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OSU Extension - Fairfield County

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and the

OSU Extension BEEF Team

BEEF Cattle questions may be directed to the OSU Extension BEEF Team through Stephen Boyles or Stan Smith, Editor

You may subscribe to the weekly Ohio BEEF Cattle letter by sending an e-mail to smith.263@osu.edu

Previous issues of the BEEF Cattle letter

Issue # 924

February 25, 2015

Forage Focus: What Should I Reseed in My Hay and Pasture Fields? - Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Morgan County

The next time the snow melts off, it becomes the time of year to evaluate your hay and pasture fields to determine if they need to be reseeded. First and foremost, you need to make sure the pH and fertility is adequate for the forages you want to plant. If it is not, the new seeding could germinate then die or never produce to its potential. Next it is a good idea to know what you need for your livestock. For example dry beef cows probably do not need high quality alfalfa and stockers may need a higher quality and more palatable forage then what fescue grass can provide. Other ruminants can graze pastures close so orchard grass which stores energy at the base of the plant may not be a good option if you have sheep or goats too. Poorly drained fields or fields with a lot of deer pressure are not good options for alfalfa. So what should be planted? The following is a list of common forages that can be planted throughout Ohio and the characteristics of each.

Alfalfa- It is probably the best high quality feed for livestock and as a cash crop but it requires deep, well drained soils and high fertility for high yields. While it can be used for grazing, it is best adapted for hay or silage. Be aware that it can cause bloat when grazed by livestock and purchase improved varieties with good winter hardiness, disease and potato leafhopper resistance.

Birdsfoot Trefoil- This is a deep-rooted perennial legume that is best adapted to northern areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania, but I have seen more growing in southern Ohio over the past three years. It can tolerate low pH, poor soil drainage, marginal fertility and is non-bloating. It is slow to establish, subject to weed invasion so should be planted in a mixed stand, and prone to diseases.

Red Clover- Red clover is a short lived perennial legume but has several advantages. It can tolerate poorly drained and slightly acidic soils and has good seeding vigor. Seeding vigor is important because it can stretch out or improve stands. It is a good option for frost seeding, so in the next month, we can spread this seed on pastures or hay fields. Red clover can be hard to dry for hay bloat can be a problem when grazing if there is not enough grass present.

White Clover- This is a low-growing short lived perennial. This is a good legume to have in pastures especially if short growing grasses like bluegrass are present. It is a good legume if sheep and goats are grazing as they tend to graze closer than cattle. This is a good plant for continuous grazing as it is a prolific seeder, but bloat can be a problem.

Kentucky bluegrass- This grass is ideal for pastures as the low growth habit makes it tolerant to close grazing. It forms a dense sod and spreads by seeds and rhizomes. It can persist under poor soil conditions and management, but responds to good management. Yields will be less than many other cool season grasses and is more drought susceptible than other grasses.

Orchardgrass- This grass is good for pasture, hay and silage. It is very productive "bunch-type" grass that responds well to good management. It grows best in well drained soils, has rapid regrowth and is palatable. However when it becomes mature, palatability rapidly declines. Common varieties mature rapidly, so consider late maturing varieties. Rust can be a problem in latter in the summer, so select varieties with leaf disease resistance.

Ryegrass- If alfalfa is the "Queen" of forages, ryegrass is the "King". Perennial ryegrass is a bunch-type grass that is palatable with high nutritive value. It has a long growing season and excellent yields with good fertility. Why doesn't everyone grow it? It is less winter hardy than other grasses, best adapted to areas like northern Ohio, it is not as competitive as other grasses and it is difficult to dry for hay.

Fescue- The grass we love to hate. During this time of the year, it is the best grass we have. It will stockpile well for grazing during the winter and retain much of its quality. It is a high yielding grass that tolerates low fertility, drought, insects and diseases. The problem is that common types have a fungus or endophyte in it that makes it unpalatable and can cause health problems in the summer months and pregnancy problems with horses. The good news is this is greatly reduced during the winter months and palatability increases. There are also varieties available without the endophyte or with a "novel" endophyte that will not cause problems with livestock.

