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Questions and comments may be directed to the BEEF Team or Stan Smith, Editor

Previous issues of the BEEF Cattle letter

Issue # 179

March 15, 2000


The 2000 Ohio Beef Expo is set for March 17-19 at the Ohio Exposition Center on the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus. Last year, the Ohio Beef Expo was the 9th largest event of any kind in the central Ohio area with over 25,000 in attendance. This event features over 1200 head of cattle and thirteen breeds represented in shows and/or sales. Over 600 junior steer and heifer exhibitors are expected to exhibit in this year's sanctioned OCA BEST show.

The Ohio Beef Expo Trade Show has something to offer to all in attendance. Look for the special cattle feeding seminar and free reception on Friday. There will be nearly 100 trade show exhibitors housed in the Voinovich Center offering to meet the needs of Ohio's beef cattle industry.

For a detailed agenda, see the recent Ohio Cattlemen's Magazine or call OCA at 614.873.6736.


The bulls at the Ohio Bull Test come off feed today as the test concludes. This is a week earlier than in recent years, allowing the bulls one more week to come down from feed and harden off for the breeding season. The top indexing bulls will be placed in sale order as soon as breeding soundness examinations are completed. Final data on all the bulls should be posted to the OBT website by this evening and sale order will be up within the next week or so. Call Eric Dorr (614.873.6736) to receive a catalogue in early April for the April 15 OBT sale.


Beef cattle alliances are interested in value-based marketing systems. This means that carcasses will be individually valued for the amount of weight, yield grade, quality grade and probably tenderness in the future. This will be a departure from 'selling on the average.' We will all become more familiar with marketing 'on a grid.'

Twice annually, a carcass evaluation is conducted by Iowa State University for the American Angus Association. Sire expected progeny differences (EPD) for carcass weight, USDA marbling score, 12th rib fat thickness, ribeye area and percent retail product. The following genetic relationships have been derived from this work and were summarized by Doyle Wilson.

Carcass Weight EPD. In general, carcass weight is not a good predictor of percent retail product but is a good predictor of total retail product. Selecting sires with the higher EPD for carcass weight will result in progeny carcasses that produce more total retail product at a constant fat and age end point.

Marbling Score EPD. The marbling EPD can be used to select sires that will produce progeny with more marbling at a constant fat and age endpoint. Iowa's work with Angus cattle observed that the genetic correlation between marbling score and external backfat at the 12th rib is nearly zero. This means that breeders can select for increased marbling and not have to select for increased external fat when taking animals to an age-constant end point. Each breed will have to evaluate these genetic relationships.

Ribeye Area EPD. Ribeye area has been shown to account for a significant amount of the variation in percent retail product at a constant carcass weight end point. Given two sires with the same carcass weight EPD, the sire with the higher EPD for ribeye area will have progeny that yield more percent retail product. There is also a positive correlation between 12th rib ribeye area and pounds of total retail product. Do not use the ratio of the ribeye area EPD to carcass weight EPD as a selection index nor as an indicator of differences in percent retail product or muscling. Selecting on this ratio will result in the indirect selection for changes in mature size. The higher the ratio, the smaller the mature size.

Fat Thickness EPD. According to USDA Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) data, there a negative genetic relationship between external 12th rib fat thickness and percent retail product. Iowa work suggests the heritability of 12th rib fat thickness to be .25 from Angus carcass data.

Percent Retail Product. The percent retail product EPD combines traditional carcass traits (fat thickness, hot carcass weight, ribeye area, and KPH) into a composite EPD. The formula is heavily influenced by fat thickness.


If you have pasture land, and you applied for the Livestock Assistance Program (LAP), this may interest you. Rules and requirements for the Pasture Recovery Program (PRP) just arrived in County Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. PRP is the latest Federal 'disaster' cost share program to be announced and is available for sign-up beginning on Monday, March 20, to counties that were approved for LAP and ECP due to the drought - this includes 37 Ohio counties.

The program will provide cost share for reseeding pastures to producers who have previously applied for LAP. FSA can not cost share on improving pastures unless it is a reseeding. In order to be eligible, the practice can not be done until signed up for the program.

Call the local Farm Service Agency for details.

TOO EARLY TO SEED FORAGES - Mark Sulc, OSU Forage Specialist

With the recent warm weather and dry soil conditions, some people have asked about seeding forages now. Small grains (oats) can and should be seeded now for either forage or grain, but it is still too risky to seed perennial forages at this early date. Most forage crops; especially legumes are quite sensitive to below freezing temperatures during the early seedling stages.

For example, alfalfa seedlings are quite sensitive to frost injury until 4 or 5 leaves have formed. Wait until the last 7 to 10 days of March before planting perennial grasses or clovers, and until the last week of March before even considering planting alfalfa. If soil conditions are fit the last week of March, and warm temperatures are still with us, do not hesitate to plant alfalfa at that time, especially in central and southern Ohio.

There is always the risk of frost injury with timely planting, but planting legumes now in early March is just too risky, despite the current warm weather pattern. So just hold on to the horses for two or three more weeks. Hopefully we will get some needed rains before then followed by good soil and weather conditions for timely early planting the last of March and early April.


