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Plants of concern to livestock in summer

It seems like one of those years when growing conditions start off great but then we move into dry and hot conditions at the peak of summer. With such conditions we will have an increased potential for livestock poisonings. As summer progresses the preferred forages for grazing dry up and become less available and animals are forced to consume plants they might otherwise not eat. Therefore, there are recognizable circumstances like drought, overgrazing, nitrogen fertilization and summer storms that all have the potential to contribute to livestock poisoning. So what are some plants of concern for grazing livestock during these dry conditions in Ohio?

Buttercup: Beautiful small yellow flowers are common in pastures. Buttercup starts blooming in June and produces many typically bright yellow flowers of five or more petals with flowers spreading .75-inch to one-inch in width.

Tall buttercup and creeping buttercup are very aggressive perennials in pastures and can quickly overtake the field.… Continue reading

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Tips from the Chicken Whisperer

There is no denying the dramatic recent rise in poultry popularity and the booming backyard chicken trend. More small farm, suburban and even urban residents are learning that there are a number of benefits to having chickens in the backyard in addition to the eggs or meat they provide.

Andy Schneider, better known as the Chicken Whisperer, has become the go-to guy across the country for anything related to backyard chickens. He hosts the “Backyard Poultry with the Chicken Whisperer” web radio show, and serves as a national spokesperson for the USDA-APHIS Bio-Security for Birds Program. He is the editor of “Chicken Whisperer Magazine” and author of “The Chicken Whisperer’s Guide to Keeping Chickens.” This spring Schneider toured Kalmbach Feeds distributors around Ohio and shared plenty of poultry pointers.

“We know chickens are really good composters. For the most part your group of chickens will eat just about everything off of your plate.… Continue reading

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Pelleting and extrusion increase digestible and metabolizable energy in diets for pigs

Scientists at the University of Illinois using co-products from the ethanol and human food industries are helping shed light on ways processing high-fiber animal feed ingredients can enhance pigs’ utilization of the nutrients and energy they contain. The co-products from these industries typically contain more fiber than the standard corn-soybean meal diet.

“It is possible that the benefits of extrusion and pelleting are greater in high-fiber diets than in low-fiber diets. We set out to test that hypothesis, said Hans H. Stein, professor of animal sciences at Illinois.”

Stein and his team tested effects of extrusion, pelleting, or extrusion and pelleting: using a low-fiber diet based on corn and soybean meal; a medium-fiber diet containing corn, soybean meal, and 25% distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS); and a high-fiber diet containing corn, soybean meal, 25% DDGS, and 20% soybean hulls.

Each diet was divided into four batches. One batch was fed in meal form, one was pelleted at 85 degrees C, one was extruded at 115 degrees C, and the fourth was extruded at 115 degrees C and then pelleted at 85 degrees C.… Continue reading

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Concerns with new National Organic Program proposed animal welfare rules

USDA has proposed new animal welfare standards for the National Organic Program that, if enacted, would be the first time such standards are codified in federal law. This could present serious challenges to livestock producers.

Livestock organizations pointed out a number of problems with the proposed new standards, including: animal production practices have nothing to do with the basic concept of “organic” production; the standards add complexity to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers; and they could jeopardize animal and public health.

Following are specific points on the new standards from the National Pork Producers Council.


Animal welfare is not germane to the basic concept of “organic”

  • Organic has pertained to foods produced without synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms or growth hormones.
  • The Organic Food Production Act of 1990 limited its coverage of livestock to feeding and medication practices.
  • While the Agriculture Secretary can consider additional provisions, they must be within the scope of the 1990 act.
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NMPF offering decision-making tools for the Margin Protection Program in 2017

The National Milk Producers Federation has updated its Margin Protection Program website – futurefordairy.com – with new materials to assist dairy producers considering enrollment in the third year of the federal dairy safety net program. The enrollment period officially opened July 1 and ends September 30, 2016, for coverage in calendar year 2017. Farmers already participating in the program can change their coverage level during this three-month enrollment window.

The Margin Protection Program (MPP) provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin — the difference between the price of milk and feed costs — falls below a coverage level selected by the producer. Dairy farmers can insure their farms on a sliding scale between $4 and $8 per hundredweight, deciding both how much of their production history to cover, and the level of margin to protect. The program, created in the 2014 farm bill, offers more extensive coverage for low-margin conditions than previous programs.… Continue reading

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Dairy producers can enroll to protect milk production margins

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Ohio announced that dairy producers can enroll for 2017 coverage in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) starting July 1. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin — the difference between the price of milk and feed costs — falls below the coverage level selected by the producer.

