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           Iowa Beef Center, Iowa State University
February 2015   Volume 5, Issue 8
In this issue
  • Beef Feedlot Facility Workshops
  • Are You Prepared for the Future?
  • The Future of the Iowa Beef Industry
  • Changes: Angus $Values, Collection of Foot Scores
  • Educational Resources
Beef Feedlot Facility Workshops
By  Russ Euken, ISU Extension beef program specialist
In February and March, the Iowa Beef Center will be offering several workshops around the state that focus on aiding in decisions on expanding or new feedlot facilities. The workshops and materials are partially funded by a North Central Risk Management Education Center grant. The workshops will include discussions on feedlot facility types and also take into account the financial, production, and environmental risk management aspects of choosing a facility type. The tradeoffs between these management considerations will be analyzed.

The newly revised publication, “Beef Feedlot Systems Manual” will be highlighted during the workshops and available to workshop participants. The manual covers feedlot facility types and related research-based performance assumptions, cattle comfort, environmental considerations, and manure nutrients. The initial investment cost of the facilities and operating costs of each type of facility are calculated and compared to the value of any performance gains or increases in manure nutrient value.

Confinement operations have higher investment costs as compared to open feedlot systems but have advantages in performance and manure nutrient value. Open lots with shelter have similar performance to confinements. Some types of facilities like bedded confinements have higher operating costs including bedding and labor.

Managing potential run off from open lots is a regulatory and management issue and confinement facilities can aid in managing runoff concerns. On top of the differences between facility types, individual operations have unique financial characteristics which can influence the amount of  investment.

A decision tool also will be introduced during the workshops that will let individuals enter their own costs, performance assumptions, and manure values, and compare cost of gain and income between types of operations.

There is not one facility type that is the perfect fit for all situations. Producers have choices and need to analyze their own operation as well as differences between the facility types. The materials developed for the workshops and participation in the workshops are targeted to help individuals making those decisions.
Are You Prepared for the Future?
By Doug Bear, Director of Industry Relations, Iowa Beef Industry Council
Today, a majority of consumers are at least three generations removed from the daily practices on our family beef farms. Regardless, they still expect all food products derived from animals to be safe and wholesome for their families. These expectations have recently expanded to include methods of verifying that all animals raised for food are handled and cared for properly, from the gate to their plate.

The mission of the beef checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Program is to maximize consumer confidence and acceptance of beef by focusing attention on daily production practices that influence the safety, wholesomeness, and quality of beef and beef products through the use of science, research, and education initiatives. The importance of producer participation in the BQA certification program is paramount to the longevity of our industry to build consumer trust and ultimately, beef demand (a consumer’s willingness to pay for a product.)

If you supply fed cattle to Tyson you should have received a letter this summer notifying you about the rollout of their FarmCheckâ„¢ program. Through this site check-focused program, Tyson is upholding their commitment to well-being, proper handling and humane slaughter of animals that produce Tyson meat and poultry. The complete Tyson FarmCheckâ„¢ program involves on-farm animal welfare site checks, and verification of Beef Supply Chain Animal Handling Training, which was developed utilizing beef checkoff-funded BQA guidelines.

Site checks are now occurring in Iowa at feedyards across the state. I want to make sure you are ready when your Tyson cattle buyer notifies you of your upcoming site check. To be prepared, please review the summary below of the FarmCheck programâ„¢requirements. I encourage you to also make use of the BQA animal well-being resources below, and if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Tyson FarmCheckâ„¢ Document Requirements
  • Documentation that exhibits Site Manager is BQA-certified within the last three years.
  • Records that show Site Caretakers responsible for independent animal handling at the site have had animal handling training.
  • Annually completed BQA Feedyard Site Assessment which may be conducted by feedyard management or a third party such as Extension or your Veterinarian; however, the Site Self-Check must be completed by the feedyard management.
Tyson FarmCheckâ„¢ Animal Welfare Requirements
  • A Euthanasia Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is in place at the site.
  • All animals have access to water and feed. General animal welfare conditions are provided.
  • Confined systems must have daily observations for each animal and pen.
  • Direct observations are made for water availability, provision of feed, major injuries requiring attention, lameness, open wounds or abscesses, facility and equipment hazards, etc., and environmental conditions that may affect the animals’ general well-being.
  • Observe all populated pens including grow/finish pens or areas, processing areas, loading/unloading pens, hospital pens, etc.
  • Group Movement Code – If able, assess one group of market-ready cattle and assess Group Movement
Tyson FarmCheckâ„¢ Animal Handling Elements
  • Animal Handling Practices may be observed focusing on times cattle are being moved or handled during processing and/or load/unload
  • Additionally chute-side observations may be made to verify proper animal handling.
  • Willful acts or actions of animal abuse is unacceptable.
What are your next steps?
  1. If you are not currently BQA Certified, attend a face-to-face certification in your area or get certified online for free at using the passcode: BIVIBQA until April 15, 2015.
    • Select Beef Quality Assurance & Cattle Care
    • Select Comprehensive Beef Quality Assurance
    • If outside the free certification period, contact the State BQA Coordinator Doug Bear at or 515-296-2305 for an additional passcode to get certified.
  2. Videos on effective stockmanship for site caretaker animal handling training
  3. The BQA Feedyard Site Assessment may be downloaded at or
    • All SOPs are located within the BQA Feedyard Assessment manual, but may also be downloaded in Word Document format from:
    • Ensure the Euthanasia SOP is completed and up-to-date to ensure your operation is prepared for a swift response in the event of a decision from management/veterinarian.
  4. Videos on facility design are located at:
  5. Additional training resources and specific details may be found at:
Director's column
The Future of the Iowa Beef Industry
By Dan Loy, IBC director

What does the future hold for the beef industry in Iowa and the Midwest?

