Young Cattlemen Group

Denise Schwab, Beef Field Specialist, Southeast Area

Problem Statement:

Keeping young producers involved in the cattle industry with a strong focus on profitability has been a challenge.  The goal of this program was to establish a core group of young cattlemen, custom design educational programs and discussions to meet their needs, and to serve as a support system to each other.

Programmatic Response:

A key group of 30-40 young cattlemen in Tama, Poweshiek, Benton, and Iowa counties (west group) were invited to participate in the project starting in 2007.  “Young” would be defined as in their 20’s or 30’s.  Sessions are held in the evenings to accommodate those who also have off-farm employment.   A second group was initiated in Clinton, Jackson and Jones counties in 2008 (east group).

The group was directly involved in determining their program needs by use of a typical needs assessment process.  Each meeting consists of a presentation followed by group discussion.    In addition to ISU speakers, local ‘seasoned’ cattlemen will also be used in the next year to help establish a local support system.  Producers will also be encouraged to start keeping SPA records.


In the first two years, 37 producers have participated in the west group and 32 in the east group.  Topics varied between the two groups based on the needs they identified.  Also the west group is mostly cow herds and many participants have full-time off-farm jobs, where the east group is about half cow herds and almost all finish cattle and have few with off-farm jobs that are not directly farm related.

The topics covered in the first two years include:

West Group                                             

Cattle Outlook, Opportunities and Challenges, Dr. John Lawrence

Legal Issues, Dr. Roger McEowen

Managing Replacement Females, Dr. Daryl Strohbehn

Tour of Williamsburg Vet Clinic Heifer Development, Dr. Brian Huedepohl, DVM

Pasture walk and grazing design at a participants pasture

Controlling Winter Feeding Costs – Bruce River and Dale Manternach, producers

Economic Benchmarking, Dr. John Lawrence and Dave Lubben, producer

Calving Management, Dr. Duke Wilgenbush, DVM

Summer Tour of two feedlots and Kovar’s heifer development program

The cost of late calving cows, Dr. Daryl Strohbehn, Bob Faber & Gary Burmeister

Keeping the lender happy, Dave Crees, Security State Bank

Adding Value to calves, Dr. Dan Loy, Jim Wauters, producer, Kellie Carolan, ICA

Risk management webcast

East Group

        Environment and manure, Rick Marten, DNR, Loren & Brad Peters, producers, Leah Sweeley, Clinton SWCD

        Margin maker, Shane Ellis

        Marketing strategies, Jim Jensen, ISUE

        Controlling input costs, Dr. Dan Loy, Dave Lubben & Bruce River, producers

In addition to the key speaker, I also shared with them other resources available through ISU, attempting to develop them into long-term users of ISU Extension.  Some have included the distillers grains newsletters, cow leasing arrangements and spreadsheet, SPA summaries, grazing survey results, estrus synchronization planner, NAIS, IBC newsletter, farm financial statements, and Ag Decision Maker spreadsheet tools.  We have averaged 13 producers per session.

An effort in 2008 was to get participants to begin working on a farm business plan by breaking it down into three questions per session.  Information was collected from the producers and compiled into the electronic business plan program “Ag Plan” from the University of Minnesota.  At the end of the winter 08-09 sessions producers were given their written business plan or as much as they had completed, along with instructions on how to access and update it electronically.  Twenty one producers had completed at least a few questions on the business plan.   They will be asked this summer about the usefulness of the plan.  A get-acquainted activity was included in the first session to develop a sense of belonging to and ownership of the group.

As a result of participating in the Young Cattlemen Project they have also become more active in other Extension programs.  Twenty of them are on the email list for the Iowa Beef Center monthly newsletter, five attended the ration balancing workshops, eight attended the cow herd profitability meetings, seven have requested additional individual follow up, and one was a finalist in the Iowa Beef Center Inventor contest.

A formal evaluation has not been conducted but will be this summer.  


145 – Intergenerational business transition

Page last updated: April 6, 2009
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,