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Ag Decision Maker

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Flooding in Iowa brought widespread devastation to northwest and west central Iowa, leading to wet and muddy conditions. These conditions coupled with summer heat, provide an environment conducive to two cattle lameness issues – foot rot and digital dermatitis (commonly referred to as hairy heel wart). Iowa State University veterinarian Jan Shearer reminded producers to keep these and other cattle diseases top of mind as they deal with flooding aftermath.

County fair season in Iowa is officially upon us. Young exhibitors have put in many hard hours to prepare for this week. One way to show support is by purchasing a market animal at the local county livestock auction or directly from a 4-H or FFA member. However, choosing to buy an animal this way is just the first in a number of decisions you'll need to make.

Iowa has had a wide range of Iowa weather in the past few weeks, with areas of extreme flooding in the northwest part of the state. As the waters begin to recede, there are many considerations people are making. Iowa State University extension forage specialist Shelby Gruss said that when it comes to forage there are some steps producers should take to evaluate the damage.

Many areas of Iowa have experienced higher than average precipitation events with a string of continued wet weather. This abnormally wet weather pattern has caused drainage and flooding issues in the states. During wet weather patterns, farmers must be vigilant in monitoring storage levels of runoff holding ponds and out-of-barn manure.

Announcements of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza should not cause alarm among cattlemen, although they do alert producers to examine their current biosecurity plan. Iowa State University extension beef specialist Denise Schwab said the announcements are reminders of how any disease can spread to cattle.

Farms across the Midwest are seeing the benefits of adopting even just the first four of the five soil health principles: armoring the soil, minimizing disturbance, increasing plant diversity, and keeping soil covered.  But what about going beyond no-till and cover crops? Come see the fifth soil health principle, “integrating livestock,” in practice at the Match Made in Heaven field day on the farm of Rick and Damien Matt in Fayette County.

Registration is now open for a Stockmanship & Stewardship event, Aug. 28-29, at the Grant County Fairgrounds in Lancaster, Wisconsin. Funded in part by the Beef Checkoff, Stockmanship & Stewardship is a unique educational experience for cattle producers featuring low-stress cattle handling demonstrations, Beef Quality Assurance training, facility design sessions and industry updates.

As Northwest Iowa and regions of surrounding states deal with devastating flooding, area cattle producers should be aware of the plethora of health problems that could be caused by flooding. Iowa State University extension beef specialist Chris Clark said severe flooding can increase the risk for numerous health challenges including malnutrition, respiratory disease, ruminal acidosis, poisoning and more.

Many areas in Iowa were impacted by hail this past week. Hailstorms are an unpredictable and formidable adversary for producers, capable of inflicting significant damage on crops, forage, and livestock. The impact of hail can be extensive, from shredded leaves to battered stems and bruised animals. However, there are strategies and solutions that can help assess and mitigate the damage and pave the way for recovery. This ICM blog by ISU extension forage specialist Shelby Gruss has info on options for managing hail damage in alfalfa stands.

Beyond the obvious and immediate challenges of excessive rainfall, wet weather may predispose livestock to a painful infection called footrot. Footrot is a bacterial infection of the foot characterized by swelling and pain, often in the interdigital space, and associated lameness. Iowa State University extension beef specialist Chris Clark said that following a wet spring and recent storms and flooding, there may be a greater risk for this disease in Midwestern cattle herds.

There is little doubt that agricultural producers who experience flooding are affected financially, and Beth Doran, Iowa State University extension beef specialist, encourages affected livestock producers to contact their local Farm Service Agency office immediately.

Heavy rains and ongoing flooding may mean big changes for producers. See our Flood Resources page for links to people, programs and information that can help. Also, the Iowa Concern website, toll-free phone at 1-800-447-1985, and live chat are available all hours, all days with help and referrals as needed.

Mother Nature has created a new environment for northwest Iowa feedlot producers. Torrential rains have turned once-dry feedlots to mud, and accompanying hail may have bruised cattle. Iowa State University extension beef specialist Beth Doran said it's important to have a strategy and plan in place to deal with the issues facing producers.

Beef producers in northeast Iowa are encouraged to check their Beef Quality Assurance certification expiration date to be sure they can continue to sell their cattle. BQA is required for everyone who sells catle to Tyson Foods, Cargill, and Iowa Premium, as well as several other beef processors and some sale barns. Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Denise Schwab said seven BQA dates and locations are scheduled in the northeast Iowa area, and are for both initial certification and recertification. At the end of the meeting, all participants will become BQA certified.



News Archives


Denise Schwab in The Cattleman Magazine.

Denise Schwab, interim IBC director, writes this monthly column featured in Iowa Cattleman Magazine.

July 2024

It amazes me how pastures could look so bad last fall after three years of drought, and bounce back so quickly this spring with the limited rain we’ve had. As always in Iowa, rainfall has varied dramatically depending on where you live.

Read the rest of this column.

Iowa Cow-Calf Commentary

Iowa Beef Center and extension cow-calf specialist Randie Culbertson writes the "Iowa Cow-Calf Commentary" featured in the Iowa Cattleman Magazine.

July 2024

I was recently invited to speak at a meeting in Bled, Slovenia, in Europe. The meeting is an annual meeting that discusses the standardization of reporting phenotypes for genetic evaluations and new developments in genetic evaluations. I viewed the meeting as the dairy and European beef industries’ version of the Beef Improvement Federation or BIF.

Read the rest of this column.