ll discuss the environmental challenges that producers commonly face. The biggest environmental challenge in my opinion is directly related to excessive rainfall that much of the state has experienced in the recent past. As of late, because of excessive and unpredictable rainfall events, both crop and livestock producers have been unable to harvest and store quality feedstuffs in a timely fashion. 

Arguably, the spring of 2020 alone presented the greatest challenge as excessive rain events led to delayed planting of crop fields, making of hay, in addition to resuming normal pasture grazing. As a result, crop planting and harvesting was delay, if at all. Excessive moisture in the fall of 2020 was just as challenging during harvest as it was during planting.… Continue reading

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Thousands of mink released from Van Wert County farm

Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach released that his Office is investigating a breaking and entering/vandalism complaint at Lion Farms USA Mink Farm in Hoaglin Township that occurred during the overnight hours of Nov. 15, 2022. Suspects destroyed fencing, and approximately 25,000 to 40,000 mink were released from their cages.

The Sheriff warned local residents and area farmers that mink are carnivorous mammals that stick to a diet consisting of fresh kills. They regularly hunt prey bigger than themselves. As a result, they can be a bothersome pest for homeowners, livestock owners, and property managers. Mink have proven to be especially costly and problematic for poultry ranchers as well as homeowners with ornamental ponds filled with koi and other fish.

The incident remains under investigation. Several Agencies assisting in the investigation are the Ohio State Patrol, Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, ODNR, EMA, and ODOT. Anyone with information about the breaking and entering is asked to contact the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office at 419-238-3866 or Van Wert County Crime Stoppers at 419-238-STOP (7867).… Continue reading

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Trade concerns with Biden Administration

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Strategic Planning Conference recently wrapped up with a comprehensive overview of the Biden administration’s current trade initiatives and their potential impact on red meat exports. Longtime U.S. trade negotiator Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, who is now a trade policy consultant with AgTrade Strategies, LLC, praised her successors for their efforts to address trade barriers that limit U.S. agricultural exports. But she questioned the degree to which the Biden administration has prioritized agricultural trade, noting that Congress still has yet to confirm the nominees for USTR chief agricultural negotiator and USDA undersecretary for trade. 

“So it’s hard to get that political push for agriculture when it’s not the priority that it has been in prior administrations — including the Obama administration,” Bomer Lauritsen said. 

She spotlighted tense relations between the U.S. and China but noted that the vast Chinese market still holds tremendous opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports.… Continue reading

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Ohio dairy farmers recognized with FARM awards

The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program announced the winners of the second annual FARM Excellence Awards. 

Through these awards, the FARM Program recognized three farms and one evaluator who go above and beyond industry standards through their commitment to innovation and continuous improvement. The 2022 FARM Excellence Award recipients are:  

  • Animal Care & Antibiotic Stewardship — MVP Dairy, LLC (Danone North America)
  • Environmental Stewardship — Kibler Dairy Farms, Inc. (Dairy Farmers of America)
  • Workforce Development — Double A Dairy, LLC (Glanbia Nutritionals)
  • Evaluator of the Year — Ruth McCuin (Agri-Mark, Inc.)

 “The 2022 FARM Excellence Awards winners are a truly special group that embraced FARM Program principles and have raised the bar for what is possible in our industry,” said Emily Yeiser Stepp, Vice President of the FARM Program. “They’re great models for on-farm social responsibility.”

Winners were announced Tuesday, Oct. 25 at the 2022 Joint Annual Meeting of the National Dairy Board, the National Milk Producers Federation and the United Dairy Industry Association in Aurora, Col.… Continue reading

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A look at global meat markets

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Strategic Planning Conference attracted farmers, ranchers, processors and exporters from throughout the nation. While U.S. red meat exports will likely set a value record approaching $20 billion this year, the industry faces an array of obstacles related to the sluggish global economy, weakening currencies of key trading partners and lingering effects of the COVID pandemic. Challenges are also mounting on the production side, especially for livestock producers impacted by drought. 

Keynote speaker Randy Blach, CEO of CattleFax, detailed the larger-than-expected contraction of the cattle herd, which helped drive U.S. beef production and exports to record highs in 2022 but will be a significant constraint for U.S. exporters next year. The drought has also heightened production costs for cattle feeders.

