Dry conditions increase need for grazing management

Heat and dry conditions are limiting forage supplies and emphasizing the need for livestock producers to plan and carefully manage their grazing strategies, a Purdue Extension beef specialist says.

If weather conditions remain dry throughout the remainder of spring and summer, pasture conditions could deteriorate and forages could be in short supply – a situation livestock producers need to plan for.

One way producers can be proactive is by caring for pastures through rotational grazing, Ron Lemenager said. With rotational grazing, herds are moved from one section of pasture to another to maximize quality and quantity of forage growth. Doing so helps prevent overgrazing.

“I think most of us realize that if cows are continuous grazing, they are going to always go for the lush, young plant, and that continuous grazing will reduce root growth and root reserves of that plant, and the regrowth is going to be significantly retarded,” Lemenager said.… Continue reading

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Kroger pushes for accelerated move away from gestation crates

The Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. announced that it has begun informing suppliers of a new policy statement regarding gestation crates that are used to house pregnant sows.

Kroger has science-based standards for animal welfare and works diligently to ensure that its suppliers treat animals humanely. Over the past few months, the Company has reviewed the opinions of animal welfare experts and other experts regarding the use of gestation crates for pregnant sows and has concluded that there are many ways to humanely house sows.

Kroger believes that a gestation crate-free environment is more humane and that the pork industry should work toward gestation crate-free housing for pregnant sows. The Company is encouraging its suppliers to accelerate this already-occurring transition in the Kroger supply-chain. Kroger also wants customers to know that this is a transition that may take many years.

“Kroger’s announcement comes on the heels of Safeway, the nation’s second-largest grocery chain, announcing in May that it’s eliminating gestation crates in its supply chain,” says Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).… Continue reading

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Farmers in for a tough June Dairy Month

A conversation with…Peter Vitaliano, with the National Milk Producers Federation

OCJ: This could be a tough Dairy Month for many dairy farmers due to their low income. How are the nation’s dairy farmers handling this challenge?

Peter: Dairy farmers are coming off a good year last year, but they are still recovering from the financial devastation of 2009. The current tough situation has certainly halted that recovery for the time being.


OCJ: How do current prices compare to recent months and years?

Peter: Since milk prices tend to have seasonal patterns, it’s useful to compare the average price U.S. dairy farmers have received during the past three months, March through May, to the range of prices they received during the same three months in recent years. By this measure, this year’s prices are about $3 per hundredweight (cwt.) lower than last year’s record high prices and about $5 per cwt.… Continue reading

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USDA targeting additional strains of E. coli in raw beef trim

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) began instituting a zero-tolerance policy for six additional strains of E. coli that are responsible for human illness. Beginning in early June, FSIS will routinely test raw beef manufacturing trim, which is a major component of ground beef, for the six additional strains of E. coli. Trim found to be contaminated with these pathogens will not be allowed into commerce and will be subject to recall.

Illnesses due to E. coli serogroups other than O157:H7, which caused a high-profile illness outbreak in 1993, outnumber those attributed to O157:H7. FSIS declared O157:H7 an adulterant in 1994.

“These strains of E. coli are an emerging threat to human health and the steps we are taking today are entirely focused on preventing Americans from suffering foodborne illnesses,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We cannot ignore the evidence that these pathogens are a threat in our nation’s food supply.”… Continue reading

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Attention to little details pays big dividends at Burky Dairy

By Connie Lechlieitner

In the rolling hills of Tuscarawas County, Chad Burky continues a family dairy operation that now spans 6 generations with the addition of his son, Clayton. The family-run dairy was recognized in 2011 as one of the top 5% in the state in milk production, an achievement they’ve reached each of the past 8 years.

The Burkys herd consists of 500 cows in milk with 400 heifers, and they do so with no herdsman, but 10 full-time and four part-time workers, running two shifts.

“We average about 39,000 pounds of milk a day, milking most of the herd three times a day. A group of our top producers and fresh cows get milked four times per day,” Chad Burky said.

It is the details that have helped the farm become so successful. One of the first elements Burky mentioned in the farm’s success was cow comfort.

