The law (and more) of manure management and water quality

A conversation with… Bill Knapke, Ohio Pork Council President

OCJ: First, could you outline some of the specifics of the recently passed Senate Bill 1 that pertain specifically to manure?

Bill: There are a number of parts to the bill that pertain to manure. To summarize, a person may not surface apply manure in the Western Lake Erie Basin under the following circumstances:

• On snow-covered or frozen soil;

* When the top two inches of soil are saturated from precipitation; or

* When the local weather forecast for the application area contains greater than a 50% chance of precipitation exceeding one-half inch in a 24-hour period, unless the manure is injected into the ground, incorporated within 24 hours of surface application, or applied onto a growing crop. As part of this law, there are exemptions based on operation size and for emergencies. For more information, please visit


OCJ: The law clearly includes more regulations for livestock producers, so why was the livestock industry as a whole so supportive of Senate Bill 1?… Continue reading

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March meat exports show positive momentum

Exports of U.S. pork and beef gained momentum in March after starting the year slowly, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Although pork exports were down from the large totals recorded in March 2014, export volume was the largest in 11 months at 191,041 metric tons (mt). This was 9% lower than a year ago, but a 10% increase from February. Export value of $495.3 million was down 18% year-over-year, but up 5% from February.

March beef exports totaled 86,774 mt, down 7% from a year ago but a 5% increase over February. Export value was $527.3 million, up 2% year-over-year but down slightly from February.

The March results reflect some degree of relief from the West Coast port congestion that plagued red meat exports in January and February. Port traffic began to improve after a tentative labor contract was reached in late February, though congestion lingered for several weeks at some major ports.… Continue reading

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Avian influenza turning into epidemic

After hearing the latest news of more devastating cases of poultry losses in his state, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad called the current avian influenza (AI) outbreak an “epidemic.”

On May 1, Iowa declared a state of emergency due to the problem. The latest detections in Iowa involved three turkey farms and a chicken laying operation of about 1 million birds. Over 5.5 million birds have been lost in Iowa alone, the nation’s top egg producing state. Minnesota and Wisconsin had already declared emergency status in April. Nationwide total AI losses are more than 20 million birds.

“AI has been percolating relatively quietly in the poultry industry for most of the year. In early March, the first case of the highly-pathogenic H5N2 strain of AI in the Mississippi flyway was confirmed by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on a commercial turkey operation in Minnesota,” said John D. Anderson, Deputy Chief Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation.… Continue reading

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Pork Checkoff submits comments on 2015 Dietary Guidelines

The Pork Checkoff has submitted a second round of comments to the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture supporting the role of lean meat in a healthy diet. The comments include research not previously considered in an earlier report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). This group will recommend new dietary guidelines for the American public. The new guidelines, revised every five years, are scheduled to go into effect early next year.

“The National Pork Board supports the recommendations in the previous dietary guidelines for the consumption of lean meat and protein foods,” said Adria Sheil-Brown, manager of nutrition communication and research with the National Pork Board.

Those recommendations are based on the published science and focused on the benefits of choosing a variety of nutrient-rich foods.

“Americans will enjoy better health through more frequent selection of naturally nutrient-rich foods, including lean meat,” she said.… Continue reading

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Beef demand strength update and implications

The combination of substantial price changes in cattle market prices since the start of this year coupled with the sheer amount of money at stake in each managerial and marketing decision continues to magnify producer interest in current information regarding supply and demand fundamentals. While a wealth of information is available on current (and upcoming) meat and livestock supplies (e.g. reports including Cattle Inventory, Cattle on Feed, and Cold Storage), there comparatively is much less information available regarding demand strength. Nonetheless, nearly all economists highlight it takes an understanding of both supply and demand to appreciate the current and possible future market situation.

One key source of retail beef demand information is provided by quarterly demand indices maintained at Kansas State University. While more details are available online, the KSU demand indices can best be succinctly described as comparing expected beef prices with realized prices to identify if demand has strengthened or weakened.… Continue reading

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Ohio sheep industry poised for a larger national role

The nation’s sheep industry is facing some significant political challenges in the coming years, according to Roger High, with the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association.

