Gestation stall debate driving change

By Matt Reese

A picture of a sow in the tight confines of a gestation stall is tough for many consumers to see. And, while some consumers express unbridled outrage, animal rights groups drum up fund raising support and retailers demand change based upon that image, it seems that one thing is lost in the off-farm debate surrounding the animal welfare realities of gestation stalls — the welfare of the pigs.

With more retailers demanding gestation stall free pork, and the more concrete Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board requirements, hog farmers are grappling with what type

of housing system (group housing pens or gestation stalls) is really best for the animals. There are many opinions out there concerning the future of Ohio pork production. Pat Hord, who is based in Crawford County and among the largest hog producers in the state, is taking a proactive approach to this issue, but still acknowledges the challenges in the move away from gestation stalls.… Continue reading

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EPA withdraws CAFO reporting rule

Late Friday afternoon, July 13, 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew its proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 308 CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) Reporting Rule. The rule sparked controversy within the agricultural community due to what was referred to as a serious overreach of EPA’s authority. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) primary concern was the likelihood the proposed rule could put the nation’s food system at risk of increased terrorist attacks. NCBA President J.D. Alexander said this move by EPA is a victory for cattlemen and women and illustrates the importance of the beef cattle community working together to educate government officials.

“Early on, we called for EPA to pull this rule. It turns out they listened. This really showcases the importance of cattlemen and women becoming engaged in the regulatory process and making sure their concerns are heard,” Alexander said. “We encourage the agency to redirect its focus to working with states and other partners to attain already publicly available information that would allow them to work toward their goal of improved water quality.… Continue reading

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Dry pastures don’t discourage attendance at Ohio Sheep Day

By Matt Reese

The rising level of interest in sheep production was readily apparent at the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association Ohio Sheep Day as a crowd of more than 175 people gathered at Buckeye Acres Farm west of Van Wert today.

The drought did little to discourage the enthusiasm, but was an important topic of discussion at the event. Knox County Extension educator Troy Cooper and retired NRCS specialist Bob Hendershot led a pasture tour to discuss a variety of pasture management options.

“With the drought, if we can get some rain in the next two or three weeks, you can get a no-till drill an inter-seed some winter annuals such as turnips or rye, which would provide some quick feed for this fall grazing as our pastures try to regain health and strength,” Cooper said. “For a longer-term solution, you can come in with some perennials this fall and re-seed some grass.… Continue reading

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Dry pastures don't discourage attendance at Ohio Sheep Day

By Matt Reese

The rising level of interest in sheep production was readily apparent at the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association Ohio Sheep Day as a crowd of more than 175 people gathered at Buckeye Acres Farm west of Van Wert today.

The drought did little to discourage the enthusiasm, but was an important topic of discussion at the event. Knox County Extension educator Troy Cooper and retired NRCS specialist Bob Hendershot led a pasture tour to discuss a variety of pasture management options.

“With the drought, if we can get some rain in the next two or three weeks, you can get a no-till drill an inter-seed some winter annuals such as turnips or rye, which would provide some quick feed for this fall grazing as our pastures try to regain health and strength,” Cooper said. “For a longer-term solution, you can come in with some perennials this fall and re-seed some grass.… Continue reading

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USDA to start testing meat for chemical residue

the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced new steps to safeguard the food supply and to protect consumers nationwide. Later this summer, the Department will launch a new approach to its testing to protect the public from exposure to harmful levels of chemical residues in meat, poultry, and egg products.

“The new testing methods being announced today will help protect consumers from illegal drug residues in meat products,” said Elisabeth Hagen, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety. “By allowing us to test for more chemical compounds from each sample, these changes will enable USDA to identify and evaluate illegal drug residues more effectively and efficiently.”

Through its National Residue Program (NRP), FSIS tests for the presence of chemical compounds, including approved (legal) and unapproved (illegal) veterinary drugs, pesticides, hormones, and environmental contaminants that may appear in meat, poultry, and egg products. The new, modern, high-efficiency methods that FSIS is announcing today will conserve resources and provide useful and reliable results while enabling the Agency to analyze each sample for more chemical compounds than previously possible.… Continue reading

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Key features of the Dairy Title of the Agricultural Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012

By John Newton and Cameron Thraen, Ohio State University Extension

The following key information has been generated by simulating the milk marketings of 5,000 representative farms over the time period 2006-2012. Representative farms were structured to include herd demographics, seasonal production patterns, and farm growth rates common to farms found in Mideast portions of the U.S. Portions of the 2012 margins were estimated using Chicago Mercantile Exchange futures prices. All of the provisions contained in the U.S. Senate version of the DMPP and DMSP have been implemented over this period.

