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Ag Decision Maker

Published by Ag Decision Maker









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.

With the first hay crop harvested, summertime for forage growers is in full swing. In addition to being the primary feed source for ruminants, forages bring many values to farms and surrounding communities. To celebrate the many benefits of the forage industry, the American Forage and Grassland Council will host the 10th annual National Forage Week June 16-22. Forages play many roles ecologically and economically, including capturing and recycling vital nutrients, enhancing soil fertility. They also help support diverse ecosystems by providing habitats for other plants and animal species.

Although dairy animals have traditionally made up about 20% of the beef supply, packer decisions in 2017 to stop purchasing fed dairy steers have led those producers to make different choices in their genetics and breeding decisions. Early semen selection approaches provided black-hided cattle but with conformation more closely matching straight-bred dairy cattle. With little direct connection between feedlots and dairy farms, it's difficult to obtain data from the common link: beef on dairy (BXD) calf raisers and ranches, and producers finishing BXD calves. An Iowa Beef Center-led study focused on this link with surveys of both groups in or near Iowa.

Cattle producers and consumers have a role in keeping the beef supply chain safe. Cattle producers need to be diligent in biosecurity. Consumers are responsible for proper handling and cooking. Implementing biosecurity and safe handling and cooking procedures are vital.

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED. STAY TUNED FOR POSSIBLE RESCHEDULING AT A LATER DATE. Closing out the calving season and getting crops in the ground are normal late spring/early summer activities for Iowa producers. Because it's always advantageous to actively consider potential improvements in fencing and pasture ground in slow seasons, Iowa Beef Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host a fencing and grazing clinic in western Iowa this summer.

Avian influenza (HPAI) has been confirmed in dairy cattle in nine states to date. Yet, so far, there are no confirmed positive herds in Iowa. Iowa State University extension beef veterinarian Grant Dewell said it is believed that the virus is transmitted from cow to cow during milking. As of now, beef cattle have not been identified with the disease, and this is most likely due to the mammary gland being the primary involved tissue.

The 2024 Update for Veterinarians program offers current information and education for large-animal and mixed-animal veterinarians with a focus on beef production. Organizer Chris Clark said practitioners who work with cattle will hear from Iowa State University experts on water and its impacts on diet formulation and health, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in dairy cattle, and biosecurity strategy updates at the June 25 event. It will be held at the ISU McNay Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm near Chariton.

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.

It can be daunting to think about improving a grazing system for your farm, let alone starting one. Yet, Decorah-area producer Rob Jewell took on the challenge and, over time, has developed a managed system that continues to provide success – and challenges. What's his secret? Find out at a June 25 pasture walk on his farm.

New this year, the annual McNay Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm field day will host demonstrations focusing on hay equipment, cattle working and feeding equipment. ISU extension beef specialist Chris Clark said adding this component to the June 6 event will assist in showcasing equipment options for hay producers, while the general session during the provided lunch features topics of forage selection, fertilization and harvesting. The event is free, with preregistration strongly encouraged.



News Archives


Denise Schwab in The Cattleman Magazine.

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

June 2024

We are pretty well known for our educational programs but you may not know the extent of applied research we are involved in, so I thought I’d share a few of the feedlot related trials we’ve completed in the last few years.

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.

June 2024

A cow's ability to breed during a limited breeding season is crucial for her to remain in the herd. Reproduction and cow fertility are the most economically significant traits for cow-calf operations. Cow longevity has the largest impact and is estimated to be 3 to 9 times more profitable than other production traits.

Read the rest of this column.