The Margin Protection Program gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Enrollment began July 1 and ends on Sept. 30, 2016, for coverage in calendar year 2017. Participating farmers will remain in the program through 2018 and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee each year. Producers have the option of selecting a different coverage level during open enrollment each year.

USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the Margin Protection Program that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Roundup in Jackson County August 26 and 27

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) invites all who have an interest in Ohio’s cattle industry to Jackson County, Ohio for this year’s Roundup, August 26-27, 2016. This year combines two great events, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) annual beef and forage program and the OCA Roundup. It will feature a beef and forage night, farm tours, sessions with industry leaders, great food, and time with fellow cattlemen.

Roundup begins Friday evening, August 26, at the Jackson Agricultural Research Station in Jackson. Registration will occur from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. and OCA Allied Industry Council (AIC) representatives will be present to talk with cattlemen. Dinner will be served starting at 5 p.m. Following dinner at 6 p.m., the program and tour will feature speakers from The Ohio State University and OSU Extension Beef Team Members. Justin Kieffer, Clinical Veterinarian, Professional Practice, Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University, will discuss the impacts of the upcoming Veterinary Feed Directive that is effective in 2017 and what producers should be doing to plan ahead.… Continue reading

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Practice good grazing management this summer

Our recent period of above 80 degree days with no rainfall demonstrates how quickly we can go from saturated soils to looking forward to some rain.  For the livestock owner dependent upon pasture growth, our recent weather pattern of 80 degree plus days with no rainfall demonstrated how quickly growth rates of our cool season pasture grasses can be reduced.  Looking ahead to summer its likely we will see more of this kind of weather and even hotter and drier possibly.   There are management practices that can give the grass plant some advantages during hot, dry periods and help to keep cool season grass pastures productive during summer months.  Two big keys are leaf area or residue after a grazing pass and rest period between grazing passes.

The take half, leave half principle must be followed during the summer months.  The leaf area that remains after a grazing pass provides a photosynthetic base for plant regrowth, shades the soil to keep the soil temperature cooler, and it helps to reduce soil moisture loss. … Continue reading

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Knowing livestock tampering laws helps maintain responsible food production at Ohio fairs

Summer marks the beginning of fair season — a time when thousands of 4-H youth all across the state showcase the animal projects they have spent so much time perfecting.

 As these hard working kids gear up to show their animals, I  want to encourage all exhibitors to be aware of livestock tampering rules so they do not accidentally disqualify their market animal projects.

Some key things to keep in mind as you prepare your animal for the show ring:

• If an animal is sick, the exhibitor should contact the veterinarian.

• Prescription medications must be prescribed by a veterinarian for a valid medical purpose.

• Extra-label use of any medication must be prescribed by a veterinarian and have an extended withdrawal time.

• Over-the-counter drugs must be used according to label directions for a valid medical purpose.

• Showing any livestock which has been administered a drug that exceeds the tolerance level, or a drug for which the withdrawal period has not elapsed, is prohibited.… Continue reading

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Scrapie Free Flock Certification standards updated

The Scrapie Free Flock Certification Program standards have been updated effective May 1. A copy of the updated standards and a summary of the revisions are available on ASI’s site at www.sheepusa.org/IssuesPrograms_AnimalHealth_Scrapie.

The basic structure of the program has not changed. There are still two categories in the SFCP: the Export Category (with Export Monitored flocks and Export Certified flocks), and the Select Category (Select Monitored flocks). The updates clarify:

  • Sampling requirements, advancement, and genotyping lambs/kids in genetically resistant flocks;
  • Veterinary inspection of cull animals;
  • Imported embryos/oocytes;
  • Animals originating from Inconsistent States;
  • Special circumstances involving “Lost to Inventory” and “Found Dead” animals; and
  • Reporting requirements for the use of milk/colostrum from a lower status flock.
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As sexed semen gains effectiveness, dairies take notice

Artificial insemination (AI) has long proven to be an effective and profitable management tool of the cattle trade. Another tool in the AI toolbox, sexed semen, has found its own niche on the farm in recent years and is growing in popularity.

