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Serving: IA
cattle in field
GRAZING AND FEEDING: The Iowa Beef Center worked with 28 producers around the state looking at pros and cons of three main systems for managing beef cows.

What’s the most efficient beef cow system?

Series of meetings comparing beef cow management systems is set for five Iowa locations.

Iowa is home to 4.2% of the U.S. beef cattle inventory, with the seventh-largest number of any state in the country. Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Denise Schwab says a project conducted through the Iowa Beef Center worked with 28 producers to characterize three production management systems. A series of meetings in February will share the results of this project and tour cooperator operations.

Updating management systems
“The traditional or conventional system consists of pasture grazing during the growing season and winter feeding of harvested or purchased feed in either a lot or open area,” Schwab says. “The second is an extensive grazing system, which aims to have cows grazing most of the year with little supplemental feed. The third system is a limited grazing system, where most of the feed is harvested and cows are confined in a building or drylot for much of the time.”

Findings from this project form the basis of a new Iowa Cow Systems Manual, “Sustainably Growing Iowa’s Beef Herds: Evaluating Systems That Provide Economic Opportunities While Protecting Soil and Water Resources.”

The publication will soon be available. A series of meetings in February will share the results of the project and tour some of the cooperator operations. Attendance is free, thanks to sponsorship of Iowa Farm Bureau, Farm Credit Services of American and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. See the meeting series flyer for details at

Pick a date
Dates, times and locations for the meetings follow:

  • Feb. 20, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Guthrie Activity Center, 209 State St., Guthrie Center. Tour Curtis, Molly and Mike Clark’s farm, Linden.
  • Feb. 21, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Carpenter’s Hall, 1215 Court Ave., Chariton. Tour Duane and Jodi Steenhoek’s farm.
  • Feb. 26, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Jones County Extension and Expo Hall, 800 N. Maple St., Monticello. Tour Lubben’s White Oak Farms, Monticello.
  • Feb. 27, 1-3 p.m. at Hancock County Extension, 327 W. Eighth St., Garner. No tour.
  • Feb. 28, 6-9 p.m. at Meyers Seed, 5204 Highway 63, Montezuma. No tour.

Collected data included production cost records, feed usage and management, forage quality, soil samples, and soil loss based on land use and conservation practices. Case studies were developed to demonstrate successful practices in each production system, and example budgets and decision tools helped evaluate which system best fit their individual resources.

“Cow-calf enterprises can have a positive impact on the environment when well-managed,” Schwab says. “For example, incorporating rotational or permanent pastures into crop rotations can increase organic matter and reduce soil erosion.”

This project was originally funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Ag and transitioned to the Iowa Nutrient Research Center. Staff time and expenses also were committed by the Iowa Beef Center and ISU Extension.

Preregistrations for all locations are due Feb. 15 for the meetings and tours. To preregister, call the Iowa Beef Center at 515-294-2333 and leave your name, phone number and email address, along with the location you plan to attend. You can also email and provide this information.

Source: Iowa State University, which is responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and its subsidiaries aren’t responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.




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