U.S. pork continues commitment to responsible antibiotic use

Nine months after the full implementation of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Guidance 209 and 213, America’s pig farmers continue to demonstrate their awareness and commitment to doing what’s right on the farm. Since the rules went into effect on Jan. 1, the National Pork Board has received only two calls into its farmer call center requesting clarification or information on the rule change.

“America’s 60,000 pig farmers are keenly aware of the change occurring on farms, and they were clearly ready, willing and able to meet the requirements of these new rules,” said Terry O’Neel, board president and a pig farmer from Friend, Nebraska. “To have just two calls into our call center tells me that the requirements are being met and our two-year proactive education plan has paid off.”

FDA guidance 209 and 213 ends the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion and increases veterinarian oversight for on-farm antibiotic use through the Veterinary Feed Directive and prescriptions.… Continue reading

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Impacts of group housing on hog farms

Eleven states and several large pork producers are moving away from gestation crates for sows, but the effects of alternative housing designs on the sows’ reproductive performance are unclear. In a new article, an animal welfare expert from the University of Illinois takes a closer look at group housing.

“Reproductive performance has always been a metric that people have been concerned about with housing,” said Janeen Salak-Johnson, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at U of I.

Most previous research suggests reproductive performance is approximately equal in group housing versus individual stalls, but in real-word scenarios, many producers notice compromised reproduction in group pens. Most sows are put into group housing after pregnancy is confirmed, so the effects of the transition usually manifest in low birthweight piglets or fewer piglets, rather than an impaired ability to become pregnant or stay pregnant.

“That’s one of the big reasons people don’t see effects of group housing on reproductive success — the sows are already pregnant.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation accepting scholarship applications

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation (OCF) is offering several college scholarships available to beef industry youth. All scholarships recognize beef industry youth for academic effort, community service and career interests that utilize agriculture to enhance our quality of life through service education or research. Since the OCF was established, the number of available scholarships has increased due to the growing number of worthy applicants and committed supporters.

Among the various scholarships, the most recently added is the Cattlemen’s Gala scholarship funded by the celebration and fundraiser event. The inaugural event raised $27,000 in its first year to be awarded to deserving youth.

Established in 1995, the Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation’s (OCF) mission is to advance the future of Ohio’s beef industry by investing in research and education programs. OCF is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, public charitable organization and is governed by a board of trustees with Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) leadership experience.… Continue reading

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Pigs and politics come together in small town mayor’s office

Lance Westcamp may be one of the few small-town mayors in central Ohio that can be found driving his tractor down Main Street and he is certainly the only one with an office full of champion hog banners from around the country.

“I was born and raised on a farm just south of Groveport. I graduated from Groveport high school in ’75. I farmed 4,500 acres with my dad and brother — most of it rented — in mid-70s and my dad always had a commercial sow herd of 50 to 75 sows. Even the farm we lived on was leased from the state. Most of that ground now is warehouses,” Westcamp said. “We were losing acres to development so my brother and I got outside jobs in late-80s and early 90s. I continued to farm until 2013, but by then most of everything was being custom farmed.”

With the future of the Franklin County farm destined for development as Groveport (and nearby Columbus) continued to grow, Westcamp thought he would give politics a try.… Continue reading

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National Animal Health Monitoring System Beef 2017 Study

In October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) is launching Beef 2017, its fourth national study of U.S. beef cow-calf operations. Beef 2017 will take an in-depth look at U.S. beef cow-calf operations and provide the industry with new and valuable information regarding animal health and management trends in the U.S. beef industry from 1993 to 2017.  Three study objectives were identified for the Beef 2017 study.

  1. Describe trends in beef cow–calf health and management practices, specifically:
  • Cow health and longevity,
  • Calf health,
  • Reproductive efficiency,
  • Selection methods for herd improvement including tests of genetic merit, and
  • Biosecurity
  1. Describe management practices and producer beliefs related to:
  • Animal welfare,
  • Emergency preparedness,
  • Environmental stewardship, and
  • Record keeping and animal identification practices.


