Promoting responsible antibiotic use on the farm

Antibiotic resistance has become a hot topic in animal agriculture, due to new regulations as well as pressure from activist groups, retailers, foodservice companies and customers.

In a workshop at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show, Dr. Jennifer Wishnie, a veterinary public health expert, gave an overview of the growing interest, pressure and misunderstanding about antibiotics in animal agriculture, how farmers and ranchers are addressing changes on the farm due to new regulations, and how they can help to educate the public about the responsible use of antibiotics.

“Many consumers don’t realize that there is veterinary oversight on the farm,” said Dr. Wishnie. “This gives us opportunities to educate them on how antibiotics are used responsibly. When we use antibiotics, there is a potential for resistance to develop, so using them appropriately helps minimize this resistance.”

An additional concern, Wishnie said, is the confusion between antibiotic residues and antibiotic resistance, which are not the same.… Continue reading

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Should dairy alternatives be called milk?

What is milk? It may seem a simple question at first, but dairy producers across the country are finding themselves in the middle of a conversation debating the topic.

In recent years, livestock dairy alternatives like so-called almond milk, soymilk, rice yogurt, and much more have appeared on grocery shelves across the country. Such names have prompted a call by the dairy industry for products to stop infringing on the use of milk in labeling.

The issue was recently highlighted when just before Christmas, 32 members of Congress wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration asking them to enforce existing guidelines on the matter. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) was among the many farm groups that quickly lauded the statement, saying milk should come from livestock while other products should not be using the term so generously.

“This is an issue that has concerned dairy farmers for many years now in that we have federal regulations that say dairy foods have to come from cows, or at least from other dairy animals, and you don’t “Got Milk” if it comes from a nut, a seed, a bean, or a grain,” said Chris Galen, spokesperson for the National Milk Producers Federation.… Continue reading

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Livestock owners: A new year and new regulations

The biggest news to hit livestock owners in recent decades started on New Year’s Day. I’m talking about VFD — no, not a venereal disease or a nutritional disorder. Rather, I’m talking about the Veterinary Feed Directive, mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which took effect Jan. 1, 2017.

The VFD is an advanced step that:

  • Prohibits giving food animals oral antibiotics to promote growth and feed efficiency. The VFD allows antibiotic use for food animals only to promote their health and welfare.
  • Reduces the risk of pathogens developing resistance to antibiotics, by regulating use of medically important antibiotics (those used to treat human disease) and restricting their use in food animals. Significant evidence shows that overuse of antibiotics contributes to the development of drug-resistant genes in common pathogens. Drug resistance in pathogens threatens human and animal health.
  • Puts licensed veterinarians in charge of directing antibiotic use for food animals, to make sure the animals receive only drugs that are necessary for their health.
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2017 Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council Conference

The Ohio Forages and Grasslands Council Annual Conference will be held Feb. 3, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg.

The program theme is “High quality forages.” The keynote speaker will be Kim Cassida, Forage Extension Specialist at Michigan State University, who will discuss “Managing grass-legume mixtures based on extensive research and experience in Michigan and her prior work in West Virginia. She and Jeff McCutcheon (OSU Extension, Southeast Region Director) will discuss “High energy pasture for grass-finished Beef” and two Ohio producers, Bill Lawhon of Knox County and Jeff Ramseyer of Wayne County will expand on that topic by discussing how they utilize annual and perennial forages in their grass-based beef operations.

Lin Karcher, a dairy producer in Meigs County, will discuss the transition to grass-based dairy production. Don and Megan Burgess of Hancock County will discuss how sheep breed affects utilization of annual forages in their operation.… Continue reading

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Top sheep stories of 2016

  • Lamb Access to Taiwan Approved – American Lamb was given access to the Taiwan market for the first time since it was collateral damage following the first U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in beef in 2003. In 2015, Taiwan imported nearly 17,714 metric tons of lamb and sheep meat products from Australia and New Zealand, valued at more than $74 million.
  • New American Wool Logo Unveiled – The ASI Wool Council debuted its updated American wool logo that brings the industry’s image up to par with the products being created with this innovative, sustainable fiber.
  • Sheep Inventory Up – For the second consecutive year, the all sheep and lamb inventory, as reported by USDA, was up.
  • Scrapie Proposed Rule Published – The proposed rule to amend the regulations on the scrapie eradication program (the first in 15 years) was published and ASI delivered comments.
  • Let’s Grow Grants Support Increased Efficiency – In two separate funding cycles, the Let’s Grow Committee reviewed 55 grant applications approving nearly $400,000 in funding.
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Beef 509 returns in February