Key factors from an evaluation of the Dairy Margin Protection Program

1. The outcome for the margin calculation depends on which National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) all-milk, corn, and alfalfa hay prices are used by the Secretary of Agriculture: (1) NASS preliminary prices, (2) NASS revised prices, or (3) NASS final agricultural prices. As the prices are revised the calculated dairy producer margin are subject to change; however, the Senate language does not indicate which prices will be used nor does it include language or provisions that allow for margin revisions.… Continue reading

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Risks of raw milk? Make mine pasteurized

By Donald “Doc” Sanders

While growing up I drank raw, unpasteurized milk harvested from my dad’s dairy cows. You could always bank on three inches of cream in the neck of my mother’s glass milk bottles.

Dad’s cows produced milk with cream so thick, that after it had been refrigerated, it took a knife to break through so it would pour. On the other hand, one of dad’s cows, Star, produced so little cream you could drop a quarter into the bottle and be able to read “In God We Trust,” assuming it landed heads. Star produced an incredible amount of “skimmed” milk. Her life was never in danger for being a loafer.

I like the taste of raw milk, but it poses too much health risk to be drinking it. My mother realized this, when I was a teenager, she purchased a home pasteurizer from Montgomery-Ward. She had us drinking pasteurized, non-homogenized milk.… Continue reading

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Forage for Horses workshop

The Ohio Forage and Grassland Council will be hosting an Equine Pasture and Hay Management Workshop on Saturday July 28, 2012 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at AC Acres, Vicki Ayotte farm, 8481 Pontius Road, Groveport, Ohio. The farm is in the southeast corner of Franklin County west of State Route 674, east of Rickenbacker, and south of Groveport along the Walnut Creek.   This will workshop will be covering information on pasture management, pasture soil fertility, forage species selection, tall fescue management, horse nutrition on pasture, manure management, and a pasture walk where plants will be identified and designing a grazing paddock system will be discussed.

The day will end with a hay quality discussion and hay evaluation session. Attendees are encouraged to bring a sample of their own hay for evaluation. Bob Hendershot, retired NRCS State Grassland Conservation and now part-time ODNR-DSWR grazing specialist will be leading the discussion. Hendershot helped develop the Forage for Horses program and has presented this material across the country.… Continue reading

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Drought has potential three-year ‘tail’ on beef production

Livestock producers who fail to properly manage the drought could find themselves dealing with the consequences long after the rains return, said a Purdue Extension beef specialist.

Exceptionally high temperatures and extremely low rainfall have coupled to stress livestock and reduce their feed supplies. Producers can take steps to manage that situation that might cost some money now but could pay off in big ways in the long run.

“The tail on this can be pretty long if we don’t manage things right in a drought year,” Ron Lemenager said. “One thing that I think is really important for producers to consider this year is body condition. If you use condition scores of these cows as a barometer of where you’re at nutritionally, we can’t do much about the heat or drought, but we can make sure we don’t have any nutritional deficiencies.”

In a drought year, forages are low in both quality and quantity, which can leave cows thin and undernourished.… Continue reading

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Simple steps to identify and treat metritis

Metritis is one of the most common fresh cow diseases. Typically diagnosed during the first 10 days in milk, metritis is a uterine infection that can affect up to 30 percent of a dairy herd.1

“After calving, cows are uniquely challenged by a suppressed immune system and negative energy balance at the same time they’re exposed to many diseases,” says Doug Hammon, DVM, Ph.D., senior manager, Cattle Technical Services, Pfizer Animal Health. “With all of these factors working against them, it is easy to see why fresh cows are so fragile and susceptible to metritis.”

Metritis can cause a decline in fertility, lower milk production, a greater risk of culling and increased labor and treatment costs, adding up to more than $350 per cow for each case of metritis.2 Although it cannot be completely prevented, metritis should be identified and treated early to reduce its effects.

