Issues facing animal agriculture covered at symposium

The many factors that influence decision-making at the farm and throughout the food system related to animal welfare and responsible production practices were dominant themes at the 2013 Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC) Annual Meeting and Industry Symposium held in Columbus.

“Ohio’s farming community is committed to ongoing innovation and improvement, so understanding the needs of today’s consumers and customers, and tomorrow’s agricultural leaders, is vital to our continued success,” said David White, OLC executive director. “The annual meeting provides farm organization leaders and farmers from across Ohio with a venue to hear from state and national agriculture leaders on key issues, and provides an opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue and education that help us plan for the future.”

David Fikes, vice president of consumer/community affairs and communications for the Food Marketing Institute, discussed the role of the farm community in helping food industry stakeholders achieve their social responsibility goals to meet consumer expectations.… Continue reading

Read More »

Aesthetics are byproduct of stewardship

To tourists driving by on their way to area attractions, the sheep grazing on the grassy hills of Columbiana County look like they are just a natural part of the landscape. The idyllic scene certainly seems almost effortless to many casual passersby, but the reality is quite the opposite. It has taken years of effort and care to turn this former strip mine ground into an Ohio Environmental Steward Award recipient.

“We bought it in 1992. We came from Maryland and we had been small in sheep over there. We came here and I got my big farm,” said Cynthia Koonce. “I moved here with 35 ewes and one ram. There was not a fence on the place so we put the fence in during the winter of ‘92-’93.”

Initially, four miles of perimeter 8-strand high-tensile fence enclosed the roughly 140 acres with one major division. Since then, more fence has been added that further divided the pastures into seven different areas.… Continue reading

Read More »

Paint Creek Cattle focuses on improving the pasture, waterways

The timing was perfect. Laid off from his construction job in 2008, J.L. Draganic decided to visit a new farm 200 miles away that a family member had just bought. He returned to Lake County with more than fond memories. He had a new job that combined his passion for agriculture, made use of his construction skills and eventually allowed him to start his own cow-calf operation.

“I came down to visit and wound up making a career out of it. My background in heavy equipment allowed me to quickly adapt to running the big tractors,” J.L. said. “I’ve had a love of cattle all my life and this became the perfect job for me.”

J.L. prides himself in taking whatever he has, whether it’s his skills or land, and making the most of it. He works full time for Ricketts Farm Inc., and he and his wife, Jessica, own Paint Creek Cattle, an Angus-based cow-calf operation in South Solon.… Continue reading

Read More »

Sharp family making an impact both on and off the farm

There is little doubt that the Sharp family of Fairfield County has made a tremendous impact in Ohio agriculture off of the farm.

Don influenced the lives of countless young people as a 4-H Extension agent for 11 years, coach, and school board member. His sons Scott, Adam and Kyle have also been very involved in serving Ohio agriculture. Kyle was formerly the editor of “Ohio’s Country Journal” and teaches agricultural and writing courses at Ohio State University and Ohio Christian University. Adam serves as the Ohio Farm Bureau vice president for public policy and Scott is an area ag-ed teacher. While these men clearly have a passion for serving agriculture in many ways off of the farm, they also work together to carry on the family tradition of producing food from the land on their Fairfield County grass-based organic dairy farm that is this year’s Ohio Dairy Producers Association Environmental Steward Award winner.… Continue reading

Read More »

2013 Northeast Ohio Dairy Survey– cows coming or going in the future?

Milk and cheese production have been major agricultural businesses in northeast Ohio for many years. During the past decade, there has been great contraction in the number of dairy farms in the region. Looking to the future, there are many difficult issues facing continued and expanded milk production. These include generational transition, federal milk pricing, input costs, workforce, waste management, and state regulations.

