Heart of America Grazing Conference

Livestock producers from across the Corn Belt can learn about the latest grazing and pasture management techniques at the Heart of America Grazing Conference, Jan. 25-26 in Mount Vernon, Ill.

The conference, sponsored in part by Ohio State University Extension and Purdue Extension, will offer a number of sessions to help producers deal with problem areas and keep pastures in the best possible shape.

“This is a very practical, goal-oriented conference talking about current issues in grazing,” said Jeff McCutcheon, Ohio State University Extension educator, and member of the Extension Beef Team. “We pull in both university experts, as well as farmers currently practicing these methods, so it’s a very balanced program.”

Agricultural entities from five states cooperate to plan and host the annual event. In addition to Purdue and Ohio State, Extension services from the University of Kentucky, University of Illinois and University of Missouri also are involved.

Along with Extension, event organizers include the Ohio Forage and Grassland Council, Indiana Forage Council, Illinois Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Association, Illinois Forage and Grassland Council, Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council, Kentucky Grassland Conservation Initiative, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Missouri Forage and Grassland Council, Missouri Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative and the U.S.… Continue reading

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Beef Checkoff announces landmark sustainability project

The U.S. beef industry announced initiation of a landmark checkoff-funded sustainability assessment. Previous checkoff-funded research demonstrated beef’s carbon footprint in the United States decreased 18% in the last 30 years; and numerous sustainability experts have recognized progressive cattle raising practices in the United States as a model for the world. The next and significant step in this sustainability journey is a multi-year research project that will quantify inputs, outputs and identify opportunities for continuous improvement in beef cattle raising practices.

The Beef Checkoff Program will partner with BASF Corp. to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the U.S. beef industry and identify the most important areas of focus for future innovation. BASF is internationally recognized for its sustainability efforts. It has created tools and initiatives such as S.E.T. (Sustainability, Eco-Efficiency, Traceability) to help the food industry develop more sustainable products to meet the many global challenges and demands confronting the industry today, including the need to increase overall food production by 70% over the next 40 years to feed a growing world population while protecting the planet.… Continue reading

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Ohio hog farmers fight hunger

The Ohio Pork Producers Council (OPPC), along with several partners, celebrated October being National Pork Month through the power of giving. On Nov. 1, five Ohio foodbanks (Dayton, Cleveland, Lorain, Yougstown and Columbus), each received part of a 30,000 pound donation of pork from Ohio’s hog farming community. This donation was made possible through a generous donation to OPPC from Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, Ohio hog farmers and businesses who support Ohio’s farming community.

As part of this latest donation, OPPC utilized Facebook to get consumers more involved and aware of the efforts being taken to feed hungry Ohioans. “Help Farmers Fight Hunger Virtually” is a Facebook “event” that allowed people to “contribute” to the cause by “attending the “event”. For each person that “attended”, the Ohio Pork Producers Council & Farm Credit Services of Mid-America donated pork (up to 125,000 meals) to the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks.… Continue reading

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Rus-Men Farms direct markets meats

By Kyle Sharp


While Russ Sellman doesn’t know exactly how a Christmas tree grower feels watching excited families pick out the best tree prior to Christmas, he thinks he has a pretty good idea. It’s probably a lot like watching people clamber over the turkeys he and his wife, Mendy, along with their three children, Emely, 21, Jesse, 17, and Elaina, 13, raise and sell for Thanksgiving from their farm near Galion in Crawford County.

Twelve years ago, the Sellmans started marketing meat from the animals raised on their farm, Rus-Men Farms, and the venture has steadily grown over time. They began with beef and pork, and have added chicken and turkey to fulfill customer demand.

“Everything is direct marketed,” Russ said. “We haven’t hauled anything to market in probably two years.”

And while they enjoy the constant interaction they have with their enthusiastic, local customer base, the most memorable time of each year is when people come to pick up their turkeys.… Continue reading

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Ohio is well suited for needed sheep flock expansion

Two key messages came out of a media event held Oct. 25 at Riverwood Farms near Powell: the U.S. sheep industry needs more sheep, and Ohio is well suited to assist with that expansion.

“It’s runaway demand for both lamb and wool, and the only way we’re going to meet it is by increasing how much we have to sell into the markets,” said Peter Orwick, executive director of the American Sheep Industry (ASI), who was on hand to explain the industry’s “Let’s Grow with twoPLUS” campaign.

