Quest for the best steer

An ideal beef steer is one you can profitably produce again and again, to earn premiums on a value-based grid. That’s the premise Paul Dykstra used in presenting “How to build the perfect steer” at the Angus Means Business National Convention and Trade Show.

Dykstra has worked with feedlots as Beef Cattle Specialist for the Certified Angus Beefbrand for the past 13 years, managed the USDA Meat Animal Research Center’s feedlot before that, and has a current interest in a commercial cowherd in western Nebraska.

People may differ on ideal production strategies for that ideal steer, Dykstra said. Some insist that focus on the feedlot can only come from terminal breeding programs, while others insist the steer must come from a system that also produces replacement heifers.

“We’ll cross back and forth over that line as we look less at how, and more at what we need for a mainstream target like the Certified Angus Beef brand,” he said.… Continue reading

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Extension to Scrapie Comment Period

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service extended the comment period for the proposed rule to amend the regulations of the National Scrapie Eradication Program through Dec. 9. The comment period for the draft revised scrapie program standards is also extended through Dec. 9.

APHIS welcomes all comments on the proposed rule. The proposed rule is available at!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2007-0127. Comments can also be submitted and reviewed through this link.

Industry is encouraged to offer comments to this proposed rule. The American Sheep Industry Association’s detailed comments are available for review at… Continue reading

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New Canadian Agricultural Minister says Canada will pursue COOL retaliation

Reiterating newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s position, new Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay said the Canadian government will uphold the Conservative party’s decision to pursue trade retaliation against the United States over its Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

The statute requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. It also applies to fish, shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain nuts.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled that COOL discriminates against Canadian and Mexican livestock sent to the United States to be fed out and processed, violating international trade rules.

“It’s not what we want to do, but if we were forced to do it, it’s something that we would likely have to do,” MacAulay said.

A WTO arbitration panel now is determining the level of retaliation; Canada and Mexico have asked for a combined $3.1 billion.… Continue reading

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Feeding winter hay on pasture fields

As we approach winter I have a question for you. Where do you feed your livestock?

When the grass runs out do you bring them to a barn or facility to feed them? Do you leave them out on pasture and bring the feed to them?

The reason for my questions is that experienced graziers spend the fall planning their winter feeding programs — planning to the point of not only what they will feed but also where they will feed the animals.

I do not know the exact percentage, but it should be safe to say that many forage based livestock producers use round bales of hay as their primary stored winter feed. Hay is stored in some central location and then moved to the field for feeding. Quite a few of these producers feed round bales in rings out in the pasture field. Depending on the number of animals to be fed, producers will move bales out to these rings two or three at a time.… Continue reading

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NFU highlights concerns with FMD in Namibia

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson urged the Obama administration to oppose a proposed rule that would make Namibia an eligible country to export meat to the United States. Namibia just this year experienced an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

“The fear over FMD is warranted,” said Johnson in comments submitted to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). “An outbreak would have devastating consequences on our domestic livestock industry. NFU calls upon the administration to defend U.S. farmers and ranchers by opposing imports of live animals and processed or frozen animal products from countries or regions with a history of FMD.”

Johnson noted that in 2006, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proposed to add Namibia to the list of regions that are considered free of FMD with the exception of north of the country’s Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF).

“Earlier this year Namibia had an outbreak of FMD north of the VCF,” Johnson said.… Continue reading

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Presenting: DairyPalooza 2015

Roll out the red carpet, grab some popcorn, and settle in for the premiere of the DairyPalooza moo-vie. In honor of five years of DairyPalooza, our generous sponsors and the Ohio 4-H Foundation have teamed up to create a feature film for DairyPalooza just in time for the release of our 2016 event dates.

The DairyPalooza movie boasts a cast of hundreds (with no stunt animals), with interviews from attendees, volunteers, and sponsors. DairyPalooza is directed by a team of experts who, for five years, have helped line up A-Cow-demy Award-winning educational sessions for the benefit of Cloverbuds, youth, and adults alike.

In 2015, we were able to expand our DairyPalooza to two events, DairyPalooza Northeast and DairyPalooza West. Both events are featured in our video.