In effort to understand better how these issues are playing out in northeast Ohio, a group of organizations worked together to develop a survey for dairy farms. These organizations included: OSU Extension, Geauga Growth Partnership, TeamNEO, Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, Portage Development Board and the Youngstown-Warren Chamber of Commerce. The goal of the survey was to learn more about the concerns and attitudes of dairy farmers in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage and Trumbull counties. It is a given that milk and feed prices are a concern of all dairy farms, so this survey attempted to look beyond the scope of these two issues.… Continue reading

Read More »

Researchers determine digestibility of blood products as feed in weanling pigs

Because weanling pigs do not tolerate great quantities of soybean meal in the diet, alternative sources of protein must be used. Blood products, such as blood meal and plasma protein, are common ingredients in weanling pig diets and are considered high-quality sources of amino acids. Researchers at the University of Illinois have determined the amino acid digestibility of five blood products produced in the U.S. to provide swine producers with guidance for the use of these products in formulating diets.

“Blood meal usually is considered a good source of amino acids, but we don’t know how the different blood products compare, and we don’t know how the drying procedures influence digestibility,” said Hans H. Stein, a U of I professor in animal sciences. “So that was what we wanted to determine.”

To determine amino acid digestibility values, Stein and his team fed weanling pigs diets containing one of five different blood products.… Continue reading

Read More »

Environmental stewardship in balance with productivity

There is no doubt that environmental stewardship on farms is important, but at the same time, working to provide people with the food they need is important as well. The Shoup family in Wayne County is working to find the ideal balance between productivity and environmental care on the crop and farrow-to-finish hog farm that is this year’s Ohio Pork Industry Environmental Steward Award winner.

“Our families find church and the many activities associated with membership to be a primary focus. In the past year our farm has had family members complete mission work in Palestine, Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia. Future plans for visits in 2013 include Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, India and Nepal. Over the years our family members have attended short-term mission trips in parts of the world to understand more fully the needs of the many, help provide for those needs and learn just how blessed we are in this country with the abundant food supply which is available,” said Dave Shoup, with Shoup Brothers Farm Ltd.… Continue reading

Read More »

Groups meet in court over COOL

Organizations requesting that country-of-origin labeling (COOL) be reversed attended a two-hour court hearing on Aug. 27 in Washington, D.C., seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from implementing its COOL regulations. U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Jackson gave no indications of her leanings but pledged to rule within two weeks on the injunction request.

In July, nine groups representing a segment of the meat industry sued USDA in U.S. District Court to overturn COOL. The groups argue that the final COOL rule violates the Constitution, exceeds USDA’s authority under the Agricultural Marketing Act and “runs afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act.” The groups are requesting an injunction while the lawsuit is pending.

Last week, the court granted a motion by several organizations to intervene in the lawsuit. The motion grants the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, National Farmers Union, the American Sheep Industry Association and Consumer Federation of America intervenor status.… Continue reading

Read More »

Discovering more options for managing crop nutrients

Increasing scrutiny of the state’s water quality is demanding that farmers in Ohio take a closer look at their nutrient management practices.

Those who attended this week’s research field day up in St. Johns, Mich. at the Agro-Culture Liquid headquarters got to see extensive research demonstrating how the company is feeding the needs of the crop and not the soil.

“We apply less nutrients because they are more available. They are 80% or 90% available compared to the 20% availability of dry products. You have to apply much more dry product for the same result,” said Troy Bancroft, Agro-Culture Liquid CEO. “When you are putting the product right in the correct seed zone with the plant using more of the nutrient, it creates less runoff and environmental impact.”

The company got its start more than 30 years ago and the current lines of Liquid products were developed after Bancroft and his father-in-law could not find the types of products they wanted for vegetable production that is predominant in the area.… Continue reading

Read More »

Higher feed prices cutting into hog profit potential

Sharp increases in feed prices brought about by the onset of more widespread hot, dry weather have threatened the potential for hog producers to return to profitability, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt said.

December corn futures rose to $5 per bushel — a $0.50 increase since the early August lows and soybean meal increased $90 per ton. These equate to about $5 higher hog production costs per live hundredweight. While that doesn’t completely dash producers’ hopes of returning to profitability, it does mean they need to think twice before growing their operations.

“This has not wiped out profit potential, but should make hog producers more cautious about expansion,” Hurt said. “Expected margins have narrowed, but not collapsed.”