The dates have been set for the 2017 BEEF 509 program. The BEEF 509 program is held to raise the awareness level about the beef that is produced and the reasons why it sometimes misses its mark with consumers’ palates and producers’ pocketbooks. The program will take place on two consecutive Saturdays, February 25 and March 4, 2017. The part of the program held on February 25 will include a live animal evaluation session and grid pricing discussion. Carcass grading and fabrication are among the activities that will take place March 4.  The program will take place at The Ohio State University Animal Sciences building in Columbus. All the same information and activities from past 509 programs will be included. It will be critical to attend both sessions as participants will be assigned to teams that will work together throughout the program.

A maximum of 32 spaces will be available on a first come, first served basis.… Continue reading

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2017 Great Lakes Professional Cattle Feeding and Marketing Short-course

This short course is a joint effort of Ohio State University Extension, Michigan State University, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture to enhance the cattle industry in the Eastern Corn Belt.

The first session will deal with early nutrition management, the veterinary feed directive, managing manure and beef cattle nutritional requirements.  The second session will include cattle economics and cattle marketing topics.

Both Ohio sessions will be held at the Wood County Junior Fair Building in Bowling Green on Wednesday, Jan. 25 and Feb. 8. Registration and refreshments will be provided beginning at 6 pm each evening.

Participants may enroll by registering on line at: or sending a check made payable to Michigan State University ($35 for first person and $25 for each additional family/farm member (College, FFA/4-H students can register for $15 each) and mailed to Carla McLachlan, Dept. Animal Science, Michigan State Univ., 474 S. Shaw Lane, 1287 Anthony Hall, E.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Association offers unique opportunities for breeders and youth

The Best of the Buckeye Program, hosted by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) in conjunction with the Ohio Beef Expo and the Ohio State Fair, is gearing up for its fifth season.

The program provides Ohio seedstock breeders an additional marketing opportunity, creates a source for moderately priced show steers and heifers by providing a program with awards and prestige, and attracts new participants interested in showing at the Ohio Beef Expo and/or the Ohio State Fair. Breeders are encouraged to request a Best of the Buckeye logo for use in printed and digital promotion of Best of the Buckeye eligible cattle. Email to request the logo.

The Best of the Buckeye program will offer scholarship opportunities for Best of the Buckeye participants to offset the cost of purchasing, raising and exhibiting a Best of the Buckeye nominated calf. Scholarships will be awarded to less-experienced participants, ages 8 to 21, with consideration given to the applicant’s financial need.… Continue reading

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Trace element and VFD concerns raised in sheep flocks

Sheep producers were recently updated on nutrient concerns from research at the Buckeye Shepherd Symposium.

“What I tried to emphasize today was looking at one’s forage and making sure they test forage and see how that impacts the performance potential of their flock,” said Robert Van Saun, extension veterinarian for Penn State University. “I gave case examples of some challenges from an energy protein standpoint, from a high fiber standpoint, and then also imbalances and minerals.”

Micronutrients and the lack thereof across flocks were one of the concerns raised by Van Saun at the Symposium.

“That’s one of the challenges — we’re not seeing the classic clinical deficiency or toxicity cases, we’re seeing much more of just poor animal performance,” he said. “People are asking the questions how come my lamb loss is higher than usual? Why aren’t my ewes ewes getting bred back as well? Why is my lambing crop down?… Continue reading

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Nitrogen concerns in the mix?

This week I sat through three meetings on nutrients of concern in Ohio. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday — oh and while I was at one on the meetings I got a text with a picture of an Ohio legislator giving testimony on potential new phosphorus legislation.

On Tuesday, I was an invited speaker to the OSU soil fertility class along with a couple of others; the environmentalist of the group said that nitrogen was a great concern environmentally. I knew this but was surprised to hear her say it, because all I hear is about phosphorus and Lake Erie.

