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Cattle producers, farmers and farm businesses in south central Iowa will learn about the latest crop production and grazing research and trends during the fall field day at Iowa State University’s McNay Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm Aug. 6. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. and the field day starts at 5 p.m., with a free meal provided by the Lucas County Cattlemen, followed by a “Farm and Projects Update” by the research farm staff. The evening tour is free and open to the public, although preregistration is requested by Aug. 2. See a flyer of the day's agenda.

From 2015-2018, the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University partnered with 28 producers across the state in the Iowa Cow Systems Project. It was designed to identify costs, environmental impacts and best practices from Iowa cow-calf operations. The effort worked to assess emerging beef cow management technologies, detail benchmarks, summarize production and environmental data and develop decision tools. Read more about the project, findings and how to access the results.

Beef producers and agribusiness professionals have an opportunity to obtain their Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification in northwest Iowa, according to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Beef Specialist Beth Doran. The session is set for Aug. 6 at Frontier Bank, 301 Main St., in Rock Rapids running from 10 a.m. to noon. Preregister by Aug. 4.

Seems like we just had a heat and humidity reminder, and yet the rest of this week calls for more of that. So, here we go: Temperatures will be in the upper 90’s this week, and the humidity will be elevated as well. Feedlot cattle may not be acclimated to summer temperatures yet and the fast warm up this weekend may cause some heat stress issues. ISU extension beef veterinarian Grant Dewell offers timely reminders for producers.
Check out our heat resources page.

The College of Veterinary Medicine and the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University are asking for help from midwestern confined cow-calf producers on a survey project. The main goal of this project is to determine the common management practices utilized, the incidence and importance of animal disease, and the nutritional management practices in confined cow-calf operations. We want to improve our understanding of how these operations are managed so that we can better serve producer needs through research and educational activities. All data collected will be completely confidential and no individual answers will be published. Any presentation of the results of the survey will have all answers compiled from all participants. We hope to complete our data collection and analysis by this fall so producer educational programming may be planned beginning in 2020. The survey is available online here  and in paper version. Request a paper copy by contacting Dr. Terry Engelken at 515-294-2192. A stamped return envelope will be included so you can mail the completed survey back at no charge. You can email Engelken with any questions.

The purpose of Iowa Drainage School 2019 is to train stakeholders in sub-surface drainage concepts, planning and laying out drainage systems including surveying a profile, laying out the system, calculating tile line sizes and spacing using actual field data, and fixing common drainage system issues. The school is scheduled for August 20-22 at the Borlaug Learning Center in Nashua. Each day includes a combination of hands-on training, lecture and discussion, and problem solving using in-field examples. More information is available on the Iowa Drainage School website here

A RUSLE2 and Iowa Phosphorus Index Workshop has been scheduled for July 25 at the Polk County Extension & Outreach Office in Altoona. This workshop provides hands-on RUSLE2 software orientation and uses real field examples to determine risk calculations of the Iowa Phosphorus Index; and how to incorporate these numbers into manure and nutrient management planning requirements. Soil sampling requirements, common errors, and the DNR’s review process also will be discussed. Anyone interested in this training can find additional information at the RUSLE2 Workshop website here

The July 30 deadline to register for the Iowa Beef Center’s 2019 Beef Feedlot Short Course is drawing close, so if you’re thinking about attending this year’s event you’ll want to act soon. There’s a limited number of available spots and IBC program specialist Erika Lundy said participants in the August 6-8 event will experience classroom and hands-on instruction in a variety of topics.

Beef Quality Assurance Transportation is a new program that provides information for farmers and professional truckers who are involved with transporting cattle. In light of the fact that BQAT certification will be required by several major packers beginning January 1, 2020, Iowa Beef Center has scheduled three BQAT trainings in mid-August for both commercial truckers and farmer/feeders who deliver cattle direct to packers.

Profitability in cattle feeding depends on more than just cattle prices and performance. It appears that controlling feed costs will play a major role in feedlot profits for 2020. Finding the most cost-effective energy and protein sources, and managing to reduce feed waste and losses is important. To help address these issues, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist Denise Schwab is coordinating a conference on Friday, Aug. 9, at Buzzy’s in Welton.

Temperatures will be in the mid 90’s this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and with all the precipitation we have had the humidity will be elevated as well. Feedlot cattle may not be acclimated to summer temperatures yet and the fast warm up this weekend may cause some heat stress issues. ISU extension beef veterinarian Grant Dewell offers timely reminders for producers.

Beef producer Austin Siela said improving efficiency is the name of the grazing game for his operation. He'll share his experiences at a pasture walk on July 16, starting at 6 p.m. near Vinton. Also on the agenda is ISU extension beef specialist Denise Schwab, who will talk about grazing efficiency. No preregistration is necessary to attend.

The 2019 Beef Feedlot Short Course, organized and hosted by Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University, is set for Aug. 6-8 at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames. Iowa State Extension beef specialist Erika Lundy said the goal of the event is to optimize participant learning through exposure to new technology, research and best management practices.

Livestock producers who want to learn about optimizing forage and livestock production are invited to attend the five-part Greenhorn Grazing series at the ISU Davis County Extension Office this summer and fall. Iowa State Extension and Outreach beef specialist Chris Clark said the series has been a popular management course for producers over the years, with a solid base curriculum and ability to adjust the program to meet interests and needs of participants. The first session is June 26.

With grass slow to come this spring, it is likely that forage quality will rapidly change this summer. As a general rule of thumb, energy values (total digestible nutrients or TDN) of forages, pasture included, can decrease rapidly at a rate of 0.33-1.0% per day from vegetative to mature stage. To preserve forage quality, harvesting excess forage acres now can be beneficial for later feeding. To address some of the challenges associated with first cutting forage crops, many producers have turned towards harvesting forages as a baleage.

A wet fall, unusually cold temperatures, excess rain, and in some cases flooding, have cattle and sheep producers wondering how they will manage forage shortages this summer and lay in forages for next winter. The good news is there are haying, grazing and silage options, according to Beth Doran, beef specialist with ISU extension. But she cautions that producers should check with their crop insurance agents about their alternative plans before a final decision is implemented.


News Archives


Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine

Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center director, writes this monthly column featured in Iowa Cattleman Magazine.

July 2019

Changes in Iowa Feedlots by Size

The publication of the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture offers some insights into changes in the size and number of feedlots. Nationally the number of cattle feedlots decreased by 3,600 with most of the decrease in feedlots with less than 50 head marketed. There was also a decline of 36 operations in the largest category reported: greater than 5,000 head marketed. Interestingly, every category from 500 to 5,000 head marketed in the U.S. had an increase in the number of operations with a total increase of 266. Much of this increase in the number of feedlots was apparently in Iowa as the number of operations in the state with 500 to 5,000 head marketed increased by 164. Iowa also had an increase in over 5,000 head operations (up 8 from 44 to 52), bucking the national trend.

Read the rest of this column.

Katy Lippolis -- Angus JournalKaty Lippolis, assistant professor of animal science at Iowa State University, writes a regular "By Design" column for Angus Journal.

March 2019

Calving Facilities

As we get closer to calving season, it’s time to make sure our facilities are prepared. In many instances, deciding to calve in a barn can be advantageous in many ways. Newborn calves have difficulty maintaining body temperature, an calving in cold and/or muddy conditions can lead to significant sickness and mortality. After difficult births, calves are often weak for several days and require additional care to ensure healthy recovery.

Read more.