Southwest Ohio farm to host new beef heifer development program

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SALEM, Ohio – A southwestern Ohio farm and its operators have been chosen to help kick off Ohio’s first beef heifer development program.
Depending on how many beef producers show interest in the program, more farms may be selected to help develop those animals, says Bill Doig, a beef program specialist for Ohio State University Extension
and Ohio Cattlemen’s Association.
The program is a joint effort of the two groups with support from the Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation.
Operators. Husband-wife team John and Diana Day, and John’s father, Carlos, operate Day Farm in Russellville in Brown County.
The Day farm was chosen as the first site to host the program from a pool of nearly a dozen highly-qualified applicants, Doig said.
Doig said organizers were both pleased and surprised at the number and quality of those farmers who applied to help lead the program.
The Days are all college-educated and have training in Beef Quality Assurance and educational programs like short courses and cow-calf schools.
The Days have managed their own Angus herd since the 1950s, Doig said, and currently have 46 cows on their 80-acre farm.
The farm has facilities, including converted tobacco barns, that will allow the Days to manage program heifers in groups with as few as five animals to as many as 40, Doig said.
Why do it? Managing heifers in groups, and separate from older cows, is one step many beef farmers skip or aren’t efficient with, according to John Grimes, an Extension educator in Highland County.
With Ohio being home to about 300,000 beef cows, there’s a wide-open need for help with heifers.
The new program allows producers to bring their replacement heifers to a central location to be developed.
Producers will retain ownership in the heifers and pay a daily fee, probably between $1-$2 per head, Doig said.
That covers the cost of feed, medicine, veterinary and reproductive costs and labor.
Requirements. Doig said heifers eligible to be consigned into the program must have been born between Jan. 1, 2006, and April 30, 2006.
Heifers in that age bracket should also weigh a minimum of 1.8 pounds per day of age, Doig said. For example, a heifer that’s 325 days old should weigh at least 585 pounds.
In addition, the heifers should have confirmed birth dates and should be weaned before they’re delivered to the Brown County site.
Pedigree information is encouraged but not required.
Heifers of any breed are accepted, including crossbreds, and are not required to have EPD information.
Genetics. Heifers in the program will be synchronized and artificially bred to bulls with proven genetics, focusing on calving ease and balanced traits.
Consignors will get a choice of bulls from a selected list, Doig said. Those sires will all be among the top 25 percent of their breed for birth weight EPDs.
“That really limits the number of sires, but calving ease is very important to us, especially when we’re dealing with heifers,” Doig said.
After females are confirmed bred, they can be returned to the consignor’s herd as replacement females, or offered for sale to the public as replacement females for other herds.
Consign. Program organizers set a goal for the Day’s farm at 100 heifers, and are accepting consignment applications now on a first-come, first-serve basis.
If producers try to enroll significantly more animals, other farm sites may be chosen, Doig said.
Any member of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association is eligible to consign. In essence, any producer from any state may enroll in the program as long as they buy an association membership.
Cattlemen’s association memberships cost $60 per year.
To consign replacement females, or get more information on the program, go to www.ohiocattle.org.
Return consignment forms to Bill Doig, OSUE/OCA Beef Program Specialist, 10600 US Highway 42, Marysville, Ohio, 43040, or call 614-873-6736. Deadline is Jan. 5, 2007.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 800-837-3419 or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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