Ohio State Fair announces dairy feeder calf show

New for 2014, the Ohio State Fair will offer junior livestock exhibitors the opportunity to show dairy feeder calves. The show will run July 28 through 30 in the Cooper Arena during the 161st Fair.

The feeder calves that will be shown in the competition are typically born in February or March of 2014 and will weigh in between 300 and 600 pounds during the Fair, July 23 – August 3.

“The cost to care for young calves is typically lower, and these animals are smaller and easier to handle,” explained General Manager Virgil Strickler. “We feel this will allow new junior exhibitors who may have not previously entered livestock competitions at the State Fair to get the chance to take home a blue ribbon.”

Entries will be limited to pure-bred Holstein, Red and White, and Brown Swiss dairy calves. Calves will not be sold at the conclusion of the show, and therefore may be entered in county or other livestock competitions following the Ohio State Fair.… Continue reading

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Beef Expo photo highlights

More than 30,000 visitors from 25 states and Canada typically attend the Ohio Beef Expo that kicked off at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus. The weekend schedule included breed sales, shows, educational seminars, trade show and a highly competitive junior show on Sunday. The trade show features more than 100 exhibitors from 15 states. A series of educational seminars will run throughout Friday, giving producers an opportunity to gain useful knowledge from industry experts about advancements and current trends, and will allow producers to improve their own operations in areas such as marketing and herd management.

Cattle from across the country are represented at the Expo through the breed shows, sales and displays. These features provide Expo attendees a first-hand look at breeds including Angus, Charolais, Chianina, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Limousin, Maine-Anjou, Miniature Hereford, Murray Grey, Shorthorn and Simmental. Breeders will be on hand to sell or display their cattle and anyone interested may view sale catalogs online at www.ohiobeefexpo.comContinue reading

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Scout forage as plants break dormancy

Forage producers need to get out into their fields to assess the health of plants as they begin to break dormancy after a particularly harsh winter, a Purdue Extension forage specialist says.

Forages growing in areas affected by below-zero temperatures during periods of no snow cover are the most at risk for damage because snow serves as insulation for the plants and protects them from bitter cold. Low-lying parts of fields where snow accumulated and then iced over also are at risk for loss from suffocation.

“The lesson here is to get out there and observe those fields,” Keith Johnson said. “Now is the time. As the crop breaks dormancy, producers need to check to see if plant green-up is occurring. If that’s not happening after several days with temperatures in the 50s and 60s, it’s time for concern.”

Green-up usually happens around the third week of March further south in Ohio, then 10 or more days later in the northernmost part of the state.… Continue reading

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Human-animal bond has shaped life as we know it

As a farmer, if you were going to tell a story about an animal, I bet it would most likely be an account about how livestock provide humans with meat, milk and eggs.

I was raised on a farm, too. Sometimes my critter yarns are about animals I showed at the county fair, like my reserve champion rabbit that ate her ribbon. More often, however, the tales are about dogs and how much joy they brought to my life either as a hunting companion, cattle and sheep herder extraordinaire or a pet that met you at the door with its tail wagging.

Livestock and poultry provide more than just a healthy, inexpensive diet. Animals raised for food and fiber are also invaluable in human medical treatments, and provide us with materials that make our lives easier and safer. It’s important that we share a complete animal story that demonstrates to society the importance of all animals.… Continue reading

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PEDv concerns send hog futures soaring

Uncertainty surrounding total swine herd losses to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has sent lean hog futures for spring and summer contracts to record-high levels, but it’s possible the markets have overreacted, a Purdue Extension agricultural economist says.

PEDv is a virus of swine that is fatal to nearly 100% of infected piglets that are less than 2 weeks old. There is no vaccination or treatment for the disease, which poses no threat to human health or food safety.

While PEDv can be devastating to individual swine herds, Chris Hurt said it remains to be seen whether slaughter supplies will fall enough to warrant the  $10 to $14 per-hundredweight surge in spring and summer futures prices over the past two weeks.