3. Describe antimicrobial use practices (stewardship) and determine the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance patterns of potential food-safety pathogens:

  • Types and reasons for use of antimicrobial drugs by animal type
  • Stewardship
  • Use of alternatives for disease control
  • Use of Beef Quality Assurance principles
  • Veterinarian-client-patient relationship
  • Information sources
  • Enteric organism antimicrobial resistance assessments (e.g.,
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Addition by subtraction

Weaning time is an excellent time to evaluate your cow herd and decide which cows get to remain in your herd as productive females. If they are not being productive for you, they need to be replaced by heifer calves retained from within the herd or by purchased bred females.

Cows and heifers leave operations for a variety of reasons. Ask a room full of cow-calf producers for the key reasons to cull a female from the herd and I would feel confident that the reasons would include any or all of the following factors.

1. Age or bad teeth

2. Pregnancy status (open or aborted)

3. Temperament

4. Other reproductive problems

5. Economics (drought, herd reduction, market conditions)

6. Producing poor calves

7. Physical unsoundness

8. Udder problem

9. Bad eyes.

While all of these factors are valid reasons for culling, I suspect that the first three factors listed who be the top reasons for culling in any given year.… Continue reading

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Calcium to phosphorus ratio in pig diets established by new study

The amount of digestible calcium included in pig diets has a direct impact on phosphorus digestibility, but the optimum ratio between the two minerals has not yet been found. In a recent study from the University of Illinois, scientists have established a first approximation of that ratio for 25 to 50 kilogram pigs.

“Because calcium is an inexpensive ingredient, the thinking was that we could add as much as we wanted. We discovered several years ago that may not be a good approach, because if you increase calcium in the diet, you reduce absorption of phosphorus,” said Hans Stein, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois. “As phosphorus availability goes down, so does the pigs’ growth performance. Feed intake, and therefore body weight gain and feed efficiency, goes down.”

Stein and his collaborators formulated 20 corn-soybean meal-based diets, varying in calcium and phosphorus concentration, and fed them to 240 pigs over four weeks.… Continue reading

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Ohio Beef Council to take students on virtual field trips this fall

At a time when transportation, logistics, safety and security concerns make it difficult for old-fashioned field trips to the farm, the Ohio Beef Council is making it easy for teachers to bring their students as close as they can by piloting a series of virtual field trips to Ohio beef farms this fall.

With just an internet-connected computer, webcam and microphone, Ohio middle school and high school students throughout the state will be virtually transported to Ohio beef farms and connected with real beef farmers for an experience that can’t be found in the classroom or in a book.

“Virtual field trips give students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity, to see first-hand how farmers care for their cattle and how food is produced in Ohio,” said Cambell Parrish, director of public relations and consumer marketing for the Ohio Beef Council. “These students are doing more than just learning; they are experiencing what it’s like to be on a beef farm.”… Continue reading

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Livestock Care Standards Board continues to protect Ohio’s animals from farms to fairs

The show ring and the county fair offer great opportunities to showcase many positive things about Ohio agriculture. With this opportunity, though, comes the responsibility of young livestock exhibitors to practice and display ideal animal care standards.

“Animal welfare is definitely something that is very important to me and that picture isn’t always painted properly,” said Kolt Buchenroth, a junior fair exhibitor from Hardin County. “Not everybody comes from that 4-H and FFA environment and has that guidance to properly treat those animals. Even if they don’t, they need that to make sure everything is done properly. Those animals that need help obviously can’t speak for themselves.”

