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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Manage pastures to improve performance

As we strive to improve the performance of our beef operation, there are some simple things we can do to improve by managing our pastures.



Many of us mow our pastures to remove weeds and make the pasture look better, but there are more benefits. When we mow the weeds early in the season, we also remove seed heads from the grass, which will encourage new growth. Early in the season, the grass is in the reproductive stage, focusing more on seed development, but once this is accomplished and the seed heads are removed, the plant moves on to the vegetative stage, encouraging more leaf growth, improving quality and quantity.

In addition, removal of the weeds will reduce irritation to the eyes of cattle, decreasing the chances of pinkeye. If needed, an additional clipping of weeds later in the summer will also keep the pastures clean, weaken the root reserves of perennial weeds and possibly kill late summer annual weeds before seeds mature.… Continue reading

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Taiwan must address pork issue before it can join TPP

The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Taiwan must address its U.S. pork issue if it wants to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Taiwan has banned U.S. pork because of the industry’s use of the feed additive ractopamine, which is widely used in U.S. pork production. Ironically, Taiwan dropped in 2012 its ban on U.S. beef from cattle fed ractopamine, which also is widely used in the U.S. beef industry.

Taiwan’s domestic beef industry is small in comparison to its powerful pork industry, which explains the country’s disparate treatment of the two U.S. meats. Ractopamine is approved for use in hogs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and by the food-safety agencies in 25 other countries. In 2012, the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius Commission, which sets international standards for food safety, approved a maximum residue limit for ractopamine, which U.S. pork meets.

MOFA also warned that Taiwan needs to take steps to meet high international standards if it wants to join the TPP, including “scientific evidence as the basis for trade issues.”… Continue reading

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Prisons pull pork

The National Pork Producers Council asked the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for more details on its decision to remove pork from the menu at its 122 facilities.

BOP pulled the pork beginning Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year. The move supposedly was made based on a survey of federal inmates and on costs, according to a BOP spokesman. In a letter sent in mid-October to BOP Director Charles Samuels Jr., NPPC expressed its dismay at the decision and requested a copy of the survey instrument and the results. It also questioned the cost factor, pointing out that pork prices are less than beef and nearly equal to chicken.

“Pork is a very economical, nutrient-dense protein that ought to be a food option for federal prisoners, and the U.S. pork industry has a variety of products that could meet BOP’s needs,” NPPC said in its letter.

Then after a week of controversy surrounding the abrupt removal of pork dishes from the national menu for federal inmates, the government put pork roast back on the prison menu.… Continue reading

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A 38 year, 30 million hog career

If you ask Dean Smith if he ever expected to have one job that lasted right out of college all the way to retirement, he’d say, “yes.”

“I always said I either liked what I was doing or I was too lazy to look for a new job,” Smith said. “I always liked what I did.”

Back in 1977, the J. H. Routh Packing Company of Sandusky, Ohio hired Smith as an assistant hog buyer. From his first day to almost four decades later, Smith would wake up at 4:30 every morning and head to the same building, walk in the same office and sit in the same chair, but many things have changed over the years in the hog industry.

“One of the things that I missed over the years was seeing somebody bring in a small load of 10 to 20 hogs from five or six counties away,” Smith said.… Continue reading

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Removal and recovery of phosphorus from animal manure

Phosphorus (P) is an essential macronutrient for crops. However, widespread use of phosphorus has unbalanced the global phosphorus cycle. High quality supplies of minable phosphate may be exhausted this century and many regions currently lack access to critical phosphorus resources, while others experience environmental problems associated with phosphorus pollution. The latter is the case in Ohio and the Great Lakes region, where widespread use of phosphorus in industry and agriculture has resulted in excess loading of phosphorus in lakes, impacting water quality.

Nutrient-rich animal manure is commonly applied to crops, typically in quantities to satisfy the nitrogen (N) requirement of the crop. However, due to low N:P ratios in typical manures, this practice results in application of phosphorus well in excess of crop needs, saturating agricultural soils with phosphorus over time. From the field, rain and erosion carry excess phosphorus to lakes and rivers, causing eutrophication and harmful algal blooms (HABs).… Continue reading

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Virtual field trips add a new twist to an educational staple

The Ohio Pork Council is taking a new look at an old elementary school staple — field trips.

There is certainly no shortage of school students interested in taking a field trip to a modern livestock farm but logistics, costs and biosecurity issues make this important educational tool and valuable agricultural outreach effort increasingly impractical. To address this challenge, the Ohio Pork Council has harnessed technology to develop a unique opportunity for teachers and students to participate in a live video-chat with farmers. Using Google Hangouts video chat technology, hog farmers can take students inside their barns and showcase the inner workings of modern production facilities and a variety of aspects of raising pigs from pregnancy through birth to market weight.

“We’ve established a way to open up our hog barns in the state of Ohio and make a connection with folks who may not be able to get out to farms to see where their food comes from.… Continue reading

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Cash flow, profits and marketing flexibility important to consider for beef herds

As summer turned to autumn, you faced familiar questions. Do I market calves at weaning or precondition them? Which heifers should I keep? Record prices made answers a bit easier last year, but with those on the decline you may want to consider alternatives.