“We have the potential to lose 50% of our national sheep flock due to H-2A and the environmentalists in coming years,” High said. “Politics will play a huge role in the livestock industry in the next few years.”

The Department of Labor is in process of proposing massive changes to procedures for H-2A Foreign Labor Certification program. The politics surrounding the H-2A, farm labor and immigration could mean significant and detrimental changes to western livestock operations that account for a majority of the nation’s sheep.

Those same ranches also face a tremendous set of challenges from the always-changing political whims of the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that controls a vast amount of the grazing lands in the West.

“You can’t do anything else productive on that BLM land out there,” High said.… Continue reading

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Cover crops for grazing

Producers who want to use the cover crops they planted last fall as supplemental feed for their livestock may want to harvest these crops quickly before the plants get too mature and the feed quality declines, says a forage expert from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Although cover crops are typically planted to control erosion and improve soil structure and health, they can also be a good option as supplemental forage for livestock, said Rory Lewandowski, agriculture and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension.

“There are a number of dairy farmers who take a cutting off of cover crops that are planted in the fall, like cereal rye and winter wheat, harvest it and use it as a wet forage, and then plant corn for silage,” Lewandowski said. “And warm-season cover crops including clovers, sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids or spring-planted radishes used to promote soil health can also be grazed by livestock or mechanically harvested and used as stored forage”

However, while cover crops such as cereal rye, triticale and winter wheat can also be used as supplemental forage for livestock, they need to be harvested in a timely fashion for optimal use, he said.… Continue reading

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May is egg month

May is National Egg Month and to celebrate, Ohio’s egg farmers for the first time are partnering with the Columbus Commons and 10 participating Columbus food trucks during a month-long event to feature the incredible egg. Every Thursday during May, the food trucks will introduce a new and creative menu item using wholesome, nutritious Ohio eggs to be featured at the Columbus Commons Food Truck Food Court, 160 S. High St., Columbus.

“We’re excited to partner with the Columbus Commons and participating food trucks during National Egg Month in May to educate consumers on the many health benefits of eggs and the creative ways consumers can use them,” said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association (OPA).

Chakeres said Ohio ranks second in the nation for egg production, producing more than 8 billion eggs each year. OPA representatives and Ohio egg famers will be available to answer questions about Ohio egg farming and how they ensure safe, wholesome egg products to the state’s consumers during Thursdays at the Columbus Commons.… Continue reading

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National Guernsey Convention coming to Ohio

The Ohio Guernsey Breeders’ Association invites their Guernsey friends to join the Guernsey Scene in 2015 as they host the National Guernsey Convention, June 16-20 in Walnut Creek, Ohio.

Located in the heart of the world’s largest Amish community, convention events will be split between the Wallhouse Hotel and Carlisle Inn. Registration for convention will be located in the Carlisle Inn.

Convention activities get underway on Tuesday, June 16 as Guernsey enthusiasts begin arriving in Ohio. Highlights include an open house at the American Guernsey Association headquarters and visit to Land of Living Farm, owned by John and Bonnie Ayars for lunch, a tour of the farm and discussion on topics including why Guernseys work in a mixed herd, finding markets and new adventures and why they love the life.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the Guernsey headquarters to view antiquities either before or after visiting the Ayars farm. (The Guernsey headquarters are not wheelchair accessible and the stairs may be hard to navigate.)… Continue reading

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New lamb industry studies

Two new studies that came out of the Lamb Industry Roadmap project have been completed and are now available.

Lamb demand analysis: Understanding and measuring demand is key to the development of sound pricing strategies, which lead to profitability and to the development and targeting of effective advertising campaigns, promotional activities and educational efforts. Understanding demand also helps gauge the success and effectiveness of the Roadmap Demand Creation committee goals as well as lamb checkoff dollars invested. This study, conducted by Juniper Economic Consulting, Inc., should also help the industry better understand the elasticity of demand (consumer sensitivity to changes in price) and help the ALB and its industry partners tailor lamb promotions.