Chris Lahmers, marketing director for COBA/Select Sires, said the company’s sales of gender-sorted semen have steadily increased in the past few years, though they have generally plateaued due to the recent drop in milk prices. Still, the market for the product is ever changing.

“About 9% of our sales of Holstein semen and about 37% of Jersey sales were gender sorted semen in 2015,” Lahmers said. “One of the reasons for that is the technology has improved increasing the fertility of the product. The sorting process is more efficient and the extender enhancements have improved fertility. The other reason for its increased popularity is the value of the genetics of the bulls that are being sorted.… Continue reading

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American Milking Shorthorn Society National Convention visits Ohio

The American Milking Shorthorn Society recently held its National Convention in Dublin, Ohio just on the outskirts of Columbus. The event took years of planning for the Ohio Milking Shorthorn Association that hosted the event.

“We tried to plan a convention that would interest all of our members. We toured Select Sires. We got to see some of the great bulls they offer and learn about their history. We took a trip to the Columbus Zoo too,” said Casey Weiss, president of the Ohio Milking Shorthorn Society. “We had the National Junior Heifer Show at the Franklin County fairgrounds for their first national qualifying show of the year. It was almost like a practice run for the county and state fairs. Then we had the National Sale on Saturday where 50 to 60 of the best Milking Shorthorns in the nation were sold.”

The Milking Shorthorn breed does not have large numbers, but fills a unique role in the dairy industry.… Continue reading

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Celebrate National Forage Week

The American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) is celebrating National Forage Week with the agricultural community June 19 to 25.

Slightly less than 2% of the total U.S. population lives on a farm, making it more difficult for the general public to relate to farming and the accompanying benefits and challenges. As the general public moves further away from its agrarian heritage and the rural lifestyle, AFGC strives to bring farming and forages into greater public awareness with National Forage Week, now in its second year of celebration.

“National Forage Week was first celebrated last year and was well received by the forage community as one might expect, but more importantly others outside of the forage community were made aware of the importance of forage,” said Chris Agee, AFGC president and forage agronomist with Pennington Seed. “AFGC’s goal is to increase awareness of forages and we’ve got a long way to go, but as AFGC and it’s state affiliate councils get the word out at the local level we’ll make progress.”

The National Forage Week campaign is designed to raise awareness and educate the public about the role of forages in dairy and meat consumption.… Continue reading

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Poison hemlock: It’s everywhere

A few weeks ago I posted a piece about identifying and controlling poison hemlock on the Fairfield County Extension Facebook page and the response I got back immediately was simply, “It’s everywhere!” Indeed, in recent years it seems to have become widespread throughout many Ohio counties, Fairfield included. Perhaps we are seeing it spreading most quickly in road and other right-of-ways that are difficult to mow and seldom ever sprayed with herbicide. From there this noxious weed seems to be spreading into fence rows, barn lots, hay fields and areas of pasture fields that lack enough competition to keep it crowded out. Last week I received a note from a friend in Seneca County explaining he suspects Hemlock poisoning is what recently killed one of his three year old bulls. That said, let’s take a closer look at poison hemlock.

Poison hemlock is a biennial member of the carrot family — Conium maculatum —which can cause respiratory failure and even death when ingested by livestock or humans.… Continue reading

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North American Manure Expo in August

Less than two months remain before this year’s edition of the North American Manure Expo (NAME), being held August 3 and 4 near London.

The annual event provides an opportunity for custom manure applicators and livestock producers to advance their knowledge of manure-nutrient utilization while showcasing the latest technology in manure handling, treatment and application.

“[Manure Expo] is the BEST event to learn about manure and connect with other manure enthusiasts,” said Mary Wicks, the 2016 expo co-chair and a research associate with The Ohio State University’s college of food, agricultural, and environmental sciences and college of engineering. She is also involved with Ohio Composting and Manure Management (OCAMM).

“Tours and demonstrations will provide ‘hands-on’ opportunities to learn about best practices and technology,” she said. “Presenters from the livestock industry, universities, and ag organizations will share information that will improve manure handling and application practices and help everyone understand their importance for crop production and protecting the environment.… Continue reading

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Understanding fertilizer numbers

Agronomy professionals can talk all day about a variety of the technical aspects involved in farming and growing crops. And many of them do, even me, or so I’ve been told. And when doing so, most assume that the audience is up to speed on the basics on which the talks are built. But that is not always the case. Recently I was talking with some growers and dealers about the analysis of a blend of fertilizer products, when I realized that there was some confusion on what exactly those numbers meant.

