Growing Beef newsletter

Director Column

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Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center director's monthly column featured in Cattleman Magazine. Archives

Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine


April 2021

Play Ball!

April 1 is opening day for major league baseball. Whether you are a fan or not, the fact that it looks like MLB opening day is happening on schedule is a welcome sign of normality. Soon planters will be rolling and the 2021 spring calf crop will all be on the ground. Both are indications of a fresh start.

The past 12 months have been filled with uncertainty. The demographics in cattle numbers in Iowa point this out as spelled out in the March column of the ICA magazine by Lee Schulz. Iowa producers have been much more cautious about filling feedlots and the beef cow inventory in Iowa is down by a slightly larger percentage than the national average. Both of these observations likely are the direct result of uncertainty in markets, feed supply and drought. Let’s hope that opening day is a sign of a fresh start and the ability to take advantage of opportunities. Let’s also hope that we see the beginnings of a return to normal in other signs of summer like county fairs and youth activities. These young people deserve all the support that we can provide.

April 1 is also the first day to register for the 2021 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium and Convention set for June 22-25 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. This annual symposium draws a large group of leading seedstock and commercial beef producers, academics and allied industry partners. This year’s theme is "Innovation to Application." We have an exciting lineup of nationally recognized speakers and leaders in beef improvement from around the U.S. in attendance. For more information or to register go to

We are continuing to host in-person BQA certification sessions using ISU guidelines for safety of presenters and attendees. Check the Iowa Beef Industry Council BQA page regularly for a session near you. Be sure to check our website often and subscribe to our newsletter to learn of new events including pasture walks and grazing clinics that we continue to plan for the summer. Look for information soon on a Pasture and Fencing Clinic to be held in Ames in May.

Speaking of summer, feedlot managers, employees and industry consultants looking for in-depth information on nutrition basics, animal health and feed bunk management should consider attending our 5th annual Iowa Beef Center Feedlot Short Course August 3-5. The program is a mix of hands-on and classroom instruction and features our own Dr. Dan Thomson and guest instructor Dr. Robbi Pritchard. Registration should open soon but act quickly because we cap enrollment at 30 participants and the course has filled each year.

Are you on social media? Check out our timely tip videos, #CowTipTuesday and #FeedyardFriday. Just follow us or search these hashtags.

Finally, please tell us what you need. We try to do some method of needs assessment each year. This might be listening sessions, a survey or focus group. The reason for this is that we work for you and this guides our programs. The circumstances of the past year put some of our plans on hold but we still want to know what is on your mind. Feel free to contact us here on campus or your local Beef Specialist with your ideas thoughts on information and education needs that can improve the profitability and sustainability of your operation.


The IBC at Iowa State University serves as the university’s extension program to cattle producers. Our center comprises a team of faculty and staff from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. We work together to develop and deliver the latest in research-based information to improve the profitability and vitality of Iowa’s beef industry. If you’d like to be notified of updates on progress of research projects or programs that might be coming to your area, please subscribe to our "Growing Beef" newsletter by following the link on our website, If you have a question, use our "Ask our Experts" link. Also, feel free to call us at 515-294-BEEF or email us at You can follow @iowabeefcenter on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. And be sure and listen to our newest venture - the Iowa Beef Center Podcast!