There are several other grasses that have good adaptation for our area. Smooth bromegrass is high quality forage for hay and pasture and will retain quality better than other grasses when mature. The grass is adversely affected during stem elongation if cut or grazed. Reed canarygrass is a good option in flood prone areas but will grow in other areas. It is high yielding and very competitive but slow to establish. Purchase only high quality low-alkaloid varieties to increase forage quality.

Unless growing a pure stand of alfalfa, mixing types of forages for a new seeding is a good option. Consider a primary grass, a primary legume, then you can consider minor species to add to the mix. It is important to consider species with similar growth habits. For example, you would not want to plant bluegrass with red clover, but you could plant orchardgrass or fescue with red clover. Finally, purchase only high quality improved varieties of seed. There have been tremendous advances in quality, yield, persistence, insect and disease resistance which makes the added cost of the seed a good value.

For more information and detail, see the Ohio Agronomy Guide, available at Ohio Extension offices or on-line at http://ohioline.osu.edu

Also, view the presentation on forage species selection embedded below by Bob Hendershot during the 2011 OEFFA annual conference.


Dealing with Prolapses - Monica Jarboe, University of Illinois Extension

Around calving time, prolapses in cows and heifers can be major health issues. Some cases may even be life threatening. There are two different kinds of prolapses commonly associated with calving in beef cattle: vaginal and uterine. Once a prolapse has been repaired, producers may be unsure whether or not to cull that cow.

Vaginal prolapses are more common, usually occur prior to calving, and are considered less severe. A pink mass of tissue can be seen protruding below the tail, and it may only be visible while she is lying down. The mass is typically somewhere between the size of a grapefruit and a volleyball. It is due to excess pressure in the abdominal cavity as the cow nears calving. Because the tissue can be damaged due to exposure to the elements, or swell and interfere with urination, it is a good idea to consult a veterinarian and have it repaired. This usually involves cleaning the tissue, replacing it, and stitching across the vulva. These stitches should be removed prior to calving, to avoid ripping the vulva.

There is a genetic predisposition to vaginal prolapses, so it tends to be a recurring problem. If a heifer or cow has a vaginal prolapse this year, it will probably happen again, and her offspring will likely also carry that tendency. Therefore, it is usually recommended that producers do not rebreed cows that experience a vaginal prolapse, and avoid using any of her offspring (male or female) for breeding, as they may carry traits for the same structural weakness of the reproductive tract.

A few other factors can increase the likelihood of vaginal prolapses, as well. Cows that are older, are excessively fat in the last trimester, have twins, or have Brahman genetics are more prone to this condition. In addition, pastures with plants high in phytoestrogens, like clover, can increase the likelihood of vaginal prolapses.

Uterine prolapses are considered much more severe, as the blood loss and high risk of infection makes this a life-threatening situation. This problem usually occurs within a few hours of calving. It will be much larger than the vaginal prolapse, and is usually dark red. The "buttons" where the placenta was attached may be visible. Contact a veterinarian immediately. As with the vaginal prolapse, treatment involves cleaning and lubricating the tissue before replacing it. If not done properly, the cow may experience internal bleeding or prolapse again.

Unlike the vaginal prolapse, uterine prolapses do not have a genetic component. In fact, the cow may even continue to reproduce normally if the condition is detected and treated early, and the uterus is not badly damaged. However, if the uterus does suffer damage, the cow may have impaired fertility. In addition, although it is not genetic, a cow is more prone to a uterine prolapse if she has experienced one in the past. Therefore, the producer should carefully consider whether or not to cull that cow, based on how long the uterus was prolapsed, and the extent of tissue damage sustained. Long, difficult births, and thin cows can increase the risk of this condition.

