Biosecurity recommendations for youth exhibitors

As county fairs continue across Ohio and the great Ohio State Fair is about to begin, biosecurity does not take a rest. Pork Checkoff director of swine health information and research, Dr. Lisa Becton, said that message is very important for youth exhibitors during the summer show season.

“As kids are actively in the fair season, showing animals and moving them around, it’s very important to know that diseases can transmit easily,” Becton said. “So it is important to do things like cleaning equipment or trailers between shows, making sure animals have proper vaccinations for things like influenza or other diseases just to make sure their not transferring anything or getting anything.”

Many times the importance of making sure a show animal is isolated from other animals on the farm after a show is overlooked.

“Even though an animal may look healthy, it may be carrying a virus or bacteria,” Becton said.… Continue reading

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ORVTLA 19th Annual Texas Longhorn Show

The Ohio River Valley Texas Longhorn Association’s 19th annual Texas Longhorn show was staged at the Wayne County Fairgrounds at Wooster on July 16. The show was organized by president Andrew Morris of Malhonding and past president Tim Mills of Perrysville. The ORVTLA is an affiliate of the International Texas Longhorn Association.

Registered Texas Longhorn cattle sparred for championship awards with 56 International Texas Longhorn Association approved classes offered. Contestants came mostly from Ohio, but several were from Indiana, Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania.

The ITLA approved judge for the show was Stacy Workman of Gettysburg, Penn. Stacy and her husband Dan have raised Texas Longhorn cattle for 11 years and are serious competitors in the NETLA circuit. She is a home-school mother of three.

Unique classes included early starters “Pee Wee” classes, Youth Halter, Open Halter and Non Halter. Unlike other breeds, ITLA shows are popular for the Non Halter classes where cow/calf pairs, exhibition steers and all ages of registered cattle show freely in the show arena.… Continue reading

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Does crabgrass really hate you?

You may have heard the rumor that crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) hates you. Those who profit from the sale of lawn care products may like you to believe that, but despite the claims, it really isn’t true. Each year crabgrass works toward accomplishing the goal of all living things, to reproduce, and if it had a life motto it might be something like: “Life is short, so live it!” Any plant out of place can be considered a weed and in the eye of many, crabgrass fits this description. However in a forage system, crabgrass can be the right plant, in the right place, at the right time.

Crabgrass is an annual warm-season grass that reproduces by seed and completes it’s lifecycle in a timeframe offset from that of commonly used cool-season grasses like tall fescue, orchardgrass, and ryegrass. It begins germinating when soil temperatures reach 58 degrees F and can thrive while other species lay dormant in the summer heat.… Continue reading

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Ohio hosts shepherds from around the country through Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School

The 2016 Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School was held July 10 to 14 in Columbus. The program moves around the country and shepherds from around the nation flocked to Ohio for the event this year.

This year’s schedule included the popular Ohio State University Lamb 509 program plus an Ohio sheep industry tour through parts of northeast Ohio. A class of nearly 30 students was selected by the National Lamb Feeders Association to take part in this unique combination of presentations, tours, and hands-on activities to increase understanding of meat quality and marketing and enable participants to improve the profitability and competitiveness of lamb.

Tour stops included trips to Stitzlein Club Lambs, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Mt. Hope Auction, the farm of Amish shepherd Leroy Kuhns, and Don Hawk’s confined lamb feedlot in Knox County.

“It was a great learning experience. It was like-minded folks trying to learn from each other.… Continue reading

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Manure composting makes better use of valuable nutrients for cattle operation

After years of hauling liquid manure from their Fairfield County beef operation, Robert and Andy Wolfinger decided they needed to do something different to spread their nutrients over more ground.

“We talked to our agronomist and he had a friend who had started composting. We went to see him and see what we had to do to get in the business. We had the manure and we had trouble getting enough places to haul it every year close enough to home,” Robert Wolfinger said. “We started composting and we can scatter it out over more acres. We went from putting it on 100 acres to 500 or 600 acres and it takes some relief off of finding a place for our manure.”

