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With nearly 3.8 million head of beef cattle in three Midwest states, university extension services in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin are teaming up to offer the Driftless Region Beef Conference. The annual event will be held January 26-28, 2021, with webinars each evening.

Producers needing to renew or obtain their certification in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) or Beef Quality Assurance Transportation have a couple of opportunities to do so in northwest Iowa. In-person trainings offered by the Iowa Beef Center, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Beef Industry Council at no cost are set for early December.

The 2020 Iowa Forage and Grassland Council conference will be offered online. The virtual 2020 conference will feature four presentations on timely topics regarding managing forages after a year of difficult weather patterns. All presentations will be prerecorded and released on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 9 a.m.

Cattle producers and allied agribusiness professionals still have time to renew or certify their training in Beef Quality Assurance. Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Beth Doran will lead three late November trainings in northwest Iowa.



Registration for the 2020 virtual Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Conference is now open. New this year, the conference will be held in virtual format with three sessions set over two days, Nov. 4-5. Sandy Johnson, Kansas State University extension beef specialist, and Garland Dahlke, associate scientist with Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University, are members of the Beef Reproduction Task Force, which provides this conference.

As beef cattle producers turn their attention to weaning, the Iowa Beef Center encourages producers to consider using its free 205-Day Weight Calculator. Producers enter calf identification, birth date, weaning date, weaning weight and cow age, and the Excel-based tool will calculate weaning weights to an adjusted 205-day weight. Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Denise Schwab said adjusting weaning weights to a common calf age is important for comparing cows based on the performance of the calves they produce.

The Midwest Grazing Exchange website has been developed by the Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group, a network of grazing educators in the Upper Midwest that includes Practical Farmers of Iowa. Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Denise Schwab is a member of the working group that developed the new website to assist landowners and graziers in bridging the gap of accessing land to graze and finding livestock farmers for partner opportunities.



This fall and winter, Iowa cattle producers will be dealing primarily with drought-stressed feedstuffs which present their own set of challenges. A two-page fact sheet by ISU extension beef specialist Beth Doran provides a list of reminders and guidelines for producers in making water and feedstuffs decisions.

The professional and standard editions of four of Iowa Beef Center’s ration balancing software, BRaNDS, have been updated and are ready for use. Associate scientist Garland Dahlke said the new versions are for Eastern Cornbelt, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, and include a variety of modules.



USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has released Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for emergency haying and grazing of 24 counties in western Iowa. Utilizing this additional forage resource provides producers with opportunities as well as challenges, and this information from IBC provides considerations to think through when deciding how to use it in your operation.



The Fencing and Grazing Clinic is set for Sept. 9 at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames. The clinic is organized and hosted by Iowa Beef Center, Department of Animal Science, and ISU Beef Teaching Farm at Iowa State University. Iowa State Extension beef specialist Erika Lundy said a variety of topics, speakers and learning opportunities make this clinic a “must-attend” for anyone who works with cattle, grazing and fencing in their operations.

A Beef Quality Assurance training session will be held Thursday, August 13, at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center, 2508 Mortensen Rd, in AmesThe in-person session will run from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. CDT and is sponsored and provided by Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University, the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Minnesota Beef Council.

Low stress cattle handling can provide a multitude of benefits, including improved performance, animal welfare and handling efficiency. However, with a variety of techniques and approaches advocated by different experts, cattle producers may be unsure which direction to take with their own operation. A new publication from Iowa Beef Center explains the common positive aspects of these systems which are basic to understanding cattle responses regardless of system.

Health management is critical to the vitality of confined cow-calf operations, and a new publication offers practical information for adapting management and health and biosecurity practices for these operations. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef veterinarian Grant Dewell authored the publication along with Terry Engelken of ISU’s veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine department.

ISU Extension specialists have scheduled in-person drought meetings in 10 central and west central counties affected by drought Aug. 3-7. All meetings are 90 min. long, most will be held at outdoor venues, social distancing will apply, and people are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when near others and the six-foot distance cannot be maintained. Preregistration at least two days in advance is requested for each, at the extension office in the county where the meeting will be held. There is no cost. See the list of meeting dates, locations, times and contacts.

A four-part weekly webinar series, Responding to Increasing Drought Conditions in Iowa, will help attendees learn more about how to deal with continuing drought conditions and impacts on row crops and forages. This free series is intended for crop and livestock farmers in drought-affected areas, ag service providers, ag retailers, ag lenders, farm managers and anyone impacted by drought conditions. IBC and other extension specialists have planned the series. Sessions are four consecutive Thursdays, beginning July 30, and all sessions will be held 1 to 2 p.m. CDT via Zoom. You must register for access information, and one registration works for any or all sessions. The Aug. 6 session will be specific to livestock with topics including drought corn silage considerations, managing pasture and hay shortages and alternative forages. Specific session info and registration link is on the program website

The crop damage in parts of Iowa from the mid-July wind and hail storms has been spotty and variable, leaving producers with everything from slight damage to complete defoliation of corn and beans. Much of the corn damage was leaning or lodging caused by high winds, with most plants having uprighted their growth by now moving into pollination. Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Denise Schwab said fields that experienced hail damage didn’t fare as well, but may provide an opportunity for cattle producers since cattle are the ultimate upcyclers, provided fencing and water options are available.

