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Livestock haulers get another waiver from ELD rule

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) granted drivers who haul livestock an additional 90-day waiver from a regulation that could have negative effects on animal well-being.

A DOT rule issued in 2015 required truckers of commercial vehicles involved in interstate commerce to replace their paper driving logs with Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) by Dec. 18, 2017. In September 2017, the National Pork Producers Counci petitioned the agency for a waiver and exemption from the requirement, and DOT provided an initial 90-day waiver — until March 18 — from the mandate for livestock haulers. A final decision on the request for an exemption still is pending.

ELDs, which can cost from $200 to $1,000 plus a $30 to $50 monthly fee, record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information. They electronically report that data to federal and state inspectors and supposedly help the DOT enforce its Hours of Service regulation.… Continue reading

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USDA scraps organic livestock and poultry rule

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) withdrew the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule, a set of standards that organic producers would have had to meet to qualify for the voluntary organic label for livestock and poultry.

Many think the rule went well beyond the original intent of the Organic Production Act by allowing for animal welfare standards and metrics to become part of the organic label.

The rule was originally to be finalized on Nov. 14, 2017, but Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last fall announced a 180-day extension, making May 14, 2018, the new implementation date. Perdue ultimately heeded the request of organic livestock and poultry farmers and the organizations that represent them, including Farm Bureau, to abandon the rule altogether.

“Livestock health and well-being is a priority for all farmers and ranchers. We rely on trained professionals, including animal scientists, nutritionists and veterinarians, to ensure the health and safety of our food.… Continue reading

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Dairy safety net strengthened but more work needs done

After Congress made significant improvements in February to the dairy safety net, the National Milk Producers Federation is now urging U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to move swiftly to re-open 2018 enrollment for the Margin Protection Program (MPP) so farmers can take advantage of the program in the face of challenging on-farm economic conditions.

Congress passed a major supplemental assistance bill on Feb. 9 that contained $1.2 billion in budget authority to both strengthen the MPP and remove the annual budget cap on the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) program for dairy. Congress has worked for nearly a year to find the budgetary resources to implement necessary improvements to the MPP, a program which has failed to offer meaningful safety net support to farmers in its first three years of operation. The budget package approved in February will allow farmers to insure more of their milk production history at a lower cost.… Continue reading

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January meat exports show a strong start to 2018

January exports of U.S. beef were significantly higher than the large totals of a year ago while pork exports were steady in volume and increased in value, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports totaled 105,486 metric tons (mt) in January, up 9% year-over-year, while export value surged 21% to $624.4 million. Exports accounted for 12.4% of total beef production in January, up slightly from a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported increased from 9.5% to 10.1%. Beef export value averaged $293.06 per head of fed slaughter, up 14% year-over-year.

January pork exports totaled 203,488 mt, steady with last year’s strong volume, while export value increased 7% to $545.6 million. Pork exports accounted for 24.7% of total pork production, down from 26.2% a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported declined slightly to 21.5%. Pork export value averaged $50.93 per head slaughtered, up 1% year-over-year.… Continue reading

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Livestock transport rules still unclear

The National Pork Producers Council recently met with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Raymond Martinez, urging his agency to come up with equipment and rules related to interstate trucking that meet the unique needs of the livestock industry.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2015 issued a regulation that all commercial truckers replace their paper driving logs with Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) by Dec. 18, 2017. Livestock haulers got a 90-day waiver, which expires March 18, from the ELD mandate because, argued NPPC and other groups, it is incompatible with DOT’s Hours of Service (HOS) rules. Those regulations limit commercial truckers to 11 hours of driving time and 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time in any 24-hour period. Once drivers reach that limit, they must pull over and wait 10 hours before driving again.

Truckers hauling livestock within a 150-air-mile radius of the location at which the animals were loaded are exempt from the HOS rules, but the exemption is not uniformly recognized and its implementation varies by state.… Continue reading

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Do some selection tools result in unintended consequences?

You hear more about mature cow size and growth potential of calves, now that profit ebbs and flows with the cycle. We’ve written about mature size, but not much about how to use the relevant tools to change it. So now, let’s examine the strategies and tools available, and the unintended consequences of ignoring them.