Lamb quality audit: Assessing Perceptions Regarding American Lamb Quality in Foodservice and Retail Markets. This study, conducted by Colorado State University and Ohio State University, was designed to quantify and benchmark perceptions regarding American Lamb quality at the retail and foodservice sectors.… Continue reading

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Managing spring cover crops for feed

Cover crops are planted for a variety of reasons — erosion control, to improve soil structure and health, to provide supplemental forage, as part of a nutrient management plan for manure application or for a combination of these reasons. Depending upon the species of cover crop planted, the crop will not be killed over the winter, but growth will resume in the spring and the grower must make some decisions regarding how to manage that crop in the spring. The management options depend upon the purpose of the cover crop. Here are some management options to consider when the goal is to utilize the crop as supplemental feed.


Cover crop management as a supplemental forage with mechanical harvest

The primary management consideration is harvest timing and harvest method. Cereal rye, triticale and winter wheat are primarily used if supplemental forage is the objective. Of these three, cereal rye quality declines the most rapidly as the plant enters the reproductive growth stage and it advances most rapidly from vegetative to reproductive growth compared to the other two forages.… Continue reading

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Good news and bad news for dairy prices

Has the nation’s dairy industry seen the bottom when it comes to milk prices?

Chris Galen, the Senior Vice President of Communications with the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), said that may be the case. That is, of course, good news for dairy farmers, but Galen said there are some negatives in 2015.

“I think that we have seen the worse of the downturn that we were all looking for and expecting to see as 2015 began and that’s the good news,” Galen said. “The not-so-good news is that there isn’t a lot of life in today’s markets and we are going to see tighter margins and lower prices for the foreseeable future. The good news is that the bad news isn’t as bad as we thought and the bad news is that we don’t have a lot of good news to compare it to.”

Galen said we could see the first payments in the new Dairy Margin Protection program this month as well.… Continue reading

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Hillsboro Seedstock Improvement Sale results

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association hosted their annual Seedstock Improvement Sale on April 11 at the Union Stock Yards sale facility in Hillsboro. A total of 29 yearling and two-year-old and older bulls were sold for a total of $93,600 to average $3,228 per head. This represents a nearly $600 per head increase over the previous year’s sale.

The high-selling bull was Lot 36, an Angus bull sired by S A V Momentum 9274 consigned by Dance Family Angus of Hillsboro. He sold for $4,750 to Kirby Fontaine of Amelia. The second high-selling bull was Lot 11, an Angus bull sired by B/R New Day 454 consigned by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections of Mansfield. He sold for $4,600 to Mark Seaman of Blue Creek. The third high-selling bull was Lot 15, an Angus bull sired by R B Barometer 9721 consigned by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections of Mansfield.… Continue reading

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Peru agrees to eliminate trichinae testing requirements

In a big victory for the U.S. pork industry, Peru has agreed to eliminate trichinae testing requirements on chilled U.S. pork based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture certification that the pork originated from Pork Quality Assurance Plus farms. PQA Plus is an education and training program run by the National Pork Board that certifies that hog operations are meeting their commitments related to animal well-being, food safety, worker safety and environmental protection.

NPPC worked closely with U.S. and Peruvian officials for many years to eliminate the testing, which artificially raises the cost of selling chilled pork in the South American country. The risk of getting trichinae from consuming U.S. pork is less than 1 in 300,000,000. Peru’s U.S. pork imports increased significantly after the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 2009, jumping from just $650,000 in 2008 to more than $6.7 million in 2014. Based on analysis conducted by Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, National Pork Producers Council expects pork exports to Peru to grow even more now that the trichinae testing requirement has been eliminated.… Continue reading

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Bull breeding soundness examination can pay dividends

When considering all of the traits of importance to today’s cattleman and current market prices for all classes of beef cattle, the primary focus of any cow-calf producer should be fertility. While both the male and female contribute to herd’s level of fertility and its ultimate productivity, the herd sire is the more important component. An individual cow with poor fertility will certainly impact one potential calf a year. However, the bull impacts every potential calf in a given herd or breeding pasture.

A Breeding Soundness Examination (BSE) performed by an accredited veterinarian is a necessary management tool for improving herd fertility levels. Through a BSE, a bull is given a physical and semen evaluation to determine his status as a satisfactory potential breeder on the test date. The physical examination portion of the test can include the evaluation of body condition, feet and legs, eyes, and the organs of the reproductive system.… Continue reading

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Ohioans receive 2015 Pork Industry Scholarships

The Pork Checkoff has awarded 21 scholarships to college students around the United States as part of its strategy to develop the pork industry’s human capital for the future.

