VINTON, Iowa — Profitability in cattle feeding depends on more than just cattle prices and performance. More than ever, manure value, market flexibility and management impact net returns to the operation. Beef producers may see manure as a double-edged sword. While cattle manure provides nutrients needed to produce feed for the cattle, it also has several challenges that need to be managed. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist Denise Schwab is coordinating a late-summer conference that will address a variety of topics related to cattle manure. The conference will be held on Friday, Aug. 25, at Buzzy’s in Welton, from 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“The initial focus of this conference will be safety related to manure management and distribution,” Schwab said. “Numerous deaths have been attributed to hydrogen sulfide asphyxiation during manure agitation and pumping, and last October several incidents of cattle losses triggered additional concerns but fortunately no human deaths.”
While manure produces four main gases, hydrogen sulfide is considered the most dangerous because it is highly toxic and is released quickly during agitation and pumping. It can increase from 5 parts per million (ppm) to 500 ppm in a matter of seconds after agitation, she said.
“Levels in the 500-600 ppm range can be lethal in as little as one or two breaths. While hydrogen sulfide is a major concern with liquid manure, dry manure has its own set of challenges to manage,” Schwab said. “This conference will focus on safety of both.”
Extension engineer Dan Andersen will start the program with a presentation on manure management and safety. Several local producers also will share their experiences from the fall of 2016 when several cattle were lost during pit agitation, including their experiences using safety monitors. Stephanie Leonard from the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health will share information on hydrogen sulfide safety monitors and how to select the best monitor for different situations. Greg Brenneman, extension ag engineer, will focus his talk on the positive aspects of nutrient value of manure.
Following lunch, the focus will shift from manure to animal care and management. Schwab will share the Beef Quality Assurance Feedyard Assessment and certify participants in the BQA program, and Dan Loy, extension feedlot specialist and director of the Iowa Beef Center, will address keys to improving bunk management.
Preregistration by Friday, Aug. 18 is $15, or $20 after that date. The fee is payable at the door. To register call 319-472-4739 or email Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org.