Commercial breeders can draw on more selection tools than ever before to improve the next generation of cows to match the market and ranch environments. Genomic testing can identify sires in multi-bull pastures while indexing heifer genetic potential and sorting outliers for adaptability and docility. You could start with cow records and docility notes early on, then cull heifers at weaning that don’t make the obvious phenotypic and docility cuts.

With all the concern of increasing mature size in the cow herd, I am curious: how many heifers do you cull at weaning for being too large?… Continue reading

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Providing protein to those in need

In 2017, Cooper Farms donated a total of more than 267,000 pounds of cooked and ready-to-cook meat products to local churches, programs and organizations.

“Cooper Farms prides itself on giving back to the local community,” said COO Gary Cooper. “We know there are a lot of people in need in our surrounding area. Being able to help those people by providing them with a healthy protein is the least we can do, and we’re more than happy to do it.”

Some top recipients of these donations were the West Ohio Foodbank receiving over 95,000 pounds, St. Mary’s Catholic Food Pantry receiving nearly 26,000 pounds and Northwest Ohio Foodbank receiving nearly 23,000 pounds throughout the year. Cooper Farms has established very close relationships with these various organizations through these donations over the years.

“Being able to provide these families with food is great, but getting to know the people involved in these various groups and programs has been just as rewarding,” said Heather Cooper, Cooper Farms stockholder.… Continue reading

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DOT Hours of Service rules still up in the air

The National Pork Producers Council, along with other livestock groups, urged the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to issue clarifying guidance on the DOT’s Hours of Service (HOS) rules for livestock haulers.

In a letter submitted to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and FMSCA Administrator Raymond Martinez, the organizations urged the DOT to grant livestock haulers a waiver and limited exemption from a mandate that they install Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) on their trucks until HOS rules are aligned with the animal welfare requirements of the livestock industry. Under the current provisions of the HOS rules, commercial motor vehicles transporting livestock are exempt from logging requirements if they’re driving within a 150 air-mile radius of the location at which the animals were loaded.

However, the exemption is not uniformly recognized and its implementation varies by state. The DOT granted a 90-day waiver — until March 18, 2018 — to livestock haulers from complying with the ELD mandate following the receipt of a letter signed by livestock groups late last year.… Continue reading

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42nd Annual Dorset Sale

Plans for the 42nd Annual Ohio Dorset Sale have been set for March 16 and 17 at the Preble County Fairgrounds in Eaton. Billed as “the first, the biggest, the best” Dorset sale, it will feature both Horned and Polled Dorsets. Dorsets from South Dakota to Connecticut have been entered.

Established in 1977, the Ohio Dorset Sale has been a barometer used to gauge how the registered sheep industry is doing in the New Year. Entered in the sale are 94 head of Polled Dorsets and 40 head of Horned Dorsets.

“The nation’s finest Dorset genetics from ten different states have been consigned to this year’s sale,” said sale manager Greg Deakin, Cuba, Ill. “The sale’s history is rich, dating back to 1977. More national breed champion rams and ewes have sold through the Ohio Dorset Sale than any other sale.”

Both Horned and Polled Dorset rams and ewes will be offered consisting of classes for yearlings, fall and winter lambs.… Continue reading

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National Dairy FARM Program now compliant with International Standards Organization

The National Dairy FARM Program is now the first livestock animal care program in the world to be recognized internationally for its industry-leading animal welfare standards. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) affirmed this week that the program complies with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)Animal Welfare Management/General Requirements and Guidance for Organizations in the Food Supply Chain.

USDA’s affirmation that the FARM Program is ISO-compliant “validates the hard work of everyone who has contributed to the FARM Program in the past decade — from the veterinarians and academics who helped design the program, to the farmers and dairy cooperatives who implement it,” said Emily Meredith, NMPF’s chief of staff. “The U.S. dairy industry has worked hard to make the FARM Program a best-in-class animal care program, not just in the United States, but now around the world.”

