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A loss for agriculture on Election Day

When an election season includes a vote for President, the issues that are further down the ballot rarely get any attention. That is the case for a ballot initiative, “Question 3”, proposed in Massachusetts that will make it illegal to sell veal, pork or eggs from animals that have been confined to crates or cages of a certain size. The recent passage of that initiative is a blow to not only agriculture in that state, but around the country.

“The legislation not only banned those practices in Massachusetts, but it also bans any products from being sold in the state that came from operations that used those housing methods,” said Hannah Thomson-Weeman, communications director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance. “Massachusetts is not a big ag state and it only has one farm that has cages for their laying hens, which is why activists groups chose to put this type of legislation on the ballot there.”

The Humane Society of the United States was the main driver of this initiative investing over $2 million, over 90% of the funds raised for backing this plan, outspending the opposition by a rate of 10 to one.

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Black vulture causing more problems in Ohio

The turkey vulture has long been a common (if not always pleasant) sight throughout Ohio’s rural landscape, but in more recent years its nastier, more brazen cousin has been showing up in the state.

Black vultures — like turkey vultures — are scavengers that feast on carrion, providing a valuable service. Black vultures, though, are known to take things one-step further by facilitating the animal’s death when it suits their purposes.

“Over the better part of at least the past 15 years, Ohio livestock producers have increasingly experienced problems with black vultures. Unlike its red-headed cousin the turkey vulture that feeds only on the carcasses of dead animals, black vultures are an aggressive bird that will, on occasion, kill other animals for food,” said Stan Smith, program assistant in Ag and Natural Resources for Fairfield County Extension. “It’s not an uncommon occurrence for a black vulture to attack a cow in the pasture while in labor in an effort to prey on the newly-born calf even while still in the birth canal.”

The black vulture’s range is throughout much of the southeastern United States down into Texas and Mexico, though the bird has been seen as far north as Maine.

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OCA members to offer over 100 consignments in Replacement Female Sale

Several members of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will sell over 100 consignments in the OCA Replacement Female Sale on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, at 6 p.m. at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Company facility in Zanesville, Ohio. Consignments include approximately 20 mature cows, less than five years of age, and approximately 90 bred heifers.

Breeds represented will include Angus, Charolais, Maine-Anjou cross and commercial females. Service sire breeds represented include Angus, Charolais, Maine-Anjou, Red Angus, Shorthorn, Simmental, and hybrid composites of theses breeds. All of the females selling will have a safe pregnancy status verified within 60 days of the sale and all lots will be eligible for interstate shipment.

“Now is a great opportunity for cattlemen to add numbers to their herd or get started in the beef business. With cattle prices seeing a bearish market after coming off of a record-high for the past couple of years, we’ll undoubtedly see increased herd expansion,” says John Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinatior.

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September results show strong third quarter for red meat exports

September was another solid month for U.S. red meat exports, with pork, beef and lamb totals well above year-ago levels, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

September beef export volume was 101,224 metric tons (mt) — down slightly from August, but 27% above last September. Third-quarter volume was 307,383 mt, the largest since the fourth quarter of 2014. For January through September, export volume was 8% above last year’s pace at 848,930 mt. September export value was up 17% from a year ago to $533.3 million. For the first three quarters of 2016, export value was $4.54 billion, down 5% from a year ago.

Beef exports accounted for 13.5% of total beef production in September and 10% for muscle cuts only. January-September ratios were also 13.5% and 10%, up slightly from a year ago. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $256.98 in September, the first year-over-year increase (up 10%) of 2016.

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Are you prepared for the new regulations governing the use of antibiotics in feed?

Beginning January 1, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations Guidance 209 will be effective. Pork producers of all sizes will face major changes regarding access to feed and water medications. The Ohio State University, Ohio Veterinary Medical Association and Ohio Department of Agriculture are hosting informational sessions. The scheduled sessions are:

  • November 10th at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Reynoldsburg, at 10am. To register: http://ohiovma.org/education/ovma_ce.html.
  • November 14th at the Morrow County Extension Office, Mt. Gilead. 7 p.m. Call 419-947-1070 to register.
  • November 17th at the Williams County Extension Office, Bryan. Call  419-636-5608 for details and to register.
  • November 22nd at the Putnam County Extension Office, Ottawa. 6:30 p.m. Call 419-523-6294 to register.
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NAILE website livestreams select 2016 livestock events

Coverage of select North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) events will be livestreamed through the show’s website at no cost. Footage will be broadcast from four locations and include both judged competitions and sales.

