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Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center director's monthly column featured in Cattleman Magazine. Archives

Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine


October 2019

Try a Podcast this Harvest Season

In Iowa October is harvest time. Historically we do not do many educational programs for farmers at this time of year because they are busy with harvest activities. October is the time when our staff regroups and works to develop plans for the next year. That is the case this year as well, however that doesn’t mean we are not still providing education for the beef industry. We’ve noticed in recent years an increase in phone calls and emails from beef producers during harvest as they pass the time in combines, grain carts and trucks. This time to think often stimulates very engaging questions and ideas.

One of the more recent trends to pass the time and stimulate thoughts and ideas is the increase in podcasts. At the Iowa Beef Center, we have dipped our toes in the "podcast water" and would welcome your feedback. We have three podcast sessions now available that we hope you will listen to. You can find them on our web page. Our podcast "The Bull Pen" is designed to have extended conversations with interesting people on interesting topics. While we do not record them frequently, we are always interested in suggestions of topics or people who would be interesting guests.

Looking to rent or lease bulls? Patrick Wall has developed a new "Bull Rental and Lease Agreement Guide" (IBC 0137). The guide walks you through the steps to consider whether you are leasing a bull or renting out some of your bull inventory. It is available for free download from the ISU extension store.

Another new publication is "Iowa’s Pastureland and Grazing 2013-2018". This publication is based on evaluation surveys that were mailed to 1,000 participants in grazing or pasture education programs that the Iowa Beef Center conducted along with our partners. The publication summarizes the findings of that evaluation to determine the changes in Iowa’s pasture management and to look at the effectiveness of IBC’s various pasture programs. Included in the report is information on pasture availability, pasture rent, cow numbers, stocking density and much more. It is also available for download from the ISU extension store at no cost.

Often the first frost of the year occurs about now in Iowa. The first fall frost brings questions about forage management. Sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids offer the potential for prussic acid poisoning in reaction to stress caused to the plant by frost. To minimize the risk, remove cattle from frosted fields for 3 to 4 days if the plant is 18 inches or taller and 10-14 days if it is shorter. If regrowth occurs from partially killed plants avoid grazing for at least 2 weeks. Harvesting as hay or silage greatly reduces the prussic acid content and the risk.

Another common question is the toxicity of frosted alfalfa. Frosted alfalfa is not at risk for prussic acid poisoning and can be safely grazed following a frost. There is a slightly higher bloat risk under these conditions so good bloat prevention strategies are suggested. If you have additional questions about fall forage management please call your regional Beef or Crops Specialist.

Are you in need of being Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) or Beef Quality Assurance Transportation (BQAT) certified? You can always do it online at We will resume in-person BQA training in November with one already scheduled on November 21 in Sioux City.

The IBC at Iowa State University serves as the university’s extension program to cattle producers. Our center comprises a team of faculty and staff from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. We work together to develop and deliver the latest in research-based information to improve the profitability and vitality of Iowa’s beef industry. If you’d like to be notified of updates on progress of research projects or programs that might be coming to your area, please subscribe to our “Growing Beef” newsletter by following the link on our website, If you have a question, use the “Ask our Experts” link on the website. Also, feel free to call us at 515-294-BEEF or email us at You can also follow @iowabeefcenter on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.