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Iowa Farm Outlook Newsletter

ISU Extension and Outreach Economics





Six drought-related meetings scheduled for south central Iowa Aug. 7-9 will focus on crop growth and development under drought conditions, feeding drought damaged crops, issues with drought silage, and crop insurance considerations. ISU extension beef, farm management and agronomy specialists are leading this effort, which includes opportunity for a quick individual nitrate assessment of cornstalks. No charge, no preregistration.

Northwest Iowa producers who need certification in Beef Quality Assurance are invited to attend a workshop sponsored by Iowa Beef Center, Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. The event is set for Tuesday, Aug. 29 at the Sioux County Extension Office from 10 a.m. to noon and there's no cost to attend.

The 2017 Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Conference is just a month away, and organizers encourage those interested to register soon. The two-day program will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29 and 8 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Aug. 30, and registration ends Aug. 16. Garland Dahlke of Iowa Beef Center is an Iowa State University representative on the hosting group - Beef Reproduction Task Force.

Due to the intense drought conditions in portions of south central Iowa, Iowa State Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Joe Sellers announced that the original agenda of the annual field day at Iowa State University’s McNay Memorial Research Farm has been adjusted to address related needs. Start time, speakers and evening meal remain the same.

If you're a cattle feeder, you know that profitability depends on more than just cattle prices and performance. More than ever, you recognize that manure value, market flexibility and management impact net returns to your operation. An Aug. 25 summer feedlot conference in Welton in eastern Iowa will address a variety of topics related to cattle manure, animal care and management. Preregister by Friday, Aug. 18 for $15, payable at the door. After that date, the fee increases to $20. Make your attendance plans now.

Iowa farms are experiencing a variety of weather-related conditions, ranging from too much water to very dry soils and pastures. Check out these three IBC resource pages for more information, resources and people who can help:
Heat resources
Flood resources
Drought resources

Five new Southwest Iowa Pasture Clinics will address a wide variety of pasture management topics for producers looking for ways to optimize livestock and forage production practices and weed management strategies. ISU Extension and Outreach beef specialist Chris Clark said producers should preregister for the location they 'll attend to ensure adequate meal and materials count.

The Cow Caravan -- a three-day late summer bus tour across Iowa featuring some of Iowa’s successful grazing and confinement cow operations -- is planned by Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University The Aug. 29-31 tour is a component of the center’s Cow Systems Project, created to evaluate management practices among operations ranging from extensive grazing systems to year-round confinement. It leaves from and returns to Ames each day. The bus tour is free, evening meals and lodging are participant expenses. Register soon!

News Archives


Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine

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

August 2017


Two issues have brought the traceability issue to the forefront in recent weeks. The most recent relates to the opportunities that have opened up with the exports of beef to China.

To be eligible for export to China requires traceability to the farm of birth. There are specific requirements including enrollment in a USDA Process Verified Program (PVP) or a Quality Systems Assessment (QSA) program. Animals must be sold to an approved export verified supplier (USDA Bovine EV). The cattle must be identified with a program-compliant, tamperproof tag (PCT). While this alphabet soup seems like a lot of hoops to jump through it is quite similar to both the USDA age and source verification programs required for export to Japan when the 24-month age requirement was in place, as well as some of the USDA breed-based source-verified programs.

Also, beef exported to China cannot be raised with the use of implants or beta agonists, and the beef will be tested for the presence of those. The potential premiums for cattle destined to the Chinese market are unknown at this time. Regardless, this opportunity has opened up much discussion about traceability.

Read the rest of this column.

Patrick Gunn -- Angus JournalPatrick Gunn, assistant professor of animal science at Iowa State University, wrote 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.