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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 # 679

March 24, 2010

"Streamlining" Manure Nutrient Management - Rob Hamilton, ODNR-DSWR

Livestock manure has always been an important source of fertilizer for crops in Ohio. However, Ohio agriculture is under increasing environmental, social, and economic pressure to apply manure in ways that maximize the utilization of nutrients, protect surface and ground water, and provide assurance to the public that steps are being taken to prevent pollution from affecting their health and the environment.

While many of Ohio's livestock operations have developed written plans or strategies to properly utilize manure, the majority have not. There are many possible reasons for this lack of planning. However, few producers have had the expertise, training or tools needed to help them develop their own nutrient management plans.

To help remedy this problem and to get more producers engaged in nutrient management planning the OSU Extension Environmental Management Team developed an easy to use nutrient management workbook. The nutrient management workbook enables producers applying livestock manure to quickly and accurately develop their own manure management plans. By following the steps outlined in the booklet and completing the enclosed worksheets, producers are able to balance available manure nutrients to the nutrient needs of the crops to be grown during the year. The workbook also focuses on basic issues that help minimize the risk of runoff and pollution associated with land application of animal manure. Paper copies of the workbook are now available for producers to use and an electronic version of the nutrient management workbook is coming soon.

A nutrient management plan can provide some opportunity for protection against nuisances and can also help promote a positive image of environmental stewardship. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Resources, encourages livestock producers who do not have nutrient management plans to use the nutrient management workbook and work with their OSU Extension or SWCD office on getting a plan developed for their farm operation.

On a limited basis and while funding lasts, The Division of Soil and Water Resources is offering funding ranging from $100 to $300 for producers that use manure as a fertilizer source and complete the nutrient management workbook and use it as the basis to develop an SWCD Board approved plan. Producer payments are based on the pounds of P205 the individual actually land applies under his/her NMW plan. In order to be eligible for funding a nutrient management plan must be approved by the local SWCD board of supervisors, the plan must include:

1. Soil tests for fields included in the plan that are dated no more than three years prior to approval.
2. Completed nutrient management workbook field sheets for each field where manure application is planned.
3. Maps of each field where manure is to be applied. (sensitive areas should be identified).
4. Agreement to NRCS practice standards for manure application, signed by the board and producer.

Producers that already have approved nutrient management plans by the SWCD Board of Supervisors are not eligible to receive funding. For more information on the Nutrient Management Workbook visit: http://oema.osu.edu/nmw.html. Copies of the nutrient management workbook are available at a $3 cost from Amanda Meddles, OSU Program Coordinator, 614-292-6625, meddles.14@osu.edu. For questions and information regarding nutrient management plans contact, Rob Hamilton, ODNR-DSWR, 614-562-0738, rob.Hamilton@dnr.state.oh.us

EDITOR's NOTE: All manure provides valuable nutrients, but not all manure is created equal. If you believe it is, or that all manures are even similar, or that published manure "book values" have any validity at all, then you need to take about 30 spare minutes of your time and view this on-line presentation which graphically compares four different Fairfield County beef feedlot manure samples!

A Systematic Approach to Bull Buying - Dr. Scott P. Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, VA Tech

With the onset of bull buying season, having a systematic approach to finding and identifying the "right" bull is imperative. Bull selection is the most critical factor for genetic improvement in cow-calf herds, as the influence of the bull impacts both the immediate calf crop as well as future calf crops through the performance (and costs) of his daughters. Consequently, bull selection warrants careful planning and preparation, well in advance of any sale or visit from an AI representative. Consider the following steps to assist in the bull-buying process:

1. Identify Herd Goals- Herd goals serve as the foundation for sire selection and provide guidance as to traits with the most relevance. Defining the production and marketing system, along with management strategies and environment are key factors that warrant consideration:

* Will the bull be used on heifers, mature cows, or both?
* Will replacement females be retained in the herd?
* How will the calf crop be marketed (at weaning?, backgrounded?, retained ownership? sell females?)
* What are the labor and management resources available?
* What are the feed resources and environmental conditions of the operation?