I sat through a meeting and discussion Wednesday on managing nitrogen in Ohio using precision application tools. Although the meeting was supposed to be about managing nitrogen, it seems to me it was more about selling goodies to hopefully manage nitrogen. And then on Friday I attended the rollout of the 4R retailer certification program statewide.… Continue reading

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Planting outside the box for more late summer grazing

Our agricultural endeavors usually require that we give heed to convention and tradition while sprinkling in some improvisation and creativity to achieve our goals. Early this fall I walked a field that was a mixed planting of sorghum sudangrass, brown top millet, sunn hemp, crimson clover, and just a dash of soybean. Before this crop, this was a poorly performing grain field and the producer had a need for space to graze livestock, he required space to spread manure, and he was driven to seek innovative ways to boost soil quality. A biological system that integrated the producer’s needs and kept the soil covered and nutrients onsite was this producer’s approach to address his newly acquired underperforming acreage. This is an example of intercropping which seeks to capitalize on the benefits of increased plant diversity and increased complexity of a crop rotation. It is a work in progress but with a little homework and effort this producer is working on an approach that keeps his soil condition a top priority and meets multiple goals for his production.… Continue reading

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Ohio beef farmers partner with Kroger to provide beef to local families for the holidays

The Ohio Beef Council, representing beef farmers throughout the state, is pleased to partner with Kroger and the Ohio Corn Marketing Program to provide beef to Ohio families in-need this holiday season. The beef donation will be made to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank through a campaign that launched December 2 on Facebook. It encourages social media enthusiasts to ‘share’ a post on Facebook, and ‘like’ both the Ohio Beef Council and Kroger Facebook pages. Each Facebook ‘share’ will result in the donation of two pounds of ground beef, which is enough to feed eight people. The campaign runs through Dec. 25.

Ohio beef farmers and Kroger representatives are excited to work together to help local families. “This promotion is a great example of collaboration to achieve a common goal,” said Deborah Thompson, public affairs manager of Kroger’s Columbus Division. “Together, with our friends at the Ohio Beef Council, we are looking to donate 28,000 beef meals to local families.… Continue reading

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OCA to set new policy for 2017 at Annual Meeting and Banquet

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will celebrate Ohio’s cattlemen, hear from industry leaders and set new policy for 2017 at the OCA Annual Meeting and Banquet on January 21, 2017, at the Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center in Lewis Center, Ohio.

The morning will kick off at 9:00 AM with all county cattlemen’s association leaders meeting to learn more about the opportunities offered through their OCA County Affiliation. Local leaders will be provided with information and resources to take back to their county organizations to utilize throughout the year.

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation (OCF) luncheon will recognize the 2017 scholarship recipients, followed by the annual OCF business meeting.

Following the luncheon, OCA’s Annual Meeting will take place. Take an active role in OCA by attending this meeting. Members will set policy for upcoming year, receive program updates and Top Hand Club members will be recognized for their membership recruitment achievements.

The banquet highlights county affiliate activities, six industry leaders and families, and naming the 2017 Ohio Beef Ambassadors.… Continue reading

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Buckeye Shepherd Symposium notes positive year, exciting future

Ohio’s sheep industry convened in Wooster this past weekend for the annual Buckeye Shepherd Symposium. Education, awards, food, and fellowship all highlighted this year’s event.

“We have a lot of new people here today that we haven’t seen before and that is exciting for our industry,” said Roger High, executive director of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. “Programming was excellent. The food we had today was excellent for our participants and we just thought it was a great day with well over 200 people here in attendance.”

This year’s program revolved around three different specializations, including labor-saving technology, health and nutrition, and genetics.

“The awards program again went tremendous,” he said. “We recognized some of our youth winners here today. Our Lamb and Wool Queen Autumn Miller, some of our scholarship recipients — Nick Fowler who won the Dr. Jack Judy Scholarship and Delanie Wiseman who won the Ralph Grimshaw Scholarship.… Continue reading

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4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program announces statewide expansion

While Lake Erie has garnered much of the water quality attention in the state, more efforts are shifting to the state’s other bodies of fresh water, including the Ohio River, that are also experiencing issues with harmful algal blooms.

At an event last week, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program announced the expansion of the voluntary retailer program to the full state of Ohio, allowing nutrient service providers across the state to participate in the efforts to reduce nutrient runoff into waterways.

