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

Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine


February 2021

Time to Take Stock and Plan Ahead

I’ve always hated February. It comes after a long winter and the Groundhog usually tells us on February 2nd that there are at least 6 weeks of winter left to go. We know that calving is coming, and spring is in sight but there is still more winter to come.

We are also in the February of the Coronavirus pandemic. We know that widespread vaccination and even herd immunity is coming but it seems a long way off. Rather feel sorry for ourselves and fall into depression this is a good time to take stock of the situation and do some planning - both short and long term.
For the long term, ask yourself questions like these--

  1. Have changes in consumer demand and behavior changed my place in the beef value chain?
  2. Where are we in the cattle cycle and how does that correlate to beef demand?
  3. How can I position myself to take advantage of changes in the beef industry over the next 10 years?
  4. What other changes in society, policy or business will change the cost of inputs or the marketing of my product?
  5. How do I keep myself current to react to questions 1-3? For this one you can start by reading Dr. Lee Schulz’s monthly column and the Ag Decision Maker Newsletter.

For the short term, here are a few items for the month of February -

  1. Is my late gestation nutrition for those 1st and 2nd calf heifers adequate for successful rebreeding? How is my feed supply and am I prepared to supplement if necessary?
  2. Am I prepared for calving? February calving might be the reason "calving under roof" was invented.
  3. For feedlot cattle, am I on target with my implant program to have the best implant the last 60-80 days on feed?
  4. Do I have a marketing plan for the cattle currently on feed and those that will be purchased to replace them?
  5. What is my feed plan for 2021? This includes grain crops, cover crops, forages and grazing. Are more annual forages in my future?

A long winter strains resources and patience but taking some time for planning can have you ready for spring. The figurative long winter of COVID-19 also requires some reflection on what our businesses should look like in the future. Many believe the future can be bright as we recover our economy but will likely be much different.

We are continuing to host in-person BQA certification sessions using local, state and national guidelines for safety of presenters and attendees. Check the Iowa Beef Industry Council BQA page regularly for a session near you. We are also looking forward to partnering with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association on their Educational Forums to be held in March.

We continue to plan for the 2021 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium and Convention set for June 22-25 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. This annual symposium draws a large group of leading seedstock and commercial beef producers, academics and allied industry partners. The theme of the event this year is "Innovation to Application." 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!