“If you’re putting an animal in a feedyard anywhere in the Central Plains — let’s say Kansas or Oklahoma — your cost to put on a pound of gain is between $1.30 and $1.40,” Blach explained.… Continue reading

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Hard work and determination behind Ohio’s success at World Dairy Expo

By Joel Penhorwood, Ohio Ag Net

It is a spectacle unique among livestock shows — the World Dairy Expo’s Parade of Champions highlights the top animals at the show. Exhibitors lead their banner-draped cattle through a dark arena, across colored shavings (gray in 2022), illuminated by a lone spotlight. The eyes of World Dairy Expo attendees and interested parties from around the globe are fixed on the focus of that spotlight.

A few Ohioans found themselves the in the world’s dairy spotlight as participants in the Parade of Champions at the 2022 World Dairy Expo held in Wisconsin Oct. 2 to Oct. 7. One of them was 14-year-old Colton Thomas from Champaign County, donning white pants, a bow tie and suspenders with his now world-famous Holstein Senior Three-Year-Old Cow, Ms. Triple-T Grateful-ET.

“I was pretty nervous going into it. My body was shaking and my cow was pretty nervous going in, but once we got going, we found the rhythm.… Continue reading

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Still grazing?

By Chris Penrose, Professor and Ag & Natural Resource Educator, Morgan County Extension

I still am but I am not sure how much longer. My goal is to make it well into December then stop feeding most of the cows hay in early March. I started to stockpile some of my fields in August and everything was going great and growing through September. I even tried a technique that has been used on the east coast to lightly graze well stockpiled fields while there is still time for regrowth. The principle behind that is to stimulate new growth on the stockpiled grass that has slowed down. I took the cattle off the field around the first of October assuming another month of growth but guess what? Grass does not grow much when you get no rain. I actually had one of the best forage growing seasons I can recall until October, so I do have plenty of hay.… Continue reading

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Healthy soils, homegrown feed and high quality hogs

By Matt Reese

Hogs have long been recognized for their noteworthy eating habits.

On Ohio hog farms today, the vast majority of those eat-like-a-pig diets is comprised of crops produced locally, in some cases grown on the same farm. This largely-homegrown feed source is a vital part of the production of high quality, consistent pork products in Ohio.

Fifth generation farmer Nick Seger raises crops and livestock with his family on their Shelby County farm near Sidney. They raise corn, soybeans, and wheat and they grind their own feed for the family’s farrow-to-finish hog operation.  

“We put up a new grinding facility a few years ago and we work with ADM Nutrition Alliance on formulating the proper protein and nutritional levels for each individual phase of pigs, or age of pigs, in our operation. When the pigs are smaller, they have a more nutrient-dense ration with higher protein levels. As they get older, their feed consumption goes up considerably, so their protein level in the feed goes down.… Continue reading

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2022 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Dec. 3

The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association in partnership with The Ohio State University invites all sheep enthusiasts to the 2022 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium in Wooster, Ohio from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 at the OARDC Shisler Conference Center (1680 Madison Avenue, Wooster, OH 44691). 

This year’s symposium theme is management and marketing. The primary focus of discussion will be around housed and dry lot management of commercial sheep. Additional breakout sessions will elaborate on marketing strategies for lamb and wool. A full slate of distinguished speakers will be featured at the symposium. 

• Dr. Eric Gordon, a clinical veterinarian at OSU Large Animal Services in Marysville, will address strategies to promote animal health and welfare in confined systems. 

• Dr. Richard Ehrhardt, a Senior Extension Specialist in small ruminants at Michigan State University, will provide considerations for facility design and economics of conversion to a housed sheep system. … Continue reading

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USDA announces funding to expand meat processing capacity

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack this past week announced that the Biden-Harris Administration is investing $73 million in 21 grant projects through the first round of the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP). MPPEP delivers on President Biden‘s call to increase competition across the economy to help lower costs for American families. The announcement will expand meat and poultry processing capacity, which in turn increases competition, supports producer income, and strengthens the food supply chain to lower costs for working families and create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas. In addition, the Administration is investing $75 million for eight projects through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program, as well as more than $75 million for four meat and poultry-related projects through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan program.

These announcements support the Biden-Harris Administration’s Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain, which dedicates resources to expand independent processing capacity.… Continue reading

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Water: The most important nutrient

By Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

At a recent East Central Grazing Alliance pasture walk in Noble County I was invited to speak on the broad topic of water for livestock. Hopefully by now we all know that water is the most important nutrient for all living organisms and without water, production agriculture today would look very different.