Buchenroth has shown at the Hardin County Fair (taking place this week) and Ohio State Fair in the past, actively helping to educate the public and fellow exhibitors on animal agriculture. Through his many years of working with livestock projects, Buchenroth said he has gained a deeper appreciation for the care and wellbeing of production animals.… Continue reading

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Cattlemen launch media campaign for comprehensive tax reform

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association kicked off a media and advertising campaign that will shine a spotlight on how various federal tax provisions impact America’s cattle and beef producers. The campaign, which will focus heavily on the death tax, aims to build support in Washington for comprehensive tax reform that makes our tax code fair for agricultural producers. The campaign will be centered around a new website,, and will run through September.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact truly comprehensive tax reform, and we can’t afford to let this opportunity pass or to get it wrong,” said Craig Uden, NCBA President and Nebraska cattleman. “Family ranchers and farmers deserve a full and permanent repeal of the onerous death tax, which charges them in cash on the often-inflated appraised value of their property and equipment. This campaign will shine a spotlight on the stories of real ranchers who have had to deal with this issue, and it will also highlight current tax provisions that we need to maintain, such as stepped-up basis, cash accounting, and deducibility of interest payments.”… Continue reading

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Grazing to be showcased at Farm Science Review

A new demonstration area has been created at the Gwynne Conservation Area for Farm Science Review that exhibits forage species adapted for grazing all year long.

This summer a 1.1-acre plot that had been planted previously in warm season bunch grasses was converted into a series of different forage varieties designed to help teach management intensive grazing principles so that producers can get closer to a year round grazing program. The acreage was divided into four roughly quarter acre plots and planted with four different forage types including warm season annuals, warm season perennials, cool season perennials, and overwintered stockpiled forage.Throughout the Review, speakers from OSU Extension and NRCS will present on different forage topics while at the demonstration plots. A pasture walk component is included so that producers can get a closer view of the rotations as well as have a chance to ask questions about how they can incorporate these forages and techniques into their grazing and hay making systems.… Continue reading

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Cattlemen’s Gala, Celebration and Fundraiser, raises $27,000 for youth scholarships

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation (OCF) held the first-ever Cattlemen’s Gala Celebration and Fundraiser Saturday, Aug. 26 in the Marysville and Delaware, Ohio areas. The Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation and Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) coordinated the inaugural events.

The day-long celebration supported the Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation youth scholarship fund benefiting the next generation of beef industry leaders. The day began with a sporting clays shoot, at Black Wing Shooting Center, featuring individual and team competitions to support the cause, followed by an OCA summer business meeting.

Later that evening, attendees gathered in their boots and hats for dinner, drinks, and dancing in the barn at Leeds Farm in Ostrander, Ohio. Live music from the John D. Hale Band, a nationally known Red Dirt music group from Missouri wrapped up the evening.

Silent and live auctions were also held to support youth scholarships. Thanks to several generous donors, buyers and sponsors, in total the event raised $27,000.… Continue reading

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USDA allows producers to opt out of MPP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that starting Sept. 1, 2017, dairy producers can enroll for 2018 coverage in the Margin Protection Program (MPP-Dairy).  Secretary Sonny Perdue has utilized additional flexibility this year by providing dairy producers the option of opting out of the program for 2018.

“Secretary Perdue is using his authority to allow producers to withdraw from the MPP Dairy Program and not pay the annual administrative fee for 2018,” said Rob Johansson, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “The decision is in response to requests by the dairy industry and a number of MPP-Dairy program participants.”

To opt out, a producer should not sign up during the annual registration period. By opting out, a producer would not receive any MPP-Dairy benefits if payments are triggered for 2018. Full details will be included in a subsequent Federal Register Notice. The decision would be for 2018 only and is not retroactive.… Continue reading

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The benefits of pregnancy diagnosis

We are entering an exciting time of the year for cow-calf producers. They have started or soon will be weaning their spring-born calves. Weaning is an excellent time to prepare the calf crop to become herd replacements or for future marketing opportunities by implementing health programs and transitioning to feed rations. It is also a great time to determine the pregnancy status of the breeding herd. Management practices for both these groups can go a long way to determine the ultimate profitability of herd.

The factor that should ultimately sort a female to the keep or cull pen is pregnancy status. The three primary methods used in pregnancy diagnosis are rectal palpation, ultrasound evaluation, or blood testing. Each these methods can effectively diagnose the female’s pregnancy status when properly implemented. Obviously the preferred result is for the female to be pregnant. Pregnancy diagnosis is relatively inexpensive, especially when you consider the potential savings of expenses it facilitates.… Continue reading

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Vegan petition to alter dairy food labeling rules would cause further confusion in marketplace

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should reject a petition filed by the Good Food Institute (GFI) that would undermine federal standards of identity for food and sanction existing misleading marketing tactics of imitation dairy products, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) said in comments filed this week.