For much of my career the discussion has been about a “mature industry” and that only the low cost producers will survive. Competition, efficiency and generally negative margins were the norm for the average producer. The cattle business was survival of the fittest. My economist friends tell me that in a commodity business that is the norm.

Everything gravitates towards the breakeven and only the low cost producer or the producer who is able to capture added value survives and prospers.

Today much of the industry is profitable but history tells us that this will likely cycle. The cattle industry in the upper Midwest is in transition, and there is reason for real optimism for the future.

After several decades of increasing specialization many farmers are coming to the realization that the integration of crop and livestock is the sustainable future of agriculture in Iowa and the Midwest. Crop farmers realize that livestock adds market opportunities that in turn add value to their crops. Manure nutrients have significant value and can reduce the cost of grain production.

These are just a few of the observations that cattlemen told the Iowa Beef Center in surveys conducted last spring and summer. Results of those surveys are summarized in these recent publications:

What have we learned about the growth potential of the Iowa beef industry from these surveys? In the past 5 years 44% of Iowa cattle feeding operations have increased numbers.

The reasons for those increasing numbers? Profit, new facilities, value of manure, the opportunity to market corn and corn coproducts through cattle and family members joining the operation.

Read all of this column on the IBC website.
New changes to Angus $Values and the Collection of Foot Scores
(Modified from a blog by Jared Decker, University of Missouri)

Angus $Value Indexes -- Dr. Dan Moser, AGI
The $Feedlot ($F) index originally included rough estimations of feed efficiency as fewer days on feed due to quicker growth rate. But the relationship between feed efficiency and growth is not 1 to 1. Intake data has accumulated over time and now allows inclusion of feed intake into $F and $Beef ($B) indexes.

Feed intake remained fairly level for the early years of $F indexes, but in the past few years, genetic trend for feed intake has changed drastically.

Each year the economic assumptions of the $Value indexes are updated, and AGI is taking this opportunity to incorporate feed intake into the $F and $B indexes. The changes in index values will be mostly be due to updated economic assumptions with changes due to feed intake being secondary.

Foot Scores
Moser also discussed foot scoring. Producers are reporting two main issues: shallow heals with long toes and scissor or corkscrew claws, which may be related. What we need is a simple system to score cattle for these two conditions.

In a new research program members will provide two scores to AGI, foot angle and claw set. Both scores are on a 1 to 9 scale where 5 is ideal. The AGI scoring system will be similar to parts of the Australian system, but greatly simplified.

Breeders are asked to score the worst foot. An ideal angle would be a 45 degree angle between hoof and pastern.

EPDs may be calculated in the future, but the soonest impact may be more attention paid to foot structure. Australian data suggests heritabilities around 15% for foot angle and hoof set.

Scoring must be done prior to hoof trimming. Producers will need to submit basic information on feed ration when submitting foot scores. EPDs will be provided as soon as sufficient data is available.
Iowa Beef Center
313 Kildee Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, IA  50011-3150
Phone 515-294-2333
Educational Resources
Feedlot Facility Workshops
Attendance is limited to 30 per site, so early registration is encouraged. Producers can reserve their spot and meal by contacting their ISU Extension and Outreach beef program specialist. The registration fee of $20 per person will be collected at the door. All workshops will run from 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Feb. 18 Nashua
  • Feb. 24 Manchester
  • Feb. 25 Dewitt
  • Feb. 26 Ames
  • March 3 Emmetsburg
  • March 4 Cherokee
  • March 4 Osceola
  • March 6 Oskaloosa
  • March 9 Tama
  • March 18 Lewis
  • March 25 Carroll
Using Selection Indexes and Genomics for Genetic Improvement
People can attend any of these four meetings. No fee, but preregistration is required to reserve a meal. Dates, times, locations and preregistration phone number:
  • Feb. 20, 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Garner Pizza Ranch, 641-923-2856
  • March 3, 5:30 p.m., Vinton Pizza Ranch, 319-472-4739
  • March 4, 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Bear Creek Lodge in Maquoketa,  319-472-4739
  • March 5, 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Ellsworth College Agriculture and Renewable Energy Center at Iowa Falls,  at 641-648-4850

    Cattle Bidder App from IBC
    Cattle feeders, order buyers and bankers now have a tool from the Iowa Beef Center (IBC) to help them make cattle buying decisions. The newly released “Cattle Bidder” app can help users determine maximum bids on feeder cattle purchases.

    The user enters the purchase and sale weights, the expected cost of gain and the desired margin, and the app calculates the maximum purchase price. It’s a simple app, but handy for buyers who know their cost of gain and expected market price by cattle type. The program also can account for potential death losses.

    Cattle Bidder is for Android 2.2 phones and tablets, and is available as a free download from the IBC website and on Google Play

Copyright © 2015 Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University, All rights reserved.

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