Because there is no genetic predisposition, the offspring of a cow who experienced a uterine prolapse can safely be used for breeding, whether or not the cow is culled.

The most important thing to remember with prolapses is to consult your veterinarian quickly to get prompt treatment. Producers may want to cull a cow with a vaginal prolapse, and avoid using her offspring for breeding. A cow with a uterine prolapse may still be able to reproduce normally if treated quickly, and her offspring can still be used for breeding.

A Longer-Term Look (Back and Forward) at Cattle Herd Trends . . . - Glynn T. Tonsor, Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University

On January 31st USDA released the much anticipated January Cattle Inventory Report.[1] The February 2ndIn The Cattle Markets article summarized main points of this report. The purpose of this article is to provide further context on regional adjustments and to augment this historical information with a look at what the future may hold.

Regional assessment of multi-year adjustments can shed additional light on transitions underway in the industry. Tables 1 and 2 were derived to present estimates of herd size statistics individually for the 10 states currently with the largest beef cow herds as well as regionally and nationally. Values are presented to enable easy comparison not to last year (which are directly available in the USDA report) but rather to the pre-drought period (2010), 10 years ago (2006), and 20 years ago (1996). This reveals broader trends that can easily be missed by looking solely at year-over-year adjustments.

A review of table 1 reveals the geographic stability of the beef cow herd was over the 1996-2010 period. Adding the recent drought and heifer retention patterns (table 2) enriches current understanding. In total head the Great Plains followed the national trend of downsizing over the 1996-2010 period, yet its relative role as home to beef cows and heifers being retained was growing prior to the drought and remains higher than 2010. This suggests the Great Plains is a "growth area" in terms of its role in the national industry. Conversely while the share of the country's beef cows has been stable in the Southeast at about 24%, this region has a longer history of a decreasing role in retaining heifers. If one goes further and recognizes this region was the main cow-calf area containing pastures that broadly avoided drought conditions over recent years (and yet largely did not expand) casts doubt on the likelihood of the Southeast leading national herd expansion. The one-year changes noted in the most recent January Cattle Inventory Report largely reinforce this. Between the patterns of the Great Plains and Southeast is the Southern Plains. Prior to the recent drought, the herd in Texas was contracting while the herd in Oklahoma was expanding leading to limited net change in the region's collective role in the industry (about 23% of cows pre-2010). However, since 2010 the portion of both beef cows and retained heifers residing in the Southern Plains has fallen notably. The most recent January Cattle Inventory Report indicated the Southern Plains are indeed in the process of reversing this pattern as home to 58% of the country's increase in heifers retained (130,000 of the 226,100 head).

Beyond looking at historical patterns, it is useful to contemplate future total and regional herd expansion possibilities. Every year the USDA releases 10-year projections on a host of agricultural market adjustments, including the size of the U.S. beef cow herd.[2] These projections provide one source of predictions that are instructive to contemplate. Some of the key points of these projections include total U.S. beef cow

inventory will:
* be 4.6 million head larger in 2024 than 2014 (33.7 million cows),
* not be over 31 million cows until 2019 (31.8 million cows),
* grow by at least 750,000 cows each year between 2016 and 2019.

Exactly how persistent past regional patterns are in coming years will be instructive to monitor as the entire industry adjust to have infrastructure "in the right place" given available supplies. Similarly, the extent to which realized future national inventories align with the recently released USDA projections will be important for understanding "how large" the industry really will be going forward.

Whether you are a cow-calf, stocker, feedlot, or packing firm seeking to operate in this changing industry recognition of these adjustments is critical. What is equally important is making and acting upon developed strategic plans that correspond to these adjustments.

Table 1. Beef Cows that Calved (1,000 head)

State/Region 1996 2006 2010 2015 1996

(% of U.S.)


(% of U.S.)


(% of U.S.)


(% of U.S.)

