Questioning grazing efficiencies

There are certainly times when it would be much easier to just leave all the gates open and let the livestock manage themselves. Obviously, there must be some merit in this type of management, or lack of, because it is still pretty common. This is especially true in the spring. For those whose primary focus is planting corn and beans, pasture management is usually not a high priority. Equipment, field preparation and planting is the top priority; the cows will be fine until planting is done, until sidedressing is done, until first cutting of hay is done, etc. Unfortunately, by the time most of those producers have completed that work, they are usually short on forages. Hay or other fed feeds now take the place of management or time not expended earlier.

I still often question grazing efficiencies. Certainly not all of the forage that is produced will make it into the animal and likewise, not all of the potential growth is always lost or achieved.… Continue reading

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New Ohio Forages website launched

Our new Ohio Forages website has been launched, and can be found at  This is the same url as our old Ohio Forage Network site.

We intend for this website to be the go-to place to find all things forage within the Ohio State University Extension system. We are still in the process of adding content but it already includes a fair amount of information and news on forage and pasture management. We will be adding to each section over time. Be sure to check out the Resources tab for some cool photos and links to some of our favorite forage-related websites. A brand new feature we plan to add over the next few months is a place to add and compile videos on key aspects of forage management.

So browse around in it and let me ( know if you have any suggestions.… Continue reading

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Establishing new forage stands

This month provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages. The other preferred timing for cool-season grasses and legumes is in late summer, primarily the month of August here in Ohio. The relative success of spring vs. summer seeding of forages is greatly affected by the prevailing weather conditions, and so growers have success and failures with each option.

Probably the two primary difficulties with spring plantings are finding a good window of opportunity when soils are dry enough before it gets too late, and managing weed infestations that are usually more difficult with spring plantings. The following steps will help improve your chances for successful forage establishment in the spring.

  1. Make sure soil pH and fertility are in the recommended ranges.  Follow the Tri-state Soil Fertility Recommendations ( .  Forages are more productive where soil pH is above 6.0, but for alfalfa it should be 6.5 – 6.8.
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GIPSA rule delayed again

It was recently announced that the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) is delaying the effective date of its interim final rule an additional six months to Oct. 19, 2017.

This was viewed as a positive step in the right direction according to many livestock groups.

“This is another step toward common sense and away from counterproductive government intrusion in the free market,” said Craig Uden, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) president. “That said, while a delay is welcome, ultimately this rule should be killed and American cattle producers should be free to market our beef without the threat of government-sanctioned frivolous lawsuits.”

Two proposed rules and one interim final rule came out on Dec. 20, 2016, one month before the end of the Obama Administration. The interim final rule regarding the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act and the proposed rule regarding undue preference and unjust treatment have a direct negative impact on the cattle industry.… Continue reading

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Was calf CPR a miracle or another day on the farm?

Was it an early Easter miracle or just another day on the farm? Michelle Ramseyer thinks it might have been a little bit of both.

Michelle and her husband Jeff raise around 200 cattle in an organic rotational grazing system with neighboring grain farmer, Dean McIlvaine. The Ramseyers provide the livestock and the labor while enhancing the fertility and controlling weeds on McIvaine’s farm ground for their Lone Pine Pastures operation in Wayne County, Michelle said.

“He actually owns the properties we have cattle on. We have 110 head of cattle and close to 80 calves on the ground now. We are a grass-fed operation. We started back in 2014 when we got the cattle. Dean is an organic crop farmer and all of the cattle are raised on organic grass. We do not feed anything other than hay and grass. Dean needed more fertility because his crops weren’t growing well.… Continue reading

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Ohio Beef Expo sale summary

The Ohio Beef Expo held March 17-19 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio hosted five breed sales, selling 289 live lots at an average price of $3,385 with a gross of $978,350. More than 30,000 cattle industry enthusiasts attended the 30th annual Expo, an event of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA). Individual breed sales results were as follows:

































































Managed by: Dan Wells
Auctioneer: Ron Kreis

Sale Gross: $186,750

Live Lots: 52

Live Average: $3,449

High Selling Bull: Lot 12 – Kingsway Style 354 sold to Scott Spohn – Jackson, OH for $5,400

Consigned by Kingsway Angus – Tiffin, OH

High Selling Female: Lot 34 – HFS Dameron Bardot 572, sold to Flatrock Farms – Barnesville, OH for $8,000

Consigned by HFS Angus – Radnor, OH



Managed by: Lisa Keets

Auctioneer: Dale Stith

Sale Gross: $104,850

Live Lots: 37

Live Average: $2,773

Embryo Lots: 1

Gross Embryo Sales: $2,250

Embryo Average: $750

High Selling Bull: Lot 1 – JLCS 9438 Canton C71ET sold to Herman’s Cattle Co.… Continue reading

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Strong pace continued for meat exports in February

February results for U.S. pork and beef exports were well above year-ago levels, with pork exports posting the strongest February volume on record, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.

Pork exports reached 197,025 metric tons (mt) in February, up 15% year-over-year, with value up 17% to $486.7 million. For the first two months of 2017, exports totaled 399,692 mt, up 18%, with value increasing 22% to $995.3 million.

