Furthering Research in Deep-Bedded Beef Facilities

Beth Ellen Doran, Field Specialist-Beef, Sioux County

Beef producers are building deep-bedded beef (hoop and mono-slope) buildings to cope with Iowa rainfall and meet Iowa environmental regulations for water quality.  Per head space cost is $300-$350 and $550-$650 for the hoop and mono-slope buildings, respectively.  Many believe that deep-bedded confinement units may be the buildings of the future, but there is limited research on these types of facilities.    

Researchers from the USDA Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) at Clay Center, NE contacted me about a tour of deep-bedded beef building in NW Iowa.  On March 12, 2007, five researchers from the environmental management research unit, Kris Kohl ISU Extension Ag Engineer Field Specialist, and I toured three mono-slope beef buildings and a hoop beef building.  The researchers represented the fields of ag engineering and animal science, with emphasis on manure management, livestock stress, and air quality.  The purpose of the tour was to help formulate research in deep-bedded beef facilities. 

There were three positive results of this tour.  Seven beef producers were able to meet and interact with prominent researchers that lead the nation in beef cattle research.  Prior to the tour, most of these producers were vaguely familiar with MARC.  The researchers and the producers interacted one-on-one and personally exchange thoughts and ideas.  One producer surprised the researchers with an eight-page summary comparing his mono-slope buildings with his open beef feedlots!
This tour helped strengthen the relationship between ISU Extension and MARC.  Mindy Spiehs (animal scientist at MARC) remarked, Now I know who to contact in NW Iowa about beef and Extension and We will keep you posted as we better formulate our thoughts and get an official experimental outline together.
Following the tour, the MARC researchers determined what they plan to research, but are struggling with how to collect data that is not confounded with management.  As Mindy stated, It was very clear to us from our tour that management greatly impacts all of these factors and that each producer has their own management style.  Research will be developed in the following areas:
  Gas flux from deep-bedded barns (which gases are being emitted and at what rates)
  Bacteria levels in the deep-bedded pack (influencing odor and food safety)
  Animal stress (particularly heat stress)
  Development of fly larvae in bedding packs
  Impact of various bedding materials (on previously listed factors) 
This facilities tour was a win-win experience for ISU Extension, MARC researchers, hosting beef producers and ultimately, the US beef industry.    

March 30, 2007
POW #140 Iowa Beef Center

Page last updated: April 11, 2007
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu