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Maximizing early season germination and emergence

Today, in America’s agriculture industry, we look to push the limits on every input we can to maximize the return on investment and simplify our operations. The fact is there is simply not enough margin in a crop or hours in a season to do much less. However, there are costly consequences associated with running that close to 100% capacity. Figuratively speaking, if the train begins to derail, you could spend the rest of the year trying to get everything back on track. The adoption of reduced tillage farming and early planting are just a few reasons today’s hybrids are faced with challenging conditions. Although, if managed correctly, these practices can be implemented without impacting final yields and thus, increase the overall efficiency of a grower’s operation. Let’s discuss some of the causes of germination and emergence issues, and management tips that can improve your planting methods this year.

1  Soil Temperature — Low soil temperature is one of the main reasons we see delayed emergence in our crops.

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Association BEST Program concludes a successful 17th year at annual banquet

The 2015-2016 Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) BEST (Beef Exhibitor Show Total) Program wrapped up on May 7 with its annual awards banquet held at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus.

“The banquet is a time to celebrate the many achievements of our BEST participants, both in and out of the show ring,” said Stephanie Sindel, BEST coordinator. “Each participant is recognized for their hard work by family, friends and BEST supporters alike.”

Several representatives from program sponsors, Bob Evans Farms, Burroughs Frazier Farms, Farm Credit Mid-America, M.H. Eby, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Weaver Livestock, were on hand to help present awards totaling more than $50,000 in belt buckles, luggage, show materials and other awards.

This year’s BEST program featured 15 sanctioned shows that weaved its way across the state with over 550 youth participants showing 740 head of market animals and heifers.


Banquet sponsors

The BEST program also receives tremendous support for awards and the awards banquet.

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The Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) and the beef producer

As of Jan. 1, 2017, all “medically important” antibiotics used in feed will fall into the FDA’s Veterinary Feed Directive Program. This will mean that to obtain and use these drugs in feed, you will need a written Veterinary Directive (VFD) from your veterinarian, who must be licensed in the state of Ohio.

A VFD is a written (by hand or electronically) statement from your veterinarian, authorizing you to feed a medically important antibiotic, for a period of up to 6 months. This must be delivered to the feed mill prior to purchasing a VFD feed.

What are the “medically important” antibiotics? These include tetracycline, penicillin, neomycin and tylosin, to name a few.

This VFD rule eliminates the use of medically important drugs for feed efficiency or growth-promotion claims. VFD drugs may only be used to treat, prevent or cure disease.

This new regulation does not require a VFD for feed containing ionophores such as Bovatec or Rumensin, or any drug used to treat/prevent coccidia, such as Decox.

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Veterinary Feed Directive implementation deadline coming soon

The clock is winding down on implementing the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) final rule from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Some livestock farms are well on their way to have the necessary changes in place at the start of 2017, but others have much yet to do.

“This is a huge issue. We will see over the coming months growth promotion and nutritional efficiency labels and uses of antibiotics that are also important to human medicine will be going away. The labels will change,” said Dr. Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council. “If those antibiotics are used in feed, it will be illegal to use them to improve growth or improve nutritional efficiency. The remaining uses — the therapeutic uses for disease prevention control and treatment — will require a veterinarian to write a prescription if those are in water or a VFD if they are delivered in feed.

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National sheep sales in Ohio this month

Six leading breeds of sheep have chosen the state of Ohio to host their 2016 National Sales.

Shropshires and Natural Colored sheep will be offered for sale during the Big Ohio Sale Weekend, Thursday through Saturday, May 12, 13 and 14 at the Preble County Fairgrounds in Eaton.

The three-day event will have approximately 750 head of sheep for sale representing 14 different breeds. In addition to Shropshires and Natural Colored sheep, Cheviots, Corriedales, Dorpers, Hampshires, Montadales, Oxfords, Southdowns, Suffolks and Wether Sires and Dams will be sold. Plus, for the first time, Dorsets, Columbias and Katahdins are added to the sale.

Most breeds offered special futurity nominated ewe lambs and yearlings in their classes for sale. The timing of the event was before every National, 4-H, FFA and Junior Show ownership deadlines.

Border Leicesters, Lincolns, Merinos and Tunis are holding their National Sales in conjunction with the Great Lakes Sale held Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster.

