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June 2003

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In this issue

  • Beef Programs

  • Pork Informational Meetings

  • Challenges of Day-to-Day Dairy Management

  • Upcoming Dairy Events

  • Quantifying Soil Erosion 

  • Horse Grazing Field Day

Beef Programs
by Beth Ellen Doran, ISUE Beef Field Specialist

June 10 Satellite Program - Beef producers have heard a lot about Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and its ramifications.  What hasn't been specifically outlined is what changes, if any, need to be made and how beef producers are to implement these changes on their farms.

Currently, COOL is a voluntary USDA program passed as part of last year's Farm Bill.  It applies to a number of agricultural commodities, including beef, veal, pork, fish, perishable agricultural commodities and peanuts.  This voluntary system will be replaced with a mandatory system on Sept. 30, 2004.

This fall, feedlots will be asking for country of origin confirmation on calves they purchase because packers need verification on all animals in the fall of 2004.  USDA has not yet specified what record system to use, and livestock producers are uncertain of their roles and responsibilities in the process.

To learn about COOL, ISU Extension is sponsoring a satellite program from 10 a.m. to noon on June 10.  Bill Sessions, USDA-AMS, will explain COOL, time frame for implementation and answer questions.  John Lawrence, Iowa Beef Center Director, and ISU Extension veterinarian Jim McKean will discuss expectations of and implications for Iowa livestock producers and options for meeting COOL requirements.

Cost of the program is $10 per person.  Questions may be asked during the program.  Please contact your local County Extension Office to determine a site near you and to pre-register.

Beef Solids Settling Field Day - Kris Kohl, ISU Extension Ag Engineer, will hold a solids settling field day on June 19 from 1-3 p.m.  The field day will be at the Percy and Keith Zylstra Feedlot, 5123 210th St., Ashton, IA.   In case of rain, the field day will be June 20, 1-3 p.m. at the same location.  The feedlot is located two miles north of Ashton on Highway 60 on the west side of the highway.

During the afternoon, the Zylstra's will show the forms and engineering design they are using and will actually be pouring concrete to create the solids settling basin for their open beef feedlot.  Kris Kohl will explain the minimum environmental requirements for all open beef feedlots.

Participants are encouraged to contact the Osceola County Extension Office at 712-754-3648 to help us plan for meeting supplies.  There will be a $5 per person fee taken at the field day to cover the cost of plastic boots, publications and refreshments. 


Pork Informational Meetings
by Dave Stender, ISUE Swine Field Specialist

A series of informational meetings have been scheduled to provide pork producers with Iowa’s new requirements.  Information updates will include complying with current requirements, filling out manure management plans, new construction, odor monitoring and balancing nutrients for crop uptake.

Speakers will include Eldon McAfee, Attorney with Beving, Swanson & Forrest; Jeff Lorimor with ISU Bio Systems; and Wendy Powers with ISU Animal Science.  The meetings will last approximately two hours and are free to all pork producers who attend. 

Northwest Iowa regional meetings will be held on June 11 from 1 to 3 pm at the Carrollton Inn in Carroll and from 7 to 9 pm at NW Iowa Community College in Sheldon.

Challenges of Day-to-Day Dairy Management--- Whose Monkeys are These Anyway!!??
by Chris Mondak. ISUE Dairy Field Specialist 

Do you ever have a day at your dairy when you have so much to do and so many “fires to put out” that you feel like you have the weight of a thousand monkeys on your back?  This is the scenario that Dr. Jim Bennett, DVM, used to capture the attention of producers, professionals, and ag-business representatives at the Northwest Iowa Dairy Days program, March 5- 7.

Drawing from his years of experience serving dairy clients and helping them trouble-shoot typical dairy problems, Dr. Bennett proposes that every dairy – whether it has 50 cows or 5000 cows – can benefit from applying basic concepts of organization, goal setting, process description for essential tasks, and simple monitoring-feedback schemes.

Here is a summary of his key points:

1.      A dairy should have a structure - Make an Organizational Chart and identify responsibilities of everyone on the chart.

  • It defines who is the boss and the role and assignment of all people who work at the dairy- both family and non-family.
  • It establishes the flow of communication.
  • It establishes who has what jobs, and helps prevent one person from becoming overloaded with too many “monkeys” – (tasks).

2.      A dairy should have a defined set of processes that describe how essential tasks get done.

  • Written processes can be simply stated as flow charts, lists, or diagrams. They are dynamic – can adjust to changing situations.
  • Most problems stem from one of two critical process problems: the wrong process is being used, or the right process is being performed wrong.
  • When essential processes are performed correctly and consistently by all workers or family members, the desired outcomes of quality milk, healthy cows, and happy employees can be achieved.

3.      A dairy should have a set of goals in general, and goals for each worker or team.

  • Defines what people at dairy are working towards; and what they should have as an outcome or product of their work each day.
  • Goals should be specific. For example “having a profitable reproductive program” is not a specific goal. Instead, define the reproductive goals specifically as “Average Days Open< 125”, or “Heat Detection Rate >55%”, or “Pregnancy Rate > 19%”.

