Beef Cow Herd Efficiency: Cost Control Strategies

H. Joseph Sellers, Field Specialist-Beef, Southwest

Problem Statement:

The beef cow business continues to be challenged by increases in feed and pasture costs, matched by reduced or flat calf prices.  As a continuing program, the Iowa Beef Center has developed decision aids, fact sheets, and educational programs to assist producers control costs and improve efficiency.  Various strategies must be examined.

Programmatic Response:

Programming includes materials development, demonstrations, and educational programs. Sellers partnered with IBC staff and ISU McNay farm staff to continue projects ranging from storing and feeding wet and modified distillers grains, feeding developing grazing heifers with dry corn co-products, and comparing different big round bale feeders.

Sellers and other IBC staff developed fact sheets on the web site and PowerPoint presentations on the “Cows or Plows” and “Alterative Cow Feeding Systems” series. Individual assistance to producers includes extensive ration development and problem solving on cow feeding and feed storage.  Pasture management programming emphasized extending grazing days and reducing stored feed expenses.


Information from these and other current research in cow nutrition is showcased in presentations at workshops, field days, pasture walks, and news articles.  Seven workshops were attended by 165 producers; four pasture walks reached 95 producers; three field days at McNay were attended by 125 people; and three invited presentations reached 165 producers.

Projects at McNay resulted in four research papers in the Animal Industry Report, authored by campus staff with input from Sellers and McNay staff.  On-going projects in 2009 include the hay feeding demonstrations and supplementation to grazing cattle.  In addition, on-farm demos in Union and Madison Counties will look at grassland renovation strategies.

Thirty producers received rations featuring low cost strategies for beef cow and feedlot enterprises.  Files with producer feedstuffs are saved in the IBC BRANDS software, with on-going monitoring and adjustments of rations.  Most clients receive these current rations via e-mail to allow immediate feedback.


141  Iowa Beef Center: Reduced Feed Costs

Page last updated: April 6, 2009
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