The program encourages agricultural retailers, service providers and other certified professionals to adopt proven best practices through the 4Rs, using the Right Nutrient Source at the Right Rate and Right Time in the Right Place. The program is governed and guided by the Nutrient Stewardship Council (NSC), stakeholders from business, government, university and nongovernmental sectors with a common goal of maintaining agricultural productivity while reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to decreased water quality.… Continue reading

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Calling strikes on the diamond and hitting home runs in the sheep barn

In Ohio agriculture, the name Larry Shroyer is synonymous with club lambs and winning genetics in every show ring, from jackpot shows to county fairs and even the Ohio State Fair.

“Larry is probably most known for his club lamb work and his multi-generation Logan County farm,” said Roger A. High, Executive Director of The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Sheep and Wool Program. “Over the years he has brought a lot of knowledge and leadership to our industry.”

Shroyer has earned the respect of his peers in the industry by raising sheep in the purebred business, but in the club lamb business in particular and having great success.

“The Shroyer family farm is top notch in everything they do,” High said. “The family uses the latest technology when it comes to artificial insemination and embryo transfer and they are considered one of the top club lamb producers in the state, not to mention how much they have helped young people get into the business, learn the business and become successful.”… Continue reading

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Antibiotic-resistant gene discovered in farrowing barn through OSU research

A recent research paper from the Ohio State University study detailed the discovery of an antibiotic-resistant gene in one farrowing barn.

“It is an extremely rare gene. How it got on this farm, we don’t know,” said Thomas Wittum, chair of the veterinary medicine team at The Ohio State University.

According to the National Pork Board, an important takeaway from the study is that the U.S. pork supply is safe. The bla IMP-27 gene identified in the study was not found in a market hog, and there was no threat to food safety. The gene allows bacteria to resist a class of antibiotics called carbapenems.

As experts in swine production, the Pork Checkoff is eager to analyze the initial findings, alongside its authors, and better understand results of this report from this farm. Specifically, resistant gene samples were found in one barn, on one site without any confirmed indication of how the resistant gene got there.… Continue reading

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Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) for 4-H youth livestock producers and families

What is a VFD?

A VFD is a written (nonverbal) statement issued by a licensed veterinarian that authorizes the use of an approved VFD drug or combination VFD drug in or on an animal feed. This written statement authorizes the client (owner of the animal) to obtain and use animal feed bearing or containing a VFD drug or combination VFD drug to treat the client’s animals only in accordance with the conditions for use approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The client (youth producer) must establish a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) to be able to get a VFD. This is true whether the 4-H member has one food-producing animal or several.


When must the VFD be implemented?

January 1, 2017. Starting January 1, 2017, you can no longer stop by a feed store and buy a bag of medicated feed containing certain types of antibiotics that were previously classified as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.… Continue reading

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The 2016 Ohio Dairy Challenge

The 2016 Ohio Dairy Challenge was held Oct. 21 and 22 and was sponsored by Cargill Animal Nutrition, Elanco, Purina Animal Nutrition, Renaissance Nutrition, Sexing Technologies, and VitaPlus. Dairy Challenge provides the opportunity for students at Ohio State University to experience the process of evaluating management practices on a dairy farm and to interact with representatives in the dairy industry.

The program is held in a contest format for undergraduate students whereby they are grouped into teams of three to four individuals. Veterinary and graduate students are invited to attend the farm visit and participate in a meeting later in the evening with the contest judges to discuss observations on the farm. The farm selected for the contest this year was the Three Flags Dairy in Forest owned by Geert and Wiesje Kruiter. The Kruiter family started milking at the facility in 2010, and there are about 715 cows in the operation.… Continue reading

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Reunion in China helps highlight little known Ohio agricultural training efforts

Here’s one of Ohio’s best kept secrets: For the past 20 years, Dr. Mike Chrisman of The Ohio State University and his Chinese-American colleague, Zhang Yining, have managed an advanced agricultural training program in the U.S. for students from around the world. So far, more than 12,000 have completed this internship experience.

Even some of the “big dogs” at OSU were clueless about it. At least until November when the Ohio State agricultural training program held a reunion for past interns in Beijing, China. The reunion was held in Beijing, I believe, because more interns have come from China than nearly any other country.

Along with the reunion, Chrisman and Yining organized a two-day continuing education event. I was invited (along with four others) to speak on the latest developments in the dairy industry.

I found the reunion to be informative and emotional. The former interns described their training and experience in the U.S.,… Continue reading

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