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OPA accepting nominations for American Egg Board

The Ohio Poultry Association (OPA) is now accepting suggestions for nominations to serve on the 2017-2018 American Egg Board (AEB), which is U.S. egg farmer’s link to consumers in communicating the value of the incredible egg. Members serve two-year terms on the national board.

“Board members serve a vital role in overseeing and carrying out AEB’s mission to increase demand for egg and egg products on behalf of U.S. egg farmers,” said Jim Chakeres, OPA executive vice president. “I encourage Ohio egg farmers to consider nominating themselves or another producer to serve in this important role to help guide the egg community and further our commitment to provide safe, wholesome, affordable eggs to Ohioans and the world.”

To be eligible for nomination, persons must be producers or representatives of producers and they must own 75,000 or more laying hens. Producers who own less than 75,000 hens are eligible provided they have not applied for exemption and are paying assessments to AEB.

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Taiwanese farmers threaten protest over lifting ractopamine ban

Taiwanese agriculture representatives threatened to stage a large-scale protest if the country lifts its ban on imports of pork from hogs given the feed additive ractopamine. The threat was prompted by Taiwan Agriculture Minister-designate Tsao Chi-hung’s statement that Taiwan “cannot shut its doors to U.S. pork containing ractopamine forever in the face of globalization,” noting that Japan and South Korea now allow ractopamine imports.

Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-wen, previously indicated she wants the island nation to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and that the country must resolve issues related to imports of U.S. pork products, including its ban on ractopamine. The National Pork Producers Council has been pressing the Obama administration to urge Taiwan to lift the ban, which is not based on science.

Ractopamine, which is widely used as part of a healthy, balanced diet to help pigs convert dietary nutrients into lean muscle, was determined to be safe by the U.S.

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Plant health and profitability

With the current prices of most crops, I think the majority of growers would agree that profitability is high on their list of priorities. Critical to profitability is a healthy crop. Obviously, there are many variables involved in keeping a crop in top condition. Let’s look at several of the factors involved in keeping a plant functioning at full potential depending on the conditions.

The first factor needed for optimum plant health is proper amounts of water — you know, not too much, not too little, just right. Mother Nature can keep growers wondering when the next rain will happen, while the ground is still black from the last rain. But, please don’t come so soon that the ground is water-logged, right? It is unnerving to have so much riding on timely rains, and when prices are low it seems like risks beyond our control are elevated.

In areas that irrigate, it seems like life should be good.

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Cooper Farms adds a new sow farm

Cooper Farms held an open house and ribbon cutting on April 22 for their new sow hog farm, Pheasant Run, located in Mark Center.

The new farm will be home to female hogs and their piglets. Utilizing state of the art technology, Pheasant Run takes farming to a new level.

“We like to think of it as more of a smart barn,” said Kevin Stuckey, Sow Division Manager. “With the help of technology we can provide high quality individualized care for each animal in the barns.”

This technology controls barn temperatures, alternating fans, airflow and cooling cells to keep a consistent and comfortable climate for the hogs at all times. The system also has the ability to self-heal.

“If a fan were to stop working correctly overnight, the system would recognize that and turn on a different fan in the same area,” said Bud Koenig, Facility Maintenance Manager.

Open pen gestation allows the pregnant sows to roam in large stalls of 80 sows each.

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Ohio Pork Council scholarship deadline quickly approaching

There are numerous scholarship opportunities available to college students interested in the pork industry. Students are reminded that applications for OPPC, OPCW and Dick Isler scholarships are due April 29.

The Ohio Pork Council is currently offering scholarships, ranging from $500 to $1000 per individual. Students entering their freshman, sophomore, junior or senior year in college are encouraged to apply. Applicants, or their parents, must be actively involved in the pork industry. Children of pork industry employees, managers and contract growers are eligible.

In honor of 42 years of service to Ohio’s pork industry, as executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Council, a scholarship fund recognizes Dick Isler and provides an annual scholarship of at $1,000 to college students pursuing a degree in agriculture.

The Ohio Pork Council Women will also be offering $500 scholarships to college students in their junior year or higher. To obtain an application for these scholarships, please visit: OhioPork.org.

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Farm mom raises more than a family

Those who work in the agricultural industry have long understood the need to be a jack-of-all-trades.

“Some days you have to be a vet, an electrician, a maintenance man and a general worker,” said Brenda Schaub of Shiloh in Richland County.

