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

Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine


September 2020

The Bottom of the Bin

Due to growing and harvesting conditions and issues related to propane availability, some of last year’s corn crop was not stored at the ideal moisture. As the weather warmed through the spring and summer, grain quality concerns became more of an issue. Dr. Charles Hurburgh and the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative closely monitors corn quality throughout Iowa and he says much of last year’s corn crop is reaching the end of its shelf life.

Blue eye mold has been observed more frequently in recent months. It is caused by fungal growth, especially Aspergillus glaucus. Even though this is not the same species of mold that causes aflatoxin, a common mycotoxin of concern (Aspergillus flavus), that does not mean that corn infected with blue eye mold is not a concern. Clearly for grain producers this corn would be considered damaged and would be sold at a heavy discount. For that reason, damaged or moldy corn may present an opportunity for cattle feeders. The effect of moldy corn on cattle can range from virtually no difference from normal corn to mycotoxin contamination. Testing for mycotoxins can be conducted by the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in cooperation with your local veterinarian. Cattle can tolerate much higher levels of mycotoxins than swine or poultry. A more likely concern is palatability. Starting with a small amount in the grain mix (about 10%) and gradually increasing is a good way to determine the palatability affect. Also note that mold dust can be a respiratory irritant especially for vulnerable cattle like stressed or newly weaned calves. Corn screenings will likely concentrate mold concerns. For more information on feeding corn with quality concerns see this fact sheet. For more on grain quality go to the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative web site.

At the Iowa Beef Center, we are gradually moving back to in-person programming with social distancing guidelines practiced. Early programming included BQA certification sessions. Check the Iowa Beef Industry Council BQA page regularly for a session near you. We know there is pent up demand for those of you that need to renew your BQA certifications and we will be presenting new sessions as we can. Also, look for a Fencing Clinic and Grazing field day planned in September.

We’ll continue to bring you online education through webinars and short videos. Be sure to check out our newest Facebook video series on Controlling Cow Costs. See the playlist here.

Two excellent new publications are available at the Extension Store! They are - "Low Stress Cattle Handling" and "Health Considerations for Confined Cows". Both are excellent resources that are free for the downloading.

We are continuing the planning process for the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium and Convention to be held June 22-25, 2021, at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. Each year the symposium draws a large group of leading seedstock and commercial beef producers, academics and allied industry partners. It is truly one of the leading beef cattle events in the U.S. and Iowa is very proud to be the host for 2021. Over 1400 people registered for the online event in 2020. Please put this event on your calendar and look for more information as the plans develop.


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 our "Ask our Experts" link. Also, feel free to call us at 515-294-BEEF or email us at You can follow @iowabeefcenter on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. And be sure and listen to our newest venture - the Iowa Beef Center Podcast!