Recipients of the national awards included: Grant Price, from Tiffin, Ohio and Garrit Sproull from Uhrichsville, Ohio. Both plan on attending The Ohio State University majoring in Animal Science Production.

Recipients were selected based on scholastic merit, leadership activities, involvement in the pork production industry and future plans for a career in pork production.

“Developing the next generation of leaders in the pork industry is one of the top issues that the Pork Checkoff has identified as being critical for the industry’s future. Finding new leaders also is part of our strategic plan,” said Dale Norton, president of the National Pork Board. “Our ongoing goal is to help ensure that there is a sustainable source of new leaders ready to take on the industry’s charge of producing a safe, wholesome food product in a socially responsible way.”… Continue reading

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National sheep sales heading to Ohio

Eight leading breeds of sheep have chosen the state of Ohio to host their 2015 National Sales.

“Enthusiasm for purebred sheep is high and the state of Ohio sits midway between east coast and western cornbelt breeders who represent the biggest numbers of purebred breeders in the nation,” said Greg Deakin, sale manager for both events. “To have the trust of the leadership of eight different breeds pick Ohio for their National Sales gives potential buyers confidence to attend the sales and be offered some of the finest genetics in their breed.  It also says a lot for the Ohio sheep Industry.”

Southdowns, Corriedales, Shropshires and Natural Colored sheep will be offered for sale during the Big Ohio Sale Weekend, Thursday through Saturday, May 7, 8 and 9 at the Preble County Fairgrounds in Eaton.

The three-day event will see approximately 750 head of sheep for sale representing eleven different breeds. … Continue reading

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Ohio poultry at risk for a potent strain of avian influenza

Though it is not present in Ohio, poultry owners should still be on high alert for signs of a novel strain of avian influenza capable of completely wiping out entire commercial flocks, exhibition birds and backyard poultry. While not a concern for humans or for food safety, this strain of avian influenza is devastating for birds and is of significant concern for the poultry industry.

“This strain of avian influenza moves really fast. We have seen complete flocks destroyed within 24 to 48 hours,” said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association. “If you see any symptoms — snicking, general lethargy, any respiratory symptoms in particular, or what you would consider a higher than normal death loss or sick birds — you need to contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture so they can investigate. Minnesota and Missouri are the closest two states to Ohio where this avian influenza has been discovered.”… Continue reading

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Records, busy shows highlight 2015 Ohio Spring Dairy Expo

The 2015 Ohio Spring Dairy Expo wrapped up three days of shows, sales, and overall industry activities on Saturday at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus.

One of the more notable events at this year’s Expo was the sale of a Jersey female at the much-anticipated Best of Triple-T and Heath Sale Thursday night. Payneside Mac N Cheese from Nathan and Jenny Thomas, Michael Heath, and Dymentholm Genetics went to Arethusa Farm for $267,000, a new record for highest selling Jersey at public auction.

The Expo was also highlighted by the amount of showmen in attendance — a point helped out by the weather said Angi Kaverman, chairman of the Spring Dairy Expo.

“We have had approximately 500 head of cattle shown and an additional 200 head of cattle in our public sales,” she said. “I would say our biggest success has been the weather really cooperating which has made for successful shows, sales, and cooperation from the exhibitors.… Continue reading

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High magnesium mineral mix can help prevent grass tetany

While early grazing on cool-season grasses in the spring increases the potential for grass tetany in livestock, particularly in cows still nursing calves less than four months old, producers who supplement their livestock with magnesium could help prevent the potentially fatal disorder from occurring, according to a forage expert from The Ohio State University.

Grass tetany is a nutritional disorder in livestock caused by low blood magnesium levels, said Rory Lewandowski, agriculture and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension. While the disorder can be treated if caught very early, the best way to deal with grass tetany is to prevent it from occurring at all, he said.

Grass tetany could be prevented by feeding animals that graze in lush, rapidly growing grass pastures a high magnesium mineral mix starting at least a week or two before spring grazing and continuing throughout the spring grazing period, he said.

“Now is the time to start thinking about grass tetany and taking steps to prevent it from happening,” Lewandowski said.… Continue reading

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