The decision of when to market calves relative to weaning comes down to enterprise profitability along with feed, facilities and labor availability. Cash flow can play a role, too, but recent profits may give you more marketing flexibility.

Affordable feed and forage suggests a reasonable cost of gain for preconditioning. If you used profits to upgrade facilities, you’re ready to take advantage of reduced labor and management costs while trying to add value and weight in an uncertain market.

As calf supplies increases in this expansion phase, premiums for preconditioning tend to increase as buyers become more selective.

The value of gain during preconditioning is linked to improvements in health, reduction in shrink and weight gain.… Continue reading

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Pork supplies edging up for 2016

The pork industry has largely overcome the impacts of the 2014 porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. Pork producers have been disciplined in limiting expansion after record 2014 profits.

As a result, pork supplies should be only modestly higher in 2016 and provide prices that cover all costs of production. However, there are some concerns for the longer run as global meat and poultry supplies continue to expand with a weak world income base.

The industry is rapidly leaving behind the impacts of the 2014 PED virus. The number of pigs per litter has set new quarterly highs in each of the three quarters so far this year. In the most recent summer quarter, the number of pigs per litter reached an all-time high of 10.39.

The PED virus left a deficit in market hogs a year ago, but that deficit will rapidly close by the end of this year. This can be seen in the current count of market hogs compared to year-ago levels.… Continue reading

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2015 World Dairy Expo show summary

The 2015 World Dairy Expo boasted big numbers as producers and enthusiasts from around the world gathered to celebrate all things dairy. Here are some Ohio highlights from the international event.

• The Brown Swiss Reserve Grand Champion: Top Acres Supreme Wizard—ET was exhibited by Wayne Sliker from St. Paris.

• Brook Hollow Farm, from West Salem, was honored with a Daily Herdsmanship Awards.

• The Lucas FFA Chapter finished second in the Central National FFA Dairy Products Contest.

• Tanner Topp, New Bremen, finished sixth in the senior World Dairy Expo Youth and was the top individual in the Secondary Dairy Cattle Judging Contest.

• Ohio State University had the top team in the Secondary Dairy Cattle Judging Contest. Kaleb Kliner was the third overall individual and Hannah Dye was fourth overall, in addition to Tanner Topp as the first place individual.

Here are more numbers from the event.


2015 Total Attendance: 72,427


Registered International Guests: 3,060 from 94 countries

Top Five Countries of Registered International Attendance:

• Canada

• Mexico

• China

• Brazil

• Germany


Participating Companies: 871


Trade Show Booth Award Winners:

Large Booth Award — Polaris Industries

Medium Booth Award — Hubbard Feeds, Inc.… Continue reading

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Environmental care yields water quality results

With new regulations — and the goal of improving water quality in Ohio — in mind, here is how some of Ohio’s livestock producers in different watersheds are addressing the situation on their farms.

We were very concerned when we started hearing about all of the water quality problems so we built wetlands downstream from all of our areas where we are feeding cattle. All of the runoff from the buildings or the lots goes through wetlands and they absorb the nutrients. Around Indian Lake and the main rivers going into it, we have added filter strips to keep the nutrients out of the water. We use cover crops and when we haul manure we try to do it on those growing crops or corn stalks or wheat stubble. We use all pack manure and we don’t have as many issues with leaching as you see with liquid manure.

We are 100% no-till unless we ditch a field.… Continue reading

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TPP negotiations wrapped up

The much discussed and eagerly anticipated (for many agricultural groups) Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have successfully concluded today in Atlanta.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president and Chugwater, Wyo., cattleman, Philip Ellis said this agreement will boost U.S. exports and eliminate trade barriers.

“While the full details of the partnership will not be released until the President presents it to Congress, cattle producers are assured this is a true 21st century agreement,” Ellis said. “The TPP will immediately reduce tariffs and level the playing field for U.S. beef exports to these growing markets. TPP is a major win not only for the beef industry, but for all U.S. export products, growing the economy while supporting jobs and investments in agriculture and technology.”

Beef exports currently add over $350 to each head of cattle sold in the U.S. With the completion of this work, NCBA looks forward to increased demand and growth for beef exports across the Pacific Rim.… Continue reading

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Addressing water quality in a distressed watershed

With new regulations — and the goal of improving water quality in Ohio — in mind, here is how some of Ohio’s livestock producers in different watersheds are addressing the situation on their farms.

We are in a distressed Grand Lake St. Marys watershed so we have been in this mode for a long time. We’ve added manure storage, we made our lagoon larger, and we put in two covered manure barns — one at the heifer farm and one at the main dairy — to get us enough storage to get through the winter months.

Conservation wise, we just finished putting in 150 acres of cover crops. We have been doing 100% cover crops on all of our corn silage ground, which is normally about 150 acres, for seven years now. The main crops we are using are oats and radishes, but we have used wheat, rye and ryegrass. We have had some fields in clover.… Continue reading

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Court preserves privacy of farms

In a late September ruling on their ongoing fight to protect private and sensitive personal and financial records, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by animal-rights and environmental activists against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the agency’s withdrawal of a proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) rule that would have required livestock and poultry operations to report information about their operations.

