Ohio Beef Newsletter

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Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
Think Safety When Working with Animals - William Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

A few days back, while sitting beside the husband of one of my classmates at our annual Ohio Veterinary Medical Association meeting, he updated me about things that had happened in their family since I had last seen them. At one point, he said, "That was just before the bull got me." I replied that I hadn't heard about that and asked him what happened. He told me about being attacked by the bull in the heifer pen; an animal that had never acted mean before. The bull had mauled him badly, and he was fortunate to get out of the pen alive. He was in the hospital in the intensive care unit for eight days before the doctors told his wife they thought he would live!

Last week, I was sampling cattle in one of our Johne's Disease Demonstration herds along with several ODA veterinarians. When we finished, we all walked as a group in a detour around a cow that had recently calved who was very protective of her calf. She was pawing at the straw and bellowing, but let us pass without incident. You may remember that earlier this past fall, a man in eastern Ohio was killed by a cow under similar circumstances and while his grandchildren were watching. In early 2007, I saw a story from one of the western states about a man who was killed by a bull.

These recent events should serve as a reminder to us that occasionally animals that have never shown signs of being mean will suddenly become dangerous; occasionally with fatal results. The reasons for this are often unknown. We all know that bulls can be dangerous and that it may be a function of the hormone testosterone. Some breeds, especially the dairy breeds, may be more prone to be mean, but it isn't confined to dairy breeds or older animals. Even young beef bulls can become menacing under the right circumstances as I found out one year when working at the Ohio Bull Test Station in the company of several veterinary students.

Aggressive cows are less common but by no means rare. It usually occurs when they have a calf by their side. This may be because of hormonal events surrounding calving, but it is likely due to her maternal instinct to protect her calf from something she perceives as threatening. Of course, this may extend well past calving time. In other cases it is strange new surroundings or separation from the herd that triggers the aggressive behavior. Some years back when I was still in private practice, I attempted to tranquilize and capture a beef cow that had escaped with her calf from the herd into a nearby cornfield (in September). While in the cornfield, she managed to dislocate the farmer's shoulder and loosen some teeth when he attempted to get a rope on her as she passed close to him in a cornrow. This was AFTER she had been given enough tranquilizer to flatten an 1800-pound Holstein bull.

The farmer escaped by rolling across several rows, and the cow hid in the standing corn. About ten days later we were able to capture her, and she was re-located to a small feedlot with other cattle and the calf was weaned. Several weeks after that, the cow tore up a shed housing the controls and silage chute next to the feed bunk while she was trying to get at the farmer in the shed operating the silage unloader controls.

I am sure that many of you reading this note have more interesting stories like these than I have. However, many people are new to the cattle business as a result of 4-H projects or movement to the country or other reasons. And all of us can use the occasional reminder to be cautious around our livestock. Now is a good time to review what procedures you usually use when working your animals and handling them during the calving season. Something as simple as catching a scouring calf to rehydrate him can precipitate an angry reaction from the cow. Perhaps there is something simple you can do to change your facilities or your routine that will reduce your risk of injury.

Proper Cattle Handling Facilities Make Things Easier - Lori Schott, University of Minnesota Beef Team

Cattle handling facilities are an essential part of any cattle operation.

Producers who want to improve cattle health as well as marketing and production (along with family and worker relations) must invest in some type of livestock handling facilities.

A well-designed handling facility can save you time and money by making the task of treating and conducting preventive health practices, pregnancy testing, implanting, controlling parasites, vaccinating, castrating and dehorning practices easier and safer to conduct.

Animal stress caused by insufficient facilities and handling practices can have a negative impact on carcass quality traits. Animal stress can be reduced by the utilization of working facilities that focus on safety and livestock restraint.

Quality defects such as bruising and injuries can also be reduced by the use of low-stress handling facilities and workers who know how to use facilities in relationship with livestock handling strategies.

The bottom line is that a well-designed facility can prevent injury to workers and cattle.

If you are planning on building or remodeling your facilities do your homework. The first consideration when building cattle working facilities is location-location-location.

Working facilities should be ideally placed along a fenceline in an area where several fence lines and pastures meet. Take into consideration site drainage, biosecurity, truck and trailer loading areas and turnaround space, utilities, existing structures, available materials and facility expansion potential.

Think through the potential layout plan and do not handicap a good plan with a poor understanding of cow psychology. Try and think how a cow thinks and visualize movement through the handling facilities from a cow's perspective.