The pen pack manure with corn stalks and wheat straw for bedding is hauled out in the spring and piled in windrows on a heavy use pad designed by and funded through the local Natural Resource Conservation Service Soil and Water Conservation District.… Continue reading

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Technology, equipment, education and more at the 2016 Manure Expo

The North American Manure Expo will be held on Aug. 3 and 4 near London at the Farm Science Review site. This unique national demonstration and educational event is the place to learn about the latest equipment, technologies and bests practices focused on returning manure nutrients to their roots to benefit crops and soils while protecting water quality. The show features tours, field demonstrations, and educational seminars, plus a huge trade show with more than 80 exhibitors.


Three tours will be offered on the morning of Aug. 3. Tour 1 focuses on composting and nutrient management. Participants will visit Price Farms Organics for an up close look at composting manure, including strategies for surface water runoff management, and Beck’s for an edge of field study site to learn what research tells us about reducing nutrient runoff from cropland. Tour 2 includes a visit to the Ohio Heifer Center, a 4,000-cow operation that recycles its bedding and has a gasifier for biochar production, and to Trupointe/Sunrise Cooperative for the latest in precision ag technology.… Continue reading

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New legislation offers protection from Super Fund litigation

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) expressed its support for new bipartisan legislation introduced in the House of Representatives that would clarify the exemption of dairy farms and other livestock producers from being subject to the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which governs the safe disposal of solid waste.

The Farm Regulatory Certainty Act (H.R. 5685), sponsored by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), would spell out that the RCRA law, enacted in 1976 to govern solid wastes in landfills, is not intended to regulate agricultural operations like dairy farms. Tin the past, NMPF feels the RCRA statute has been used to inappropriately target agriculture, specifically dairy and livestock producers, even if they have demonstrated that they have been following approved plans for using manure as a fertilizer. The Farm Regulatory Certainty Act will also protect farmers from citizen suits if they are undergoing efforts to comply with federal orders.

The new measure comes in response to a federal court ruling last year in lawsuits brought against several dairies in Washington state.… Continue reading

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A robot’s touch the answer for Bar-Lee Jerseys

The dairy industry’s constant search for the most cost effective and efficient production options has resulted in some unique technological changes in recent years. Milking a cow with robots, something thought of as near science fiction not long ago, is now being accepted as the way of life on a number of Ohio dairies.

Bar-Lee Jerseys, a family dairy farm in Willard, has in the past months put the technology to work. Jason Nuhfer is the fifth generation to milk and breed registered Jersey cattle.

“I graduated from Ohio State in 2008. At that time we started doing some facility improvements,” Nuhfer said.

A new free stall barn was added his graduation year. The calf barn was brought on in 2011 and the robotic milking system started the first of December this past year. Two Lely Astronaut A4 Robots were installed, each able to handle about 60 cows each.

“As we’ve done these facility improvements, kind of our number one goal was cow comfort — to keep that in mind,” he said.… Continue reading

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Plants of concern to livestock in summer

It seems like one of those years when growing conditions start off great but then we move into dry and hot conditions at the peak of summer. With such conditions we will have an increased potential for livestock poisonings. As summer progresses the preferred forages for grazing dry up and become less available and animals are forced to consume plants they might otherwise not eat. Therefore, there are recognizable circumstances like drought, overgrazing, nitrogen fertilization and summer storms that all have the potential to contribute to livestock poisoning. So what are some plants of concern for grazing livestock during these dry conditions in Ohio?

Buttercup: Beautiful small yellow flowers are common in pastures. Buttercup starts blooming in June and produces many typically bright yellow flowers of five or more petals with flowers spreading .75-inch to one-inch in width.

Tall buttercup and creeping buttercup are very aggressive perennials in pastures and can quickly overtake the field.… Continue reading

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Tips from the Chicken Whisperer

There is no denying the dramatic recent rise in poultry popularity and the booming backyard chicken trend. More small farm, suburban and even urban residents are learning that there are a number of benefits to having chickens in the backyard in addition to the eggs or meat they provide.