2. Assess Herd Strengths and Weaknesses- Fundamental records are necessary to identify herd strengths and weaknesses. Basic performance parameters such as calving percentage, weaning percentage, weaning weights, sale weights, carcass merit, feed usage, etc. are necessary to serve as the basis for assessing areas of strength and those needing attention.

3. Establish Selection Priorities- Concentrate on those factors which stand to have the largest impact on profitability. Remember that income is derived from performance (sale weight, % calf crop weaned, carcass merit, etc.). Performance is a function of both genetics and environment/management. Superior genetics can be negated by poor management, which emphasizes the importance of separating the impact of management (nutrition, health program) from that of genetics when specific priorities for the herd are established. Considering both the genetic and management influences on various traits is important. Focus on the handful of priority traits rather than attempting to change many traits simultaneously. Establishing the few traits to focus on is the key factor.

4. Utilize Selection Tools- Once selection priorities have been established through close examination of herd goals and current status, a number of useful tools are at the disposal of beef producers to assist in making genetic improvement. Genetic differences across breeds have been well established, and utilization of different breeds in a complimentary fashion through structured crossbreeding plans provides the opportunity for improvement in multiple traits. Most importantly, heterosis attained through crossbreeding has been shown to have significant favorable impacts on traits such as reproductive efficiency and cow longevity which are critical for herd profitability. The limited ability to select for reproductive traits in the form of EPDs further emphasizes the importance of capturing the value of heterosis.

EPDs are available for many traits of economic importance. The introduction of economic indexes which combine several related traits and their economic values into one EPD are available to assist with simultaneous improvement in multiple traits which impact areas such as carcass merit and post-weaning profit. Again, with the large number of EPD tools available, the critical step is to determine the EPDs which are most important and establish benchmarks relative to each.

5. Establish Benchmarks- Several tools can be utilized to assist in the determination of EPD specifications. EPD values for current and past sires can be used as benchmarks. With these benchmarks, EPD specifications can be set to reflect the desired increase or moderation in performance for a particular trait. As an example, establishing a benchmark for milk EPD can be determined through the relationship between previous sires' genetics for milk and the performance of his daughters in the herd.

6. Find Source- With the above defined, we can now begin to look at individual bulls. There are many sources of bulls that warrant consideration- production sales, test stations, and private treaty sales. Of critical importance is that the bull be from a reputable source which will stand behind their product. It may be necessary to look at several sources in order to find the correct bull.

7. Do Your Homework- The first step to doing so is to evaluate the sale catalog, performance pedigree, and data. By examination of the bull's performance record, determine which bulls meet the EPD and other specifications that have been established (and likewise eliminate those that do not meet the specifications). Be prepared to make trade-offs, as the perfect record may not be attainable. Do not be surprised or alarmed when the bulls you have highlighted appear scattered throughout the sale order. Remember to stick to the selection criteria and qualifications/specifications that have been established. All this can and should be accomplished prior to departing for any sale.

8. Take a Look- Once the list has been narrowed to only bulls which meet the criteria, these bulls can be further evaluated and selection refined. Having a list of suitable bulls prior to arrival at the auction or farm will not only save time, but also assist in making sure the right bull for the situation is purchased. Upon narrowing the potential candidates on paper, the bulls can be evaluated for suitability of phenotypic traits and the potential candidate list shortened even further. Not all relevant traits have EPDs (examples include disposition, foot soundness, fleshing ability, etc.), and therefore must be evaluated visually.

9. Make a Sound Investment- For many cow calf producers, purchasing a new bull is a relatively infrequent occurrence. This emphasizes the importance of selecting the right bull, particularly in single sire herds. The value of the right bull cannot be underestimated. Investments in good genetics will pay dividends both short and long-term through the influence the bull has on each calf crop as well as his daughters that are retained in the herd.