Cattle do not have the best eyesight, but have highly sensitive hearing and a good sense of smell. Take note where shadows occur that may cause cattle to balk, location of direct sunlight in relationship to cattle movement, noise from other farm sources or other factors that may cause cattle to stall when moving through a set of working facilities.

Each farm has a unique set of facility specifications and needs. Just installing a set of handling facilities does not accomplish anything if they are not user friendly, easily accessible or take into account cow psychology.

The best place to start your research is by looking at all the varieties of livestock handling facilities/equipment on the market today. Buying livestock handling equipment can be a worthwhile investment, but equipment that is not user friendly or does not fit your need is a wasted investment.

Visit with cattle handling equipment representatives. Share with them a directional scale map of your farm that identifies all your pastures, fencelines, waterlines, electrical, main roads, outbuildings, lowlands/highlands, driveways and residential locations.

Along with industry representatives, the web has a wealth of university/industry publications or blueprints that will aid in the planning process. These publications provide information on layout and design tips, site selection specifications, herd size specific facility blueprints and cattle handling behavior tips for your consideration.

Lastly, one of the greatest resources is viewing other livestock producers' working facilities. Cattlemen, university and industry sponsored farm tours can be one of the best investments of your time. It never ceases to amaze me at all the innovations our cattle producers have discovered in constructing a set of affordable working facilities to meet their operational needs and improve the safety and welfare of their animals.

Portable, permanent, hydraulic or manual are just some of the factors that you must consider when shopping for handling equipment. A complete set of cattle handling facilities consists of holding pens and gates, access/sorting alley, crowding pen and gate, working chute, headgate and holding chute/squeeze, scale and loading chute. Not every operation requires all these components.

The University of Kentucky suggests the following equipment list, based on herd size as a general guideline:

- 25 to 50 head: headgate, holding chute (not elaborate), small crowding pen (five to eight head), and loading chute.

- 50 to 100 head: headgate, holding chute (not elaborate), portable scale, working chute, crowding pen, loading chute, sorting alley, and one or two holding pens.

- More than 100 head: headgate, holding chute/squeeze, scale, working chute, crowding pen, loading chute, sorting alley, and two or more holding pens.

Don't build yourself into a corner and use cow psychology! Remember facilities need not be expensive, just functional and safe.

For more information or to view a collection of cattle handling publications and resources visit the U of M Beef Industry Center-Cattle Handling Facilities website

HEIFER DEVELOPMENT: Selection for Other Factors Beyond Growth - Steve Boyles OSU Extension Beef Team

Growth is an important trait in heifer selection but there are other important traits. What are those traits?

MATERNAL/PRODUCTION TRAITS: The traits that are important in replacement heifers are the maternal traits: early puberty, fertility, calving ease, milk, soundness (longevity), temperament and efficiency. Early puberty is highly heritable (H2 = 50%) and related to early first pregnancy. Calving ease is important because it affects the time required for rebreeding. Soundness traits (feet, legs, udders, eye, etc.) are highly heritable and are related to longevity and productivity.

HEIFER SELECTION WITH CROSSBREEDING SYSTEMS: Hybrid vigor is important but is not everything. Producers should not overlook good replacement prospects just to gain a little more hybrid vigor. Keeping heifers of terminal sires may cause "frame creep".

TIME WHEN BORN: Adjusted 205-day weights and ratios provide a better estimate of the true genetic differences in preweaning growth of the calves and milking ability of the cow than do actual weaning weights. Late-born calves with light, actual weaning weights can still have excellent adjusted 205-day weights and ratios.

MILK PRODUCTION: Caution, some heavy milking cows may not meet nutritional requirements through the available forage. The calving intervals for these cows will generally exceed 370 days. Selecting replacement heifers out of these cows could eventually cause an increase in open cows. Heifers with the heavier actual weaning weights are more likely to cycle early and calve early as 2-year-olds. Therefore, actual weaning weights may do a better job of identifying the heifers and cows that will be the most productive. Seldom should heifers be selected as replacements that have low actual weaning weights, but high adjusted weights and ratios.

Seedstock producers are selling the "genetics" for growth and milk. The adjusted weights and other genetic indicators such as pedigree EPDs become more important. However, seedstock operators should not produce cattle that are not adaptable to their customer's resources. If seedstock producers are having trouble keeping their heaviest milking cows in the early part of the calving season, they need to be aware of the impact that the some of these cows could have for their commercial bull buyers.