ISO’s animal welfare technical specification was designed to evaluate if animal welfare programs meet international standards for animal care. … Continue reading

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Bill introduced to exempt agriculture from CERCLA air emissions reporting

A bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators have introduced a bill to exempt agricultural producers from reporting requirements under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). We’ve reported previously on the new mandate that would require livestock operations to report air emissions, the result of a U.S. Court of Appeals decision last year that struck down the EPA’s rule that exempted agriculture from the reporting requirements. The U.S. EPA has repeatedly requested the court for a delay of the new reporting mandate, now delayed until after May 1, 2018. The proposed legislation would establish a new exemption that would protect farmers from the upcoming reporting mandate.

Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a primary sponsor of the legislation, stated that “[t]hese reporting requirements were designed to apply to industrial pollution and toxic chemicals, not animal waste on a farm or ranch.” Co-sponsor Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) assured farmers that requiring them to “spend their time and money on reports that will go unused by EPA would be burdensome and needless.”

The text of the senators’ proposed Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, S.… Continue reading

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Crawford County Cattlemen Beef Finishing Tour

The Crawford County cattlemen are planning to tour two beef finishing operations in the Bellevue Ohio area on March 3rd and they would like to extend an invitation to anyone across the state to join them for the tours. The first stop will be 10:00 am at Lepley’s new slatted floor finishing barn; located at 4084 Prairie Rd Bellevue. From there we will be traveling a few miles to Erf Farm’s, 4516 Yingling Rd Bellevue, to see a dairy beef finishing operation. They purchase deacon calves and raise them through finishing using some the latest technology to feed the deacon calves.

From there we will travel to York Animal Hospital (Dr Mike Mull) 1184 W Main St Bellevue, where we will have lunch with Kevin Elder ODA LEPP. He will be discussing Lake Erie issues and manure hauling regulations. We plan to finish by 1:30 pm.

We will be leaving from Family Farm & Home, 2460 E.… Continue reading

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Are Ohio beef checkoff accusations legit or a bunch of bull?

The Ohio Farmers Union teamed up with the Organization for Competitive Markets and released a briefing paper outlining accusations directed at Ohio’s checkoff programs, specifically the beef checkoff.

The report refers to the Ohio Beef Council as a “state agency” that raises funds for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Political Action Committee (PAC) to influence elections and legislation. The report contends “the Ohio Beef Council, an agency of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, is funneling taxpayer dollars through payroll expenses and rental costs to fund the trade and lobbying group, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association.”

The report points out that the organization also makes annual cash payments of at least $14,000 per year to the national trade and lobbying group, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and claims this violates both state and federal law.

“For years we have shared these concerns, but they have only fallen on deaf ears at the Ohio Department of Agriculture.… Continue reading

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Ohio Pork Congress highlights

The Ohio Pork Congress had the largest attendance in several years since it moved to its Columbus location.

“We’ve been blessed to have good participation over the past several years and this is a record for the last 10 or 12 years,” said Rich Deaton, Ohio Pork Council president. “We had over 500 pre-registered and that is due to the event planning committee. It just goes to show that if we get the right program and right presenters here, people will come and benefit from what they have to share.”

The event followed the Tri-State Sow Housing Conference held the previous day and the topic was a natural topic of conversation as the 2025 deadline for implementation of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board sow housing requirements draws closer.

“One of the things that is on our minds here in Ohio is the magic number of 2025 when the sow housing changes have to be implemented.… Continue reading

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Demand more when buying a herd sire

Bull buying season is well underway throughout the cow-calf regions across the country. If your calving season starts in January, you may have already made your herd sire selections for this year’s breeding season. If your calving season starts a bit later, you may be in the midst of making herd sire selections. If you have yet to make your bull buying decisions, there are plenty of opportunities available in the immediate future through public auction or private treaty.

As an Extension professional and a seedstock producer, one of the most interesting discussions I can have with a producer is reviewing their thoughts on what they are looking for in a potential purchase for a herd sire. Obviously, there is a wide range of criteria to be considered depending on the production goals and size of the herd. In my experience, a few very consistent themes emerge with discussions on a potential herd bull purchase: calving ease, disposition, and price.… Continue reading

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Manure and the law

Farmers who apply fertilizer to their fields, particularly manure, need to be aware that if the fertilizer winds up in a waterway, they could be facing fines as farmers in northwestern Ohio did last summer.

Applying manure can be particularly tricky because it’s often in liquid form and typically applied to the surface of fields, unlike most commercial fertilizers. So, if manure is spread and not fully incorporated into the soil before a heavy rainfall, the manure could run off a farm field and into a nearby body of water.

