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:
Calving management on beef cattle farms – Grant 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.
Grazing cover crops – Erika 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.
Management effects on ergovaline content of stockpiled tall fescue forage for winter grazing – Jim 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.
Corn silage characteristics in Iowa – Russ 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.
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.
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:
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.
-- 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 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, 2017at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa, will continue that successful tradition -- again with free admission.