Schaub is a pork producer who operates a 2,600 head nursery and a 2,400 head finisher barn contracted through Hord’s Livestock. In addition to her duties in the barn, she has a full schedule as a wife and a mother.

She and her husband James have a combined family of five children and a small crop and hay farm of 130 acres. They also raise a few Shorthorn-cross cows for their children to take to the fair. If that isn’t enough, Brenda is also a 4-H advisor for Richland County, served as a past officer for the Richland County Cattleman’s Association, and also serves as a CDE coach for the Plymouth FFA chapter.

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USDA to continue approving payments for “Pork. The Other White Meat”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) decided that, based on its review of the value of four “Pork. The Other White Meat” trademarks the National Pork Board purchased from the National Pork Producers Council, it would continue to approve the Pork Board’s annual payments for the trademarks.

NPPC sold the trademarks to the Pork Board in 2006 for about $35 million. NPPC financed the purchase over 20 years, making the Pork Board’s annual payment $3 million. The sale was an arms-length transaction with a lengthy negotiation in which both parties were represented by legal counsel, and USDA, which oversees the federal Pork Checkoff program administered by the Pork Board, approved the purchase. In 2012, the Humane Society of the United States, a lone Iowa farmer and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement filed a lawsuit against USDA, seeking to have the sale rescinded. A U.S. District Court dismissed the suit for lack of standing, but a federal appeals court in August 2015 reinstated it.

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Assembly required: Soil test instructions

In my house, two words — “assembly required” — have come close to ruining more Christmas mornings than the Grinch himself. For many growers it seems the words “fertility program” can cause as much anxiety as staring down a Barbie Dreamhouse box under the tree. One savior that occasionally graces us with its presence both on Christmas morning and in the field however, is a good set of instructions. The right manual can ease the assembly process and increase the likelihood of a job well-done. When determining a fertility program, a soil sample report is that instruction manual and can very well keep you from running to the bowl of egg nog.

Upon first glance, a complete soil sample report can look like something a nuclear engineer carries in his briefcase. However, when each component is broken down, a picture of the soil conditions and needs start to come together. Organic matter percentage, cation exchange capacity, pH and base saturation percentages should be included on any standard soil test and are key to understanding the physical and chemical characteristics of a soil.

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Watch nutrition after calving

As livestock producers move from winter feed to spring grazing, they should pay extra attention to spring-calving beef cows to make sure their nutritional needs are met, said a beef cattle expert with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

That could mean leading the animals away from early green grass this spring, said John Grimes, beef coordinator for Ohio State University Extension and a member of the OSU Extension Beef Team.

If spring-calving beef cows’ nutritional needs are not adequately met from calving to breeding, it can cause a reduced body condition score, he said. And that can result in a disastrous rebreeding performance.

Livestock generally are assigned a body condition score on a scale of 1 to 9, where 1 is an emaciated animal with skin and bones and 9 is rated as obese, Grimes said. A score of 5 to 6 is typically the goal for cows that calve to be considered healthy and in optimum breeding condition, he said.

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Manure sidedressing research summary from OSU Extension

Sidedressing manure opens up new windows of application time for commercial manure application while also providing valuable nutrients to growing crops when they can be immediately used.

“That is a down time for commercial applicators. They currently do not have that window available to apply manure from May 1 to early July,” said Glen Arnold, Ohio State Extension manure specialist. “We all know we are going to spend $100 or $125 per acre on sidedressing corn. We are learning that we could go out there with 6,000 gallons of swine manure and accomplish the same thing.”

Arnold has now conducted several years of studies of manure application.

“We started with dairy and swine manure on small plots and swine manure on wheat. We were very pleased with how that worked,” Arnold said. “Then we tried sidedressing corn because it uses much more nitrogen. You have to haul that manure at some point.

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FAMACHA training offered next month

Growing grass signals the start of the parasite season and small ruminant — sheep and goat — livestock producers need to know how to quickly and easily identify which animals to treat for an internal parasite that can devastate a herd.

Using the FAMACHA diagnostic system, livestock producers can easily identify which animals are suffering from a heavy infestation level of the Haemonchus contortus parasite, also called the barber pole worm, said Rory Lewandowski, an Ohio State University Extension agriculture and natural resources educator.