Forage Focus: US Court Halts Sale, Planting Of GMO Alfalfa - Lauren Etter, The Wall Street Journal (reprinted from CattleNetwork.com 3/13/07)

A federal district court in California issued a preliminary injunction on the sale and planting of genetically-modified alfalfa Monday, the first-ever court-ordered moratorium on a GM crop and one of the first rollbacks of a USDA approval of a GM crop.

This comes a week after the U.S. Department of Agriculture called for a ban on a certain strain of rice containing unapproved genetically modified material.

(This story and related background material are available on The Wall Street Journal's Web site, WSJ.com)

The ruling follows a suit that was brought last year by The Center for Food Safety against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The center alleged that the USDA approved Roundup Ready alfalfa without ordering required environmental studies.

Roundup Ready alfalfa, a product of Monsanto Co. (MON), has been on the market for over a year already, and a limited amount of commercial planting has taken place. The court's ruling allows the continued harvest of the crop, but limits the future planting of the seeds.

The seeds cannot be sold after March 12 and the crop cannot be planted after March 30 until the court issues a final ruling. The court will hear oral arguments on April 27 and issue a final ruling thereafter.

The seed is one of many genetically-modified crops that are designed to withstand being sprayed with herbicides, including soybeans and corn. Monsanto argues that the ruling adversely affects farmers who have come to rely on the product.

The company expects to argue against the ruling, and says that it has followed all necessary procedures and rules. The Center for Food Safety considers this ruling a victory.

"We are pleased that the judge called for a halt to sales of this potentially damaging crop," said Will Rostov, a senior attorney for CFS. "Roundup Ready alfalfa poses threats to farmers, to our export markets, and to the environment."

Groups like CFS are concerned that genetically-modified products contaminate non-GMO products, and negatively affect the export of organic products to overseas markets that are more concerned about food safety, like the European Union and Japan.

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

LIVE CATTLE in Chicago on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) finished higher on Monday. APR'07LC futures closed at $97.80/cwt, up $0.700/cwt but $4.225/cwt lower than last week at this time. Support in this contract is now at $96.225/cwt. Just think, this contract set three-year highs last week. This uptick didn't last the expected two weeks. The JUNE'07LC closed up $0.575/cwt at $94.850/cwt, over $3.50/cwt lower than last Monday. Live cattle closed higher on short covering after losing lots of steam on Friday on technical trading. Cash markets late last week were disappointing fueling price declines. Futures rebounded on Monday amid technical corrections with the JUNE'07LC contract holding above the 40-day moving average. Spreading accounted for most of the volume as funds started rolling April positions. Last week's selling is seen as a possible high point with cash cattle down in most places. USDA placed the choice beef cutout at $163.83/cwt, off $0.36/cwt. The choice beef cutout reached a high of $167.53/cwt last Wednesday not seen since Nov. 18, 2003. The setbacks in wholesale beef cut into packer margins. According to HedgersEdge.com, the average beef plant margin for Monday was estimated at $6.25/head, down $12.85/head from last Friday and off $9.10/head lower than a week ago at this time. Cash sellers should sell cattle as soon as they are ready amid prospects for lower cash cattle this week. Be ready to price more feed inputs within the next few days.

FEEDER CATTLE at the CME finished higher on Monday. The MAR'07FC contract finished at $106.525/cwt, up $0.300/cwt and $0.650cwt higher than last Monday. The APR'07FC contract closed up $0.475/cwt at $107.925/cwt and $0.800/cwt higher than last week at this time. Upward price movement was aided by early fund buying, a firm cash market, and lower CBOT corn futures. Cash feeders have been making a stronger-than-expected showing for a while now. Instead of the usual February decline, prices have held pretty firm. The latest CME Feeder Cattle Index for March 16 was placed at $105.12/cwt, up $1.15/cwt. Cash sellers should think about selling feeder cattle when they are ready in order to take advantage of these good prices. As with live cattle feeders, be ready to price more feed inputs within the next few days.



Well-known member
Feb 7, 2007
Hollister, CA
nice post.  I worked for a guy for a while where we had a "basket" on the back of a stinger on pickups.  we would drive out in the pasture, pick up the calf, put them in the basket and lift it with someone inside who would doctor the calf, weigh it, measure it etc.  it worked great.  one time we tried to just get one last calf done and not use the basket,  the cow attacked my partner and got him down on the ground.  i beat her off with a two by four and it took a while.  reallllllly scary. 


Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
I really like their newsletters. Very informative.
I'm sure we can all tell horror stories about cattle.
I think Chambero has had some real dilly's before. Am sure that DL has some gems from her years experience.