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Stocker cattle
Iowa Beef Center, Iowa State University
January 2017   Volume 7, Issue 7
In this issue
IBC 2016-2017 mini-grants - competitive grants for staff
By Dan Loy, IBC director

The Iowa Beef Center funded four small applied research and producer education projects through an internal competitive grant program in 2016. A committee of state and regional staff members evaluates the proposals on their potential to meet the needs of Iowa producers and the program priorities of the Iowa Beef Center.  These projects are short term in nature and should be completed by mid-2017. This program has resulted in many successful projects in the past and we plan to continue it in future years as funding allows.

Here are brief summaries of the four projects funded this year:
  1. Calving management on beef cattle farmsGrant Dewell, Extension Beef Veterinarian, Patrick Gunn, Extension Cow-Calf Specialist and Patrick Phillips, Associate Professor in VDPAM
    This project will finish developing and produce a web based calving management guide for beef cattle producers. Additionally, a written guide would be produced that will be published in the ISU extension store.
  2. Grazing cover cropsErika Lundy, Extension Beef Program Specialist and Rebecca Vittetoe, Extension Field Agronomist
    This project provides bridge funding to continue applied research and extension programming on grazing cover crops by stocker and replacement cattle grazing cereal rye at three ISU research farms: McNay Outlying Research Farm near Chariton, Allee Outlying Research Farm near Newell, and the Western Iowa Outlying Research Farm near Castana. Cattle growth performance, grazing days, soil compaction and other soil characteristics will be evaluated. Separate outside grant funding to continue this research and evaluate subsequent post-grazing crop yields for three additional years is pending.
  3. Management effects on ergovaline content of stockpiled tall fescue forage for winter grazingJim Russell, Professor Emeritus and Joe Sellers, Extension Beef Field Specialist
    Fescue toxicosis in a major issue affecting performance and health of grazing cattle in much of Iowa. Testing labs have varying recommendations for sampling, storage and handling samples of fescue before testing for ergovaline, which can result in different testing outcomes. This project provides partial support for testing of existing samples collected through another project funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. The expected outcome is the development of a standardized procedure for testing fescue for ergovaline.
  4. Corn silage characteristics in IowaRuss Euken, Extension Beef Field Specialist
    Corn silage is regaining popularity as a forage source for cattle in Iowa. Many factors from hybrid selection to feeding options can affect the value of the silage as feed, including key factors of timing of harvest, moisture, grain yield, forage digestibility, overall silage yield, and storage. This project will characterize variations in production methods, harvest timing and storage methods among Iowa producers through a statewide survey. A limited number of silage samples will be collected and analyzed as well to determine differences in digestibility and feeding value. If you have silage you would like to sample and analyze, please contact the Iowa Beef Center or your Beef Field Specialist. Samples that can be matched to hybrid and harvest information are preferred.
BRaNDs new software version
By Garland Dahlke, IBC assistant scientist

Our newly updated Beef Ration and Nutrition Decision Software (BRaNDS) ration balancing software is more user friendly and it now reflects the updated guidelines in the recently released "Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle."

This software will continue to be provided in both Standard and Professional versions.  For those who already have the existing professional edition, the update will be $50; otherwise, the cost will be $525 for new users. For those who have the standard edition, the update is $10 per module, and the complete standard edition will be sold to new customers for $260.

Please note that the professional version now requires you to have MS Excel 2007 or later installed on a Windows based computer to operate. The Standard Edition will operate on both Windows and Mac systems running MS Excel.
To order/pay for and download your desired version please go to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach online store here
Be sure to indicate in the customer request space on the order shipping page if you are updating from a previous version to receive the much lower update price. This will be validated with your name and email. If you choose to order a program CD rather than a download of the program, call the Extension Distribution Store at 515-294-5247.
Just as in the past, program support is just a phone call away to the Iowa Beef Center at 515-294-2333, or email at
Iowa Beef Center Director column
We're Listening
By Dan Loy, IBC director

In December, Patrick Gunn, Erika Lundy, Grant Dewell and I traveled more than 1,400 miles across Iowa to conduct six listening sessions, each of which was hosted by one of our Regional beef specialists. This is part of our needs assessment process and gives us an indication of the current challenges and opportunities facing beef producers and the beef industry in Iowa.