“Cows produce more when they are not stressed, so we do all we can to keep them happy and healthy,” Burky said.… Continue reading

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New video series offers livestock producers access to grazing school

A new video series produced by Ohio State University Educators offers livestock producers detailed information about a wide variety of grazing management techniques taught by OSU Extension livestock and forage experts.

The videos, which were produced this spring as part of OSU Extensions’ “Pastures for Profit” grazing school, offer an in-depth look at ways livestock producers can improve their management of their pastures, said Jeff McCutcheon, an OSU Extension educator.

“We’ve been offering these classes since 1994, but this is the first time we’ve recorded them and are offering access to the videos free online,” he said. “Producers can always improve the efficiencies of their land resources and forages.”

The videos offer instruction on some of the basic considerations of grazing systems, from fence and water set-up and how it impacts plant growth, to pasture layout and design, to forage species selection and alternatives, McCutcheon said.

“Produced by the OSU Extension Forage Team, the curriculum setup allows people to mix and match different parts of the videos for their own needs,” he said.… Continue reading

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Senate introduces egg inspection legislation

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP) applaud the introduction of S. 3239, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012, in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., with Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Scott Brown, R-Mass., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., David Vitter, R-La., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. joining as original cosponsors. This measure is the Senate companion to H.R. 3798, introduced in January by Reps. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., Sam Farr, D-Calif., and Jeff Denham, R-Calif.

Sen. Feinstein introduced the bill to push forward improvements in housing for 280 million hens used in U.S. egg production, while providing a stable future for egg farmers.

The legislation will require egg producers to essentially double the space allotted per hen and make other important animal welfare improvements during a tiered phase-in period that allows farmers time to make the investments in better housing, with the assurance that all will face the same requirements by the end of the phase-in period.… Continue reading

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Ohio foodbanks receive $1.5 million egg commitment from Ohio farmers

For the fifth year, the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks (OASHF) and the Ohio Poultry Association (OPA) have joined forces in the fight against hunger as the two organizations partner with Ohio’s egg farmers to provide wholesome, nutritious food to Ohioans in need. Representatives from OASHF and OPA, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David T. Daniels, as well as egg farmers from across the state, gathered at an event held during National Egg Month in May at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Grove City to celebrate the milestone 1.5 million egg donation by Ohio farmers.

Eight Ohio egg farmers have committed the 1.5 million eggs to be provided to local hunger charities through OASHF’s network of 12 regional Feeding America foodbanks. The contribution has an estimated retail value of $168,750.

“Our partnership with the Ohio Poultry Association and Ohio’s egg farmers is integral in helping us meet our critical mission to provide food to hungry Ohio families,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, OASHF executive director.… Continue reading

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Prevent coccidiosis losses in cattle with preparation

Plan ahead to win the battle against this parasite

All producers — from cow/calf to feedlot — could be compromising cattle health and performance because of an intestinal, protozoan parasite called coccidia. Coccidiosis is a disease that affects most species of domestic livestock and poultry and results in significant economic losses due to mortality and, more important, decreased growth and feed efficiency due to the damage to the intestinal tract.

“The parasite that causes coccidiosis is virtually impossible to eliminate from the bovine species just because it is so abundant and, in most cases, is a normal inhabitant of the intestine,” says Matt Cravey, Ph.D., Pfizer Animal Health, Cattle and Equine Technical Services. “Out of the 16 species that are found in cattle, generally only two species (Eimeria bovis and Eimeria zuernii) will be responsible for causing much of the damage in the intestinal tract. However, in most cases, we don’t see or otherwise detect their presence in production situations like a feedlot until we see blood in the feces.”… Continue reading

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Livestock at risk from noxious weed

Ohio’s warm winter and early spring mean that cressleaf groundsel is on the rise earlier than normal and has the potential to cause problems for livestock producers, said an Ohio State University Extension beef cattle expert.

The weed is now listed on Ohio’s Noxious Weed list because of the poisonous characteristics it poses to some animals. In fact, Ohio farmers are seeing more cressleaf groundsel than ever before, said Stan Smith, an OSU Extension program assistant in agriculture and natural resources. The unusually warm winter led to an early spring and has caused many biennial and perennial plants to get started several weeks ahead of normal.

