AMES, Iowa – Imagine a world where technology can be used to monitor a herd’s feed and water intake electronically, and on a per-head basis. A pioneering producer in western Iowa is doing just that, and beef producers can learn more during a tour on April 4.
Duane Warden, a retired doctor and owner of Warden Angus near Council Bluffs, has teamed up with the Iowa Beef Center (IBC) Iowa State University (ISU) Extension staff to develop a system that would allow the collection of individual bull feed intakes while using normal feedlot type rations. His past system would only allow the use of pelleted rations and because he only had two units, his total bull testing capacity was 25 to 30 head.
“Sometimes unusual requests come to the IBC that are just too hard to pass up,” says Daryl Strohbehn, professor of animal science. “Dr. Warden has been using and testing Angus bulls on the same system for more than 20 years. Equipment maintenance and technical support has become difficult to obtain, and he came to us with this idea, which really excited us.”
Strohbehn teamed up with fellow ISU Extension personnel and several Midwestern companies, including Miraco in Grinnell, Scale Source in Des Moines, and ID-ology of Eau Claire, Wisc. The operation system is called a Feed Intake Monitoring System, or FIMS.
Eight polyethylene feed bunks fitted with EID (electronic identification) antennas were mounted on electronic digital scales for continuous feed intake monitoring.Only one bull can access the feed bunk at a time. The ID readers, one per bunk, detect EID tags on the bulls and send that information to the eight scale indicator which coordinates and stores information as it takes place. Using wireless technology, the scale indicator supplies its daily database to a computer that summarizes daily feed intakes using software developed by the IBC.
The April 4 tour begins at 10:30 a.m. at the ISU Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm near Lewis, with a few short presentations about how the equipment works, feed efficiency testing, the daily routine of the operation and is followed by a free lunch.
The afternoon session includes a presentation about the genetics of feed efficiency, and possible uses for the FIMS technology. The program continues with a tour of the new bull testing facility and Warden’s 2005 bulls, on the Beedle Farm.
Perry ‘Bud’ Beedle, one of Warden’s herd cooperators, has built a new feeding barn on his farm near Oakland which is an open-fronted barn with a drive-through alley containing eight identical pens that can house eight to ten animals per pen. Approximately 17 square feet per head is available under roof, while the outside portion allows just over 200 square feet per head.
There is no registration fee for the program and tour, but to assist the organizers in a head count for lunch, attendees are asked to contact Leann Plowmann-Tibken at the Armstrong Farm, (712) 769-2600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the tour or for directions to the Armstrong Research Farm, visit the Calendar page at www.iowabeefcenter.org.
The program and tour are sponsored by the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University, Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity Cooperative, Allflex USA, Inc., ID-ology, Scale Source, and Miraco.
Rachel E. Martin, Iowa Beef Center, (515)294-9124, email@example.com