Andy Schneider, better known as the Chicken Whisperer, has become the go-to guy across the country for anything related to backyard chickens. He hosts the “Backyard Poultry with the Chicken Whisperer” web radio show, and serves as a national spokesperson for the USDA-APHIS Bio-Security for Birds Program. He is the editor of “Chicken Whisperer Magazine” and author of “The Chicken Whisperer’s Guide to Keeping Chickens.” This spring Schneider toured Kalmbach Feeds distributors around Ohio and shared plenty of poultry pointers.

“We know chickens are really good composters. For the most part your group of chickens will eat just about everything off of your plate.… Continue reading

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Pelleting and extrusion increase digestible and metabolizable energy in diets for pigs

Scientists at the University of Illinois using co-products from the ethanol and human food industries are helping shed light on ways processing high-fiber animal feed ingredients can enhance pigs’ utilization of the nutrients and energy they contain. The co-products from these industries typically contain more fiber than the standard corn-soybean meal diet.

“It is possible that the benefits of extrusion and pelleting are greater in high-fiber diets than in low-fiber diets. We set out to test that hypothesis, said Hans H. Stein, professor of animal sciences at Illinois.”

Stein and his team tested effects of extrusion, pelleting, or extrusion and pelleting: using a low-fiber diet based on corn and soybean meal; a medium-fiber diet containing corn, soybean meal, and 25% distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS); and a high-fiber diet containing corn, soybean meal, 25% DDGS, and 20% soybean hulls.

Each diet was divided into four batches. One batch was fed in meal form, one was pelleted at 85 degrees C, one was extruded at 115 degrees C, and the fourth was extruded at 115 degrees C and then pelleted at 85 degrees C.… Continue reading

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Concerns with new National Organic Program proposed animal welfare rules

USDA has proposed new animal welfare standards for the National Organic Program that, if enacted, would be the first time such standards are codified in federal law. This could present serious challenges to livestock producers.

Livestock organizations pointed out a number of problems with the proposed new standards, including: animal production practices have nothing to do with the basic concept of “organic” production; the standards add complexity to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers; and they could jeopardize animal and public health.

Following are specific points on the new standards from the National Pork Producers Council.


Animal welfare is not germane to the basic concept of “organic”

  • Organic has pertained to foods produced without synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms or growth hormones.
  • The Organic Food Production Act of 1990 limited its coverage of livestock to feeding and medication practices.
  • While the Agriculture Secretary can consider additional provisions, they must be within the scope of the 1990 act.
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NMPF offering decision-making tools for the Margin Protection Program in 2017

The National Milk Producers Federation has updated its Margin Protection Program website – – with new materials to assist dairy producers considering enrollment in the third year of the federal dairy safety net program. The enrollment period officially opened July 1 and ends September 30, 2016, for coverage in calendar year 2017. Farmers already participating in the program can change their coverage level during this three-month enrollment window.

The Margin Protection Program (MPP) provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin — the difference between the price of milk and feed costs — falls below a coverage level selected by the producer. Dairy farmers can insure their farms on a sliding scale between $4 and $8 per hundredweight, deciding both how much of their production history to cover, and the level of margin to protect. The program, created in the 2014 farm bill, offers more extensive coverage for low-margin conditions than previous programs.… Continue reading

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Dairy producers can enroll to protect milk production margins

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Ohio announced that dairy producers can enroll for 2017 coverage in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) starting July 1. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin — the difference between the price of milk and feed costs — falls below the coverage level selected by the producer.

The Margin Protection Program gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Enrollment began July 1 and ends on Sept. 30, 2016, for coverage in calendar year 2017. Participating farmers will remain in the program through 2018 and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee each year. Producers have the option of selecting a different coverage level during open enrollment each year.

USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the Margin Protection Program that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Roundup in Jackson County August 26 and 27

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) invites all who have an interest in Ohio’s cattle industry to Jackson County, Ohio for this year’s Roundup, August 26-27, 2016. This year combines two great events, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) annual beef and forage program and the OCA Roundup. It will feature a beef and forage night, farm tours, sessions with industry leaders, great food, and time with fellow cattlemen.