February exports accounted for 27.6% of total pork production and 22.9% for muscle cuts only, up from 23.8% and 20%, respectively, last year. January-February ratios were also significantly higher at 26.8% and 22.2%, compared to 23% and 19.3% in the first two months of 2016. Export value per hog slaughtered averaged $51.94 in February, up 18% year-over-year, while the January-February average was up 20% to $51.05.

Beef exports totaled 90,417 mt in February, up 9% year-over-year, with value up 16% to $508.5 million.… Continue reading

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USDA authorizes emergency grazing for areas affected by wildfires

USDA Authorizes Emergency Grazing in Response to President Trump’s Directive

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), acting in response to a directive from President Donald J. Trump, today authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands located in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — the three states most heavily impacted by ongoing wildfires which began on March 6, 2017.

“President Trump, the USDA, and Governors Brownback, Fallin, and Abbott deserve a great deal of credit for moving swiftly to open these lands to grazing so that many of the cattle producers who were dramatically impacted by last month’s wildfires can feed their herds,” said Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Those devastating wildfires burned more than 1.5 million acres in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas and killed an estimated 9,000 to 18,000 cattle. Those cattle can’t be replaced, but today’s action will help ranchers salvage what remains of their herds.”… Continue reading

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HPAI like fighting a war in Tennessee

Dr. Charles Hatcher, the Tennessee State Veterinarian, was at the center of the recent flurry of activity with avian influenza when the H7 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was discovered in a commercial facility in the state.

“The state of Tennessee benefitted from the previous states going through the outbreak in 2015. The lessons learned there were critical for what we did,” Hatcher said at yesterday’s National Institute for Animal Agriculture meeting in Columbus. “We knew there was a possibility of this happening because the Mississippi Flyway and the Atlantic Coastal Flyway touch Tennessee. Since 2015 we have been planning. The bombshell hit us and once we determined it was HPAI, our pre-determined plans went into place. We had the incident command structure just like you would have going into war. It is like fighting a war because you have all of these battles.”

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture announced the discovery of HPAI in early March.… Continue reading

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Ohio livestock and poultry farmers support Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

The Ohio Pork Council, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, Ohio Poultry Association and the Ohio Dairy Producers Association announced their support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) recently. The announcement comes amid budget discussions to dramatically decrease funding for the GLRI.

The livestock and poultry groups issued the below statement regarding their support of the GLRI:

“Improving the quality of the Great Lakes has, and will, remain a top priority of ours today, and for generations to come. In order to be successful in our efforts of restoring the lakes, and preventing further damage, we recognize the progress made by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and see value in continuing to support the effort and build-off the momentum. Our farmers have reassured their commitment to restoring the lakes, and in doing so, supporting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative launched in 2010 with the following areas of focus: cleaning up the Great Lakes Areas of Concern, preventing invasive species, reducing nutrient runoff and restoring habitat to protect native species.… Continue reading

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Clipboard Syndicate raised nearly $20,000 for OSU Dairy Judging Team expenses

Traveling and entry fees for the Ohio State University Collegiate Dairy Judging Team competitions are expensive. The students manage the dairy parlor at the Ohio State Fair and do other fundraisers to pay their own way, but as travel costs continue to rise, the long-term budget for the program is looking slimmer. Extension dairy program specialist and collegiate dairy coach Bonnie Ayars decided to address the issue.

“The students are working to raise money for their trips but we need a reserve for the future. For the very first time of my tenure, I am coming forth with a fundraiser for the collegiate dairy judging teams,” she said. “COBA generously donated a calf for us to use at the Spring Dairy Expo Buckeye Classic Sale managed by the kids.”

Leading up to the March 30 sale, shares for the calf were sold for $100 each to raise funds for the judging team.… Continue reading

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Ohio working with federal and industry partners to prevent the spread of avian influenza

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is working aggressively with Ohio’s poultry industry and federal partners to prevent the spread of avian influenza. Ohio has no reported cases of avian influenza, and together regulators, farmers and veterinarians are working to protect the health of the state’s bird population.

ODA asked the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS) to grant relief which now allows organic poultry producers to temporarily confine their flocks and maintain organic certification. This is a critical biosecurity measure requested by Ohio producers, and one ODA encourages all poultry producers, including small-scale backyard farmers, to implement.

“Preventing contact between flocks and wild birds is one of the most important steps any farmer can take to keep animals healthy and prevent the spread of avian influenza,” said Dr. Tony Forshey, state veterinarian. “I thank USDA-AMS for their work and recognition of the critical importance of this request and urge all Ohio poultry producers, large and small, to take aggressive biosecurity measures to protect the health of all of our state’s birds.”… Continue reading

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Don’t remove your plants’ solar panel by grazing too early

Yes, it appears that we are trying to having an early spring, but I refuse to count those chicks before they hatch! Abnormally warm weather in February and early March is not that uncommon here in Indiana, unfortunately neither are late March and early April snows. The accumulated growing degree days so far this year, on average across the state, are higher than normal.