“So far this year the number of animals coming to market has been very close to the numbers indicated in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s December Hogs and Pigs report,” he wrote in a weekly outlook report.… Continue reading

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U.S. producers competitive meat market around the world

The intensity of the global competition for red meat market share was brought home vividly for a dozen U.S. leaders of state and national agriculture organizations who recently completed a visit to the Middle East and Europe sponsored by USMEF.

The U.S. agriculture leaders attended the second-largest food industry show in the world, Gulfood in Dubai, where they met with U.S. exporters; saw the large-scale presence of competitors ranging from Australia, Brazil and India to Canada, Mexico and New Zealand; and received briefings on industry-supported marketing activities in the region.

The Market Expo agenda also included meetings with importers, processors and retailers, and opportunities to get insights into the import environment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as well as the European Union (EU).

“I was blown away by the choices at retail — the countries present at retail — from Australian beef to Brazilian to Indian,” said Kim Brackett, cow/calf and stocker producer from Buhl, Idaho, after the Dubai portion of the trip.… Continue reading

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Bovine Emergency Response Program gaining momentum

Attendees of this year’s annual Cattle Industry Convention, presented by the National Cattlemen’s Association, learned more about the Bovine Emergency Response Program (BERP), an initiative that is gaining momentum and interest in the Ohio and national agriculture industries and has ties to the Animals for Life Foundation (AFL).

Stephen Boyles, an Ohio State Extension beef specialist, presented on the topic of “Animal Care and Handling” during an all-day BERP for First Responders program at the Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tenn. This presentation is the result of AFL grants awarded to the Animal Agriculture 202 and 203 workshops presented by Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) and Ohio State University Extension in 2012 and 2013.

“We’re thrilled to know that the AFL grant program is having an impact on the national level,” said David White, AFL executive director. “The BERP program is all encompassing of the AFL mission and is essential to the safe care and handling of livestock.”… Continue reading

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4-H prepared young cattleman for a career of service

The experiences exhibitors get in 4-H projects when working with livestock can teach many invaluable lessons about life, people, competition, animal care, agriculture and the food supply. And, in some cases, all those hours spent preparing for the show ring can also prepare young people for their future careers. That was the case for Al Gahler, from Ottawa County, who was recently named the Young Cattleman of the Year by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association.

“The cattle operation basically started from 4-H projects. My dad and his brothers did not have beef cow experience. They grew up on a dairy farm that sold out when they were in high school. They were producing row crops and specialty crops,” Gahler said. “My cousin Brice and I really liked the animals that we started showing in 4-H and Brice’s dad Ed actually bought some commercial Simmental and crossbred cows while we were in 4-H.… Continue reading

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Beef Checkoff fortifies family farm

As Allan Robison walks his fence line checking its security, the setting sun illuminates the changing landscape as winter thaws into spring. He leans on a fencepost to scan his grazing cattle herd and reflects on the landscape of the cattle industry. The weather isn’t the only thing changing.

Robison sees a bright future in cattle, especially in Ohio. Although, he can’t help but notice changes in the way cattlemen must conduct business today compared to when he started as a teenager.

“Obviously, as a beef producer, you eat a lot of beef,” he said. “But there are a lot of people who don’t automatically make that choice and we, as producers, might be blind to that fact. I naively assume everyone knows that beef is a good buy and a nutritious choice. We need promotion, and a lot of producers take that for granted. You have to advertise it. You have to sell it.”… Continue reading

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Expansion of beef herds possibility on the horizon

Recent record-high cattle prices and lower feed costs could offer producers the profit incentives they need to start expanding their herds after U.S. beef cattle numbers at the start of this year reached their lowest point since 1951, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt said.

The nation’s beef cattle herd has been declining for many years, with the most recent phase beginning in 2007 when high feed prices led to large financial losses for producers. Since that time, major beef-production areas also have been dealing with drought. But if lower feed costs and high cattle prices hold steady, producers could start to slowly grow their operations.

“While the incentives have turned positive, they have not been in place long enough for the industry to begin registering signs of expansion according to U.S. Department of Agriculture numbers,” Hurt said. “The rebuilding of the beef herd is expected to take multiple years.”