What to look for
Dr.… Continue reading

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Dairy Quiz Bowl challenges sharp young minds

By Bonnie Ayars, OSU Dairy Program Specialist, 4-H and Collegiate Dairy Coach

They make the journey to the Ohio 4-H Center from all areas of Ohio. The individuals and teams spend countless hours examining reproduction, milk marketing, bovine health and diseases, and even places and locations of major dairy events. Toss in all those acronyms and it is enough to test the genius of even the sharpest minds. It is the journey that challenges the competitors, but the destination promises rewards if luck is on their side.

On Monday, June 18, the Ohio 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl and Jeopardy was held at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H center on the campus of Ohio State. After a light breakfast, introductions of volunteers, and some orientation, junior and senior contestants went to separate rooms to complete a pre-test that would be evaluated for points and brackets. Questions such as what is another term for calving and who is the managing editor of Hoard’s Dairyman were just two of the many answered correctly.… Continue reading

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Cattle management tips for hot weather

By Stephen Boyles, Ohio State University Extension Beef Specialist

High temperatures raise the concern of heat stress on cattle. Heat stress is hard on livestock, especially in combination with high humidity. Hot weather and high humidity can reduce breeding efficiency, milk production, feed intake, weight gains, and sometimes cause death. Livestock should be observed frequently and producers should take precautions when hot and humid weather is forecast.

Work cattle early in the morning to decrease the risk of heat stress. A danger sign in cattle is panting. The panting mechanism in cattle does not appear to work as well as the one dogs have.

Major management options include providing shade, improved ventilation and a sufficient quantity of water. Shade for livestock can be provided by trees, buildings or sunshades. The temperature can be further reduced by spraying cool water across the roofs of buildings where animals are housed. Ventilation can be provided for air movement by fans and windows.… Continue reading

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Pest control an important part of livestock production

Successfully preventing and eliminating flies and mice in livestock and poultry operations is crucial to maintaining animal health and productivity, said a Purdue University entomologist.

Cattle in both pasture and confinement situations are affected by flies, as are poultry, said Ralph Williams. Bloodsucking flies literally drain animals’ lifeblood, and all flies can transmit diseases, cause discomfort and create a nuisance for neighbors.

Pastured cattle are mainly targeted by the face fly, which feeds on cattle’s mucous membranes and can transmit pink eye. Another pest in pastured cattle is the parasitic horn fly, which lives its entire adult life drinking the blood of one animal.

Control of pasture pests typically consists of self-application devices such as dust bags, oilers, pour-on products, and insecticide ear tags, Williams said. Ear tags have two types of ingredients — pyrethroid and organophosphate. Pyrethroid tags are most effective on face flies. Some horn flies have developed a genetic resistance to pyrethroid, and in this case, horn flies may respond better to organophosphate tags or to a pour-on insecticide.… Continue reading

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New fire code could impact livestock producers

Via the National Pork Producers Council.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) last week voted to amend its standards for animal housing facilities, requiring fire sprinkler systems in newly constructed and some existing facilities. The NFPA is a standard-setting organization, and its uniform codes and standards are widely utilized by state and local governments to set building and fire codes, by insurance companies as minimum standards to maintain coverage and by international organizations. Last week’s change is a substantial expansion of the standards for animal housing. In the past, the sprinkler requirement has applied only to facilities such as zoos, veterinary clinics and pet shops. But the new revisions would cover all barns and any other facilities where animals are kept or confined. NPPC believes the overbroad fire codes have the potential to significantly increase the cost of new barn construction and maintenance and could subject producers to biosecurity risks during annual sprinkler system inspections.… Continue reading

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Bank of America partners with HSUS


Bank of America recently announced another partnership with the Humane Society of the United States after releasing a new HSUS-themed credit card. This new credit card provides the radical animal rights organization with $60 for every new account opened and an additional 25 cents for every $100 spent. (The bank last partnered with HSUS in 2009.) The Animal Agriculture Alliance wrote to Bank of America’s President Brian Moynihan to request that the bank stop funding animal rights organizations such as HSUS that seek to eliminate animal agriculture.


The Alliance, a Bank of America customer, wrote to Mr. Moynihan on June 18 and explained it would be forced to reconsider its relationship with Bank of America if it continued to support groups that unfairly attack the way of life of America’s farmers and ranchers. The Alliance has not yet received a response.

