A Publication of:

OSU Extension - Fairfield County

831 College Ave., Suite D, Lancaster, OH 43130

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 # 666

December 23, 2009

'Tis the Season . . . for Meetings, Schools and Classes - Stan Smith, PA, Fairfield County OSU Extension

On the farm, winter is traditionally a time to catch up on book keeping, review the good, bad and the ugly of the previous year, and to lay plans for a new year. As an aid in the planning for a productive and prosperous 2010, OSU Extension Educators and Ohio beef cattle industry leaders have scheduled and planned a wide variety of meetings, schools and programs for the coming weeks.

For a comprehensive listing of these meetings, visit the OSU Extension Beef Team web calendar. Included in the current listing is a basic Cow/Calf School, the follow-up to last year's popular Managing Dynamic Change series, the Heart of America Grazing Conference, and a Pastures for Profit series of pasture management classes, just to name a few. If you don't find a program today that fits your needs, check back frequently as upcoming programs continue to be added as their details become available.

Have a great Holiday Season, and enjoy a profitable new year in 2010!

Great Lakes Professional Cattle Feeding and Marketing Short-course

The 2010 Great Lakes Professional Cattle Feeding and Marketing Short-course will be held January 20 and February 3 at the Wood County Junior Fair Building in Bowling Green Ohio. This short course is a joint effort of Ohio State University Extension, Michigan State University, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture to enhance the cattle industry in the Eastern Corn Belt. Consumer opinion about the wholesomeness of beef and how it is produced is very important. As producers of beef, we have a responsibility to ensure cattle are properly managed in ways that are acceptable to consumers. The stagnant cattle market has created many challenges for cattle feeders. The outlook for corn and cattle prices is uncertain as the world-wide financial slowdown continues.

The first session of the short-course will focus on 1) Environmental and Animal Well-Being topics and 2) Feeding Distillers Grains.

The second session topics are 1) Market Outlook, 2) Organic/Natural Beef Programs, 3) Cap and Trade, and 4) E. coli 0157:H7.

Registration and refreshments will be provided beginning at 6 pm each evening. Participants may enroll by sending a check made payable (US Funds) to Michigan State University ($35 for 1st person and $25 for each additional family/farm member; FFA/4-H students can register for $15 each) and mailed to Faye Watson, Dept. Animal Science, Michigan State Univ., 1290Anthony Hall, E. Lansing, MI 48824-1225. Please mail before January 15, 2010. If not mailed by January 15, contact Steve Boyles (boyles.4@osu.edu, 614-292-7669) or Dan Frobose (frobose.1@osu.edu, 419-354-6916) if you desire to attend the program or if you have any questions about the program.

Forage Focus: Ohio Forage Performance Trials are Released - Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

The 2009 Forage Performance Trials Report is now available online at http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~perf/

The report is a summary of performance data collected from forage variety trials in Ohio during 2009, including commercial varieties of alfalfa, orchardgrass, tall fescue, annual ryegrass and teff, in tests planted in 2006 to 2009 across three sites in Ohio: South Charleston, Wooster, and North Baltimore.

A pdf file easy for printing is available, as are downloadable excel files of all the trials. Links to other states forage performance trials are included as usual on the website, including the link to the University of Wisconsin interactive website to compare alfalfa varieties across many locations (including Ohio data).

Molds and Mycotoxins - Dr. Bill Weiss, Dairy Nutrition Specialist, The Ohio State University

