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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.

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. Register early for the five-session series and pay just $60.

Beef veterinarians can receive six continuing education credits for attending the Iowa Beef Center’s 2017 Update for Veterinarians program at the Iowa State McNay Research Farm near Chariton. Organizer Joe Sellers said the May 31 event will feature a variety of in-depth and up to date health and nutrition topics. Register by May 29 for $65 which includes the noon meal.


News Archives


Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine

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

April 2017

Changing Feedlot Demographics

It is no secret that feedlot operations in Iowa tend to be smaller but much more numerous than feedlots in other states. In fact, according to the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, 26% of all U.S. feedlots in with a capacity greater than 500 head were in Iowa. Depending on the month, nearly one half of Iowa’s cattle on feed are in feedlots with less than 1,000 head. Iowa does have many operations in larger categories up to nearly 20,000 head capacity, but virtually none in the largest size categories. In the February 2017 USDA Cattle on Feed report, the numbers of feedlots, cattle inventory and marketings for 2016 by feedlot capacity was summarized.

Bucking a long term trend, there was an increase in the number of smaller (< 1,000 head) feedlots. And, there was actually a decline in the number of operations with capacity of 16,000-50,000 head. There were two more 50,000+ feedlots, consistent with the trend for increasing number of very large lots.

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.

March 2017

Improving Margins with Better Grazing Management

The latest USDA projections indicate current feeder prices may be representative of the next 10 years. Unlike the cattle market, annual cow costs are not likely to collapse and are projected to remain in excess of $800 per year. Therefore, because we cannot dictate cattle prices, the onus is on the producer to identify areas to control input costs without sacrificing the productivity of the herd. In most beef operations, regardless of size, the single largest cost is feed.

Typically, feed represents 50%-60% of total costs in the cow-calf sector, and the large proportion of these costs in the Midwest can typically be attributed to harvest feeds and forages. Logically, this would suggest that controlling harvested feed costs offers the opportunity to improve margins in the cow-calf sector.

Read more.