Winter 2012 was the warmest winter experienced nationwide since 2000 and the fourth-warmest winter on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It occurred because the jet stream, which divides the cold air to the north from the warm air to the south, settled at a much higher latitude this year, the federal agency said.… Continue reading

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OLC looking for Neighbor of the Year

The Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC), in partnership with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, is accepting nominations for the Neighbor of the Year Awards, which recognize two rural residents – one livestock farmer and one non-farmer – for their commitment to being environmentally responsible, courteous to others and respectful of private properties.

David White, OLC executive director, said the awards are one way to recognize rural neighbors who set a good example of how to work together to keep Ohio agriculture alive and well in the Buckeye state.

“Agriculture is Ohio’s number-one economic contributor, and in order to thrive, livestock farmers and their non-farming neighbors need to work together to help preserve the state’s agricultural heritage and rural landscape,” said White. “Recognizing these efforts through the Neighbor of the Year Awards is one way for us to honor those in our rural areas who exemplify the true meaning of being good neighbors.”… Continue reading

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Dairy Farmers: Are you guilty of this cardinal sin?

Hot weather is just around the corner, if it’s not already starting to rear its ugly head in your part of the country. As we head into this time of year the biggest mistake you can make is to be unprepared, says Martha Baker, dairy nutrition specialist with Land O’Lakes Purina Feed.

“This past fall when you turned the sprinklers and fans off, everything probably worked just fine. But that doesn’t mean everything will work fine when you need it,” she says. Baker shares the following tips to be prepared and proactive:

  • Clean and service the fans. Take time to make sure the fans turn on and off at the correct times and/or temperatures.
  • Look at the nozzles and soakers. Ensure they turn on when you want them to, but also make sure enough water comes through when and where you want it too. Double check that you don’t have any broken water lines.
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Technology boosts dairy cow fertility

Increasing the reproductive efficiency of dairy cattle by getting the highest possible number of cows pregnant in the same period of time has always been a challenge for the industry. Ohio State University specialists are working to reverse this trend through the development of new reproduction techniques and training that emphasizes proper management.

Currently, the national pregnancy rate for dairy cows is only 16%, while the benchmark rate set by industry experts is 10 points higher, said Gustavo Schuenemann, Ohio State University Extension’s state dairy veterinarian. Ohio’s rate is about the national average, he said, noting there is “room for improvement.”

Lower pregnancy rates are an issue for the dairy industry because they translate into reduced herd growth and potential loss of profits, said Mike Day, an animal scientist with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

“Dairy cows work hard every day,” he said. “That makes it more difficult for farmers to increase reproduction rates.”… Continue reading

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NCBA supports new BSE rule

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published in the Federal Register a comprehensive rule for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) on March 16, 2012. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) voiced support for the rule in comments submitted late Tuesday. NCBA Vice President Bob McCan said the organization has been pushing for this rule since the first case of BSE was detected in the United States in December 2003.

“This has been a long time coming and we certainly welcome this rule. Quite simply, this proposed rule will show the United States is willing to talk the talk and walk the walk with regard to following international standards developed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE),” said McCan. “We cannot demand our trading partners follow OIE standards when we are not here at home.”

As noted in the comments submitted by NCBA, the comprehensive BSE rule will solidify the United States’ commitment to basing trade relationships on internationally-recognized, science-based standards.… Continue reading

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Land O’Lakes Purina Feed Launches Feeding for 30TM Program

Industry-wide initiative highlights need for attention on sow nutrition and management in the U.S. swine sector.

This week, as part of an ongoing commitment to animal nutrition, Land O’Lakes Purina Feed, LLC launches an industry initiative – the Feeding for 30TM Program. This new program builds on the industry goal of achieving 30 pigs per sow per year and aims to promote proper sow management and nutrition practices to boost performance starting in the gestation and farrowing barns and continuing through all growing phases.

Through the Feeding for 30TM Program, Land O’Lakes Purina Feed and other industry experts are offering collaborative insights and management information to swine producers striving to achieve the industry goal of 30 pigs per sow per year. Researchers behind the program explain that meeting the benchmark of 30 pigs per sow per year has economic and herd health benefits. Sow nutrition is highlighted as a priority to meet the industry goal while maintaining longevity within herds.… Continue reading

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Study shows cows prefer grazing clean grass


GPS Collars Help Missouri Researcher Track Grazing Preferences.

