Beef Checkoff fortifies family farm

As Allan Robison walks his fence line checking its security, the setting sun illuminates the changing landscape as winter thaws into spring. He leans on a fencepost to scan his grazing cattle herd and reflects on the landscape of the cattle industry. The weather isn’t the only thing changing.

Robison sees a bright future in cattle, especially in Ohio. Although, he can’t help but notice changes in the way cattlemen must conduct business today compared to when he started as a teenager.

“Obviously, as a beef producer, you eat a lot of beef,” he said. “But there are a lot of people who don’t automatically make that choice and we, as producers, might be blind to that fact. I naively assume everyone knows that beef is a good buy and a nutritious choice. We need promotion, and a lot of producers take that for granted. You have to advertise it. You have to sell it.”… Continue reading

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Expansion of beef herds possibility on the horizon

Recent record-high cattle prices and lower feed costs could offer producers the profit incentives they need to start expanding their herds after U.S. beef cattle numbers at the start of this year reached their lowest point since 1951, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt said.

The nation’s beef cattle herd has been declining for many years, with the most recent phase beginning in 2007 when high feed prices led to large financial losses for producers. Since that time, major beef-production areas also have been dealing with drought. But if lower feed costs and high cattle prices hold steady, producers could start to slowly grow their operations.

“While the incentives have turned positive, they have not been in place long enough for the industry to begin registering signs of expansion according to U.S. Department of Agriculture numbers,” Hurt said. “The rebuilding of the beef herd is expected to take multiple years.”

Hurt said that there are two main factors driving increased beef profit potential.… Continue reading

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USDA expands research on larger dog breeds for livestock protection

Taking on an adult grizzly bear or a pack of wolves is a lot to ask of a livestock protection dog, but it’s a task they willingly take to protect their flocks from predation. For centuries, livestock protection dogs have helped ranchers protect livestock from coyotes, feral dogs, foxes and mountain lions. Without them, thousands of sheep, lambs and calves would be killed or injured each year.

Livestock protection dogs grow up and live with their flock, patrolling the perimeters of grazing areas to ward off potential predators. Now, with the recovery and expansion of populations of grizzly bears and wolves, current breeds of livestock protection dogs — like the Great Pyrenees, Komondors and Akbash — are losing many of the fights. They are no match for these larger predators.

To help producers in western states cope with the rising number of large carnivores on the landscape, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (WS) program and its research arm, the National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC), are leading an effort to identify more suitable breeds of livestock protection dogs.… Continue reading

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Beef producers can vote on Beef Checkoff

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association has initiated a referendum that is currently ongoing to increase Ohio’s Beef Checkoff from $1 to $2 per head. Voting by mail ballot is underway with in-person voting set for March 18, 19, and 20 at the Ohio Department of Agriculture and county Extension offices. Below are are two position statements on the vote for increasing the Ohio Beef Checkoff.

Vote Yes

By Frank Phelps, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association president and Logan County beef producer

There are many reasons the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) board of directors initiated the referendum. Most importantly OCA supports the work of the beef checkoff to build demand for beef and believes increasing those shrinking resources is the right thing to do for the future of Ohio’s beef industry.  And there is no better time to increase the checkoff. Based on today’s markets, finished steers are worth nearly $2,000. An additional dollar is only 5/100ths of the total value of that steer.… Continue reading

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Ohio Bison Farm raising America’s original red meat

The commute up Bob and Bev Sexten’s long and winding driveway is nothing short of picturesque, with rolling hills, open land and woods that are placed just so. It’s about halfway from the county road to the house, where a herd of majestic-looking bison lay in the snow, that one might confuse themselves with being in a completely different part of the county and begin humming “Home on the Range.”

In reality, located in Grove City, Ohio Bison Farm is a far cry from the west but the bison seem to get along just fine in Ohio’s climate.

“Ranchers out west have found that when a severe storm comes through, like the blizzard back in October, they will lose a lot of cattle,” Sexten said.… Continue reading

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Beware of PEDv at hog shows in 2014

As hog exhibitors prepare for the show season in the months ahead, they need to be aware of the significant challenges the industry is facing with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) that is claiming the lives of many young pigs around the country. PEDv presents a very serious issue that requires careful attention from hog exhibitors.