As part of a demonstration project funded by a North Central Risk Management Extension Education grant, Iowa State Extension specialists conducted interviews with producers across Iowa who had used fall grazing for at least two years. Results from those real-world experiences form the basis of a new publication, “Farmer Experiences with Fall Grazing Cover Crops."

The 2020 version of the Beef Feedlot Short Course, organized and hosted by Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University, is set for Aug. 11-13 at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames. Iowa State Extension beef specialist Erika Lundy said the in-person event will follow State of Iowa and Iowa State University guidelines to ensure health and safety of all participants.

Keep current temperatures and humidity levels in mind during these hot, humid summer days, and make sure your cattle have shade and plenty of water. Take a look at Grant Dewell's article in the June Growing Beef newsletter. Check our heat resources page for more info.



Building on the success of previous cooperatively offered one-day silage conferences, Iowa Beef Center, University of Nebraska—Lincoln and Lallemand Animal Nutrition planned a similar opportunity for this summer. And while the high caliber and quality of topics and speakers continues, the delivery method is different. The event is now a four-part webinar series, each with a specific topic and speaker.

While COVID-19 has changed a lot of things, major packers still require a current Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certificate from feedlot producers selling market-ready cattle. To help meet this need, ISU extension beef specialist Beth Doran has planned a set of certification workshops in northwest Iowa producers starting in early July.

USDA-RMA has announced changes to the Livestock Risk Protection insurance program starting this summer. Changes for the program, which is for feeder cattle, fed cattle and swine, include moving the premium due dates to the end of the endorsement period and increasing premium subsidies to assist producers. Agency officials want to have changes implemented by July 1.

Keep current temperatures and humidity levels in mind over the next few days, and make sure your cattle have shade and plenty of water. Check our heat resources page for more info.



The 2020 Update for Veterinarians program will be held as a virtual webinar that can be viewed from home or office. The June 16 program, organized and provided by Iowa Beef Center, features six full hours of education and information focused on beef cattle production. Iowa State Extension and Outreach beef specialist Chris Clark coordinates the program and invites practitioners who work with cattle to make plans now to register for the virtual event.



The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt cattle markets. Having a market that will take finished cattle at a suitable date has become a concern. In addition, the current live market prices, and limited sale opportunities for fat steers have left many cattle feeders searching for solutions to reduce their economic loss. "Considerations for Slowing Feedlot Cattle Growth due to the COVID-19 Pandemic" was created by Iowa Beef Center, Iowa State University Extension beef specialists, University of Wisconsin Extension livestock program educators, and University of Wisconsin Department of Animal Science Faculty to provide help for producers making these decisions.

Feedlot cattle producers currently are faced with making immediate decisions with long-terms implications. Iowa Beef Center, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Beef Industry Council have developed a two-part webinar series, Feedlot Considerations Amid the Pandemic, to help provide some clarity, considerations and suggestions. Pregister now for April 28 and April 29 sessions.

A team of 10 Iowa State University beef-affiliated staff and faculty was recently honored for its ongoing work with the Iowa Beef Quality Assurance program by receiving the Excellence in Partnership to Iowans award by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. And IBC associate scientist Garland Dahlke also was honored recently for his work combining technology with practical feeding, rations and breeding information for the beef industry, through receiving the Outstanding Achievement in Extension and Outreach Award from ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Read about all the winners.

IBC director Dan Loy was a guest for Iowa PBS's Market to Market show on about the impact of #COVID-19 on the #beef industry and concerns from producers related to packing plants. Listen and read here.

In a new report, ISU extension livestock economist Lee Schulz and Glynn Tonsor from Kansas State University address the issue of packing plant utilization on livestock prices. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are potential concerns about plant capacity. The authors stress that labor is often the driving factor between the rated capacity and the operational capacity of a plant.