Last year more than 60,000 people from 21 countries and six continents watched NAILE’s livestream coverage of beef and dairy cattle, sheep and swine shows. Each day followers logged on via desktops, laptops, phones, tablets and other mobile devices to view new coverage as events continued to unfold.

The broadcast schedule and livestream coverage will be posted on the NAILE website at www.livestockexpo.org/livestream.html. All footage is archived and available on the website.

For more information, and official results and photos for all 10 NAILE livestock divisions, visit www.livestock.expo.

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Commercial Pen of Five sheep contest results

The 2016 Ohio State Fair Commercial Pen of Five contest consisted of 50 head of lambs from all across Ohio. The lambs brought $1.65 per pound and were marketed through the Ohio Kroger store chain.

Live evaluation judge Rick Reynolds of United Producers, Inc. was very appreciative of the depth and quality of lambs entered.

“Though a smaller group of lambs as compared to previous years, this group would work for any market on any given day,” Reynolds said.
The top 5 live placing were as follows:

  1. Dennis Clark, Troy
  2. David Burkhart/Nancy Wilcox, Alger
  3. Campbell Brothers – Waterford
  4. The Ohio State University Beef & Sheep Center, Columbus
  5. Maggie and Eme Van Nostran, Athens
    The Top 5 Carcass placing were as follows:
    1. Dennis Clark, Troy
    2. Campbell Brothers, Waterford
    3. David Burkhart/Nancy Wilcox, Alger
    4. Maggie and Eme Van Nostran, Athens (Tie)
    5. David Burkhart/Nancy Wilcox, Alger (Tie)

A special thanks to the Kroger Company for the purchase of the lambs, Rick Reynolds for the live placing and evaluation and to Steve Moeller, Garth Ruff, James Maynard, Ron Cramer, and the staff of the OSU Meat laboratory for their data entry and collection.

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The livestock barn of the future

Almost every portrait, painting or portrayal of a farm over the last 100 years has included a big red barn as part of the landscape, but the reality is that those old bank barns are more nostalgic than they are useful in today’s livestock industry and even the barn door could soon be a thing of the past.

“Monoslopes are the barn of the future,” said Francis L. Fluharty, research professor in The Ohio State University’s Department of Animal Sciences. “The design has the high side of the barn facing south or southeast, which allows the sun to reach almost all the way through the barn in the winter, having a warming effect on the cattle and keeping the bedding pack drier.”

Then, in the summer, most of the barn is under shade and the slope to the roof creates constant airflow through the building to reduce heat stress.

“From an animal health standpoint, there is no way for gas to be trapped like it can be on hot humid days in normal barns,” Fluharty said.

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It takes many steps to find the right rate

Galen Koepke farms in Ottawa County on the banks of the Portage River just a few miles from Lake Erie.

A television crew was at Koepke’s farm within a few hours after the news broke after the Toledo water crisis in 2014. Since then, all agriculture in the watershed has been the subject of great water quality scrutiny, but Koepke is under a microscope.

In many ways, though, Koepke welcomes the attention because he knows he is doing things right according to the 4Rs with his farming practices. This has not always been easy, however, particularly for one 34-acre field that borders the Portage River. For many years, he had farmed and carefully managed the 20-acre field and then around 20 years ago he purchased a neighboring 14-acre field and combined them.

“On that 14 acres they had two large layer operations with a total of around 100,000 chickens and they had spread all the manure on that field for many years.

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Dairy market update

Milk prices continued a generally solid recovery from their late-spring low through August, when the U.S. average all-milk price reached $17.10 per hundredweight. The rise was powered largely by a strong increase in Class III skim milk prices, which also drove up Class I skim prices. However, Class III and Class IV prices dropped in September, and milkfat prices have been drifting downward for the past few months. That indicates milk prices may have reached a ceiling for the time being. The Margin Protection Program monthly feed cost calculation dropped steadily from June through August, and the monthly MPP margin rose by more than $3.50 per hundredweight from its low in June to $9.26 per hundredweight in August.