10. Manage the New Bull Properly- Of equal importance is the care and management of the newly acquired bull. Proper management and nutrition are essential for the bull to perform satisfactorily during the breeding season. With most new herd sires purchased as yearling bulls- management prior to, during, and after the first breeding season is particularly important. Plan ahead by acquiring a new yearling bull at least 60 to 90 prior to the breeding season so that ample time is available to allow for adjustment to a new environment, commingling with other bulls, and getting the bull in proper breeding body condition.

Bull Management in Multi-sire Pastures - Dr. Glenn Selk, Extension Cattle Specialist, Oklahoma State University

Before the breeding season begins, a few simple management procedures involving the bulls can increase the likelihood of a high pregnancy percentage among the cows.

1) In multi-sire pastures, make certain that the bulls that will be pastured together have been in a common trap or pasture prior to the breeding season. Bulls WILL establish a social hierarchy. It is better to get this done before the breeding season begins rather than wait until they are first placed with the cows.

2) Put young bulls with young bulls and mature bulls with mature bulls. Mixing the ages is will result in the mature bull dominating the younger bull completely, and in some instances causing a serious injury. If the plan is to rotate bulls during the breeding season, then use the mature bulls first, and follow with the yearling bulls in the last third of the breeding season. In this way, the young bulls will have fewer cows to settle, and will be 1 - 2 months older when they start breeding.

3) The cow:bull ratio is very difficult to decide upon. A conservative rule-of-thumb (for young bulls) is to place them with roughly the same number of cows as is his age in months. For example:

Bull age in months Number of females in breeding pasture
12 -15 10 - 12
15 -18 12 - 18
18 - 24 18 - 25
More than 24 25 - 35

Some bulls are known to be successful breeding 50 or more; while some are failures with only 10 cows. Observing bulls early in the breeding season may give the producer a little idea of the libido and breeding capacity of the bull.

Weekly Roberts Agricultural Commodity Market Report - Mike Roberts, Commodity Marketing Agent, Virginia Tech

LIVE CATTLE futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) tumbled in market correction on Monday. The APR'10LC contract finished at $97.100/cwt; off $0.875/cwt but $1.450/cwt higher than last week at this time. JUNE'10LC futures were down $1.050/cwt at $94.075/cwt. The AUG'10LC contract closed at $91.300/cwt; off $1.175/cwt. Cash cattle selling near $97/cwt instead of the expected $98/cwt sent some traders for cover, according to a couple of floor sources. USDA put the 5-area average price at $96.27/cwt for Monday, March 22. It really looks like there is plenty of room for downside movement as cattle begin to fatten on spring pastures and more come to market on cheaper feed. Late fund buying curtailed the downward price move near closing. On Monday USDA put the choice beef price at $158.19/cwt; up $1.55/cwt and $7.40/cwt higher than a week ago. Friday's trading set another record open interest at 355,552 contracts. According to HedgersEdge.com, the average packer margin was raised $27.25/hd from last report to a positive $45.70/hd based on the average buy of $93.48/cwt vs. the average breakeven of $97.04/cwt. Looks like a significant top may have been registered.

FEEDER CATTLE at the CME were down on Monday. The MAY'10FC contract closed up $0.100/cwt at $104.700/cwt. AUG'10FC futures closed at $110.400/cwt; off $0.625/cwt. Price weakness in live cattle, profit taking, and overpriced contracts relative the CME feeder cattle index pressured feeders. Cash feeders in Oklahoma City were steady to firm bringing $2/cwt higher prices in light trade but good demand. The CME feeder cattle index for March 18 was placed at $103.82/lb; up $0.60/lb and $1.49/lb over last report. The USDA cattle report was not viewed as much of a market mover according to several floor sources.

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

Fairfield County Agriculture and Natural Resources