The 60 days prior to the breeding season sets the tone for what your 2021 calving season will look like. Is your cow herd ready? To help producers optimize the success of getting more females bred earlier, the Iowa Beef Center will be hosting a webinar series focused on management preparations to ensure a successful breeding season. Sessions are April 14, April 16, April 21 and April 23. Participation is free, but you'll need to register to receive access.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic doesn't allow Iowa Beef Center to deliver in-person educational workshops and trainings, we are working to provide online and other virtual tools to help you become more informed producers. One of these opportunities is a Beef Quality Assurance training offered in webinar format. IBC, Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Minnesota Beef Council are partnering to help producers become BQA certified through this free virtual session on Wed., April 8, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Fertilization is just as important for forages as it is for row crops to maximize productivity. This Integrated Crops Management article, Spring Forage Fertilize Considerations, addresses spring fertilization considerations for forage crops and pastures. Also on this site, you can sign up to receive email alerts for the ICM blog and Crop News Daily. ISU extension field agonomists Brian Lang and Rebecca Vittetoe explains what producers should be planning and doing for their forage crops this spring.



Disruptions caused by COVID-19 grow each day. Volatility in the cattle market was one of the first disruptions, and now with ethanol plant slowing production or shutting down, local availability of corn coproducts may be limited. Iowa Beef Center director Dan Loy said making plans now based on current and potential input availability will help producers determine their next steps.

Dealing with stress: Serious financial and other stresses continue to impact and affect those in our agricultural community. Here are links to some resources to help deal with a variety of stress concerns and grief. Remember also that the Iowa Concern Hotline is always available at 800-447-1985, and at

The I-29 Moo University Dairy Beef Short Course, scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, has been transitioned to a webinar. With the city of Sioux Falls, SD declaring a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19, the 2020 Central Plains Dairy Expo has been canceled. However, the short course, one of the premier dairy beef events in North America, has been transitioned to a webinar this year to minimize any possible exposure to the virus. The webinar remains on Tuesday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Central time, with a one hour break from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Registrations are still being take online.

Three Beef Quality Assurance and Beef Quality Assurance Transportation training sessions are set in southwest and northwest Iowa:

  • One BQA session and one BQAT session will be held Thursday, March 26 in Lenox. Based on individual needs, producers and haulers can attend one or both sessions. Thanks to sponsorship from Taylor County Cattlemen, a free lunch will be provided at noon and the BQAT session in the afternoon also is free.
  • One BQA session and one BQAT session will be held April 2 at the ISU Extension and Outreach Clay County office in Spencer, and on April 3 at the ISU Extension and Outreach Sioux County office in Orange City. The BQA sessions will be in the morning and are free; the BQAT sessions have a $25 certification fee and will be held in the afternoon on both dates. See details and registration information.

Cattle producers are invited to attend a calving clinic on March 12 at the Marshall County Extension Office. Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Chris Clark said the free educational program will offer valuable information about calving, health, and nutrition.



Beef cow-calf producers recognize the importance of staying informed on all aspects of their operation, and the final webinar in the Winter Cow Webinar series from Iowa Beef Center will help do that. The session is set for Tues. March 10, from 6 to 8 p.m., and focuses on pasture and forage management.

The I-29 Moo University Dairy Beef Short Course is scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, as part of the pre-educational events for the Central Plains Dairy Expo. ISU extension dairy specialist Fred Hall said the forcus of this year’s program is dairy beef carcasses at the farm, processor and consumer end, along with targeting health considerations for maximum performance.

Beef cow-calf producers recognize the importance of staying informed on all aspects of their operation, and the third of a four-part webinar series from Iowa Beef Center will help them do just that. The session is set for Tues. Feb. 18, running from 6 to 8 p.m., and focuses on cow herd profitability and market trends impacting the cow-calf producer.



The Iowa Beef Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are teaming up with University of Nebraska to offer a Feedlot Roundtable session at three Iowa locations on Thursday, Feb. 20, from 1 to 4 p.m. ISU extension livestock specialist Russ Euken said there's no charge to attend, although preregistration is requested to ensure adequate space.

Register now to hear one of the most respected cattle economists in the country share his outlook on beef prices at the 2020 Driftless Region Beef Conference, Jan. 30-31 at the Grand River Conference Center in Dubuque. Dr. Derrell Peel, livestock economist at Oklahoma State University, will wrap up the conference with his predictions of the cattle market for 2020 and beyond.

Beef cow-calf producers recognize the importance of staying informed on all aspects of their operation, and the second of a four-part webinar series from Iowa Beef Center will help them do just that. The session is set for Wed. Jan. 22, from 6 to 8 pm, and focuses on calving time management. Iowa State University extension program specialist Beth Reynolds said the series is intended to provide timely topics for beef cow management and the opportunity to access the information by joining the webinar at their own location or at one of nine host sites.

Dairy and beef producers are invited to attend one of two advanced calving clinics in mid-February in Edgewood and Dysart. Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Denise Schwab said anyone who attends, regardless of their experience with calving out cows, will learn something new.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host Boots in the Barn, a program for women beef producers, in February and March in Independence. Boots in the Barn is a three-part series for women involved in their beef cattle operation. Program dates are Feb. 27, March 5 and March 12. The first session features Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Denise Schwab who will provide information on the cost of production and winter feeding the cow herd.


News releases |2020|