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

Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine


July 2020

The new normal

I would like nothing more than to write this column about something other than the COVID-19 pandemic. I do understand that for beef producers, many things haven’t changed. Hay still needs to be made, cattle fed and crops tended. However, life around you is different, very different. Back in April this column talked about how this pandemic will change us. Little did we know how that would unfold. Now many of us are trying to get back to normal in our lives and work. However, normal isn’t normal anymore. Some of this is temporary. Hopefully, development of a vaccine will eliminate the need for masks in public and 6 feet social distancing. We have learned some things about ourselves and our customers that we will take forward in the future. Here are a few things we will likely take home:

Online communication is OK. Other than glitches in broadband we managed pretty well with the online platform for education and communication. We will be more creative in how we use it and blend it into our programming in the future. It will not replace being in person however. Podcasts are pretty cool. A lot of people discovered them just recently. There were also lots of new ones created. You just need to find the good ones that are right for you.

The value chain and the supply chain have vulnerabilities. The disconnect between retail, wholesale, cattle and futures prices clearly came unhinged for a time. Also, disruptions in ethanol coproducts made us rethink our nutritional programs. I am sure there will be adjustments made to lessen these disruptions in the future.

When the chips are down, people still want safe, wholesome, affordable beef. This was clear when the only beef items on the shelves were the more expensive, branded specialty products and beef substitutes.

There is a new awareness of and appreciation for local lockers and freezer beef. This could be an opportunity to build a customer base of neighbors and friends for your product. More locally, this could be a good opportunity for neighbor relations.

We need to do a much better job of biosecurity in the beef industry. Everyone now has a good idea of the basic concepts of biosecurity. That is what social distancing, contact tracing and quarantine is all about. Many of the major cattle diseases are caused by viruses or bacterial infection that are set up by viral infection. While each virus is spread differently there is now a new awareness for management practices such as isolation of new cattle, BVD PI testing, visitor management and traffic flow in our operations.

We at the Iowa Beef Center are adjusting to the new normal. Look for our first in-person events to be BQA certifications and pasture management programs. We are planning to host our Feedlot Short Course on August 11-13. Look for registration info on our website. This is a limited enrollment event that has filled the last 3 years. We’re also planning a fencing and pasture management clinic in Ames in September so stay tuned for that.

The Silage for Beef Conference that was to be held in June has been moved to a virtual conference. This is a joint effort between the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, Iowa State University and Lallemand Animal Nutrition. Look for webinars on July 7, 14, 28, and August 4 followed by a series of podcasts.


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!