Look at any bag, jug or fertilizer label, and you will see three numbers separated by hyphens. These numbers represent nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content. Some fertilizers have more than three numbers, and in those cases the extra numbers represent other nutrients. It doesn’t matter if it is liquid or dry fertilizer, as the numbers represent the percent by weight of each nutrient the product contains.… Continue reading

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Pork exports holding fairly strong in 2016

For the first four months of 2016, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled $1.8 billion in value and 1.26 billion pounds in volume, down 9% in value and unchanged in volume compared to the same time period last year.

“U.S pork exports are gaining strength this year but will still face challenges with increased global competition and a stronger U.S. dollar,” said Becca Nepple, vice president of international marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “The Checkoff is committed to bolstering its partnership with international customers through additional funding of in-country promotions of U.S. pork with the U.S. Meat Export Federation.”

Looking at April data alone, U.S. exports to China (excluding Hong Kong) surpassed export volume to Japan for the first time. Combined exports to China and Hong Kong for the first four months of 2016 were up 78% in volume (up 117% for China alone) and 54% in value.

“Central America also has been an emerging and important destination for U.S.… Continue reading

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Ohio pig farmers taking part in the Pork Leadership Institute

The Pork Leadership Institute (PLI) combines curriculums from National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council leadership programs to create comprehensive training designed to develop future pork industry leaders. Upon graduation, participants better understand the roles of the two organizations and have developed the skills necessary to lead an ever-changing pork industry.

Two Ohioans are taking part in this year’s PLI, Brad Heimerl from Johnstown and Rich Deaton from New Madison.

“There is so much you can learn and you can truly understand where pig farming is throughout the nation,” Heimerl said. “We took a trip to Mexico which allowed us to see trade and just how close and intertwined we are with marketing to other countries.”

The experience also promotes leadership within the pork industry and instills knowledge that can be taken back to the farm to better the operation.

One of the biggest takeaways for Heimerl was a trip to the Nation’s Capital, where he was able to meet with his legislators to visit about the biggest issues facing the pork industry including antibiotics, keeping costs in check and pork competitive in the world market.… Continue reading

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PQA Plus revisions crafted at Pork Expo

Revisions to the voluntary Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) 3.0 were announced during World Pork Expo in Des Moines. The updated program reflects pork producers’ commitment to continuous improvement and more fully incorporates the six “We Care” ethical principles and the role of caretakers.

New research information has been incorporated to increase the program’s effectiveness and to help ensure its validity with customers and consumers. Pork producers maintain a commitment to providing a safe, high-quality product while promoting animal well-being, environmental stewardship and public health.

“PQA Plus demonstrates to our customers our commitment to doing what is right when it comes to raising and caring for pigs and producing pork,” said Stephen Summerlin, senior vice president of live operations for Seaboard Foods. “It also lets our employees on our farms, as well as our supplier partners in raising pigs for our pork brands, know that we have high standards and expectations for food safety and animal care.”

The PQA Plus enhancements include:

  • The We Care ethical principles now serve as program chapters.
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Study finds red meat exports deliver excellent returns to U.S. corn producers

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) commissioned a study aimed at quantifying the value delivered to U.S. corn producers through exports of beef, pork and lamb. The independent study was conducted by World Perspectives, a leading agricultural consulting firm.

“What we tried to do in this report was to see how red meat exports affect the price of a bushel of corn, the amount of corn that is used and the use of DDGs,” said Dave Juday, World Perspectives senior analyst. “USDA’s baseline projections show that corn use over the next 10 years for feeding domestic livestock will grow 17%.”

Using those same projections, food use is expected to decrease by 2%  and biofuels use will go down by 3%.

“Clearly what is driving the market is feed use and herd expansion and what’s driving that is exports,” Juday said. “One out of every 3 additional pounds of U.S. beef produced over the next 10 years will go to the export market and one out of every 2.75 pounds of additional pork produced over the next 10 years will also go to the export market.”

On a per-head basis, 800-pound calves fed to 1,360 pounds each consume 35 bushels of corn and 806 pounds of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).… Continue reading

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