Because of weather conditions during the past growing season, mold and mycotoxin contamination of some crops, particularly corn, is common. Molds are organisms and mycotoxins are chemicals produced by certain species of molds that are toxic to animals. Visibly moldy grain may or may not have mycotoxins and mycotoxins can be found on feeds that are not visibly moldy. Moldy corn that is not contaminated with mycotoxins is not as nutritious as clean corn. Molds consume nutrients, usually the most digestible one, thereby reducing the nutrient content of the corn. Moldy corn typically has higher concentrations of fiber and lower concentrations of starch and fat than clean corn. If allowed, cattle will select against consuming visibly moldy hay and fiber digestibility can be reduced when cattle are fed visibly moldy silage. Experiments directly evaluating the effects of feeding moldy grain to dairy cows are lacking. The consensus among nutritionists is that moldy feed most likely will reduce feed intake, which will then result in reduced milk production. Most of the research on moldy feeds have used hay or silage, and these typically comprise the majority of the diet. Corn and other grains usually make up less than one-third of the diet. Also because of all the mixing and blending that occurs during combining, storage, and feed manufacturing, mold is likely much less concentrated in grain than in hay or silage. This means that the increased amount of mold on corn grain this year may not be a general problem for cattle. However, if you observe visibly moldy corn (for example a moldy pocket in a bag) it should be discarded and not be fed to cows because of the potential decrease in intake and milk yield.

Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of different mycotoxins exist and unfortunately we know very little about most of them. The mycotoxins that are most commonly identified in feedstuffs this year are deoxynivalenol (DON; vomitoxin), T-2, zearalenone, and fumonisin, with DON being by far the most common.

1) Mycotoxin contamination of grain is not uncommon; cows (and people) have probably been consuming these compounds for centuries. Various surveys conducted in different years and in different countries typically find that 25 to 50% of feed commodities have detectable concentrations of DON (typically samples with detectable concentrations have concentrations less than 1 ppm). Therefore, you should not be overly concerned if grains have low, but measurable concentrations of DON (less than or equal to 1 ppm).

2) Distribution of molds and mycotoxins is not uniform. Tremendous variability in concentrations can occur within a single batch or bin of feed. This means that results from a single sample may not be meaningful. Multiple individual samples are needed to determine whether mycotoxin contamination is a concern. A single negative sample does not mean that the grain is mycotoxin free and a single sample with high concentrations of mycotoxins does not mean that the bin of feed should not be fed.

3) Distillers grain can be a substantial source of mycotoxins. Fermentation removes starch from the corn, resulting in an approximate 3X concentration of the remaining nutrients and contaminants. Corn that contained 1 ppm DON will produce distillers grain with about 3 ppm DON (on a dry basis). Some extremely high concentrations of DON have been reported in distillers grain this year. You should purchase only distillers grains that have been adequately sampled and analyzed for mycotoxins and contain an acceptable concentration (probably less than about 5 ppm DON on a dry basis). Because of the potential of mycotoxin contamination and other reasons (e.g., variable fat concentrations), the amount of distillers grains in dairy cows diets should be limited to 10 to 15% of diet dry matter.

4) The concentration of DON in the total diet that causes problems for dairy cows is not well defined but total diets with less than 3.5 ppm DON (dry basis) are probably okay when fed to lactating cows. Some studies that fed the specific compound (not actual contaminated grain) found no adverse effects at rates greater than 10 ppm, but most people think it is not a single mycotoxin that causes problems but the combination of different mycotoxins and molds that occur in naturally contaminated grain that cause the problem. A recent experiment was conducted with dairy cows fed diets with no detectable DON or a similar diet (3.5 ppm DON in the total diet) that included contaminated corn (7.5 ppm DON) and wheat (2.4 ppm DON) and they found no difference in feed intake (54.1 lbs/day for control and 52.8 lbs/day for the contaminated diet) and no difference in milk yields (73.5 and 78.3 lbs/day for control and contaminated treatments, respectively). The function of certain immune cells, however, was depressed in cows fed the contaminated grains. Another study that fed DON contaminated wheat found no effects on intake when the total diet contained approximately 5 ppm DON. However some field reports suggest that total dietary concentrations greater than about 2.5 ppm DON are associated with production losses. Fresh cows (first few weeks of lactation) may be more sensitive to mycotoxins than other cows because they are recovering from the stresses associated with calving, have relatively low intakes but high milk production, and can be immunosuppressed. Diets with up to 3.5 ppm DON (dry basis) may be acceptable for later lactation cows but may not be acceptable for fresh cows.