Hog producers can cover their costs with hog prices above $59 per hundredweight, he said. Current forecasts show fall and winter hog prices at $61 per hundredweight, which should rise to about $65 in the second quarter of 2014 before falling back to $62 for the third-quarter average.… Continue reading

Read More »

PEDv may be quieting down

The National Pork Board is reporting that there are signs that indicate Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) is quieting down

An outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea first identified in the U.S. in mid-May has spread to 18 states. At first, roughly two thirds of the infections were reported on finishing floors and a third in sow farms. PEDv is the greatest challenge in sow farms where there has been up to 100% mortality in young pigs.

“Right now all we have is anecdotal information from the field and it sounds like the spread of the virus has decreased,” said Dr. Paul Sundberg, the vice president science and technology with the National Pork Board. “We don’t have good data on that. The data that we get from the diagnostic labs contains re-testing from positive farms and we can’t parse that out so we don’t have good data but the anecdotal information we get from the field is that it appears that the virus is quieting down somewhat.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Pasture management in the fall

The fall period, particularly the months of September and October, is an important time to manage pastures. Specifically, pastures must be managed to insure that the desirable grass and legume plants are able to build up and store carbohydrate reserves for the winter period. It is this ability to store carbohydrate reserves and thus keep a root system living over the winter months that distinguishes a perennial plant from an annual plant.

It is during the short day, long night periods in the fall of the year that flower buds are formed/initiated on the crown of the plant. While the leaf tissue dies during the winter, the buds and roots of the plant remain as living tissues over the winter and continue to respire and burn energy. If root reserves are insufficient the plant may die over the winter. If the plant survives but root reserves are low, spring re-growth and vigor of the plant is reduced.… Continue reading

Read More »

U.S. wins trade dispute with China over poultry

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently announced that the United States won a major case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on behalf of American chicken producers, proving that China’s imposition of higher duties on chicken “broiler products” — which was followed by an 80-percent drop in American exports of those products to China — is unjustified under international trade rules.

A WTO dispute settlement panel agreed with the United States, finding that China violated numerous WTO obligations in conducting its investigations and imposing anti-dumping (AD) duties and countervailing duties (CVD) on chicken imports from the United States.

“Agricultural exports continue to be a strong and growing component of U.S. exports. Farm exports in fiscal year 2012 reached $135.8 billion and supported 1 million jobs here at home. More than $23 billion worth of those agricultural products went to China alone.… Continue reading

Read More »

India’s poultry industry offers potential for corn exports

India’s poultry industry currently sells 95% of its product through wet markets, fresh food markets where animals are sold live and then processed either onsite or in the consumer’s home. These wet markets pose numerous sanitary risks and are inaccessible to long-distance consumers.

Moving to a processed poultry market would give India better control of food safety and quality, and would over time increase consumer confidence. It would also enhance the ability to transport processed poultry products to distant markets and ultimately expand poultry consumption — all of which would lead to a higher per capita poultry consumption.

“India’s poultry production is just as efficient as the United States, but they have yet to convince Indian consumers to purchase processed poultry meat,” said Adel Yusupov, U.S. Grains Council regional director in Southeast Asia. “Even though India’s government has yet to enforce food safety standards, the Council believes that though a series of seminars and discussion with other Southeast Asia poultry companies the Indian poultry industry will take it upon themselves to sell a good, safe product to the consumer.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Using cover crops with fall manure applications

Livestock producers will soon be applying manure as corn silage harvest starts. Both soybean and corn harvest will be about normal this year. To best capture the nutrients in manure, livestock producers should incorporate fall applied manure and also consider using cover crops.

Fall cover crops have been planted in Ohio for many years. While primarily used to help control soil erosion, cover crops can also recapture nutrients in livestock manure and keep these nutrients from escaping into lakes, streams and rivers. The most common cover crops used with livestock manure are cereal ryegrass, oats and radishes. However, farmers have also used wheat, clover, annual ryegrass, or almost anything they are comfortable growing.