U.S. exports of cheese and lactose are continuing to drop year-over-year, but the rate of decline has decreased steadily in recent months. A similar pattern of decreasing losses turned positive during June–August for nonfat dry milk, skim milk powder and dry whey, as well as for the percent of all U.S.

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Forage management considerations after frost

Heading into November we had a few, light scattered frosts in the area that have generated some questions about forage use after a frost. The two most common questions concern the use of warm season grasses in the sorghum family and grazing alfalfa. The issue with grasses in the sorghum family, which includes sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, sudangrass and Johnsongrass in addition to sorghum, is that they contain cyanogenic glycosides and enzymes that convert those compounds to free cyanide (sometimes called Prussic acid) within their cells. Prussic acid or cyanide is a lethal toxin.

The potential toxicity after frost varies by species. Sudangrass varieties are low to intermediate in cyanide poisoning potential, sudangrass hybrids are intermediate, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghums are intermediate to high, and grain sorghum is high to very high and is most likely to be toxic after a frost. Piper sudangrass has low prussic acid poisoning potential. Pearl millet and foxtail millet have very low levels of cyanogenic glucosides and rarely cause toxicity.

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U.S. pork industry seeks the Pig Farmers of Tomorrow

As National Pork Month draws to a close, the Pork Checkoff is launching a new national awards program to recognize, inspire and connect the next generation of American pig farmers. Through Nov. 22, the National Pork Board is seeking applications from young producers to become one of the 2017 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow at www.pigfarmersoftomorrow.com.

The new award will recognize future farm leaders, ages 18 to 29, who intend to make pig farming their life’s work and are committed to the U.S. pork industry and to raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles.

“One of the National Pork Board’s primary responsibilities is to train and motivate future pork industry leaders,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board President, a pig farmer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. “The award is designed to recognize and inspire youth who are investing their time and energy into responsible pig farming.”

Up to three award recipients will be selected in the program’s inaugural year.

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Three young Ohio sheep farmers receive scholarships

Nick Fowler (Guernsey Co.) was awarded a $1,500 scholarship for the first annual Dr. Jack Judy Memorial Scholarship and Jacob Wenner (Delaware Co.) was awarded a $1,000 Ralph Grimshaw Memorial Scholarship at the 2016 Ohio State Fair.  Delanie Wiseman (Madison Co.) received a third scholarship for $500 awarded through the Ralph H. Grimshaw Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Fowler is a junior at the Ohio State University and Wenner is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin. Wiseman is a senior at the Ohio State University.

The Ralph Grimshaw Memorial Scholarship is sponsored by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and is awarded annually to at least one young sheep producer. Funds for this scholarship come from the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium and Ohio State Fair silent auctions and from private donations.

The Dr. Jack Judy Memorial Scholarship is also sponsored by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association in coordination with the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation.

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Producer input sought for 2016 National Beef Quality Audit

Beef producers all across the country, from every segment of the industry, are being encouraged to participate in a survey that will help establish a benchmark and course for the beef industry for 2017 and beyond. The Producer Survey of the checkoff-funded 2016 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) will collect producer information and opinions, which will be added to the audit’s traditional production research to form an in-depth look at where the industry stands and its successes and shortcomings.

“It’s very important that every interested producer weigh in with their information and opinions,” said Jesse Fulton, NBQA audit manager. “By having substantial participation in the survey across all industry segments, we create the best opportunity for determining where the industry is and where we need to take it.”

The survey will be completely anonymous and include both information about the industry’s cattle operations and the opinions of the people who run them about the strengths and weaknesses of the industry.

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Small dairy farm concerns growing by the tank load

As Ohio’s small dairies continue to battle slim to negative margins, mounting regulations and rising input costs, there is growing concern about increasingly limited markets because of a growing trend from milk processors.

The typical milk transport trailer carries 7,000 to 8,000 gallons of milk per load. Small dairies are worried about what seems to be a heavy preference from milk processors that the entire load should be filled from one single farm rather than multiple dairies. That is leaving many “smaller” dairies feeling left out merely because they don’t have enough cows to fill one truckload.

The switch is ultimately being driven by the whims of consumers and adds an additional challenge for small dairies.

“We’ve gotten along just fine until now and then when I hear a processor say they won’t take my milk because it’s not a single load off a single farm, that tells me where all this is going to go,” said Carol Losey, a dairy farmer outside of Middleburg in Logan County.