5) If you are faced with feeding mycotoxin contaminated feeds, the most effective solution is to limit the inclusion rate of contaminated feeds to dilute the concentration in the total diet. Certain feed additives are often included in diets to 'bind toxins'. Data supporting these claims are generally quite limited. Many compounds will bind aflatoxin (a type of mycotoxin that should not be common this year) and reduce its concentrations in milk. The chemistry of aflatoxin is very different from many other mycotoxins, and compounds that bind aflatoxin often do not react with other mycotoxins. Limited data derived from cows suggest that some yeast-based products (e.g., glucomannans) may have some beneficial effects when fed with DON-contaminated diets. Field reports suggest that some clay-based compounds may also have some beneficial effects with DON-contaminated feeds. These compounds will increase ration costs and some of them can reduce the availability of certain minerals (especially copper and zinc) and vitamins. The safest and most effective method of reducing the impact of feeding mycotoxin contaminated feed is simply to dilute out the contaminated feed.

Cattle on Feed Report a Nice Stocking Stuffer - Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist

The December USDA Cattle on Feed report is not enough to ensure a Christmas present of profitability for cattle feeders but the bullish tone is surely a nice stocking stuffer to end the year. After four consecutive months of larger than year earlier placements, the November placements were down eight percent while marketings were up by four percent compared to last year. Placements were down more than expected and marketings were up more than expected so both values will be taken as bullish. The resulting on-feed inventory for December 1 was 99 percent of last year, slightly below expectations.

This report should alleviate some of the growing concerns about feedlot supplies but the fact remains that feedlot marketings will increase in the next quarter as the July - October increase in placements work their way through feedlots. However, the larger November marketings pulls cattle off the front end and the lower placement number should set a stronger tone for fed cattle markets heading into the second quarter of the year. If carcass weights continue to stay in check, which is likely given the time of year, the pressure on the first quarter may be limited. Of course demand is the key and winter weather can play big factor short run depending on how the winter progresses.

Kentucky Beef Cattle Market Update - Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

The Kentucky fall calf market appears to be bouncing on the bottom as prices for 5 weight steers were virtually unchanged from October to November, while 7 weights slid by about $1 per cwt. Prices for the first week of December were also steady, suggesting that prices are not likely to reach the low levels of 2008. But, they sure came close. Our chart this month shows price trends for 500 to 600 lb Medium and Large Frame #1 steers at Kentucky auctions.

As we look ahead to 2010, the outlook hasn't changed a great deal from where it was this summer. Supplies remain tight and beef production has been low. Cow slaughter and on-feed numbers suggest that the size of the US cow herd is likely to decrease once again by January.

To see much improvement in cattle prices, we need to see some strength in the box. Cutout values have really struggled to sustain anything above $140 per cwt. since spring, and slaughter cattle prices have struggled to break out of the low $80's. It appears that movement of upper-end beef products has been slow at the retail level, making it difficult to build much value into cattle. If the economy improves in 2010, consumer spending on beef will increase, supporting prices through the entire beef system.

I'll end 2009 on a positive note. While even the best macroeconomists struggle to predict how long this economic downturn will last, most agree that some positive signs are out there. When the US economy does turn around, and beef demand improves, cattle numbers are going to be at levels we haven't seen since the 1960's. When that happens, tight supplies and increasing demand should equate to some attractive prices for feeder cattle. I wish you all a merry Christmas and a very profitable 2010.

Chart: Kentucky Auction Prices, 500 to 600 lb Medium / Large Frame #1 Steers

Source: KY Livestock and Grain Market news

Visit the OSU Beef Team calendar of meetings and upcoming events

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.

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status. Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Admin. and Director, OSU Extension. TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868

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