TX 5900 5350 5140 4180 16.7% 16.4% 16.3% 14.1%
OK 1986 2045 2073 1900 5.6% 6.3% 6.6% 6.4%
MO 2185 2166 1968 1881 6.2% 6.6% 6.3% 6.3%
NE 1930 1930 1781 1786 5.5% 5.9% 5.7% 6.0%
SD 1705 1719 1637 1632 4.8% 5.3% 5.2% 5.5%
MT 1570 1401 1465 1506 4.4% 4.3% 4.7% 5.1%
KS 1497 1550 1434 1477 4.2% 4.7% 4.6% 5.0%
KY 1200 1118 1070 1007 3.4% 3.4% 3.4% 3.4%
IA 1055 1000 895 920 3.0% 3.1% 2.8% 3.1%
FL 1115 916 958 916 3.2% 2.8% 3.0% 3.1%
US 35319 32703 31440 29693
Great Plains 9301 8936 8594 8744 26.3% 27.3% 27.3% 29.4%
Southern Plains 7886 7395 7213 6080 22.3% 2.6% 22.9% 20.5%
Cornbelt 5086 4877 4497 4395 14.4% 14.9% 14.3% 14.8%
Northeast 372 332 343 354 1.1% 1.0% 1.1% 1.2%
Southeast 8868 7787 7560 7119 25.1% 23.8% 24.0% 24.0%
West 3808 3376 3233 3001 10.8% 10.3% 10.3% 10.1%

Source: USDA data, compiled by LMIC, modified for presentation by Glynn Tonsor. Regions defined as: Great Plains (CO, KS, MT, NE, ND, SD, WY), Southeast (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV), Southern Plains (OK, TX), Cornbelt (IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, OH, WI ), West (AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA), and Northeast contains remaining states.

Table 2. Heifers for Beef Cow Replacement (1,000 head)

State/Region 1996 2006 2010 2015 1996

(% of U.S.)


(% of U.S.)


(% of U.S.)


(% of U.S.)

TX 880 820 760 710 14.2% 14.0% 14.0% 12.3%
OK 330 445 340 425 5.3% 7.6% 6.2% 7.4%
MO 390 430 405 405 6.3% 7.3% 7.4% 7.0%
NE 285 295 320 390 4.6% 5.0% 5.9% 6.8%
SD 270 295 290 380 4.4% 5.0% 5.3% 6.6%
MT 345 340 280 310 5.6% 5.8% 5.1% 5.4%
KS 240 255 240 260 3.9% 4.3% 4.4% 4.5%
KY 150 180 145 183 2.4% 3.1% 2.7% 3.2%
IA 150 140 140 170 2.4% 2.4% 2.6% 2.9%
FL 175 157 165 164 2.8% 2.7% 3.0% 2.8%
US 6189 5864 5443 5777
Great Plains 1610 1742 1620 1962 26.0% 29.7% 29.8% 34.0%
Southern Plains 1270 1250 1165 1115 20.5% 21.3% 21.4% 19.3%
Cornbelt 847 856 762 822 13.7% 14.6% 14.0% 14.2%
Northeast 107 94 99 114 1.7% 1.6% 1.8% 2.0%
Southeast 1598 1288 1213 1133 25.8% 22.0% 22.3% 19.6%
West 757 633 584 632 12.2% 10.8% 10.7% 10.9%

Source: USDA data, compiled by LMIC, modified for presentation by Glynn Tonsor. Regions defined as: Great Plains (CO, KS, MT, NE, ND, SD, WY), Southeast (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV), Southern Plains (OK, TX), Cornbelt (IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, OH, WI ), West (AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA), and Northeast contains remaining states.


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BEEF Cattle is a weekly publication of Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County and the OSU Beef Team. Contributors include members of the Beef Team and other beef cattle specialists and economists from across the U.S.

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Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Agricultural Administration; Associate Dean, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; Director, Ohio State University Extension and Gist Chair in Extension Education and Leadership. TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-6181.

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