Now, it is early still, but I know how some think about new green growth in the pastures. Let’s think this through. Grazing too early in the spring does nothing but remove the solar panel the plants need to start building sugars and growing new roots. The forages really need to be able to canopy and get a good start before animals start removing that new growth otherwise production will be reduced.

I know sometimes the hay is not the best quality. It is better to supplement poor hay and keep feeding it, if available, than to start grazing too early.… Continue reading

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Topdressing wheat with liquid swine manure

Research on applying liquid livestock manure as a spring top-dress fertilizer to wheat has been ongoing in Ohio for several years. There is usually a window of time, typically around the last week of March or the first week of April, when wheat fields are firm enough to support manure application equipment. The wheat fields have broken dormancy and are actively pulling nutrients from the soil.

The key to applying the correct amount of manure to fertilize wheat is to know the manure’s nitrogen content. Most manure tests reveal total nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen and organic nitrogen amounts. The ammonia nitrogen portion is readily available for plant growth. The organic nitrogen portion takes considerably longer to mineralize and generally will not be available when wheat uptakes the majority of its nitrogen in the months of April and May.

Some manure tests also list a “first year availability” nitrogen amount. This number is basically the ammonia nitrogen portion of the manure plus about half the organic nitrogen portion.… Continue reading

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Stronger dairy program is a farm bill priority for some

As Congress begins its deliberations on the next farm bill, improvements to the dairy Margin Protection Program must be a top priority for lawmakers, said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, who spoke before the House Agriculture Committee.

During the farm bill hearing on Capitol Hill, Mulhern told committee members that the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) is failing to live up to its intended role as a viable economic safety net for farmers, and that a series of changes is needed to restore dairy producers’ confidence in the program.

“While MPP was, and is, the right approach for the future of federal dairy policy, the program in its current form does not provide meaningful safety net support to the nation’s dairy farmers,” Mulhern said.

The MPP is designed to allow farmers to insure the gap between milk prices and the cost of purchasing feed for dairy cattle.… Continue reading

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Avian influenza discovered in Alabama

Alabama State Veterinarian, Dr. Tony Frazier, confirmed that a flock of chickens at a commercial poultry breeding operation located in Pickens County and a backyard flock located in Madison County have both tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI).

During routine screening, a commercial company collected samples from their Pickens County flock and submitted them to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries State Diagnostic Laboratory located in Auburn, Alabama. These samples, suspected positive for avian influenza, were forwarded to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. NVSL confirmed the commercial flock is positive for LPAI. This commercial flock has been placed under quarantine. While this is different from the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus that has been found recently to the north in Tennessee, control measures are under way as a precautionary measure.

In addition to the suspected case in Pickens County, a backyard flock located in Madison County has also been confirmed positive for low pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza (LPAI) by NVSL.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen Seedstock Improvement Bull Sale set for April 8

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will hold its annual Seedstock Improvement Sale on Saturday, April 8 at noon at the Union Stock Yards Company in Hillsboro, Ohio.  This year’s sale features 44 bulls from one year to five years of age.  Breeds consigned include Angus, Simmental, Hybrid Simmental, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Maintainer, Red Angus, and Shorthorn.

Buyers attending this sale have the opportunity to evaluate multiple breeds of registered bulls all in one location with the added assurance of buying bulls with known genetics, a completed vaccination regimen and a breeding soundness exam.  The bulls are cataloged for sale order based on a within breed evaluation star system using expected progeny differences (EPDs) for birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, milk, marbling and ribeye.

For more information on the sale or to obtain a sale catalog, visit and look under the Events and Programs section or contact the OCA office at 614-873-6736 or through email atbeef@ohiobeef.orgContinue reading

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Regulating livestock welfare remains an issue around the country

While livestock producers in Ohio have been subject to standards for the care of livestock since 2011, animal welfare remains a topic of debate around the country. Most recently, attention turned to the care of livestock raised under the National Organic Program and animals raised in confinement in Massachusetts.


Federal organic standards

On January 19, 2017, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) promulgated a final rule for the National Organic Program (NOP). The rule concerns practices for organic livestock and poultry. Namely, the rule “clarifies how producers and handlers participating in the NOP must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their wellbeing.” These treatment standards are applicable at numerous times throughout the lives of livestock, including when the animals are transported or slaughtered. Additionally, the rule spells out the amount and type of indoor and outdoor space organic poultry must have under NOP. The rule also describes the timing and methods for physically altering livestock and poultry under NOP.… Continue reading

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Ohio Beef Expo highlights

The Ohio Beef Expo celebrated its 30th year in grand style setting records and packing the Expo Center facilities full for the three-day event.

“It is great to come to an event like this because it creates enthusiasm,” said John Grimes, Ohio State University Extension beef specialist. “It is a little bit like a church revival.”

Grimes gave an overview of Ohio’s beef industry in a presentation at the event and sees reason for optimism moving forward.

“This decade has been pretty eventful. Grain prices were high early in the decade — I did not like buying $7 and $8 corn to feed cattle. Land values went up and there were challenges that way. That stabilized and then the drought out west reduced the numbers. In 2014 the cow herd was smaller than it had been in over 60 years,” Grimes said. “We responded to economic signals and the nation’s cow herd in the last year grew by a million cows.… Continue reading

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