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Could my cow have cancer?

Malignant Lymphosarcoma is the most common neoplastic (cancerous) disease identified in cattle slaughtered in the United States and largest single reason cattle are condemned during postmortem inspection. A 2009 report sites malignant lymphosarcoma for 13.5% of beef cattle condemnations and 26.9% of dairy carcass condemnations. The bovine leukemia virus (BLV) initiates the cancer and this virus routinely spreads through contact with blood from an infected animal. BLV can spread through procedures such as injections with used needles, surgical castration and/or dehorning, tattooing, rectal palpation with dirty sleeves, as well as through insect vectors such as horseflies. Calves may also be exposed during pregnancy or while nursing an infected dam.

Less than 2% of BLV-infected animals will go on to develop lymphosarcoma, a cancer affecting lymph nodes, multiple organs and white blood cells. Tumors may occur in the spinal canal, uterus, heart, abomasum, kidney and/or lymph nodes. The most common clinical signs include anorexia, weight loss and fever.

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Grazing bites for autumn of 2016

It is surprising how warm most of the fall was and even warm weather loving people were wondering how long this Indian summer will last. This type of weather, along with more than adequate moisture, means more opportunity and time to grow forage. Usually by this time of year, we are living on borrowed days if we are relying on a lot more forage growth. Too often, the first indications of winter weather are closing in by now, with the first frost just days away.

As I walked along the pasture early this morning, it certainly didn’t seem like fall, even though the calendar tells me differently. I felt a slight glisten of sweat on my brow while at the same time listening to squirrels cutting really hard in nearby trees. Do they know something I don’t know? I’ve mentioned some natural winter indicators in the past; but I won’t go there today.

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Ohio Ranch wins big with Longhorns

Dickinson Cattle Company (DCC) of Barnesville won eight Championship Bronze during the annual Horn Showcase finals in Lawton, Ok. — the world’s largest cattle competition for horn data measuring.

The TLBAA Horn Showcase is a horn-measuring event with careful detail to tip to tip measurement, total horn, which measures around the curl, and horn base circumference. Measurements are calculated to one sixteenth of an inch by a team of experienced horn masters. This event has built momentum for many years and has great influence on Texas Longhorn market popularity. In past years Texas Longhorn cattle have sold for amounts above $150,000, and many were sporting record wide serpentined spreads.

“We are very honored that — all the great cattle competing, in 23 different events, the DCC entries won 8 Bronze Champions,” said Joel Dickenson, ranch manager.

Texas Longhorn cattle are bred for all the main virtues of other cattle breeds, yet beyond that, longevity of production, attractive colors, unassisted calving, large weaning weights, lean high omega 3 meat, and long twisty horns.

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Cattlemen’s membership growth means strength in numbers

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) membership reached an all-time high thanks to the dedication of past members renewing as well as the 468 farm families that joined for the first time in 2016. The new record passes the all-time membership record by 115 members to total 2,131 families represented by OCA.

“OCA is proud to represent the best interests of cattlemen across the state, no matter the size or scope of their operation,” said Joe Foster, OCA president. “I am proud that fellow cattlemen in Ohio recognize the importance of belonging to OCA as it’s an organization that works to be member focused and issue driven.”

In addition to promoting the economic, political and social needs of Ohio’s cattle producers, OCA offers numerous member benefits including discounts on products and services, and opportunities to participate in industry and educational events.

“It’s certainly exciting and as a staff, we’re pleased to be able to work for Ohio’s cattlemen.

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Proposal would hold livestock haulers accountable for animal abuse

A proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service would hold transporters responsible for the mistreatment of livestock.

An advanced copy of the notice was posted on the FSIS website on Friday, Oct. 7, and is expected to be published in the Federal Register soon after. The advanced copy could be subject to minor changes.

“The Food Safety and Inspection Service is announcing its intent to hold livestock owners, transporters, haulers and other persons not employed by an official establishment responsible if they commit acts involving inhumane handling of livestock in connection with slaughter when on the premises of an official establishment,” the notice states. “FSIS believes these actions will further improve the welfare of livestock handled in connection with slaughter by ensuring that all persons that inhumanely handle livestock in connection with slaughter are held accountable.”

Currently, the operators of farms and slaughterhouses are the ones held accountable for mistreatment of livestock on their property.

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