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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American Milking Shorthorn Society National Convention visits Ohio

The American Milking Shorthorn Society recently held its National Convention in Dublin, Ohio just on the outskirts of Columbus. The event took years of planning for the Ohio Milking Shorthorn Association that hosted the event.

“We tried to plan a convention that would interest all of our members. We toured Select Sires. We got to see some of the great bulls they offer and learn about their history. We took a trip to the Columbus Zoo too,” said Casey Weiss, president of the Ohio Milking Shorthorn Society. “We had the National Junior Heifer Show at the Franklin County fairgrounds for their first national qualifying show of the year. It was almost like a practice run for the county and state fairs. Then we had the National Sale on Saturday where 50 to 60 of the best Milking Shorthorns in the nation were sold.”

The Milking Shorthorn breed does not have large numbers, but fills a unique role in the dairy industry.… Continue reading

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Celebrate National Forage Week

The American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) is celebrating National Forage Week with the agricultural community June 19 to 25.

Slightly less than 2% of the total U.S. population lives on a farm, making it more difficult for the general public to relate to farming and the accompanying benefits and challenges. As the general public moves further away from its agrarian heritage and the rural lifestyle, AFGC strives to bring farming and forages into greater public awareness with National Forage Week, now in its second year of celebration.

“National Forage Week was first celebrated last year and was well received by the forage community as one might expect, but more importantly others outside of the forage community were made aware of the importance of forage,” said Chris Agee, AFGC president and forage agronomist with Pennington Seed. “AFGC’s goal is to increase awareness of forages and we’ve got a long way to go, but as AFGC and it’s state affiliate councils get the word out at the local level we’ll make progress.”… Continue reading

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Poison hemlock: It’s everywhere

A few weeks ago I posted a piece about identifying and controlling poison hemlock on the Fairfield County Extension Facebook page and the response I got back immediately was simply, “It’s everywhere!” Indeed, in recent years it seems to have become widespread throughout many Ohio counties, Fairfield included. Perhaps we are seeing it spreading most quickly in road and other right-of-ways that are difficult to mow and seldom ever sprayed with herbicide. From there this noxious weed seems to be spreading into fence rows, barn lots, hay fields and areas of pasture fields that lack enough competition to keep it crowded out. Last week I received a note from a friend in Seneca County explaining he suspects Hemlock poisoning is what recently killed one of his three year old bulls. That said, let’s take a closer look at poison hemlock.

Poison hemlock is a biennial member of the carrot family — Conium maculatum —which can cause respiratory failure and even death when ingested by livestock or humans.… Continue reading

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North American Manure Expo in August

Less than two months remain before this year’s edition of the North American Manure Expo (NAME), being held August 3 and 4 near London.

The annual event provides an opportunity for custom manure applicators and livestock producers to advance their knowledge of manure-nutrient utilization while showcasing the latest technology in manure handling, treatment and application.

“[Manure Expo] is the BEST event to learn about manure and connect with other manure enthusiasts,” said Mary Wicks, the 2016 expo co-chair and a research associate with The Ohio State University’s college of food, agricultural, and environmental sciences and college of engineering. She is also involved with Ohio Composting and Manure Management (OCAMM).

“Tours and demonstrations will provide ‘hands-on’ opportunities to learn about best practices and technology,” she said. “Presenters from the livestock industry, universities, and ag organizations will share information that will improve manure handling and application practices and help everyone understand their importance for crop production and protecting the environment.… Continue reading

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Pork exports holding fairly strong in 2016

For the first four months of 2016, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled $1.8 billion in value and 1.26 billion pounds in volume, down 9% in value and unchanged in volume compared to the same time period last year.

“U.S pork exports are gaining strength this year but will still face challenges with increased global competition and a stronger U.S. dollar,” said Becca Nepple, vice president of international marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “The Checkoff is committed to bolstering its partnership with international customers through additional funding of in-country promotions of U.S. pork with the U.S. Meat Export Federation.”

Looking at April data alone, U.S. exports to China (excluding Hong Kong) surpassed export volume to Japan for the first time. Combined exports to China and Hong Kong for the first four months of 2016 were up 78% in volume (up 117% for China alone) and 54% in value.

“Central America also has been an emerging and important destination for U.S.… Continue reading

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Ohio pig farmers taking part in the Pork Leadership Institute

The Pork Leadership Institute (PLI) combines curriculums from National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council leadership programs to create comprehensive training designed to develop future pork industry leaders. Upon graduation, participants better understand the roles of the two organizations and have developed the skills necessary to lead an ever-changing pork industry.

Two Ohioans are taking part in this year’s PLI, Brad Heimerl from Johnstown and Rich Deaton from New Madison.

“There is so much you can learn and you can truly understand where pig farming is throughout the nation,” Heimerl said. “We took a trip to Mexico which allowed us to see trade and just how close and intertwined we are with marketing to other countries.”