EPA’s proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Reporting Rule sought to have CAFOs submit to the agency operational information so it could “more effectively carry out its CAFO permitting programs on a national level and ensure that CAFOs are implementing practices to protect water quality and human health.” EPA wanted facility facts such as contact information, location of a CAFO’s production area, CWA permit status, the number and type of animals confined and the number of acres available for land application of manure. It withdrew the proposal in July 2012.… Continue reading

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Senate Bill 1 is a good start for water quality issues

With new regulations — and the goal of improving water quality in Ohio — in mind, here is how some of Ohio’s livestock producers in different watersheds are addressing the situation on their farms.

As far as Senate Bill 1, I believe it is a very good start, but now we have to get every single farmer on board and use common sense with winter applications. I believe it is not just manure application, there is application of commercial fertilizer on frozen ground as well that is contributing to the problem.

On our farm in the Lake Erie watershed we grid sample every acre, even rented ground, and apply manure and commercial fertilizer accordingly. We try to have all of our ground covered with some kind of crop. Our rotation includes corn, soybeans, wheat, cereal rye, crimson clover, oil seed radishes, kale, rape and red clover. We also try to be all no-till.… Continue reading

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What is the nutrient value of 2015 hay?

Each year as May and June arrives most cow/calf owners are making hay in preparation for their livestock’s winter forage needs. The 2015 season was no exception.

Producers watched weather forecasts looking for those three-day windows of opportunity to get their hay cut, dry and baled. As usual, there were a few chances near the end of May and maybe one or two windows in early June to make hay, but then precipitation seemed to occur almost daily. The wettest June on record was recorded in 2015, according to some local weather stations, and the rainy weather pattern continued for more than a month. This caused the majority of Ohio farmers’ first cutting hay to be made in late July and August.

Many years of data and forage tests are available that show how the quality of a forage, such as hay, decline as the plants become more mature. A series of forage tests from two eastern Ohio studies, conducted several years apart and in different locations, indicate nearly identical results.… Continue reading

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Hereford Futurity results

Hereford breeders from Ohio and surrounding states gathered Sunday September 27th, 2015, at the Guernesy Co. Fairgrounds in Old Washington, Ohio. The Buckeye Hereford Association hosted the annual event showcasing Ohio bred seedstock. Judge Lowell Midla of Marysville, Ohio evaluated the entries and complemented the breeders on breeding an excellent set of cattle. Prior to the show a complimentary meal was provided for the breeders and spectators by the Switzerland of Ohio Polled Hereford Association.

2015 Ohio Hereford Futurity Champions

Grand Champion Bull: GVF 10Y Homerun 41B, September 2014 bull sired by NJW 73S W18 Hometown 10Y, bred and owned by Green Valley Farm, Sarahsville, Ohio.


Reserve Champion Bull: CVF Z79 Mohican P7C, March 2015 bull sired by Mohican Upnorth Z245 bred by Mohican Farms, Glenmont, Ohio and owned by Carmel Valley Farms, Racine, Ohio.


Grand Champion Female: Creek o39X 10Y Viola 502, a January 2015 heifer sired by NJW 73S W18 Hometown 10Y, bred and owned by Creek Bottom Farms, Navarre, Ohio.… Continue reading

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Livestock producers urging quick action on livestock mandatory price reporting law

The National Pork Producers Council is urging President Obama to quickly sign into law legislation reauthorizing the livestock mandatory price reporting law. The current statute is set to expire Sept. 30.

The law requires meat packers to report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture the prices they pay for cattle, hogs and lambs and other information. USDA publishes twice-daily reports with information on pricing, contracting for purchase, supply and demand conditions for livestock, livestock production and livestock products.

“America’s pork producers urge President Obama to sign into law this important legislation, which provides producers and meat packers transparent, accurate and timely national market information to make knowledge-based business decisions about selling and buying hogs,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C.

The reauthorization legislation, which the House approved after the Senate sent a slightly different measure than the one the lower chamber passed in June, includes new provisions sought by the U.S.… Continue reading

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Proper cow culling is important to your business

There is great variability in the longevity of beef cows. Data from large ranches in Florida would indicate that cows are consistent in the rebreeding performance through about 8 years of age. A small decline was noted as cows aged from 8 to 10 years of age. However the most consistent decline in reproductive performance was noted after cows were 10 years of age. A steeper decline in reproductive performance was found as they became 12 years of age. In other words, start to watch for reasons to cull a cow at about age 8. By the time she is 10, look at her very closely and consider culling; as she reaches 12 year, plan to cull her before she gets health problems or in very poor body condition.


Examine the eye health of the cows

One of the leading causes of condemned beef carcasses is still “cancer-eye” cows. Although the producers are doing a much better job in recent years of culling cows before “cancer-eye” takes its toll, every cow manager should watch the cows closely for potentially dangerous eye tumors.… Continue reading

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