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Attendees at a recent Cattle Stewardship conference in northwest Iowa heard a common, simple message from speakers that when taken to heart can improve a farm’s economic bottom line: comfortable cattle perform better and consequently, are more profitable.

The heat is here. ISU extension beef veterinarian Grant Dewell offers guidance and suggestions on making sure you and your cattle are ready for high temperatures and humidity. Also, check out our heat resources page for more information and assistance.

The 2017 Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Workshop is set for Aug. 29-30 at the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center in Manhattan, Kansas. Garland Dahlke of Iowa Beef Center is an Iowa State University representative on the hosting group - Beef Reproduction Task Force. Twenty-two speakers will offer insight, advice and experience on a variety of topics related to nutritional components, bulls, leveraging genetics and more.

Southeast Iowa producers who want to conserve natural resources while being able to optimize their forage and livestock production are invited to attend the 2017 Greenhorn Grazing series in Mount Pleasant this summer. The second session is June 6.

Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University is wrapping up the data collection phase of a project to characterize how Iowa producers produce and use silage and earlage for cattle feed. Approximately 100 surveys completed by producers detailing the production, storage and feeding methods and 50 samples of silage and earlage have been collected and analyzed at Dairyland Labs as part of the project. Not surprisingly, the sample information reveals a great deal of variation in silage and earlage dry matter and nutrient composition. The corn silage analysis data will be entered into the Iowa Beef Center's Corn Silage to Beef Calculator to determine how that variation can affect the pounds of beef produced per acre. That information, plus the survey and lab analysis information, will be compiled and analyzed. A report developed from that analysis that will be available later this summer through the Iowa Beef Center. For more information contact ISU Extension and Outreach beef specialist Russ Euken by phone 641-923-2856 or email.

ISU associate scientist Garland Dahlke recently updated the Iowa Beef Center’s Beef Ration and Nutrition Decision Software, and said the new version is easier to use and has the most current information from the latest Nutrient Requirements of Beef Center from the National Research Council. Owners of earlier versions of professional and standard editions can update at a low cost.

Grassroots Grazing is designed for graziers interested in a more controlled or management-intensive grazing system, says Iowa State extension beef program specialist Denise Schwab. Livestock producers with an interest in strengthening or transitioning grazing practices can sharpen their skills by attending Grassroots Grazing workshops in northeast Iowa offered by Iowa State and regional NRCS offices. The summer-fall five-part series is just $50.

National cattle behavior specialist Temple Grandin will join beef cattle specialists from Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota at the June 8 Cattle Stewardship Conference in Spirit Lake. Iowa State extension beef program specialist Beth Doran said Grandin provides a unique view of stewardship to attendees and the event is a great opportunity for attendees to hear from her and become Beef Quality Assurance certified. Registration fee of $30 is due by May 31.

Students from Iowa State University’s Beef Cattle Systems Management class received real life information and advice during a recent tour of three northwest Iowa beef industries. Class instructor and Iowa Beef Center director Dan Loy said the field trip provides a unique opportunity for students.

The ISU Allee Demonstration Farm is home to a three-year study exploring the integration of cereal rye as a cover crop with stocker cattle and row crop operations, as well as how grazing of cereal rye affects soil fertility and compaction. Attendees at a spring field day learned about some of the early results.

Southern Iowa beef producers who want to learn more about grazing management and managing tall fescue are invited to attend any of four beef management workshops this spring. Organizer and ISU extension beef program specialist Joe Sellers said the session dates of May 30, May 31 and June 1, will allow attendees to hear from experts from University of Missouri and AgBotanica who also will be presenting at the 2017 Veterinarian Update session on May 31.


News Archives


Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine

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

June 2017

Tools for You

One of the central efforts of the Iowa Beef Center is the development of decision tools to help beef producers and their advisors make informed decisions. This effort has a long history, going back to the TI-59 programmable calculators, and an exciting future with smartphone and web interfaces, cloud data storage and smart technologies. Today our efforts revolve around the development of high quality decision tools that incorporate the best science and technology available.

The most popular programs developed for beef producers and their advisors include software for ration development, cost and performance management and decision-making. Beef Ration and Nutrition Decision Software (BRaNDS) and the Beef Feedlot Monitoring Program, programs that incorporate aspects of nutrition have been recently updated because of revisions in the national standards for the nutrient requirements of beef cattle.

The BRaNDS program is available in modules for all classes of cattle and stages of production, as well as a professional edition that not only assists in ration formulation but can develop and evaluate feeding programs for multiple clients.

Read the rest of this column.

Patrick Gunn -- Angus JournalPatrick Gunn, assistant professor of animal science at Iowa State University, writes this monthly column for Angus Journal.

May 2017

The post-AI nutrition slump

In many Midwestern beef herds, the beginning of breeding season coincides with green grass. As such, many producers have a tradition of estrus synchronization and artificial insemination followed by immediately moving heifers and cows from the winter drylot to fresh spring pasture.

Although early spring grass is high in energy and protein, it is also extremely high in water content, particularly if a flush of spring rains has immediately preceded turnout. As such, each bite that the cows or heifers take is diluted in the amount of nutrients ingested. Although most nutritionists will agree that water content of a feed is not a limiting factor for intake, there is a limit to the number of bites a cow can take in a predetermined period of time.

Research has shown that experienced, mature grazing animals may take as many as 60 bites per minute, eight hours per day, equating to somewhere around 130 lb. of forage as-is. Young cows and heifers, however, may graze 20%-40% less in comparison. Because dry-matter content of that early-spring grass may vary from 15%-30%, the ability for a cow to maintain a positive energy balance when transitioning from a drylot to fresh pasture may be challenging.

Read more.