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A “pretty good life” on a Century Farm

By Matt Reese

The hum of an electric homemade ice cream maker buzzes in the background as Walter Mayer lowers himself into a chair beneath a shade tree on a sunny summer day. A breeze rustles the leaves above, providing a tranquil respite amid the frenzy of farm activity around him — hay is being baled, steers are being fed in the barn, crops are stretching skyward in the fields and equipment rumbles in and out of the barnyard of his life long home.

Walter recently turned 100 years old and he is enormously satisfied with his more 36,500 days of life on the farm. He has seen fieldwork guided by horses and by satellite. He knows the toil of butchering a steer in the backyard to feed his family and the convenience of picking up a steak at the grocery. He has seen life through the rustic lens of an Ohio Century Farm.… Continue reading

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Sustainability defined, and defining agriculture

By Dave White, Ohio Livestock Coalition

A couple of months ago I attended two professional conferences about animal agriculture where they used the “S” word and the “T” word throughout both of them, the “S word being “sustainability” and the “T” word being transparency.

When you hear the term “sustainability” being used in agricultural circles, what comes to mind? Is there a definition that we can all agree upon? Are we all talking about the same thing?

When I “searched” for a definition for sustainable agriculture, I came across this: a practice of farming that uses the principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment, an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term to:

  • Satisfy human food and fiber needs,
  • Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends,
  • Make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls,
  • Sustain the economic viability of farm operations, and
  • Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.
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Establish high reproduction standards for heifers

Livestock farmers, who are now in the midst of breeding season, might find that selling heifers that aren’t meeting breeding expectations could make better financial sense than keeping an animal that isn’t achieving satisfactory conception rates, an Ohio State University Extension expert says.

Heifers that become pregnant and ultimately produce calves offer livestock farmers more financial benefit, so producers might want to consider replacing those heifers that aren’t meeting their breeding demands, said John Grimes, OSU Extension beef coordinator.

“Given the current prices seen in today’s cattle markets, culling heifers with poor reproductive performance shouldn’t be a difficult decision,” he said. “In today’s cattle economy, the bottom line is, if we don’t get cows pregnant, we don’t get live calves. And having live calves to sell gives us the ability to pay the bills.”

Livestock producers can weed out under-performing yearling heifers by selling them as heavy feeder cattle or by feeding them a finishing ration for a short period and then selling them as market heifers.… Continue reading

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Ohio Sheep Day to be held at Buckeye Acres Farm

By Roger A. High, State Sheep Extension Associate

The 2012 Ohio Sheep Day is scheduled for Sat., July 14, 2012. It will be held at Buckeye Acres Farm, home farm of the Ron and Carla Young family. The farm is located in scenic Van Wert County, at 12282 Harrison-Willshire Rd., Van Wert, Ohio 45891.

Buckeye Acres Farm is a purebred oriented sheep operation, historically concentrating on Purebred Suffolk’s, but now concentrating on the Katahdin breed of sheep. The farm is located in Western Ohio where the terrain is very flat, making it an ideal location for grain crop production, but also an exceptional place to grow forages for sheep production.

This year’s Ohio Sheep Day will focus on programming which will increase and improve the profitability of sheep operations. Daryl Clark, Vice-President, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Retired, OSU Extension Agriculture Agent, will be the keynote speaker.

Programming for the day will also include EQIP programming, internal parasite control, manure management, farm tours, forage demonstrations, grazing management and many other topics.… Continue reading

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USDA announces water quality improvement projects

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

On June 19, USDA Secretary Vilsack introduced financial assistance to support 23 new partnership projects in several Mississippi River Basin states. Assistance comes through NRCS’s Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative.

“We are building on our Mississippi River actions from previous years by continuing to target priority conservation practices in priority watersheds to improve water quality in the basin,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to working cooperatively with agricultural producers, partner organizations and state and local agencies to improve water quality and the quality of life for the millions of people who live in the Mississippi River Basin.”

This is the third year for this initiative that involves 13 states, including Ohio. So far, 118 projects have been announced for improving the Mississippi River Basin Watersheds with funding totaling $190 million.

“We have four goals,” said NRCS Chief Dave White. “Those goals are to increase water quality, restore wetlands, increase wildlife habitat and maintain agricultural productivity.”… Continue reading

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