Roundup begins Friday evening, August 26, at the Jackson Agricultural Research Station in Jackson. Registration will occur from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. and OCA Allied Industry Council (AIC) representatives will be present to talk with cattlemen. Dinner will be served starting at 5 p.m. Following dinner at 6 p.m., the program and tour will feature speakers from The Ohio State University and OSU Extension Beef Team Members. Justin Kieffer, Clinical Veterinarian, Professional Practice, Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University, will discuss the impacts of the upcoming Veterinary Feed Directive that is effective in 2017 and what producers should be doing to plan ahead.… Continue reading

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Practice good grazing management this summer

Our recent period of above 80 degree days with no rainfall demonstrates how quickly we can go from saturated soils to looking forward to some rain.  For the livestock owner dependent upon pasture growth, our recent weather pattern of 80 degree plus days with no rainfall demonstrated how quickly growth rates of our cool season pasture grasses can be reduced.  Looking ahead to summer its likely we will see more of this kind of weather and even hotter and drier possibly.   There are management practices that can give the grass plant some advantages during hot, dry periods and help to keep cool season grass pastures productive during summer months.  Two big keys are leaf area or residue after a grazing pass and rest period between grazing passes.

The take half, leave half principle must be followed during the summer months.  The leaf area that remains after a grazing pass provides a photosynthetic base for plant regrowth, shades the soil to keep the soil temperature cooler, and it helps to reduce soil moisture loss. … Continue reading

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Knowing livestock tampering laws helps maintain responsible food production at Ohio fairs

Summer marks the beginning of fair season — a time when thousands of 4-H youth all across the state showcase the animal projects they have spent so much time perfecting.

 As these hard working kids gear up to show their animals, I  want to encourage all exhibitors to be aware of livestock tampering rules so they do not accidentally disqualify their market animal projects.

Some key things to keep in mind as you prepare your animal for the show ring:

• If an animal is sick, the exhibitor should contact the veterinarian.

• Prescription medications must be prescribed by a veterinarian for a valid medical purpose.

• Extra-label use of any medication must be prescribed by a veterinarian and have an extended withdrawal time.

• Over-the-counter drugs must be used according to label directions for a valid medical purpose.

• Showing any livestock which has been administered a drug that exceeds the tolerance level, or a drug for which the withdrawal period has not elapsed, is prohibited.… Continue reading

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Scrapie Free Flock Certification standards updated

The Scrapie Free Flock Certification Program standards have been updated effective May 1. A copy of the updated standards and a summary of the revisions are available on ASI’s site at

The basic structure of the program has not changed. There are still two categories in the SFCP: the Export Category (with Export Monitored flocks and Export Certified flocks), and the Select Category (Select Monitored flocks). The updates clarify:

  • Sampling requirements, advancement, and genotyping lambs/kids in genetically resistant flocks;
  • Veterinary inspection of cull animals;
  • Imported embryos/oocytes;
  • Animals originating from Inconsistent States;
  • Special circumstances involving “Lost to Inventory” and “Found Dead” animals; and
  • Reporting requirements for the use of milk/colostrum from a lower status flock.
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As sexed semen gains effectiveness, dairies take notice

Artificial insemination (AI) has long proven to be an effective and profitable management tool of the cattle trade. Another tool in the AI toolbox, sexed semen, has found its own niche on the farm in recent years and is growing in popularity.

Chris Lahmers, marketing director for COBA/Select Sires, said the company’s sales of gender-sorted semen have steadily increased in the past few years, though they have generally plateaued due to the recent drop in milk prices. Still, the market for the product is ever changing.

“About 9% of our sales of Holstein semen and about 37% of Jersey sales were gender sorted semen in 2015,” Lahmers said. “One of the reasons for that is the technology has improved increasing the fertility of the product. The sorting process is more efficient and the extender enhancements have improved fertility. The other reason for its increased popularity is the value of the genetics of the bulls that are being sorted.… Continue reading

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