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Ag Decision Maker

Published by Ag Decision Maker









The latest Drought Monitor indicates continuing drought in Northwest Iowa. Corn fields are beginning to dry down, but appearance can be misleading when making corn silage, according to Beth Doran, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and she reminds producers that the rules for good corn silage still apply.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, in cooperation with the Iowa Beef Industry Council will host a Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training program on Sept. 8 at the Monroe County ISU Extension Office in Albia. The program will cover numerous best management practices and will qualify producers for BQA certification. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist Chris Clark said Iowa beef producers, veterinarians, feed industry personnel and anyone interested in beef cattle production are invited to participate.

Several counties in Iowa have been released for emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. While utilizing this additional forage resource provides producers with opportunities, there are challenges and considerations to think through when deciding how to best utilize the forage.

Incorporating a summer annual into the crop rotation provides much needed summer slump grazing while utilizing minimal row crop acres. A winter annual/summer annual forage rotation disrupts the standard corn-soybean rotation, which provides several benefits, according to Iowa State University extension beef specialist Denise Schwab. Several free forage field days are planned that will demonstrate annual forage rotations and share the results of ISU research plots.

Most of northwest Iowa is under moderate or severe drought that is beginning to take a toll on pasture carrying capacity, according to Beth Doran, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She reminds producers that changes in management can help extend pasture forage, and offers several suggestions.

Summer temperatures have arrived with 90+ temperature expected across Iowa this weekend. Cattle may still be acclimating to summer temperatures and may experience some heat stress issues. Breeding cows and bulls may have decreased breeding activity and fertility which can severely impact the early breeding season.

Lingering drought-stricken pastures and high grain markets have limited forage productivity and land access for many southwest and west central Iowa cattlemen. To help improve forage and grazing capacity, a new summer grazing series has been developed for the area. Iowa State Extension beef specialist Erika Lundy-Woolfolk said the four-part series will offer information and resources for producers to improve management practices and capitalize on alternative forage resources to extend the grazing season.


News Archives


Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine

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

September 2021


A few weeks ago, I was asked to give a presentation on 40 years of Midwest cattle feeding. Of course, much has changed over the last 40 years including technology, cattle size and genetics, housing and the demographics of cattle feeders. I chose to focus on two major economic disrupters that shaped the industry and my career. These disrupters are not black swan events that are unexpected and require instant adjustment such as the discovery of BSE or COVID-19 supply chain disruptions. Economic disrupters can be defined as a form of technology that causes radical change in an existing industry or market by means of innovation.

Read the rest of this column.

Iowa Cow-Calf Commentary

Iowa Beef Center and extension specialists write the "Iowa Cow-Calf Commentary" featured in the Iowa Cattleman Magazine.

September 2021

Managing transportation shrink of weaned calves

Nearly all cow-calf producers transport weaned calves in the fall. Understanding the stresses cattle undergo during shipping events and managing that stress is essential to an operation’s success. The consequences of transportation stress vary based on animal type, handling strategies, shipping distance, diet, and other factors. 

While it’s inevitable that shrink will happen when marketing calves, cow-calf producers tend to leave money on the table due to shrink loss when handling and hauling calves to market. When cattle are held off feed and water either in preparation for or during transportation, a good rule of thumb is 1% shrink per hour for the first 3-4 hours followed by an additional 0.25% for the next 8-10 hours.

Read the rest of this column.