Hurt said that there are two main factors driving increased beef profit potential.… Continue reading

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USDA expands research on larger dog breeds for livestock protection

Taking on an adult grizzly bear or a pack of wolves is a lot to ask of a livestock protection dog, but it’s a task they willingly take to protect their flocks from predation. For centuries, livestock protection dogs have helped ranchers protect livestock from coyotes, feral dogs, foxes and mountain lions. Without them, thousands of sheep, lambs and calves would be killed or injured each year.

Livestock protection dogs grow up and live with their flock, patrolling the perimeters of grazing areas to ward off potential predators. Now, with the recovery and expansion of populations of grizzly bears and wolves, current breeds of livestock protection dogs — like the Great Pyrenees, Komondors and Akbash — are losing many of the fights. They are no match for these larger predators.

To help producers in western states cope with the rising number of large carnivores on the landscape, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (WS) program and its research arm, the National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC), are leading an effort to identify more suitable breeds of livestock protection dogs.… Continue reading

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Beef producers can vote on Beef Checkoff

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association has initiated a referendum that is currently ongoing to increase Ohio’s Beef Checkoff from $1 to $2 per head. Voting by mail ballot is underway with in-person voting set for March 18, 19, and 20 at the Ohio Department of Agriculture and county Extension offices. Below are are two position statements on the vote for increasing the Ohio Beef Checkoff.

Vote Yes

By Frank Phelps, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association president and Logan County beef producer

There are many reasons the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) board of directors initiated the referendum. Most importantly OCA supports the work of the beef checkoff to build demand for beef and believes increasing those shrinking resources is the right thing to do for the future of Ohio’s beef industry.  And there is no better time to increase the checkoff. Based on today’s markets, finished steers are worth nearly $2,000. An additional dollar is only 5/100ths of the total value of that steer.… Continue reading

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Ohio Bison Farm raising America’s original red meat

The commute up Bob and Bev Sexten’s long and winding driveway is nothing short of picturesque, with rolling hills, open land and woods that are placed just so. It’s about halfway from the county road to the house, where a herd of majestic-looking bison lay in the snow, that one might confuse themselves with being in a completely different part of the county and begin humming “Home on the Range.”

In reality, located in Grove City, Ohio Bison Farm is a far cry from the west but the bison seem to get along just fine in Ohio’s climate.

“Ranchers out west have found that when a severe storm comes through, like the blizzard back in October, they will lose a lot of cattle,” Sexten said.… Continue reading

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Beware of PEDv at hog shows in 2014

As hog exhibitors prepare for the show season in the months ahead, they need to be aware of the significant challenges the industry is facing with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) that is claiming the lives of many young pigs around the country. PEDv presents a very serious issue that requires careful attention from hog exhibitors.

“They need to understand the method of spread which is fecal-oral. So any time they are exposed to pigs or anyone else that has had contact with pigs, they are potentially exposed to that virus,” said Todd Price, an Ohio veterinarian and hog producer. “PEDv survives for over 4 weeks in 40 degree weather or below and it is very sticky. It can be transferred by somebody that works on a farm that has it and it can be carried on their boots to a convenience store and then another person can come in and pick it up and carry it home to their hog barns.… Continue reading

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2014 Ohio Beef Expo March 14-16

The Ohio Beef Expo, the premier event of Ohio’s beef industry, takes place March 14 – 16 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus. This year’s schedule once again includes breed sales, shows, educational seminars, trade show and a highly competitive junior show. Attendees will also be able to take part in a silent auction and social hour on Friday and Saturday.

The trade show, kicking off the Expo at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, will run throughout the event and features more than 100 exhibitors from 15 states. A series of educational seminars will run throughout Friday, giving producers an opportunity to gain useful knowledge from industry experts about advancements and current trends, and will allow producers to improve their own operations in areas such as marketing and herd management. A complete list of seminars is available at

Cattle from across the country will be represented at the Expo through the breed shows, sales and displays.… Continue reading

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Showing what she’s made of

She might not have been born in a barn, but she certainly grew up in one. Megan Hunker has been showing livestock from a very young age. Her first memorable experience was as a four-year-old showing pigs in a National Swine Association event. Sixteen years later, she walked away from the prestigious American Royal Livestock Show, her last eligible Junior Show, as the Senior Sheep Showmanship Champion.