The primary objective of the Let’s Grow campaign is to encourage current producers to expand their sheep numbers by 2014. If carried out, the initiative will result in 315,000 more lambs and 2 million more pounds of wool for the industry to market. The three main goals are: encourage producers to increase the size of their operation by two ewes per operation or by two ewes per 100 by 2014; encourage sheep producers to increase the average birthrate per ewe to two lambs per year; and encourage producers to increase the harvested lamb crop by 2% — from 108% to 110%.… Continue reading

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Cattle numbers up, adding pressure to tight feed supply

Cattle feeders are going to use more corn than previously expected according to USDA’s latest Cattle on Feed report that showed 5% more cattle in the nation’s feedlots, said Purdue University economist Chris Hurt.

“The real surprise was the higher number of placements in September that has resulted in over one-half million more cattle being fed than a year ago. Feed grains used by cattle in feedlots from the 2011 crop will now likely be more than 5 percent higher than was fed from the 2010 crop,” he said.

Although calves can eat corn, they can also add weight with forages. The surprisingly high rate of placements in September indicates that corn had gotten “cheap” relative to forages, he said.

“December corn futures fell by $1.75 per bushel during September, which was enough to shift the feedlot outlook from bleak to rosy. Managers responded by buying lightweight animals as placements of calves under 700 pounds were up a remarkable 14%,” he said.… Continue reading

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NPPC questions EPA need for reporting rule

While questioning the need for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) reporting rule for large livestock operations, the National Pork Producers Council applauded the agency for at least acknowledging the concerns of livestock producers and for offering options to address them.

EPA’s proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Reporting Rule seeks to have CAFOs submit to the agency operational information so it “can more effectively carry out its CAFO permitting programs on a national level and ensure that CAFOs are implementing practices to protect water quality and human health.” The information includes basic facility facts, such as contact information, location of a CAFO’s production area, permit status, the number and type of animals confined and the number of acres available for land application of manure.

The agency is considering one of two reporting options: 1) require every CAFO to report information to EPA unless states with authorized CWA permitting programs choose to provide it on behalf of the CAFOs in their state; or 2) require CAFOs in “focus” watersheds that have water quality concerns associated with CAFOs to report information to EPA.… Continue reading

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For the fifth year Certified Angus Beef reports record sales

Certified Angus Beef LLC, for the fifth consecutive year, reported record sales for its signature brand of beef, with nine out of 12 months in fiscal 2011 hitting new heights. Efforts by the brand’s licensed partners led to sales totaling 807 million pounds, an increase of almost 4% over 2010’s previous record 777 million pounds.

The Certified Angus Beef ® brand’s sustained growth, particularly during a period of significant economic downturns and rising costs across all segments of the industry, shows its value to consumers and producers, said company president John Stika.

“The brand’s growth represents a wave of momentum that took more than 30 years to build,” said Stika. The success, he added, is a function of both demand and supply of the high-quality Angus beef.

Increased demand is not only proven by sales success, but also documented by new research from Kansas State University that shows since 2002, demand for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand has risen 56%, while demand for commodity Choice beef rose 20%.… Continue reading

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“Meat MythCrushers” campaign expanded

The American Meat Institute (AMI), in conjunction with the American Meat Science Association (AMSA), expanded its “Meat MythCrushers” campaign with the first of seven new myth-crushing videos that sets the record straight about myths associated with the use of ammonium hydroxide in some beef products.

“We’ve received tremendous feedback thus far on the campaign,” said AMI Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Member Services Janet Riley.  “We want to keep the momentum going and continue to provide consumers with facts to make informed choices.”

The Meat Myth Crushers campaign is centered around the website,, and a companion Facebook page which feature science-based information and resources in response to some of the most popular meat and poultry myths held by consumers, covering topics such as food safety, production methods, nutrition and animal welfare.

“One of the more popular recent myths we’ve heard from consumers that has been spread by some movies and TV personalities is that ordinary household ammonia is used to make some hamburgers,” Riley added. … Continue reading

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Pork outlook back in black

Stronger hog prices and lower feed costs have put the pork outlook back into the black for the coming year, says a Purdue Extension agricultural economist. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Hogs and Pigs report, there has been little increase in the country’s breeding herd.

With growing demand and a fairly stable-sized breeding herd, producers can expect to return to profitability in the next 12 months. The USDA also reported in its September Grain Stocks report that corn inventories now are higher than expected, reducing the cost of feed.