There’s no need to purchase a ticket, but prepare to be dazzled by the sets, the human and animal interaction, the hands-on plot, and the enthusiasm and commitment of everyone involved.… Continue reading

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OSU dairy judging team sweeps three national shows

There is a new undisputed national championship team at The Ohio State University.

The Agricultural Technical Institute dairy cattle judging team swept the three major national competitions this year with its Nov. 8 win at the North American International Livestock Competition in Louisville, Kentucky.

Team members won by an impressive 67-point margin in Louisville, topping the 64-point margin by which they won the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, on Sept. 28. Hannah Dye, a dairy science major from Beloit, Ohio, was first place overall with 710 points. Teammates Tanner Topp (dairy science, New Bremen, Ohio) and Kaleb Kliner (agronomy, West Salem, Ohio) were second and fourth, respectively. Rounding out the four-person team was John Paulin, a hydraulics and power equipment major from Nova, Ohio.

The team’s first big win of the season was at the Pennsylvania-All American Contest in Harrisburg on Sept. 14.

“I cannot remember any year where a team (at the two-year college level) participated in three judging contests and was first place in each contest and high in oral reasons,” said Royce Thornton, chair of the Agricultural and Engineering Technologies Division and coordinator of Ohio State ATI’s dairy programs.… Continue reading

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Interstate shipping options opening up new opportunities for livestock producers

J.B. King has been raising hogs for 50 years. On his first date with his wife, Charlene, the young couple hauled a load of hogs to the Lancaster Depot. They clearly loved raising hogs, but when pork prices crashed in 1999, they had to find another way to maintain a profitable operation on their Athens County farm.

“The crash of the hog market brought us to where we are now. We had been in the club business for a while and then we started selling pork instead of selling pigs in 2000,” J.B. said. “We had been selling to neighbors and we expanded that.”

Since then, King Family Farm has been raising high quality, specialty pork, beef and poultry and directly marketing their products to the local community. It was challenging at first, but they found ways to make it work.

“We use all non-GMO feed. Everything is outside and we use no drugs.… Continue reading

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Old forage gets a new life

A forgotten forage grass imported from Europe in the 1800s could soon be helping to boost cattle and dairy production. The grass, which has adapted well to parts of the Upper Midwest, has been released by U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Resarch Service scientists in Madison, Wisconsin.

The forage grass was discovered on a farmer’s shaded hilltop in a long-time pasture that had never been seeded with commercial forages. Cattle thrived on it and it gradually spread from the hilltop grove into gullies and open areas, possibly because cattle eating the ripe seed spread it in their manure. The farmer fed hay made from it to more cattle, to spread it further. He also eventually began consulting with ARS plant geneticist Michael Casler and his colleagues at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center.

Casler and his colleagues have since spent more than a decade evaluating the grass, named Hidden Valley for the farm where it was discovered.… Continue reading

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OCA members to offer over 115 consignments in Replacement Female Sale

Several members of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will sell over 115 consignments in the OCA Replacement Female Sale on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, at 6 p.m. at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Company facility in Zanesville, Ohio. Consignments include approximately 30 mature cows, less than five years of age, and approximately 85 bred heifers.

Breeds represented will include Angus, Angus x Red Angus, Polled Hereford, Red Angus, Simmental, Simmental x Angus, Simmental x Red Angus, and crossbred. Service sires represented include Angus, Hereford, Maine-Anjou, Red Angus and Simmental.

“Now is an excellent time for producers to add quality replacement heifers to their herds,” says John Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator. “The economic forecast for the cow-calf segment of the beef industry is very good for the next few years. Feeder calf prices remain strong from a historical perspective and the future looks positive as well. This sale represents an excellent opportunity for cow-calf producers to add quality bred heifers to their herds and potentially take advantage of the positive economic outlook for the beef industry.”… Continue reading

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Nov. 20 MPP deadline approaching quickly for dairy producers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that almost half of all dairy farms in America have made their annual elections for 2016 coverage under the Margin Protection Program, and reminded producers who have not yet enrolled that they have until Nov. 20, to select coverage.