“They need to understand the method of spread which is fecal-oral. So any time they are exposed to pigs or anyone else that has had contact with pigs, they are potentially exposed to that virus,” said Todd Price, an Ohio veterinarian and hog producer. “PEDv survives for over 4 weeks in 40 degree weather or below and it is very sticky. It can be transferred by somebody that works on a farm that has it and it can be carried on their boots to a convenience store and then another person can come in and pick it up and carry it home to their hog barns.… Continue reading

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2014 Ohio Beef Expo March 14-16

The Ohio Beef Expo, the premier event of Ohio’s beef industry, takes place March 14 – 16 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus. This year’s schedule once again includes breed sales, shows, educational seminars, trade show and a highly competitive junior show. Attendees will also be able to take part in a silent auction and social hour on Friday and Saturday.

The trade show, kicking off the Expo at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, will run throughout the event and features more than 100 exhibitors from 15 states. A series of educational seminars will run throughout Friday, giving producers an opportunity to gain useful knowledge from industry experts about advancements and current trends, and will allow producers to improve their own operations in areas such as marketing and herd management. A complete list of seminars is available at

Cattle from across the country will be represented at the Expo through the breed shows, sales and displays.… Continue reading

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Showing what she’s made of

She might not have been born in a barn, but she certainly grew up in one. Megan Hunker has been showing livestock from a very young age. Her first memorable experience was as a four-year-old showing pigs in a National Swine Association event. Sixteen years later, she walked away from the prestigious American Royal Livestock Show, her last eligible Junior Show, as the Senior Sheep Showmanship Champion.

“I’ve grown up with livestock my entire life, I was born into it, my love for it grew from there,” Megan said. “I started out showing pigs to just get show ring experience and once I was old enough I grew into all four species. We show market lambs now, but I’ve shown Angus cattle before and hogs at the state and county fair; I did goats a few times, too.”

While hard work and dedication are standard to be a successful junior showman, Megan faced a few exceptional challenges on her journey.… Continue reading

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Responding to “Farmed and Dangerous”

Chipotle released a satirical video series, “Farmed and Dangerous,” on Feb. 17. According to the restaurant’s publicity materials, the series satirically explores the world of industrial agriculture in America. The show integrates Chipotle’s values and commitment to serving food made with the highest-quality ingredients through the content and themes of the show itself, without any explicit Chipotle branding, according to the company.

The four-episode series features new episodes each Monday for four consecutive weeks.

In the show’s preview trailer, a corporate agriculture giant is heavy-handed and wants to quash dissent and objection from the common man. Chipotle could well be hoping modern, conventional agriculture responds in the same way to the series, which would reinforce their story line and promote their perspective that today’s food system has something to hide and will attack anyone who has a different (even it is outlandish and inaccurate) point of view. The trailer and clips from the series may be viewed at: reading

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Cache Valley Virus showing up in Ohio sheep

Cache Valley virus causes infertility, abortions and congenital abnormalities in sheep. Sheep producers during lambing season should be aware of the potential for Cache Valley virus, or CVV, to potentially affect their lambing crop. This year there has been an increase in the number of cases diagnosed and reported by sheep producers in Ohio.

The virus is spread by mosquitoes during early breeding season, generally August through September. The virus is not spread from ewe to ewe, only through mosquitos. Abnormalities in lambs may include crooked joints, deformities of the skeleton, twisted necks or spines, weak muscles or an uncoordinated gait. Most lambs born with severe defects are usually stillborn, yet CVV can cause the birth of lambs that act drowsy, weak, or unsteady and typically all lambs within a set of twins or triplets are affected.

If the infection occurs at less than 28 days gestation, the embryos usually die and are reabsorbed.… Continue reading

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Japan demands ag exceptions in TPP

The National Pork Producers Council will oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement if Japan is included in the deal but doesn’t eliminate all tariffs and other forms of protection on pork.