Water Quantity

One of the first discussion points regarding water, is quantity – how much water do we need for animals to perform at optimal levels? Do we have enough flow rate from our source to maintain several animals drinking at once, and is our drinking tank large enough?

Water requirements for beef cattle depend on body weight, stage of production (gestation vs. lactation), and temperature.

Generally, cattle will consume 1 gallon of water per 100 pounds of bodyweight during cooler weather and nearly twice as much on hotter days.… Continue reading

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BEEF 509 back for 2023

The long-running BEEF 509 program, hosted by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation (OCF), will be back in 2023. This educational opportunity will be held on Feb. 25 and March 4 and will be co-hosted by the Ohio State University (OSU) Meat Science Extension and sponsored by the Ohio Beef Council (OBC).

BEEF 509 is an educational program designed to teach cattle producers about the food side of their business and how to utilize best management practices to improve beef quality and enhance profitability while learning about value within the beef chain. 

It is designed for beef cattle producers, allied industry personnel including chefs and beef salespersons, veterinarians, teachers, Extension personnel and college students to learn more about the value of beef. Program participants learn about the importance of producing a more consistent and high-quality beef product through a series of hands-on lessons presented by various meat science faculty, staff and graduate students.… Continue reading

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BVD testing required for OCA BEST Program

A new rule regarding Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) persistent infection (PI) status will be applied to the 2022-23 Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s (OCA) Beef Exhibitor Show Total (BEST) program. All cattle (BEST and non-BEST) (in-state and out-of-state) must have a negative BVD test to exhibit at any OCA BEST sanctioned show. 

BVD is a respiratory and reproductive virus that wreaks havoc on cattle’s immune systems and their ability to bore calves. It can be passed on to calves at birth and has variable symptoms. The key to ensuring the health of a herd is to spot the signs of BVD early and cut off contact between healthy and infected livestock.

Like declaring a breed at the first sanctioned show, proof of a negative BVD PI test MUST be provided at the next BEST sanctioned show immediately following the first BEST show the animal attended, whether or not you plan to exhibit cattle at the show.… Continue reading

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Moving forward after HPAI confirmed in Ohio

By Matt Reese 

In September, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was confirmed in Ohio. The virus was detected in a backyard flock in Ashland County and a 3 million-bird commercial chicken flock in Defiance County. HPAI has since been found in backyard flocks in Allen, Williams, Portage, and Summit counties. 

The positive detections were confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS). The samples were first tested at the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. HPAI is a highly contagious virus that spreads quickly and can be fatal to flocks and devastating to poultry owners, both commercial and non-commercial. HPAI can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl) and is carried by free flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese, and shorebirds. The current cases have been introduced during the natural migration season. … Continue reading

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A look at fall calving

By Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Fall is my favorite time of the year, hay making is done, the feeder cattle are being marketed, college football is in full swing, and for some calving season is well underway.

This summer at our field day in Muskingum County we heard from a family who discussed incorporating a fall calving cow herd into their beef operation. While there are disadvantages to fall calving, there are several advantages that can be capitalized on if we can evaluate and adapt current production systems. Let’s look at how fall calving can be a viable and profitable system.

Cattle prices are seasonal 

As with most things in agriculture, supply and demand have a great impact on prices. Andrew Griffith from the University of Tennessee in 2017 analyzed several studies comparing spring and fall calving systems. After comparing the systems on a 205-day weaning age and two separate feed resource scenarios they concluded that even though spring-calving cows had heavier calves at weaning and lower feed costs than the fall-calving cows, the higher prices of steer and heifer calves captured by fall-born calves were able to cover the higher feed expenses and lighter weaning weights by the fall-born calves.… Continue reading

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USDA announces Dairy Margin Coverage Program

With rising costs eroding dairy margins despite high farm milk prices, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is urging farmers to sign up for maximum 2023 coverage under USDA’s Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program, an important component of federal dairy risk-management programs supported by NMPF. 

USDA has announced that DMC signup began, with a deadline of Dec. 7. Despite record prices this year, accompanying record costs resulted in DMC payments for August for farmers enrolled at the maximum coverage level.

“The current combination of high prices with costs that can be even higher illustrates the basic value of DMC for producers who can benefit from the program,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “By calculating assistance via a margin rather than a target price, DMC offers a measure of protection against the current cost volatility that’s challenging many milk producers.”

Farmers should also consider signing up for federally backed risk-management programs appropriate to their operations, Mulhern said.… Continue reading

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