Dairy Steer Feeding Survey

April- June 2002

Beth Doran , beef/beef forage field specialist


Ron Orth, staff member at the Iowa Institute of Cooperatives received funding from the Iowa Corn Promotion Board to investigate adding value to corn through dairy steer production and contacted me about expanding dairy steer feeding in Northwest Iowa . I suggested that market access was a primary constraint, but indicated that there was no documentation regarding the opportunities and challenges of feeding dairy steers.


A dairy steer feeding survey, cosponsored by Iowa State University Extension (Beth Doran, John Lawrence and Dan Loy) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, was compiled and conducted in February of 2002. Six-hundred-thirty-five surveys were mailed to cattle producers in six northwest Iowa counties (Cherokee, Lyon, O'Brien, Osceola, Plymouth and Sioux). One-hundred-seventy seven (27.9%) were returned. The goal was to assay the potential opportunities and challenges of dairy steer feeding.

The survey indicated that while there may be opportunities for dairy steer production in northwest Iowa , market access and the finished market price are seen as the major impediments to marketing dairy steers. Weather and increased health problems were also noted as contributing factors. For dairy steer feeding to expand and grow in the area, producers need expanded markets and more competitive bidding. I submitted executive reports to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, the Iowa Beef Center and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association and was encouraged by the early industry response to our findings.


Two recent developments on the heels of the survey are positive. One includes startup of a Holstein steer trial directed by Allen Trenkle, professor, Iowa State University , at the Iowa State Ruminant Nutrition Farm north of Ames . The study, focusing on the feeding of dairy steers and the feeding of corn co-products, follows a review of the survey by Ron Orth and a group of 30 industry representatives. Results of the trial will be featured at a Beef Nutrition Farm Field Day on Saturday, September 7th.

As the result of a the survey shared with Joel Brinkmeyer, executive vice president, Iowa Cattlemen's Association, an estimated 15% of the harvest capacity of the value-added beef processing plant at Tama will be dedicated to processing dairy steers. If this occurs, this means another market outlet, welcome news for a market that is currently pretty narrow.


Page last updated: July 11, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu