Feedlot Meeting Targets Dairy Steer Producers

Beth Ellen Doran, Extension Beef Program Specialist, Northwest

Problem Statement:

The majority of beef programs and education are focused upon the production, management and marketing of beef animals.  Dairy steer producers face similar challenges – feed costs and market prices – as beef steer producers, but there are unique aspects of raising dairy steers.

Programmatic Response: 

These opportunities and challenges were featured in a Dairy Steer Meeting on Feb. 24 in Orange City.  The meeting focused upon four topics – nutrition and management of dairy steers; Holstein steer budgets; dairy steer carcass characteristics and packer expectations; and risk management tools/marketing strategies for dairy steers.  Presenters were Beth Doran, Beef Program Specialist, and Ron Hook, Farm Management Program Specialist. 

The meeting was sponsored by ISU Extension and the Iowa Beef Center, with financial support from the USDA Risk Management Agency.  Forty-five producers from nine Iowa counties, Minnesota and South Dakota attended the meeting.  Five producers, who could not attend, requested meeting materials. 
Outcome Statement:

A survey questionnaire was mailed to meeting participants with a 26% response rate.  When asked how the information from the meeting helped them, the responses were as follows:

       64% improved their knowledge about dairy steer nutrition, implants and feed additives
·      73% expanded their knowledge about input costs and returns for dairy steer production
·      73% enhanced their level of understanding about dairy steer carcasses, packer expectations and grid marketing systems
·      46% improved their ability to evaluate and use a risk management strategy to hedge a return

When asked what changes they had made to increase dietary energy level or improve efficiency, 36% indicated that they process the grain (as opposed to feeding a whole, unprocessed grain).   Thirty-six percent indicated that they used a trembolone acetate combination implant for the terminal implant.  To improve animal health, 36% cited using distillers grains in the ration to lower the risk of acidosis.

Participants were also asked what changes they had made to enhance profitability.  Over 45% indicated that they were marketing steers at lighter weights (<1350 pounds).  Sixty-four percent had completed a budget to determine breakeven selling price; 55% had completed a budget to determine a breakeven purchase price.  Thirty-six percent utilized a risk management strategy to hedge a profit.  When asked which risk management tools they used to hedge market price, 45% cited using CME futures.  Over 18% used either cash forward contracts or Livestock Revenue Protection Insurance. 

Thirty-six percent responded that the economic impact of the meeting information to their operation ranged from $2500 to $5000.  However, the meeting impacted more than the 45 participants.  Meeting information was shared by the participants with another 38 people.
Comments at the meeting included, “I think I’ll look more at managing my bull calves” and “I’m going to look more closely at my feed efficiency.  With prices the way they are, this is one of the other things I need to look at.”

In the follow-up evaluation, comments included:
·       Good meeting – like the focus on dairy steers rather than just beef animals
·       The meeting was very informative and practical
·       Please have another one
140  Iowa Beef Center

Page last updated: September 30, 2009
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu