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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 # 694

July 7, 2010

Fly Control - Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Athens County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Fly control on beef cattle in pasture situations can become an issue during the summer months. The two most commonly talked about fly pests are the horn fly and the face fly, but deer and horse flies can also become a nuisance. I have not seen any kind of economic threshold set for face, horse or deer flies that corresponds to an economic loss, although common sense says that if an animal is running from flies, or spending energy trying to rid itself of flies rather than grazing, then some type of performance loss is occurring. There has been enough research done with horn flies, which spend most of their life on cattle, that an economic threshold has been established. The goal is to keep horn fly numbers below the threshold of 200 per animal. Research has demonstrated that horn fly control can result in an additional 12 to 20 pounds of weight per calf over the summer month as well as reduced weight loss for the cow.

There are a variety of methods that can be used to control the horn fly, and some that also offer some control of the face fly. The method used may depend upon the cost, convenience, pasture layout, and effort the cattle manager wants to put into control. In general, control methods can be defined as chemical, mechanical, biological, and genetic. One of the issues with chemical fly control is fly resistance to chemicals. Effective use of chemical control depends upon the cattle manager knowing what chemicals are working and following label directions to minimize and slow down resistance problems.

Chemical controls include such products as dust bags, back rubbers, face rubbers, insecticide impregnated ear tags, animal sprays and pour-on insecticides. Dust bags, back rubbers and face rubbers are all most effective when used in areas where cattle have to pass by or through them daily. Insecticide impregnated ear tags should be put in the ear in June and removed by the end of September to minimize fly resistance. Protective gloves should be worn when applying or removing tags so that insecticide is not absorbed by handling the tags. In general, do not apply insecticide ear tags to calves less than 3 months old. There are a number of pour-on insecticides that can be used, but their limitation is less than season long control, which necessitates repeat treatment. Days to slaughter must also be watched closely with some products. While animal sprays are effective and available, they offer challenges to effective use since each animal must be thoroughly covered and repeat applications are needed for season long control. Lee Townsend, University of Kentucky Extension Entomologist has done an excellent job in putting together a publication that contains a listing of current products and general statements of use. That publication is available on-line at: http://pest.ca.uky.edu/EXT/Recs/ENT11Cattle.pdf. For those who do not have Internet access and who would like a copy, contact me at the Athens County Extension office and I can send you a copy.

One mechanical control that can be used and has given about 70% control of horn flies is a walk through fly trap. To be effective, it must be used in a situation where cattle have to pass through it on a daily basis. Flies are brushed off the animal as it walks through and become trapped between slats and an outer screened side. Horn flies will die after a short time off the animal. Plans to build the trap can be obtained for $5.00 through the University of Missouri Extension Publications service at the following on-line site: http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/ and type in "walk through fly trap plan" in the search box.

Some degree of control can be obtained biologically from cultivating the presences of dung beetles as well as some parasitic wasps. More information about these natural controls is available in the following publication from the Beef Cattle Handbook: http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/pdfs/bch/03810.pdf

Finally genetics needs to be considered. It seems that while some animals in a herd are severely affected by flies, there are usually some that have fewer flies on them and/or suffer less ill effects. There may very well be some type of genetic component at work. For those cattle owners who may be fans of Colorado cattleman Kit Pharo, he has broached this topic in several of his newsletters. Currently when Kit evaluates his cattle, one of the scores that is assigned is a fly rating. His hope is that he will develop some genetic fly resistance through selection.

Summer fly control on beef cattle should be given consideration. There are a number of effective options that can be utilized to form a fly control strategy for the farm.

LRP Insurance for Feeder Cattle - Dillon M. Feuz, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Applied Economics, Utah State University

The cattle market has seen an increase in price volatility in recent years. This increased volatility translates into greater risk and uncertainty for cattle producers. For a risk seeking individual, more volatility means a possibility of receiving higher returns on his cattle. However, for risk adverse individuals, increased volatility is something to be avoided if at all possible.

Caleb Bott, a graduate student at Utah State University recently completed an analysis of how effective LRP insurance was for cattle producers. He simulated returns for a thousand iterations to see how often the insurance paid out and to determine if most producers would prefer the insurance or would prefer to remain in the cash market. The simulation was based on observed prices for the past 20 years to understand the volatility in the market place. LRP premiums were tracked since the inception of the insurance product. To try and make the simulation as real as possible, not only were cattle prices varied but feed costs were also varied in the analysis.

The results of his analysis were very interesting. He found that on average returns to a backgrounding type program were reduced by $6.50 per head if producers consistently purchased the LRP insurance. When the market price was equal or higher than anticipated, returns were reduced about $13 per head, the price of the insurance. However when prices were lower, returns had the potential of being much higher with the insurance. In some of the worst price wrecks, returns with insurance were more than $150 per head higher than if the producer had remained strictly in the cash market.

So, the decision each producer faces is do they prefer a slightly lower return on average so that they can avoid the large losses or would they prefer a higher average return and know that some years are going to be very profitable and some years they are going to incur large losses. It is likely that each producer will evaluate this decision a little differently. If you have a higher debt load on your operation, you may not be able to tolerate large losses and therefore the insurance may look better to you. Conversely, a producer who has sufficient equity may prefer to take the good and the bad in the market and know that in the long run they will make more money without the insurance. The one thing that we would all like to do, but which I am doubtful any of us can do, is to only insure in years when price will decline and not insure when price will be stable or higher.

Economists and those in the insurance business have tried to group people into categories such as risk averse, risk neutral and risk preferring. Most people tend to fall in the risk averse category, but even this category is really a continuum from slightly risk averse to highly risk averse. Bott also did an analysis to determine the types of producers who may prefer the insurance. He found that those cattle producers who were risk preferring or risk neutral definitely would not purchase the insurance. He also found that producers who were only slightly risk averse probably would also not purchase the insurance. However, he found that as a producers risk aversion moved to moderate or highly risk averse, than they would prefer to buy the LRP insurance. Prior studies of agricultural producers have found that most are in the slight to moderate risk avers category.

If you are interested in more information about LRP insurance I would suggest you visit the following web site: http://livestockinsurance.unl.edu/

Ohio Agriculture and HSUS Reach Landmark Agreement: No Ballot Initiative this Fall - Jamie King, Director of Member Services and Communications, Ohio Cattlemen's Association & Ohio Beef Council

Governor Ted Strickland announced Wednesday that an agreement has been reached between Ohio agriculture leaders and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). As a result, HSUS agreed to drop their ballot initiative for 2010. Leaders of Ohio's agriculture community, including the Ohio Cattlemen's Association, believe that this agreement with HSUS will allow all of us to focus on our shared commitment to ensuring excellent care of Ohio's farm animals.

The agreement includes the following key provisions:

* Joint funding by the agriculture community and HSUS of independent research on best practices and to work for the highest farm animal care standards ;

* Shared support for the Board to take action on downer cattle and euthanasia of farm animal provisions consistent with HSUS's proposed referendum; and

* A 15-year transition plan to convert individual stall housing to group housing for gestating sows.

As part of the agreement, HSUS will withdraw their proposed animal care referendum from the 2010 ballot, which will save Ohio's agriculture community from another costly ballot initiative. Click here for a PDF version of the agreement details.

Ohio's agriculture leaders and the Governor's office have had open dialogue with HSUS through the past couple of weeks to reach a mutual agreement and to avoid a costly, divisive ballot initiative.

The agreement is good for Ohio farmers for several reasons. It will give our farmers more time to modify our barns per consumers' expectations and it is done on our terms. It also will give the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board time to work.

What you can do: As you are talking with individuals in your local communities regarding the agreement, I encourage you to use the following talking points and messages. Should you receive any media requests, please call the OCA office at 614-873-6736 as soon as possible.

* As an Ohio cattle farmer, ensuring the well being of my herd is my number-one priority; it is the right thing to do, and it just makes sense.

* In an effort to meet the evolving values of our consumers, Ohio's agriculture community and the Humane Society of the United States have put our differences aside to focus on what's best for our farm animals and the future of all Ohioans.

* I support this agreement because it will allow me and other farmers in the state to focus on our shared commitment to ensuring the excellent care of farm animals in Ohio.

* It also will give the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board time to work - that's what Ohio voters and Ohio farmers wanted.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me at 614-873-6736 or jking@ohiobeef.org.

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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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