“Pork producers have largely settled for the status quo because of the uncertainty over feed prices,” said Chris Hurt. “As a result, the USDA says the breeding herd has expanded only slightly as producers awaited the corn and soybean yield and price outcomes of the 2011 growing season.”

According to the USDA, the breeding herd increased 0.6% nationwide in the last year.… Continue reading

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Feed challenges continue to plague dairy farms

In a crop year full of uncooperative weather, dairy producers across the region are struggling with feed problems and rising prices, a Purdue Extension dairy specialist said.

Forages, corn silage and corn grain are low in yields and quality, but high in price after a wet spring followed by a summer-long drought, said Mike Schutz. The combination is tough on animal health and on the bottom lines of dairy farms struggling to stay profitable.

“Because of the drought, corn and forage yields are down and silage is lower quality, but the costs remain high,” Schutz said. “The per-ton value of silage is based on yields and corn prices. With corn trading above $6.50 per bushel, delivered silage prices are about $65 to $75 per ton despite the frequent lower quality. This is in comparison with the $30 to $40 per ton prices producers were paying in recent years.”

Purdue Extension dairy specialist Tamilee Nennich said the fluctuating corn prices can make it difficult to determine fair prices for corn silage.… Continue reading

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Most new livestock standards are commonsense practices


Now that Ohio’s livestock care standards, as developed by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, are officially signed into law, what exactly does that mean on a daily basis for Ohio’s livestock producers? Aside from the well-publicized housing standards and related transition periods, and adjustments some people building new facilities will have to make, the standards change very little in terms of daily care for livestock and poultry.

“Most of the rest of the standards for swine are good management practices we expect our producers to follow anyway,” said Dick Isler, executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Producers Council. “They’re basically just good, standard management practices.”

That sentiment is echoed by the leaders of all of Ohio’s livestock commodity groups.

“A lot of these standards are what beef producers have been doing for a long time with quality, everyday care of their animals,” said Elizabeth Harsh, executive director of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA).… Continue reading

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Precision diets can boost profits

Dairy producers shouldn’t get used to $7 corn, and should tailor diets to maximize productivity and profitability, an Ohio State University Extension expert says.

“There are two things to manage: feed costs and milk prices,” said Extension dairy specialist Normand St-Pierre. “On the feed cost side, there is nothing that says you have to feed corn and soybeans because ruminants, and dairy cows in particular, can take advantage of a wide variety of feeds.”

St-Pierre said producers could save as much as 50 cents per cow per day by adopting other feedstuffs in a more focused nutritional strategy. He offered several recommendations for alternative feedstuffs in the Buckeye Dairy Newsletter.

As to the income side of the ledger, St-Pierre said producers do not need to sit on the sidelines and grouse about the high cost of corn.

“We have a relatively highly regulated market,” he said. “Since the late ’90s, producers have sold milk on component pricing, where each of these components is priced separately.… Continue reading

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Ohioans do well at World Dairy Expo

Two cows from Ohio farms took top honors at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin held Novemeber 4-8 2011.

Tanner Topp of Wooster exhibited the Grand Champion in the International Aryshire Jr. Show with Conebella Sarge’s Wendy.

David Riley of Williamsfield exhibited Mi-San Acres O Lust-ET  that won the Internatonal Jr. Milking Shorthorn Show.… Continue reading

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Oat harvest management considerations

By Stan Smith, Fairfield County Extension

With abundant and frequent rainfall over much of the State in recent weeks, vegetative growth of the oats planted this summer has been nothing short of remarkable. Considering the number of Ohio’s unplanted row crop acres which are presently standing in oats, there have been a number of questions and recent conversations regarding the post-November 1 harvest alternatives for this forage crop.

As oat harvest options are considered, grazing easily provides the most effective and affordable alternative. In 2002, locally the Wolfingers strip grazed oats all winter and actually began the calving season on them before the oats ran out in mid March.

Baling oats in the fall has been done around Ohio, but it’s a challenge considering that oats only dry about half as fast a grass hay. Cut in November, it would typically mean at least two weeks or more to cure them.Continue reading

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Pork outlook brightening

Finally pork producers have some positive news that has increased optimism for greater profitability in the coming year, said a Purdue University agricultural economist.

“That good news came from USDA in two forms. The first was the September Hogs and Pigs report, which indicated little change in the size of the breeding herd. The second was the feed-price lowering impacts of higher-than-expected corn inventories revealed in the September Grain Stocks report,” said Chris Hurt.