Established by the 2014 Farm Bill, the program provides financial assistance to dairy producers when the margin — the difference between feed costs and the price of milk — falls below the coverage level selected by the applicant.

“This safety net is not automatic, so producers must visit their local FSA office to enroll before Nov. 20,” said Dolcini. “Despite the best forecasts, the dairy industry is cyclical and markets can change quickly. This program is like any insurance product, where investing in a policy today will protect against catastrophic economic consequences tomorrow.”

FSA estimates that based on current participation rates, had the program existed before the 2014 Farm Bill, producers in 2009 would have invested $73 million in premiums and received $1.44 billion in financial protection during that historically weak market period.… Continue reading

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Pork exports up, beef exports struggling

U.S. pork exports showed modest improvement in September while beef exports endured the most difficult month in some time, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

September pork export volume was up 6% from a year ago to 172,012 metric tons (mt). Export value was $456.1 million, down 11% year-over-year but the highest since May. Pork exports through the first nine months of the year declined 4% in volume (1.58 million mt) and 17% in value ($4.21 billion) compared to January-September 2014.

Beef export volume fell 21% from a year ago in September to 79,474 metric tons (mt) and value was down 28% to $456.6 million — the lowest since January. For the first nine months of 2015, exports were down 12% in volume (782,705 mt) and 8% in value ($4.8 billion).

Pork export value per head slaughtered was $46.90 in September, down $11.21 from last year.… Continue reading

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Are your farm’s defenses up for PEDv?

Although the number of new PEDv infections has greatly decreased in recent months, PEDv is still a threat to the U.S. pork industry, and cooler months raise the potential for new cases to emerge.

“In 2013, PEDv was a severe epidemic on a large number of the country’s sow farms and in 2014, we saw more breakouts on finishing sites,” said Dr. Rick Swalla, senior veterinarian for Zoetis, who supported veterinary practices and production systems in the Midwest to help manage PEDv outbreaks. “So far this year, the number of outbreaks has been lower, but as the weather does start to get colder there is a greater risk of the virus becoming epidemic again so farmers have to stay vigilant with their biosecurity efforts.”

Improved biosecurity, and herd immunity from exposure and vaccination, have helped to reduce new outbreaks in 2014. However, there is potential for more PEDv outbreaks this winter, primarily due to the introduction of naive gilts into the sow herd.… Continue reading

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Avian influenza concerns loom large

While there is plenty of discussion in Ohio about the threat of avian influenza as Thanksgiving — and the colder winter weather — approaches, the most common conversations on the subject may be with God.

“We say our prayers every night. Avian influenza spreads easily and the amount that fits on a pinhead could wipe out an entire farm,” said Carl Bowman, of Bowman and Landes Turkeys, Inc. in Miami County. “When I go to these meetings I keep hearing it is not a matter of if we get it, it is a matter of when. We learned a lot this winter in terms of how you treat an outbreak, but it would be a total loss for our turkeys. We could lose 80% to 90% in one week and if you get it they have to destroy them all to stop the virus. I don’t ever remember having any kind of threat like this before.… Continue reading

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Grazing corn residue

Corn residue left over from harvesting can make an excellent source of supplemental feed for livestock, according to a forage expert from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

This is especially true for producers who are facing lower hay crop inventories thanks to the excessive rains that impacted the region during the beginning of the growing season this year, said Rory Lewandowski, agriculture and natural resources educator for the college’s outreach arm, Ohio State University Extension.

Grazing cows on harvested corn acres within the first 30 to 60 days after harvesting can be a great way for producers to stretch their feed supplies, he said.