“I’ve grown up with livestock my entire life, I was born into it, my love for it grew from there,” Megan said. “I started out showing pigs to just get show ring experience and once I was old enough I grew into all four species. We show market lambs now, but I’ve shown Angus cattle before and hogs at the state and county fair; I did goats a few times, too.”

While hard work and dedication are standard to be a successful junior showman, Megan faced a few exceptional challenges on her journey.… Continue reading

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Responding to “Farmed and Dangerous”

Chipotle released a satirical video series, “Farmed and Dangerous,” on Feb. 17. According to the restaurant’s publicity materials, the series satirically explores the world of industrial agriculture in America. The show integrates Chipotle’s values and commitment to serving food made with the highest-quality ingredients through the content and themes of the show itself, without any explicit Chipotle branding, according to the company.

The four-episode series features new episodes each Monday for four consecutive weeks.

In the show’s preview trailer, a corporate agriculture giant is heavy-handed and wants to quash dissent and objection from the common man. Chipotle could well be hoping modern, conventional agriculture responds in the same way to the series, which would reinforce their story line and promote their perspective that today’s food system has something to hide and will attack anyone who has a different (even it is outlandish and inaccurate) point of view. The trailer and clips from the series may be viewed at: reading

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Cache Valley Virus showing up in Ohio sheep

Cache Valley virus causes infertility, abortions and congenital abnormalities in sheep. Sheep producers during lambing season should be aware of the potential for Cache Valley virus, or CVV, to potentially affect their lambing crop. This year there has been an increase in the number of cases diagnosed and reported by sheep producers in Ohio.

The virus is spread by mosquitoes during early breeding season, generally August through September. The virus is not spread from ewe to ewe, only through mosquitos. Abnormalities in lambs may include crooked joints, deformities of the skeleton, twisted necks or spines, weak muscles or an uncoordinated gait. Most lambs born with severe defects are usually stillborn, yet CVV can cause the birth of lambs that act drowsy, weak, or unsteady and typically all lambs within a set of twins or triplets are affected.

If the infection occurs at less than 28 days gestation, the embryos usually die and are reabsorbed.… Continue reading

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Japan demands ag exceptions in TPP

The National Pork Producers Council will oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement if Japan is included in the deal but doesn’t eliminate all tariffs and other forms of protection on pork.

Japan is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector, including exclusion from the agreement of certain “sensitive” products that includes pork. In addition to being the largest value market for U.S. pork exports ($1.89 Billion in 2013), Japan is the fourth largest market for the rest of U.S. agriculture, which shipped $12.1 billion of food and agricultural products to the island nation in 2013. The TPP is a regional trade negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP.

Tariffs have been eliminated on pork in every other U.S. free trade agreement, and TPP should be no different. A final TPP agreement that does not eliminate all tariffs and non-tariff barriers on U.S.… Continue reading

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Turner elected to American Shorthorn Association Board of Directors

Tom Turner of Somerset, Ohio was elected to the American Shorthorn Association (ASA) Board of Directors (BOD) at their recent annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, held during the National Western Stock Show.

“We are excited to have someone of Dr. Turner’s background, training and experience to help lead this breed into the future,” said Montie Soules, Executive Secretary of the ASA said

The BOD consists of nine members, each serving a term of three years. Three directors are elected at the annual meeting of the membership each year.  The BOD meets five times per year and oversees standing committees including Youth Activities, Leadership and Scholarship, Shorthorn Junior Program Sustainability, Senior Membership Show Committee, Genetic Evaluation and Database Management, Appendix Shorthorn and Shorthorn Derivative Cattle, Promotion and Breed Image and Commercial Marketing.  Board members as well as Shorthorn breeders from across the country serve, making program recommendations for the betterment of the Shorthorn breed to increase profitability for breeders.… Continue reading

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