Japan is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector, including exclusion from the agreement of certain “sensitive” products that includes pork. In addition to being the largest value market for U.S. pork exports ($1.89 Billion in 2013), Japan is the fourth largest market for the rest of U.S. agriculture, which shipped $12.1 billion of food and agricultural products to the island nation in 2013. The TPP is a regional trade negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP.

Tariffs have been eliminated on pork in every other U.S. free trade agreement, and TPP should be no different. A final TPP agreement that does not eliminate all tariffs and non-tariff barriers on U.S.… Continue reading

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Turner elected to American Shorthorn Association Board of Directors

Tom Turner of Somerset, Ohio was elected to the American Shorthorn Association (ASA) Board of Directors (BOD) at their recent annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, held during the National Western Stock Show.

“We are excited to have someone of Dr. Turner’s background, training and experience to help lead this breed into the future,” said Montie Soules, Executive Secretary of the ASA said

The BOD consists of nine members, each serving a term of three years. Three directors are elected at the annual meeting of the membership each year.  The BOD meets five times per year and oversees standing committees including Youth Activities, Leadership and Scholarship, Shorthorn Junior Program Sustainability, Senior Membership Show Committee, Genetic Evaluation and Database Management, Appendix Shorthorn and Shorthorn Derivative Cattle, Promotion and Breed Image and Commercial Marketing.  Board members as well as Shorthorn breeders from across the country serve, making program recommendations for the betterment of the Shorthorn breed to increase profitability for breeders.… Continue reading

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Ohio Pork Council highlights winners

The Ohio Pork Congress awards luncheon highlighted another great year of service and accomplishments in Ohio’s pork industry. Several award winners were recognized.


Jim Albaugh was the Pork Industry Excellence Award winner. The award was presented by Kim Lawson of Elanco.



Bill Funderburg, from Greenville, was the Ohio Pork Industry Service Award Winner. The award was presented by OPC president Duane Stateler and Dick Isler.



Kevin Stuckey, was the Manager of the Year. The award was presented by OPC president Duane Stateler and Dick Isler.



The Pork Schop, represented by Barb Stuckey, received the Pork Promoter of the Year Award. The award was presented by OPPC president Duane Stateler and Matt Reese, from Ohio’s Country Journal.

Also in the program Grady Bishop, Elanco Director of U.S. Swine Business Unit, talked about the challenges and opportunities of food security moving forward. A highlight from the last year was the recent launch of the Ohio Pork Council’s re-designed website,… Continue reading

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Consistent attention to detail bred success in the Yorkshire business

Society today is often focused on being the most attention grabbing and extreme, and the hog breeding business is no different. But, according to noteworthy Yorkshire breeder and the Ohio Pork Industry Service Award recipient Bill Funderburg, being flashy is not always the best path to long-term success. He was recognized at the Ohio Pork Congress today.

“Being spectacular is not as important as being honest and consistent,” he said. “That is how you get pigs that will do well for the customer.”

Funderburg achieved almost unprecedented success in the Yorkshire breed with consistency and attention to detail while maintaining focus on the big picture. Sometimes his pigs were spectacular, but, more importantly, Funderburg built a reputation over 50 years for consistent quality hogs on his Darke County farm.

“We started in 1951 with my father west of Greenville. We were on the halves there and we farmed about 400 acres.… Continue reading

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New swine virus

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is informing pork producers and veterinarians that a new coronavirus has been detected in pig fecal samples from four different swine farms in Ohio by Dr. Yan Zhang, a virologist from ODA’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL). The virus cannot spread to humans or other species and poses no risk to food safety.

The farms from which the samples were taken experienced outbreaks of a diarrheal disease in sows and piglets in January and early February of 2014. The clinical signs of the disease were similar to that of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) and transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE), which are both caused by coronaviruses. Electronmicropy of fecal samples from the four farms showed the presence of coronavirus-like viral particles. In one of the four farms, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for TGE viruses and PED viruses currently circulating in the U.S. were negative, but all 10 samples were positive for a new virus.… Continue reading

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Determination important in battle with EPA

In the middle of the extreme frigid temperatures in early January, a beautiful dark heifer calf arrived. We dried her off, covered her with a calf blanket and promptly moved her into the heated shop for a warm welcome to the world. All was well until about a week later when we moved her to her own snuggly, well-bedded calf hut. She resided there for about 15 minutes while she dismantled it, then ran back to the shop door.

