Growing Iowa's Cattle Feedlot Sector

John Lawrence, Faculty, Economics Department

Problem Statement:

Rapidly expanding corn-based ethanol production is producing significant amounts of distillers grains and solubles (DGS) and driving up the price of corn.  This combination provides Iowa cattle feeders a potential competitive advantage and the opportunity to expand their cattle feeding enterprise.  However, the cattle feeding industry is capital intensive, highly competitive, and risky enterprise if not properly managed.

Programmatic Response:

The Iowa Beef Center developed and is implementing a broad based educational program focused on increasing the use of DGS and growing Iowas cattle feeding sector.  First to increase use of DGS the program: held over 60 producer meetings on nutrition, handling, and economics of feeding DGS, conducted demonstrations and applied research on storage of wet DGS, and distributed a newsletter on feeding ethanol co-products to thousands of producers.  To expand cattle feeding the IBC: updated the Beef Systems Manual on facility design and costs, prepared and delivered a Feedlot 101 curriculum, held tours and meetings on facility design for cattle performance and environmental protection, prepared guidelines for professional cattle feedlots, and developed software decision aids for financial planning and business analysis.


Over 2900 people attended DGS meetings and a majority will use more DGS in the future.  There is significant interest in feedlot expansion and the number of cattle on feed in Iowa feedlots with 1000 head capacity or larger is 10% higher than one year ago. 

June 28, 2007
140 Iowa Beef Center


Page last updated: August 2, 2007
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