Custom cattle feeders say that one of the biggest problems they have is finding new customers. Cow-calf producers indicate that one of the reasons they do not retain ownership in a custom lot is a lack of trust they have for feedlot operators. Both custom feeders and producers need sound research to help them make good decisions about cattle handling, ration management, marketing and other issues. Bringing custom feeders and producers together is essential because finishing cattle has great potential to stimulate the economy in rural Iowa.
The Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity Program helps Iowa producers evaluate feedlot and carcass performance and acquire feeder cattle to be finished in Iowa. ISU Extension beef specialists provide leadership to this southwest Iowa program. In 2005, the futurity fed 8,800 cattle from more than 500 consignors representing 10 states. Cattle fed through the futurity generate $5.4 million of economic activity each year in the local communities through services provided and goods purchased.