The experience also promotes leadership within the pork industry and instills knowledge that can be taken back to the farm to better the operation.

One of the biggest takeaways for Heimerl was a trip to the Nation’s Capital, where he was able to meet with his legislators to visit about the biggest issues facing the pork industry including antibiotics, keeping costs in check and pork competitive in the world market.… Continue reading

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PQA Plus revisions crafted at Pork Expo

Revisions to the voluntary Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) 3.0 were announced during World Pork Expo in Des Moines. The updated program reflects pork producers’ commitment to continuous improvement and more fully incorporates the six “We Care” ethical principles and the role of caretakers.

New research information has been incorporated to increase the program’s effectiveness and to help ensure its validity with customers and consumers. Pork producers maintain a commitment to providing a safe, high-quality product while promoting animal well-being, environmental stewardship and public health.

“PQA Plus demonstrates to our customers our commitment to doing what is right when it comes to raising and caring for pigs and producing pork,” said Stephen Summerlin, senior vice president of live operations for Seaboard Foods. “It also lets our employees on our farms, as well as our supplier partners in raising pigs for our pork brands, know that we have high standards and expectations for food safety and animal care.”… Continue reading

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Study finds red meat exports deliver excellent returns to U.S. corn producers

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) commissioned a study aimed at quantifying the value delivered to U.S. corn producers through exports of beef, pork and lamb. The independent study was conducted by World Perspectives, a leading agricultural consulting firm.

“What we tried to do in this report was to see how red meat exports affect the price of a bushel of corn, the amount of corn that is used and the use of DDGs,” said Dave Juday, World Perspectives senior analyst. “USDA’s baseline projections show that corn use over the next 10 years for feeding domestic livestock will grow 17%.”

Using those same projections, food use is expected to decrease by 2%  and biofuels use will go down by 3%.

“Clearly what is driving the market is feed use and herd expansion and what’s driving that is exports,” Juday said. “One out of every 3 additional pounds of U.S. beef produced over the next 10 years will go to the export market and one out of every 2.75 pounds of additional pork produced over the next 10 years will also go to the export market.”… Continue reading

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Thailand and Taiwan interested in joining TPP

Nations hoping to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have begun preparations to ensure acceptance when the Asia-Pacific regional trade deal opens to new member states. The TPP, negotiations on which were initiated in late 2008 and concluded last October, includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40% of global GDP. The countries combined have more than 800 million consumers. Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak stressed the need for his country to improve its competitiveness as part of preparations for joining the TPP.

“With more than a year left before the TPP is open to new members, Thailand will take this opportunity to conduct a public hearing to voice opinion from all sectors involved before signing the agreement,” he said.

Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-wen, previously indicated she wants the island nation to join the TPP and that the country must resolve issues related to imports of U.S.… Continue reading

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Chinese pork prices on the rise

Pork prices in China continue to rise, up 14% since the start of the year and nearly 40% from a year ago. Data released in June showed prices climbing as producers slowed slaughter to rebuild herds, following widespread culling in 2014 when prices were low. Pork supply also has been suppressed by environmental measures introduced in 2010 that forced many smaller pig farmers out of business. Several municipal governments, including Beijing, Dalian and Qingdao, have begun to release frozen pork reserves to ease the pressure on prices.

The National Pork Producers Council continues to work on behalf of U.S. pork producers to increase exports to China. In 2015, the largest barrier to access to the Chinese market was the delisting of a small number of U.S. plants that were approved to export to that country. NPPC worked closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to get the plants relisted.… Continue reading

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Cover crop, double-crop, and feeding cattle with triticale

A number of producers tout how the benefits of cover crops can be found in the soil directly underfoot, and, some months down the road, in their wallets. Though that knowledge doesn’t always help to justify a non-harvested crop that takes time, energy and cash to plant. One livestock operation in southern Ohio is using a versatile cover crop that benefits them multiple, more immediate, ways.

Bolender Farms in Brown County, an Angus operation, has started to see some more visible evidence of cover crop effectiveness after using a plant that’s been gaining popularity in recent years for its double-duty value. Triticale is a wheat and rye hybrid known to combine the productivity of wheat with the hardiness and short-season abilities of rye.

“Between me and my wife and my dad and my uncle, we run about 95 angus brood cows,” said Adam Bolender. “The triticale works out nicely because we can, one, have a cover crop that’s grown all winter, two, take the forage off to feed the cattle in the winter, and then three, still be able to get a bean crop or a corn crop, whatever your choosing would be, planted in a timely manner — usually by the last week of May.”… Continue reading

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First online fed cattle auction a success

At the end of May, something groundbreaking occurred for the livestock industry as Superior Livestock Auction conducted the first online fed cattle sale.

“I would say it was a very successful day,” said Ed Greiman, chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Cattle Marketing and International Trade Committee. “There were 1,600 head of cattle sold, which is where many sellers thought the market was going to be.”

The bigger news is that a lot of people were watching, so much so that the website hosting the sale went down as a result of too many people logging on.