In the latest salvo over the proper use of long-standing dairy food terms, the vegan advocacy organization GFI submitted a petition earlier this spring requesting that FDA permit manufacturers of plant-based products to use labels that employ standardized dairy terms such as “milk.” In response, NMPF said the petition is at odds with established laws and inconsistent with FDA regulations, which state that foods labeled “milk” must come from an animal.

“GFI’s petition flies in the face of established law and common sense,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF President and CEO. “Nothing has happened in the last 20 years that makes it OK to combine plant or nut powders with water, sugar, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and other chemicals, and call it ‘milk.’… Continue reading

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EEE virus confirmed in Ohio horse

A horse from Ashtabula County was recently confirmed to have eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

The animal was euthanized in late July after showing neurological symptoms. The animal was not vaccinated against the disease and lived near a low-lying area that is typically prone to harboring mosquitoes. EEE is often transmitted by mosquitoes and can be transmitted to humans, however only a few cases are reported each year and most infected persons report no apparent illness.

“The confirmation of EEE in Ohio serves as a reminder to horse owners on the importance of vaccinating their animals,” said Dr. Tony Forshey, State Veterinarian and chief of the ODA Division of Animal Health. “EEE is one of a handful of illnesses that horses can be protected from through vaccination and I encourage owners to talk to their veterinarian and get horses vaccinated soon.”… Continue reading

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Terrible loss leads to celebration of a legacy in Athens County

What started as a heartbreaking story of loss and devastation in a small farm community was transformed into lasting legacy honoring the memory of a promising young man.

With a bright future ahead, 18-year-old Noah Cox was tragically killed in late May in a tractor rollover accident while baling hay. Cox was a noted cattle showman who had multiple grand champion steer banners from the Athens County Fair. This was his last year of junior show eligibility.

After the terrible loss of Cox this spring, his good friend Austin Pullins (also an accomplished steer showman) decided to finish out his market beef projects at the Ohio State Fair and the Athens County Fair. This set the stage for the early-August Athens County Junior Market Beef Show and the incredible livestock sale that followed.

“When I walked into the fairgrounds I could feel it,” said Jason Langley, the Washington CH-based auctioneer from the Athens County Junior Fair Livestock Sale.… Continue reading

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New Animal Sciences chair named

The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) announced the appointment of John Foltz as chair of the Department of Animal Sciences. He will join CFAES for a four-year appointment on Oct. 9, 2017.

“I am extremely excited to return to my alma mater to head an important department in CFAES,” Foltz said. “Livestock and companion animals play an extremely important role in both Ohio and American agriculture. I look forward to working closely with the faculty, staff, students and stakeholders to bring their vision to fruition.”

Foltz comes to CFAES from the University of Idaho where he serves as special assistant to the President for Agricultural Initiatives, leading two livestock-focused projects. Prior to that, he served as dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences where he had oversight for the college’s teaching, research and extension missions across the state of Idaho. That included 360 faculty and staff statewide, 1,200 students, 10 research and extension centers, 42 county extension offices and a budget of nearly $80 million.… Continue reading

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EHD virus confirmed in Ohio deer and cattle

The first confirmed case of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) was recently announced in both white-tailed deer and cattle in Ohio. The virus was diagnosed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL).

The positive diagnoses were from a cow from Jefferson County and a wild white-tailed deer buck from Lorain County. The discovery is not unusual, as cases of this infection have been detected in both wild and captive white-tailed deer in Ohio in the summer and fall of each of the last several years. In fact, significant disease outbreaks in Ohio have occurred every five years, the last in 2012. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife (DOW) reports numerous dead deer from Columbiana and Jefferson counties. EHD virus has also been confirmed in neighboring counties of both Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

The EHD virus is not infectious to people and is not spread from animal to animal.… Continue reading

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