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be developing a detailed summary of the thoughts and ideas that surfaced and developing programming in response. This programming may be educational events, decision tools or applied research and demonstrations. The following is a very general synopsis of the challenges and opportunities currently on the minds of the producers and beef industry stakeholders who attended:

Read all of this column on the IBC website.
Midwest Region Angus Advisor (Angus Journal)
New Year's Resolutions
By Patrick Gunn, extension cow-calf specialist

As we conclude 2016, many of us will reflect on the last 12 months and think about the good, the bad and the ugly. Unfortunately, the beef industry has experienced its fair share of ugly this year.

However, I am often one who submits to the philosophy that you can’t change the past, so don’t dwell on it. This month I hope to encourage you to take a step back to outline a plan for improved herd management and profitability that can help get 2017 on the road to prosperity. Thus, here is a short list of New Year’s resolutions that I challenge every producer to consider.

Read all of this column.
Did you know?
Questions on the new Iowa State Beef Checkoff? ICA has answers
The Iowa State Checkoff was recently reinstated through a producer referendum held by the Iowa Cattlemen's Association with the official vote certified by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship on December 14, 2016. The Iowa State Beef Checkoff program is funded through an additional $0.50 per head assessment on the sale of cattle sold in Iowa and on the sale of "state of origin" Iowa cattle. The funds are managed in accordance with Iowa law by an executive committee of 10 members. Collections for this program begin on March 1, 2017. Additional information on the Iowa State Checkoff can be found at

-- Learn all about it
Winter is a traditional time of workshops, informational meetings and content specific seminars, and Iowa Beef Center has a wealth of these educational opportunities starting this week. See individual links where available for more info, and check our website for additional details on these items and more.

-- Feedlot Forum 2017 Looks at Critical Topics
This annual event is set for Jan. 17 at the Terrace View Event Center in Sioux Center. It begins at 8:30 a.m. with a trade show featuring 26 vendors showcasing the latest technology in data management, nutrition, animal health, facilities, equipment, manure management and ag lending. Find all the details, sponsor list and registration form in the event brochure Cost is $25 per person ($10 per student) and registrations are due asap.

-- The Rest of the Iowa Cow-Calf Winter Meeting Series
 Cow-calf producers who want to learn more about improving returns from their enterprise are invited to attend any in a series of strategy-focused workshops that run through through Feb. 22 hosted by the Iowa Beef Center and ISU Extension and Outreach. Iowa State cow-calf specialist Patrick Gunn is organizing the workshops and will share information about feeding, including grazing harvest residue, cover crops and alternative feeds.

-- Iowa Forage and Grassland Council Conference stays in Ames
Building upon the success of last year’s move to Ames in January, the annual Iowa Forage and Grassland Council (IFGC) Conference will remain in Ames for its 2017 event. The conference is set for Jan. 19-20, 2017 at the Iowa State University Alumni Center. Registration begins at noon with the first session at 12:15 p.m. on Jan. 19, and adjourns at 11:45 a.m. on Jan. 20. The Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) conference immediately follows, starting at noon at the Scheman Building at the Iowa State Center.

-- The 2017 Driftless Region Beef Conference tackles tough Issues facing producers
This includes the opportunity to raise beef cattle on corn ground. Attendees will hear from two of the leading researchers in the country to talk about the synergies between cattle and corn at the Jan. 26-27, 2017 event in Dubuque. The early registration fee of $85 per person must be received prior to midnight, Jan. 13. See more information on topics and speakers, along with a link to the conference website. For more information or to receive a brochure, contact ISU extension beef program specialist Denise Schwab at 319-472-4739.

-- 2017 Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference launches website, sets schedule The premier educational event in Iowa for cow-calf producers -- the Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference -- has provided timely, accurate and important information to the state’s beef cattle industry for more than 40 years. ISU Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Patrick Wall said this year’s conference, set for Jan. 28, 2017 at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa, will continue that successful tradition -- again with free admission.

-- Manure Applicator Certification Workshops
For cattle producers with confinement operations (completely under roof) housing 500 head or more, manure applicator certification is required for handling and applying the confinement (both liquid and dry bedded) manure. Annual workshops for starting, continuing or renewing applicator certification are scheduled around Iowa from Jan. 6 through Feb 28. See a listing of all sites at  For more details about the program, see

***Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) is now in effect.***
If you're still looking for answers, visit Iowa Beef Center's VFD web page

Iowa Beef Center
Iowa State University, 313 Kildee Hall, 806 Stange Rd.,
Ames, IA  50011-1178
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