The combination of stronger hog prices and lower feed prices has put the pork outlook back into solid black for the coming year, he said. Pork producers have largely settled for the status quo because of the uncertainty over feed prices. As a result, USDA says the breeding herd has expanded only slightly as producers awaited the corn and soybean yield and price outcomes of the troubled 2011 growing season, he said.

“USDA indicated that the breeding herd has increased just 0.6% over the past year.… Continue reading

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Livestock Care Standards signed into effect

Today, Ohio Agriculture Director James Zehringer signed the final administrative order to put into effect Ohio’s comprehensive livestock care standards. It was only the 17th amendment to Ohio’s constitution since 1803.

“This is pretty historic,” Zehringer said. “I think we’ve given the farmers of the state of Ohio a good roadmap to follow. It will improve production practices, create consumer confidence and strengthen the foundation of our industry.”

Creating and implementing the livestock care standards is a constitutional requirement following the 2009 passage of Issue 2.

“I’m proud to be here to sign these standards that will give livestock producers clear vision and allow them to thrive and grow,” Zehringer said.

The 13-member Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (OLCSB) spent 18 months and 70 meetings obtaining industry and public input while developing livestock rules for alpacas, beef, dairy, goats, horses, llamas, pork, poultry, sheep and veal. The standards are the first of their kind in the nation.… Continue reading

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OSU Judging Team performs well at contest

More than 250 young livestock enthusiasts participated in the Ak-Sar-Ben Livestock Judging Contests held on September 25, 2011 at the Sherman Berg Arena of the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska. The contest was hosted by the Ak-Sar-Ben 4-H Stock Show for Senior College, Junior College, and 4-H participants.

Participants evaluated live classes of cattle, sheep, swine and goats for market and breeding. This is the first time that The Ohio State University Judging Team has attended this contest. Ohio State placed 4th overall as a team and 1st overall for class placings. A total of 10 universities from across the country competed in the event. Team members included John Heins, Sidney, OH; Katy Shircliff, Atwater, OH; Caitlin Bushman, Pemberville, OH; Lynette Sell, Hanoverton, OH; Tyler Lones, Somerset, OH; Arlis Young, Glenford, OH; and Ty McGuire, Eaton, OH.

Two Ohio natives did well in the junior college division. Jared Wynn of Ashland, OH was high individual for the sophomore’s.… Continue reading

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Ohio Jersey wins at All-Amercian Dairy Show


An Ohio Jersey was named the best of the best of the 2011 All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, on Thursday.



Frederick 2783 Adventure, a six-year-old Jersey owned by Craig Walton, Emily Thornburg, Gene Iager, Shelby and Harold Rader, Jr., and Amy, Scott, Skip and Steve Lackey of Pleasant Plain, Ohio, was named Supreme Campion.



Cargill Animal Feed and Nutrition, Inc., sponsored the $3,000 cash award for the supreme champion. Adventure was chosen from among the top seven breed champions by the judges who placed 1,183 head of cattle in the open shows.



The judges are Eric Topp, Botkins, Ohio; Lee Barber, DeWitt, Iowa; Daniel Sivesind, Waukon, Iowa; Ronald Heffner, Middletown, Md.; Larry Schirm, Laurelville, Ohio, who judged ‘Adventure’ in the Open show; Ted DeMent, Kenney, Ill.; and Matthew Lawrence, Mercer, Pa.



Ayrshire: Sunny Acres Harmon’s Kennedy, Doug Evans and Family, Georgetown, N.Y.… Continue reading

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Organic Small Ruminants Workshop Oct. 14

Management Skills For Organic Small Ruminants Workshop  is scheduled at October 14, 2011 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center in Wooster, Ohio.   Sheep and goat producers who are certificated organic, in transition to being organic or just interested in organic methods will benefit from attending this event.

This workshop will focus on the management knowledge needed for organic small ruminant production.  Joan M Burke, PhD, Research Animal Scientist, USDA, Agricultural Research Service from Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center inArkansas will be one of the featured speakers.   Joan has done extensive work in small ruminant parasite management and organic practices for small ruminants.  Francis Fluharty, PhD, is a Ruminant Nutritionist Researcher at Ohio State University’s Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio.  He will share the importance of nutrition on animal growth, as well as animal welfare concerns.  A staff person from the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) will discuss the new NOP Pasture Rule and the record keeping associated with organic small ruminant production.… Continue reading

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