Driftless Region Beef Conference to Feature Cattle and Corn Synergies

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Driftless Region Beef Conference

Driftless Region Beef Conference


DUBUQUE, Iowa -- The upcoming Driftless Region Beef Conference will spotlight competitive advantages of Midwest beef producers, according to Denise Schwab, beef program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The conference will be held Jan. 26-27, 2017, at the Grand River Conference Center in Dubuque.

“We hear a lot of discussion about the challenges of raising cattle on corn ground, yet that is one of our biggest competitive advantages over beef producers in other parts of the country,” Schwab said. “We are really excited to feature two of the leading researchers in the country to talk about the synergies between cattle and corn.”

One of the major concerns is that cattle trampling could negatively affect soil properties and crop yields. However, research at the University of Nebraska has shown that grazing corn residue at the recommended stocking rate does not reduce corn or soybean yields. In fact, a long-term study in Mead, Neb. showed slight improvements (2-3 bu/ac) in soybean production following grazed corn residue when managed in a corn-soybean rotation. This result was the same regardless of whether cattle were grazed in the fall (November-January) or the spring (February-April).

Driftless Region Beef Conference

Figure 1: Effect of grazing corn residue in the fall/winter or spring on corn
and soybean yields (2003-2013) from a field managed in an annual
corn-soybean rotation at Mead, NE.

Another concern is removal of crop residue, which is important to reduce potential soil erosion. However, Nebraska research has shown that removing some of the crop residue actually is beneficial by allowing the soil to warm up earlier in the spring and reduce some of the challenges of seed placement at planting.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have also looked at the crop residue via cattle feed, but their focus was more on how to optimize corn yield, feed conversion efficiency and crop residue management for optimum gross return per acre. They compared the interactions of cattle performance and crop yield when corn was harvested as either silage, high-moisture ear corn, or dry corn and fed to heavy yearling steers through finishing.

Mary Drewnoski from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln and Alfredo DiCostanzo from the University of Minnesota will share more of their research on how cattle and corn production can benefit both systems.

The early registration fee of $85 per person must be received prior to midnight, Jan. 13. The price increases to $115 after that date. More information on topics, speakers, lodging and registration with links for online and mail forms is available at www.aep.iastate.edu/beef.

The Driftless Region Beef Conference is sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach, University of Illinois Extension, the University of Minnesota Extension and University of Wisconsin Extension. For more information or to receive a brochure, contact Schwab at 319-472-4739.



The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University was established in 1996 with the goal of supporting the growth and vitality of the state’s beef cattle industry. It comprises faculty and staff from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine, and works to develop and deliver the latest research-based information regarding the beef cattle industry. For more information about IBC, visit www.iowabeefcenter.org.

Denise Schwab, Iowa State University Extension beef program specialist, 319-721-9624, dschwab@iastate.edu

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