  • Cereal ryegrass is the best cool-season grass for capturing excess nitrogen. Because rye over-winters, research has shown it can capture and hold 25 to 50 pounds of nitrogen (organic form). It germinates at lower temperatures than oats so may be planted later, but less nitrogen will be recycled the later the rye is seeded.
Continue reading

Read More »

Milking goats commercially is a dream come true

Teddy West of Portage County grew up on a dairy farm, so milking has always been a way of life for her.

“I milked cows from the time I was 13 until I got married,” West said.

Though cows supplied the milk when she was a child, it was always her dream to milk goats commercially.

“Many years ago I started like everybody else with one goat,” she said. “I wanted my own milk so we bought a goat — a Saanen. From that point, it progressed to about 11 goats.”

But milking the goats in her small herd didn’t fulfill her dream of milking goats on a much larger scale, so West was always looking for an opportunity to grow her herd and market her milk.

“I always wanted to milk goats commercially, and the opportunity came about to join a co-op,” West said.

In the early 1990s, a small group of Ohioans was beginning to build a co-op to market its members’ goat milk.… Continue reading

Read More »

PEDv spread may be slowing

The National Pork Board is reporting that there are signs that indicate Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) is quieting down

An outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea first identified in the U.S. in mid-May has spread to 18 states. At first, roughly two thirds of the infections were reported on finishing floors and a third in sow farms. PEDv is the greatest challenge in sow farms where there has been up to 100% mortality in young pigs.

“Right now all we have is anecdotal information from the field and it sounds like the spread of the virus has decreased,” said Dr. Paul Sundberg, the vice president science and technology with the National Pork Board. “We don’t have good data on that. The data that we get from the diagnostic labs contains re-testing from positive farms and we can’t parse that out so we don’t have good data but the anecdotal information we get from the field is that it appears that the virus is quieting down somewhat.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Efforts aimed at eliminating PEDv

The National Pork Board’s Board of Directors has committed a total of $800,000 toward research, education and coordination of efforts to better understand Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv). The goal of this effort is to contain and eliminate PEDv from the U.S.

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) reports that there is no timeline, but veterinarians and producers are concerned about the potential impact colder weather may have on the severity and spread of this disease.

The National Pork Board, in collaboration with AASV and the National Pork Producers Council, has initiated the following groups to address activities associated with the industry response to PEDv:

  1. A PED Strategic Task Force that is charged with helping to review and direct the overall effort. This task force is comprised of representatives of the three groups in addition to numerous members and advisors with particular expertise or involvement with the disease.
  2. PED working groups, under the direction of Dr.
Continue reading

Read More »

Sheep shearing school

The Statewide Sheep Shearing School will be held Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21, 2013 from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. each day at the Dave Cable Farm, 10491 Canal Rd., Hebron, OH 43025.  There is no class size limit and the cost is $40 per student, which must be returned with registration form by Friday, Sept. 13, 2013. In order to obtain the best training, it is recommended to attend both instructional days.

Lunch will be provided to those registrants that we have registered by the deadline. The Statewide Sheep Shearing School is sponsored by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and OSU Animal Sciences Extension.

Registration forms can be obtained on the website. To register after that date, please call Roger A. High at (614)246-8299.… Continue reading

Read More »

Watch for heat stress in cattle as temperatures rise

With the return of summer heat and humidity predicted in the forecast after a lengthy stretch cool weather that has been enjoyed in Ohio, there is potential for heat stress in livestock.

Heat stress in cattle is a particular concern because it can reduce breeding efficiency, milk production, feed intake and weight gain. Extreme cases can be fatal, said Ron Lemenager, Purdue Extension beef specialist.

Heat stress affects all cattle, but hide color plays a role in determining which cattle might be more susceptible. Black-hided cattle absorb light, making them more prone to heat stress, whereas cattle with lighter colored hides, such as cream or red, might not become heat stressed as quickly.

“The good thing is that here in the eastern Corn Belt, we’ve actually had some pretty cool temperatures through the early part of the summer,” Lemenager said. “We don’t have the heat stress we had a year ago when we were experiencing the 2012 drought.”… Continue reading

Read More »