“This is all about price discovery — showing people that there is a cash market out there and adding to the fundamentals,” Greiman said. “We’re not worried about how much volume is on the sale, it’s really all about moving some cattle.”

The glitches, that can be expected any time something new like this is attempted, will be worked out and Greiman said with each week that goes by, the online sales will go more smoothly.… Continue reading

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Beef industry reaches out to bloggers

A recent “#BLOGMEETSBEEF” program highlighting the Pasture to Plate Experience, sponsored by four state beef councils and the Beef Checkoff Program, has helped increase knowledge of beef and beef production among 14 key food bloggers. The event was held this spring in Columbus, Ohio, and funded by the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin Beef Councils. It was also supported by the family-owned Meijer supermarket chain, which carries only Certified Angus Beef.

The bloggers invited to the event came from across the four states and are followed on their blogs by consumers throughout the United States. They represent a wide range of cooking and family interests, and regularly share knowledge and recipes with other consumers with an appreciation for food, reaching more than 984,000 people on multiple social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The event began with a tour of the Claylick Run Farm, an Angus seedstock and grain operation located in Licking County.… Continue reading

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Dairy farm economics not adding up

It has happened to every farmer.

The production numbers are plugged into the calculator, and double-checked, but they just do not seem to be adding up quite right on the short side of profitability.

These days many dairy producers are drinking a couple of extra glasses of milk to calm their nerves and enjoying an additional scoop of ice cream to take their minds off of the unpleasant budget realities on the farm.

Lou Brown of New Bremen has been crunching the numbers on his dairy farm and does not like the numbers he is seeing.

“We’re at $13 milk right now on our 275-cow herd with a 70-pound average. That is 19,250 pounds of milk a day. That is 192.50 hundredweights at $13 that comes to $2,502.50 a day in the value of the milk. At $7 a day per cow with 275 cows, that comes to $1,925 a day for my feed bill.… Continue reading

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What is a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship?

Exactly what is required in maintaining a valid Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship as described in the Veterinary Feed Directive?

A veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) is defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as the basis for interaction among veterinarians, their clients, and their patients and is critical to the health of your animal. A VCPR means that all of the following are required.

1. The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the patient and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarians’ instructions.

2. The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the patient to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the patient. This means that the veterinarian is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the patient by virtue of a timely examination of the patient by the veterinarian, or medically appropriate and timely visits by the veterinarian to the operation where the patient is managed.… Continue reading

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We need to gain a little perspective on cattle profitability

Through the 2016 winter “meeting season” I had discussions with many individuals involved in all levels of the beef industry about the current status of the beef economy. Much of the discussion has focused on the price volatility in beef markets since the historic price peaks reached in 2014 and the first half of 2015. These once-in-a-lifetime price levels will always be a fond memory for active participants in the market at that time. Unfortunately, the memory of these prices and the current beef economy has combined to make price forecasting and long-term planning a challenging task.

Sales of all classes of cattle at weekly auction markets as well as at production sales featuring bulls and females have seen lower prices compared to the previous 12 to 24 months. Producers have expressed concerns over the significant drop in prices and where do we go from here. At the risk of oversimplification of a complex economic phenomenon, I think we should review a few of the key factors that impacted prices in the second half of 2015.… Continue reading

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Animal health a top concern for farmers and veterinarians

A few weeks ago I attended a college reunion. It was fun and refreshing to see friends from years ago. Although I returned home feeling fine, apparently the stress of traveling combined with being around a new group of people was too much for my immune system. A few days later, I was sick. Luckily it was a viral infection and I quickly recovered, but not all illness clears up without medication. Both humans and animals get sick, and sometimes recovery requires antibiotics. On the farm, the age of the animal, time of year, weather conditions, pen changes and other stressors can all contribute to the need to use medications to treat sick animals. Withholding treatment from an ill animal is poor husbandry and could be considered animal cruelty.

It frustrates me to see advertisements and labels on meat and dairy products that claim they are “antibiotic-free.” All meat and milk that enters the food chain is antibiotic-free due to antibiotic withdrawal periods.… Continue reading

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Methionine could help in calf survival rates

Research at the University of Illinois has shown that adding methionine to the diets of Holstein cows during the prepartum and postpartum periods may impact the preimplantation embryo in a way that enhances its capacity for survival.

“Methionine is the first limiting amino acid for dairy cattle,” said Phil Cardoso, U of I animal scientist. “We know that the lack of methionine limits cows in producing protein in the milk. Now we’re beginning to understand that it affects more than just the milk protein. We want to learn more about the biological effect it has on the cow, and in this case, on the embryo.”

Because cows cannot produce methionine, it needs to come from the diet.

“But anything I feed to a cow is first going to come in contact with, and be digested by, the bacteria in the rumen,” Cardoso said. “If I give crystal methionine to a ruminant animal, it gets used up by the bacteria.… Continue reading

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