“This was a tough forage year for many livestock producers,” Lewandowski said. “Many producers are finding that they didn’t get enough hay harvested with all the rain that impacted the crops during the earlier part of the growing season.”… Continue reading

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Consider temperament when culling

Over the years, as I have worked with beef cattle owners I have asked them where temperament ranks as they make culling decisions and decide which animals and genetics to keep in the herd. I have heard replies ranging from “It’s a factor, something I keep in mind” to “It’s one of the top 3 factors in my decision.” Glenn Selk, Department of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University, recently presented the results of a couple of studies showing that wild and/or excitable cattle negatively affect profit in the cattle operation. Here are excerpts from that article:

Selk cited a Mississippi State University study published in 2006 that used a total of 210 feeder cattle consigned by 19 producers in a “farm to feedlot” program to evaluate the effect of temperament on performance and net profit. Temperament was scored on a 1 to 5 scale (1=nonaggressive, docile; 5=very aggressive, excitable). Three measurements were used: pen score, chute score, and exit velocity.… Continue reading

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Ohio ranch wins world championships

Dickinson Cattle Company (DCCI) of Barnesville, Ohio won the 2015 Longhorn World Championship in Oklahoma City, OK, ending with the fiercest of competition on Oct. 24.  The final calculations were in the Cox Convention Center in downtown OKC.  This event is the world’s largest and most versatile cattle competition.

The TLMA World Championship is a horn measuring event with careful detail to tip to tip measurement and total horn. Measurements are calculated to 1/16th of an inch by a team of experienced horn masters. This event has built momentum for many years and has great influence on Texas Longhorn market popularity.  In recent years Texas Longhorn cattle have sold for amounts above $150,000, and many were sporting record wide serpentined spreads.

Texas Longhorn cattle are bred for all the same virtues of other cattle breeds, yet serious  longevity of production, attractive colors, unassisted calving, large weaning weights and long twisty horns. … Continue reading

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2015 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium

The 2015 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium (BSS): “Profitability, productivity, nutrition, and sheep farm succession planning principles” will concentrate on several topics related to the success of the sheep operation both now and in the future. The Friday Dec. 11 afternoon portion of the event will include a “Productivity and profitability workshop” with Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Small Ruminant Specialist and Dr. Robert Leder, Large Animal Veterinarian and Sheep Farmer, Bear Creek Sheep Station, Wisconsin. The two-day event will be held Dec. 12 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), Shisler Conference Center, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691.

The planning committee has put together a great program involving many factors and keeping the sheep industry in mind. The symposium program will begin with “Status and major issues of the American Sheep Industry” presented by Burton Pfliger, president of the American Sheep Industry (ASI).

Other speakers for the Saturday program will include Kevin Burgoon, Honor Show Chow nutritionist, Purina Animal Nutrition; Peggy Kirk Hall, Asst.… Continue reading

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Still time to enroll in farm bill dairy program

Dairy producers still have time to enroll in the dairy Margin Protection Program for coverage in 2016 and can use an online tool developed by dairy economists with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University to aid in their decision-making.

Cameron Thraen, emeritus professor and formerly an associate professor in the college’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, and John Newton, formerly a Ph.D. graduate student working with Thraen and now senior director, Economic Research, National Milk Producers Federation, collaborated with members of the Dairy Markets and Policy (DMaP) team in 2014 to create the online decision tool.

Thraen and Newton, working with a team of dairy economists from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, Cornell University and The Pennsylvania State University developed the web-based decision support tool and the educational programming materials for the USDA Farm Services Agency Margin Protection Program (MPP).… Continue reading

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Poultry industry bracing for another winter threat of avian influenza

As cooler weather returns, so do heightened concerns about the poultry industry’s vulnerability to avian influenza. In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued their influenza preparedness and response plan to address the significant challenge to both large and small poultry flocks around the country. .

Since it was first identified in the United States in December 2014 in the Pacific Northwest, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected in commercial and backyard poultry flocks, wild birds, or captive wild birds in 21 States. With the last case of the spring outbreak identified in June, 2015, a total of 211 commercial and 21 backyard poultry premises had been affected. This resulted in the depopulation of 7.5 million turkeys and 42.1 million egg-layer and pullet chickens, with devastating effects on these businesses, and a cost to federal taxpayers of over $950 million.

Genetic analysis has shown that a comingling of migratory birds between northeast Asia and Alaska allowed for re-assortment of Asian HPAI strains with North American low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses.… Continue reading

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