A recent study by Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri Extension weed scientist, confirms that cattle prefer clean, weed-free grass when given the choice.
The study tracked grazing patterns across three continuously grazed locations in Missouri. A mix of broadleaf weeds or broadleaf weeds and woody brush infested each site, which ranged from 50 to 100 acres in size.

“We sprayed half of each pasture with herbicides and left the other half untreated,” Bradley says. Depending on the undesirable species present, the site received an application of GrazonNext herbicide or a tank mix of Grazon P+D plus Remedy Ultra herbicide. The herbicide treatment eliminated most of the clover.
A month before spraying, Bradley established the baseline. He fitted three cows at each site with GPS collars to track grazing habits. A special, up-down indicator on the collars documented when the cows were actively grazing.… Continue reading

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Are you smarter than a third grader?

By Dave White, the Ohio Livestock Coalition

Two third grade classes will be taking an all expenses paid field trip to livestock farms in Ohio this month, thanks to the efforts of a fellow classmate in being named a winner in the Ohio Livestock Coalition’s (OLC) “ForYourInFARMation” essay contest.

Emma Crusey, a student at North Union Elementary located near Richwood, and Naomi Miranda, a student at Buckeye Elementary in Medina, were selected as this year’s winners for their response to the question, “”How do Ohio farmers make sure we have good, safe food to eat?”

Students who entered the contest used educational materials provided by OLC and available at The materials explain livestock farming and provide industry related data. The essays reflected what students learned about food production, from the farm to the kitchen table.

The essay contest is part of OLC’s For Your InFARMation. The program includes free educational materials for teachers designed to teach Ohio third-graders about the origins of the food they eat every day and about the important role agriculture plays in Ohio’s economy.… Continue reading

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Red meat exports have mixed first quarter

According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, market access issues took a toll on U.S. beef exports to Taiwan (down 18% in volume to 5,554 metric tons and 11% in value to $35.1 million), where controversy over ractopamine residue testing has made for a very unsteady business climate. Drastically lower import quotas have lowered U.S. beef exports to Indonesia, where volume (601 metric tons) was down 86% and value ($2.4 million) was down more than 60%. (Though not reflected in these results, Indonesia also imposed new market access restrictions as a result of the BSE case announced April 24.) Year-over-year exports were also lower for Korea, but this was largely due to a surge in export activity in early 2011. First-quarter performance in Korea was fairly consistent with the second half of 2011. U.S. beef has also continued to gain market share in Korea this year, as Australia’s exports have declined by 37%.… Continue reading

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Beef video contest

This spring the Beef Checkoff launched a new video blog contest designed to engage youth in telling the beef story using the power of YouTube. Videos entries had to be two minutes or less and focus on one of eight beef related topics, including common beef misconceptions, cattle care, and beef’s nutritional value. Entries were judged on creativity, topic choice, content accuracy, and how beef was positioned.

The grand prize winner is Jason Girouard, son of Rebecca and David Girouard of Brimfield, Massachusetts. The Tantasqua Regional High School student receives a $750 cash prize and a trip to an annual Cattle Industry Convention.

When asked why he entered the contest he said “This contest really stuck out to me because beef has been a huge part of my life. I’ve been really active lately with track and swimming at my school, and like I said in my video, eating right has been essential in my daily routine.Continue reading

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Pork exports strong in first quarter

U.S. pork exports finished the first quarter 8% higher in volume (598,058 metric tons) and 20% higher in value ($1.66 billion) than last year’s record pace, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

At the same time, the value of beef exports for the quarter rose 4% (to $1.25 billion) on 10% lower volumes (266,388 metric tons).

March pork export volume of 198,972 metric tons was 8% lower than a year ago, but up 6% from February 2012. Export value of $570.5 million was 3% higher than last year and up 8% from the previous month. These results were led by excellent growth in the China/Hong Kong region and by strong performance in Mexico, Japan and Canada.

Beef export volume in March of 89,803 metric tons was 23% lower than last year but up 3% from February. March export value of $438.5 million was down 8% year-over-year but was 7% higher than the previous month.… Continue reading

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