With the recent warm weather, forages are beginning new spring growth. Now is a good time to walk hay fields and pastures to assess stand density and winter survival. New growth in alfalfa and grass stands ranges from 1 to 3 inches already, depending on the location and vigor of the stand. In grass hay fields, the new growth is not as obvious, but grass growth is beginning. So the next week or two should provide a good opportunity to assess stands.

At this stage, established forages appear to have survived the winter very well. No reports of heaving damage in established alfalfa stands have been received -- most likely a result of the dry soil conditions and lack of much freezing and thawing action. Good snow cover during the coldest periods, and the dry fall conditions most likely increased the degree of cold hardening in forages.

Winter survival of new seedings made last summer may be much more variable, due to the dry fall conditions which hampered growth and development. One report of heaving in an August seeded alfalfa stand, and another report of heaved timothy seeded with wheat has come into OSU. Heaving greater than 1/2 to 1-inch in new seedings is serious. Such heaved plants will probably die eventually in the coming months.

Chickweed and other winter annuals are usually a real problem in late summer seedings with poor vigor. So walk those fields and be prepared to make necessary herbicide applications this week or next, before the winter annuals get too big.

As forage stands greenup, walk your fields and estimate the number of live plants per square foot. Actual counts in several spots can be made with a 2 x 2 foot square, or if the planting is in rows, measure off a known area and make plant counts. Second year stands should have 8 to 12 plants per square foot, and third year or older stands should have 5 to 6 plants per square foot for optimal yield potential. Estimated the ground cover of desirable forage plants can also be estimated visually. This should be done when there is about six inches of growth.

Stands with more than 80% ground cover will produce excellent yields. Stands with 60-80% ground cover should produce fairly normal yields. Stands with 40 to 60% ground cover will probably produce yields in the 60% range of normal. Stands of 20-40% ground cover will yield less than half their normal hay potential. Weeds will become real problems in the thinner stands, and overseeding with grass or destroying the stand and rotating out should be considered.

Now is a good time to put nitrogen on grass hay stands. About 70-80 pounds per acre of N should produce top grass hay yields in the spring (40 pounds per acre of actual N for each dry ton of expected yield). To stimulate grass pastures which suffered during last year's drought, about 40 to 50 pounds per acre of N should be applied now, and grazing should be differed until vigorous growth begins.


This year, more than ever, we've gotten the question, "I need all the grass I can get, as soon as possible, in the spring - when and how much should I fertilize it?" Retired OSU Extension Grazing Leader Ed Vollborn answers it this way:

"There is no doubt that strategic use of fertilizer is the way to go versus one big slug in April. After some research, a lot of on-farm demonstrations, and many late night grazing school farmer discussions, I have concluded that I need to fertilize at least 60 days before I need the grass. I want to be grazing in southern Ohio no later than March 20. You're already late to be fertilizing your second pasture!

Other than the date, use common sense. Don't do the whole farm - just the field(s) you need earliest. Stay out of the flood plain. Stay off of steep slopes. Choose first the well drained fields that the cows can stay on top of in early spring. Fertilize with 40-60 units of N and phosphorous and potassium according to soil test levels and expected removal.

I would be worried if I did not get a call from a couple agronomists and maybe even an environmentalist on this one. The turf people have some real good work saying that the root continues active longer than the top. In southern Ohio the grass root may just take a few days nap - not a long dormant period.

Weekly Purcell Agricultural Commodity Market Report for March 14, 2000
Wayne D. Purcell, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

In the cattle market, boxed beef values were up as much as $1.00 at the close of Monday's trade, and the Choice grades are back up around $120 to $121. There is concern that this may be about as high as these boxed beef values can run, however, and while we are selling some $71 cattle in limited trade on Tuesday, there is an apprehensive eye being cast toward Friday's Cattle on Feed report. We expect to see placements during February up again compared to year-ago levels, and that would boost the on-feed count even higher than the numbers we got after the report showing massive placements in the feedyards during January. The June cattle futures are trading above $69. There is a recent high at $69.85 and then further resistance at about $70.40. The life-of-contract high is at $70.87. I do not think we will see a retest of that contract high as these placements in the feedyards continue to swell supply expectations. On a move back up above $70 in the June, I would think about adding to forward price protection. If we are fortunate enough to see a run back up toward the contract high at $70.87, which occurred back on January 11, I would be an aggressive short hedger in this contract and in the other summer contracts that will be hit by these increased placements of cattle into the feedyards.

The August feeder cattle futures are reflecting the possibility of some increase in corn prices and the difficulty that the live cattle futures have in holding any sustained gains. Monday's close was around $86.22, and there is resistance above this level across the March 2 high at $87.40. That would be my upside objective at this point to add to price protection, and I have warned on several occasions that it is very risky to carry light cattle through the summer months when weather can and will often have a big impact on corn costs and corn prices. I would get late summer and early fall cattle priced on rallies back to those highs, especially with the dry weather talk we are hearing in the grain complex.

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