After several unsuccessful attempts at relocation, I gave up. She spent most of January in the shop. I respect her determination, so I named her Lois, after the plaintiff in Alt v. EPA, a case I am watching as it works its way through the federal courts.

Lois Alt is a 62-year-old grandmother and longtime electrician for the construction industry who invested her life savings in her West Virginia chicken farm. She saw the poultry business as a welcome alternative from her long commute to Virginia.… Continue reading

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Red meat exports boom

Beef exports continued their surge in December, surpassing year-ago totals by nearly 13% in volume and 20% in value led by growth in sales to Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong and Central/South America. Totals for 2013 were up 3% in volume to 1.17 million metric tons (mt) and 12% in value ($6.157 billion) – breaking the 2012 value record.

The new milestone for U.S. beef export value also meant new records for the average export value per head: an annual record of $244.96 per head of fed slaughter, up $28.23 from 2012 and a new monthly record in December at $279.16, up $36.52 from December 2012.

U.S. beef exports in 2013 equated to 13.2% of total beef production (muscle cuts plus variety meat) and 10.4% of muscle cuts alone, up from 12.7 and 9.8% last year. The totals trended up in December, reaching 14.5% and 12%, respectively.

Beef sales to Japan closed the year up 54% in volume (234,615 mt) and 35% in value ($1.389 billion), pushed by a strong December showing that was more than 75% ahead of last year’s volume totals and 45% higher in value.… Continue reading

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Russian markets could re-open for U.S. pork

Russia has indicated that it plans to end the ban on imports of U.S. pork products by mid-March and possibly as soon as the end of February, according to Sergei Dankvert, head of Russia’s Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service (VPSS).

Last year, Russia implemented a ban on imports of U.S. pork and beef that are produced with beta-agonists. Russia began requiring pork imports from the United States to show documentation that the pork does not contain ractopamine residues. The country also restricted U.S. pork imports through unscientific standards for tetracyclines and pathogens on raw product, standards that no country in the world can meet. The U.S. government, with NPPC and meat industry input, has been working to develop a commercial option for U.S. exporters to ensure beta-agonist-free pork for Russia. NPPC continues to work closely with other industry partners and the U.S. government to ensure Russia abides by World Trade Organization rules and reopens its market to U.S.… Continue reading

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Pig housing can be a conversation starter

Last month, pork industry giants Smithfield and Tyson announced plans to develop animal welfare improvements that include moving away from the practice of using gestation crates.

Smithfield’s announcement put in place incentives for contract pork growers to shift to “group housing systems” for pregnant sows before 2022. After that, the company will only renew contracts with growers who have switched to the new system. According to the announcement, the company has already transitioned 54% of sows on company-owned farms to the new system.

In a letter to its growers, Tyson said that it was asking all suppliers to improve quality and quantity of space for sows in any new or redesigned barns beginning this year. Whether it involves gestation stalls, pens or some other type of housing, Tyson believes future sow housing should allow sows of all sizes to stand, turn around, lie down and stretch their legs. The company plans to increase audits of sow farms to help ensure responsible on-farm treatment of animals and is urging installation of video monitoring to increase oversight.… Continue reading

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“Smart Barn” technology brings precision to animal agriculture

For years, grain farmers have been able to use precision technology to get the most out of their crops, their fields and their equipment. Ohioans Andrew Klein and Joe Althaus are looking to bring that type of technology to livestock farmers as well with their recently-formed company, PrecisionLSF, and the “Smart Barn” wireless network in Dayton.

“I’ve always been kind of a computer geek, tinkering around with projects and programming,” Klein said. “Two years ago Joe and I were talking about new sensors that had just been created and how they could monitor just about everything in your house and that really caught our attention.”

Not much more came from that conversation until Klein’s dad, who has a hog farm in New Paris, brought up how his phone line technology was difficult to program and only monitored if his power was out.… Continue reading

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