Eye test

Developed in South Africa, the FAMACHA system uses a chart to match the animal’s eyelid color to anemia levels, which is an indication of parasitic infection, Lewandowski said.

“The barber pole worm is a blood-sucking parasite that causes anemia in animals with heavy infestations,” he said. “The symptoms of anemia show up in the color of the membrane of the animals’ eyes.

“The FAMACHA score card allows the user to rank the eyelid color of the animal on a scale of 1 to 5, with animals scored at 3, 4 or 5 typically needing to be treated with a chemical dewormer to prevent possible death of the animal.”

OSU Extension, the Ohio Heartland Sheep Improvement Association and the Sheep and Wool Program are sponsoring a workshop May 21 to teach sheep and goat producers how to use the system and what to do if the parasite is found in their animals.

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OSU Hay Day June 23

Hay producers who want boost their profit potential and stay up to date on hay harvest techniques can plan to attend a workshop on June 23, led by experts from Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

The Hay Day program covers a broad range of hay production topics including mowing, tedding, raking and baling hay, said Christine Gelley, an OSU Extension educator. Bale wrapping will also be a focus of the program, and implement dealers will have featured equipment on display, she said.

The techniques taught at the workshop are important for hay producers because they can influence how effectively a producer can protect their hay from the elements, including moisture, which can impact the nutritional quality of the hay, Gelley said.

“We will talk about various techniques for bale wrapping to protect the hay during storage,” she said. “Protective storage helps preserve the quality of the hay for future use.”

Moisture was an issue last spring for hay producers, many of whom experienced delayed harvests due to excess rain in June that kept them out of their fields, Gelley said.

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Buckeye Bacon Bash coming soon

Into bacon? Yeah, dumb question. Everyone is into bacon! In fact, so many people are into bacon that VIP tickets to the Buckeye Bacon Bash are now sold out. Have no fear — bacon lovers can still purchase general admission tickets to this elite celebration of bacon at BuckeyeBaconBash.com and at the gates of the event on April 23. 

Right now, Ohio farmers are gearing up for quite possibly the coolest bacon event in all of Ohio — the Buckeye Bacon Bash. On April 23 at Scioto Downs, just south of Columbus, the Ohio Pork Council, Sugardale, 92.3WCOL, ColumbusAlive.com and the Dispatch Media Group are proudly sponsoring a celebration of bacon and it’s best friend — craft beer.
The Bacon Bash will feature live entertainment from popular musical acts John Schwab, the Jonalee White Trio and DoubleCut, contests, food and drink samples, kids activities….and BACON. Attendees will also have a chance to meet Ohio bacon farmers and chat about where there bacon comes from!
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Lower milk and corn prices equals tough math for dairy farmers

The declining price of milk is causing some serious economic consequences for America’s dairy farmers.

Recent numbers show the price for Class III milk, which is used to make cheese, is down 19% from this time last year, and down 41% since September of 2014. Class I, or fluid milk, has seen a sharp decline in prices since the beginning of the year. These lower figures are primarily driven by large decreases in the commodity values of non-fat dry milk, cheese and dry whey.

“It’s really hard to put this current decline into perspective with other declines,” said Dr. John Newton, Senior Director of Economic Research for the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “In 2009, milk prices fell to below $10 a hundredweight and that was a catastrophic environment for dairy farmers.”

In 2012, it wasn’t a milk price decline so much as it was record high feed prices that really put the squeeze on dairymen.

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Antibiotic report issued by White House

Recommendations for addressing antibiotic-resistant bacteria in a report recently issued by a White House advisory panel were welcomed by many in the livestock industry.

The Presidential Advisory Council on Combatting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB) recommended that federal agencies involved in the effort to address antibiotic resistant take a number of steps. These include:

• Embracing a “One Health” approach that looks at the resistance issue from a human, animal and environmental prospective;

• Improving coordination and collaboration among agencies;

• Establishing partnerships with states and local agencies, tribes, private-sector organizations, commodity groups, philanthropic organizations and international bodies;

• Providing economic incentives for developing and deploying new diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic tools to fight diseases;

• And committing sufficient resources to address the resistance problem.

In terms of resources, PACCARB advocated that, at a minimum, agencies’ fiscal 2016 funding levels be maintained. It also pushed for funding U.S. Department of Agriculture efforts to conduct on-farm antibiotic-resistance surveillance.

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