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  • Manure Applicator Certification Requirements for Cattle Feeding Operations
  • Body Condition Scoring Beef Cows
  • Surprises
  • Risk Management Workshops
  • Cow Herd Nutrition and Feeding Meetings

SAVE THE DATE: January 6, 2011. Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University and University of Nebraska will host a free Web seminar on recommendations and feed management strategies on using sulfur and distillers grains. More information on program content, speakers and how to access the program coming soon.

Manure Applicator Certification Requirements for Cattle Feeding Operations

By Angela Rieck-Hinz, Extension Program Specialist, ISU Department of Agronomy

AMES, Iowa --Cattle feeders are reminded to meet manure applicator certification requirements if they have more than 500 animal units (500 head) of cattle in confinement. Iowa law requires confinement feeding operations to be certified to handle, haul and land apply manure coming from a confinement feeding operation with more than 500 animal units. Or, if the operation hires a commercial applicator, the commercial applicator must also meet certification requirements and be licensed. Confinement operations with 500 animal units or less, or operations with cattle on open lots, do not need to meet manure applicator certification requirements.

 A confinement site operator has three choices to meet certification requirements: 1) take and pass a 50-question exam at the local DNR field office; or 2) attend a confinement site applicator workshop hosted by Iowa State University, or 3) watch the two-hour training video at the local county Extension office. Confinement site applicator licenses are valid for three years, but they require the applicator to attend training for two hours each year of the three-year license. If the applicator chooses to meet requirements by taking the certification exam, then annual attendance at training is not required and the exam must be completed every three years. For more information see http://www.agronext.iastate.edu/immag/maccsa.html. A complete list of manure applicator certification workshop dates and locations can be found at: http://www.agronext.iastate.edu/immag/certification/11confinementsitebrochure.pdf

Body Condition Scoring Beef Cows
By Byron Leu, Iowa State University Extension Beef Program Specialist

In today's society, the phrase, "thin is in" is both popular and trendy—unless you are a beef cow. Thin cows tend to have reduced milk production, greater potential for general health problems, reduced reproductive performance, and increased feed requirements for maintenance.

Research indicates there's a strong link between a cow's body condition and the number of open cows, calving interval, and calf vigor at birth. Plus, with feed costs typically making up 60% of the cost of a cow-calf operation, maintaining moderate body condition scores allows beef cows to achieve acceptable reproductive performance while feed supplementation costs are held to a minimum.

Body condition scoring is a useful management tool for accessing the nutritional status and production efficiency of a cow-calf operation. Simply put, body condition scores (BCS) are numbers used to estimate energy reserves in the form of fat and muscle of beef cows.

BCS range from 1 to 9, with 1 being extremely thin and 9 being obese. Producers observe and evaluate areas such as the back, tail head, hooks, pins, ribs and brisket to determine BCS.
  • Cows in "thin" condition (BCS 1-4) generally are angular with minimal fat over the backbone, ribs, hooks and pins, tail head and brisket.
  • Cows in "ideal" condition (BCS 5-7) have more fat deposits over these areas, reflecting a higher level of body condition.
  • BCS 8-9 are extremely fleshy with a smooth appearance.
Producers should strive to achieve and maintain a BCS of 5-6 for all cows before calving and throughout the production cycle. Avoid fleshy cows to manage feed costs, but also minimize the number of thin cows in your herd.

This concern is amplified in the current 2010-11 winter feeding season because of the variable quality of hay supplies. It may be necessary to sort cows into feeding groups based on BCS, allowing producers the opportunity to manage body condition through supplementation, improve utilization of hay inventory, and ensure adequate performance.

For more information about Body Condition Scoring and potential benefits, contact your Iowa State University Extension Beef Program Specialist. Find your specialist here

By Dan Loy, interim IBC director

Surprises are often a good thing. A surprise gift, a surprise party or a surprise thunderstorm after a drought, come to mind. However, surprises sometimes aren’t so pleasant, like when your teenager walks in the door and says, “Dad, about the truck.”

Over the past six months I have been involved in several strategic planning sessions. Usually these involve long term thinking about the future and setting direction to prepare for that future. In other words the goal is to “skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is,” to paraphrase Wayne Gretzky.

Increasingly these activities also look at identifying the unexpected surprises that can occur and then developing a plan for dealing with them. In other words—manage for the expected, but plan for the unexpected.
(Read the rest of Dan's column for the December Iowa Cattleman magazine)

IBC Staff offers Risk and Margin Management Workshops

Cattle feeders are invited to a risk and margin management workshop, several of which are set for this and next month. Below are some December locations. Locations in northwest, north central and northeast Iowa are being scheduled in January.

Learn about risk management tools like futures, options, and livestock insurance, and how to use those tools in your operation.

The workshops run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and are sponsored by IBC, Land O’Lakes Purina and local cooperatives.

Fee is $25 per person and payable at the door. Preregister at least 3 days in advance ito ensure each workshop location has at least eight and no more than 26 attendees.
Dec. 10. DeWitt, ISU Extension beef specialist Denise Schwab, dschwab@iastate.edu 
Dec. 13. Osage, ISU Extension beef specialist Russ Euken, reuken@iastate.edu 
Dec. 15. Estherville, ISU Extension beef specialist Beth Doran, doranb@iastate.edu OR ISU Extension beef specialist Russ Euken reuken@iastate.edu 
Dec. 17. Waukon, ISU Extension beef specialist Denise Schwab, dschwab@iastate.edu

Check the IBC website for additional 2011dates and locations.

Cow Herd Nutrition and Feeding Meetings

Learn how to make sound nutritional decisions for your herd, in spite of this year's over-mature and rain-damaged hay.

Hear current results of IBC's forage testing project, and understand more about allocating feed inventory, herd health issues and using BRaNDS, the Beef Ration and Nutrient Decision Software.


Almost one-half of the forage samples submitted to date through the IBC forage testing project are marginal in energy and nearly 20 percent are marginal in meeting the protein needs of a mature beef cow in late gestation.

It’s important to know the nutritional value of your available forages so you can make good feed and feeding decisions this winter. The schedule includes December 2010 and January 2011 dates.
Note that programs vary slightly in content according to host and location. Some sites have fees and preregistration requirements, so please read the specific site information carefully.

This page on the IBC website will be updated as more workshop locations are confirmed, so please check back.