4.      A dairy should set up a simple system to monitor results and give feedback to the members or workers so they know when goals are/are not being met.

  • Set up a simple monitoring system and post it. For example, if one of the dairy’s goals is a SCC of 200,000, this can be monitored by posting the daily or weekly herd SCC levels. All family members and workers then have immediate feedback about the progress.
  • Monitoring progress towards goals gives useful feedback:  if goals aren’t met, owner/managers & employees can re-evaluate and change processes. If goals are being met, owners and employees have an opportunity to modify processes for ways to meet the goals better (or cheaper).
  • Allows producers to benchmark against each other and constantly learn.

If you would like to obtain a copy of the Dr. Bennett’s presentation and the NW Iowa Dairy Days Proceedings, contact the Sioux County Extension Office, 712-737-4230, or Chris Mondak at

Upcoming Dairy Events
  • June 9  Sioux County Dairywomen’s Peer Group; Orange City Pizza Ranch, 11:30 – 1:30pm.

  • June 16  Sioux County Dairy Banquet; Sioux Center Community Center, serving 6:15 – 7pm; program starts at 7:30pm.

  • June 23  Sioux County Dairywomen’s Peer Group; Sioux Center Pizza Ranch, 7- 8:30pm.

  • June 24  Osceola- O’Brien County area Dairywomen’s Peer Group Tour at Plymouth Dairy, 11:30 – 1:30pm.

  • July 1   Quality Milk & Mastitis Control Workshop- Updates on Methods and Products.   Two locations and times: Boyden- Demco Community Center, Noon- 3pm.  Cherokee County Extension office, 7pm – 10pm.

Quantifying Soil Erosion

By Todd Vagts, ISUE Field Crops Specialist

A short drive though the countryside reveals once again the problem northwest IA has with soil erosion.  I thought in late April the area might be spared the heavy and continuous rains that cause excessive erosion on hillsides, but as May rain kept falling, soils became saturated and excess water moved downhill, taking soil with it.  Often, erosion events appear small and insignificant, but when they happen one or more times per year for successive years, serious and long-term damage is inflicted on the soil and water resources.  Research in Iowa has shown that long-term erosion that reduces the thickness of the A soil horizon (top layer) reduces corn grain yield potential. 

Soil is lost through three major erosive actions: sheet, rill and gully erosion.  I think the predominant and probably most overlooked erosion is Rill erosion; which is characterized by small “rills” that are less visible and easily removed with tillage.  Once the visible signs of rill erosion are covered up, the short and long-term consequence is soon forgotten.  But let’s take a moment to characterize just how much soil is being lost by rill erosion.  A quick mathematical equation can be employed to quantify the destructive nature of rill erosion.

Text Box: Tons of soil lost = (A*B*C*D)/2000

Where A = Average width; B = Depth; C = Length; D = Soil Unit Wt. (85 lb/ft3)

Using the above equation in a simple example yields the following soil loss.  An 80-acre field (1320 ft x 2640 ft) with one long-sloping hillside with crop rows that run up the hill.  After one heavy spring rainfall just after planting, water runs down each row marker, creating an (average) 2-inch wide by 2-inch deep rill.  Although the size of each rill seems small and insignificant, the total soil lost in each row marker would be 76 ft3 or 3.2 tons. 

Here are some simple and easy to implement conservation practices:

  • Plant corn directly into soybean stubble

  • Plant soybeans using no-till – or high residue methods

  • Contour plow and plant

  • Maintain waterways

  • Install and maintain filter strips where water drains from fields.

Visit this ISU Web Site for an interactive analysis of your current conservation practices.


Horse Grazing Field Day
by Beth Ellen Doran, ISUE Beef Field Specialist

Horse owners are invited to a twilight grazing field day on June 17 from 7-9:30 p.m. at the ISU Demonstration and Research Farm, near Calumet.  The farm is located one mile south of Calumet on Highway 59 and 1/4 mile east on County Road B-62.

Dr. Steve Barnhart, ISU Extension Forage Agronomist, will take participants on tour of small forage plots at the farm.  Steve will discuss the characteristics of various forage plants, including ease of establishment, suitability for grazing and haying, hardiness and anti-quality factors.  He will also explain which forages are more suitable for various drainage conditions.

Dr. Peggy Miller, ISU Extension Horse Specialist, will discuss various grazing systems (continuous, rotational and highly intensive) and emphasize stocking rates, fencing and grazing precautions.  She will also explain the role of forages in the horse diet, balancing rations that include forages, and evaluating hays for horses. 

Pre-registration ($10/person) is required by June 13 at the Lyon County Extension Office.  Checks should be made payable to Lyon County Extension and mailed to Lyon County Extension, P.O. Box 348, Rock Rapids IA 51246.  Please indicate the names and number of people attending.


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