In August 2017, three fish kills occurred in separate incidents in Williams, Allen and Hardin counties. Farmers had treated their fields with manure, then a major rainstorm came through.

Given the risks associated with spreading manure, it’s important for farmers to have written plans specifying how often, when and where they’re going to place manure or commercial fertilizer and to keep records on each spreading, said Peggy Hall, agricultural and resource law field specialist for Ohio State University Extension.… Continue reading

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Custom meat processors and meat markets offer diversity and distinction

Ohio is home to a wide array of custom meat processors and meat markets offering vast processing options and opportunities to keep the state’s livestock industry going. Here are highlights from four meat processors showcasing some of the rich diversity of options available to Ohio livestock producers and consumers.

 

Cotterman Brothers Processing, Glenford

Tucked in the Appalachian foothills of Perry County, Cotterman Brothers Processing is a custom-exempt plant specializing in beef, hog, and lamb. The plant produces quality cuts of meat and delivers timely service at a reasonable price. They custom cut and package, offer smoking and curing for hogs, and have a delicious meatball/burger seasoning mix for ground lamb. Hog roaster rental is another important and unique aspect of this enterprise.

Ted Cotterman has owned the business since 1986.

“At that time, we had a mobile truck and butchered on site at the farm, then we would take the animals back to the Glenford facility to cut up,” Cotterman said, “Ten years later, in ’96, we got a kill floor on the property.”

While owning a small business is a time-consuming, 24/7 job, Cotterman, a farmer who raises club lambs and is co-owner of Genetic Force Show Pigs with Tom Spohn, says the processing business offers him some work flexibility.… Continue reading

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Surber family farms with excellence, then shares it with others

In the social media world of today, those in agriculture are finding that not only is it important to do a great job producing high quality food in an environmentally responsible manner, they also have to tell everyone about it.

Few have done more in terms of both production and promotion of Ohio’s hog industry than John and Connie Surber of Clinton County, the 2018 Ohio Pork Industry Excellence Award recipients. Both grew up in Highland County with farm roots. John went to college expecting to come back and work on the family farm, but instead got an off-farm job in 1975 with Premier Feeds.

“I got hired as a feed salesman at Premier and started selling feed for livestock in the area. I moved up in the company until the 1990s and became president of the company and then we purchased the company in 1999,” John said. “When I started in 1975, Clinton County was the top hog county in the state, but in the 70s and 80s Airborne and then DHL came into Clinton County and farmers started selling their livestock and working for DHL.… Continue reading

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Forage news, frostbite, and fescue foot

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Conference with some of our other Ohio Extension Educators. It was a wonderful experience to learn from others and share what we have learned with forage producers and professionals across the country.

Two sessions that I sat in on for the benefit of my local producers were “Managing Clovers in the 21stCentury” and “Understanding and Mitigating Fescue Toxicosis.”

The clover session included a presentation by Dow Agrosciences about treating broadleaf weeds in clover stands and progress they have made toward an herbicide that works as well as their leading pasture herbicide, without killing white clover. It will still be a couple years before the product is released for use, but it is coming.

In the fescue toxicosis session, we were reminded to watch for fescue foot in winter. The decreased circulation that results from the constricted blood vessels in the animal makes them increasingly susceptible to frostbite.… Continue reading

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Beef 510 Program to be held in March

Beef 510 is a one-day program designed for those who have participated in Beef 509, but is open to all cattlemen. The program will continue the traditional beef sensory sessions and BQA presentations, but will also present information designed to help producers better prepare their operations and their cattle to meet challenges of the future. All who attend will be certified in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) at the end of the course. Beef 510 is a joint program coordinated by the Ohio Beef Council, the Department of Animal Sciences — OSU, and OSU Extension. The speakers are as follows:

Justin Nelson, Director of Animal Procurement specializing in cattle for Tyson Foods, Inc. and located at the corporate office in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. He will discuss today’s marketing environment and Tyson’s approach to market access programs. The presentation will also discuss the decision from Wendy’s restaurants to purchase cattle beginning in 2019 only from those suppliers who can verify the producers providing the cattle are beef quality assurance certified.… Continue reading

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