Member Priority: Livestock
Raising livestock for niche markets can be a profitable enterprise when implemented successfully and markets are established. One way to add a niche livestock enterprise to your farm is through working with a company like Niman Ranch, which organizes a network of small family farmers raising animals according to a specific set of standards. Hear from Alyssa Juergensen, a field agent with Niman Ranch, and farmer Dan Wilson about their protocols and how to get started raising livestock for Niman Ranch.
February 21, 2018
“We started planting cereal rye because it was easy to calve in. Now, most all of our covers are grazed as a way to justify the costs,” said Mark Schleisman, of Lake City. Cover crops that are grazed have value, but how much value? A three-year PFI research project, initiated in 2015, helped quantify this value […]
February 8, 2018
Beginning farmers face a whole range of barriers to overcome when starting a successful farm business. Accessing startup capital and land, building a market, finding a balance between farm work and family life, and overcoming production challenges are among the many issues beginners have to navigate. Beginning vegetable farmer Jenny Quiner of Dogpatch Urban Gardens, and beginning livestock farmers Bill and Stacey Borrenpohl will discuss the challenges they’ve faced as well as their strategies for overcoming them.
January 30, 2018
Two years of monitoring birds on a central Iowa farm has shown that rotationally grazed pastures support threatened bird species. Properly managed pastures, grazed by a herd of grass-fed cattle, created a desirable habitat for grassland birds, which were attracted the pasture’s mix of short and tall vegetation. Some bird species, such as the bobolink and […]
January 26, 2018
Grazing cover crops can provide economic
returns to farming operations
within the same year cover crops are
• This study is in its third year and is
being conducted by farmers in the
North Raccoon watershed who are
participating in a Water Quality Initiative
• Utilizing cover crops as forage represents
a win-win for livestock producers
and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction
• Three cow-calf producers reported
that over two years, cover crops
provided up to 3.81 tons of dry
matter per acre.
• Grazing cover crops offset winter
feed expenses up to $38,953.
• Each farmer reaped economic
benefits within the same year of
planting the cover crops.
• Cost share was provided to each
farmer, which contributed to profitability.
January 4, 2018
Dave and Meg Schmidt operate a diverse livestock farm, Troublesome Creek Cattle Co., in Exira IA; raising grass-fed and finished cattle and sheep, pigs and poultry. Feeding the 100% grass-fed cattle herd over the winter is a great expense, so they have experimented with feeding different forage sources- hay, cover crops, crop residue and stockpiled […]
December 22, 2017
Kathy Voth is one of the featured speakers at Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2018 annual conference (Jan. 18-20, in Ames), and we’re excited she’s able to join us. Kathy publishes the popular weekly online grazing magazine, “On Pasture,” in partnership with Rachel Gilker. For 12 years, Kathy also worked with the Bureau of Land Management, […]
December 21, 2017
How much is the grazing from cover crops worth? Mary Drewnoski, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Systems Specialist, and Nebraska farmer Lane Meyer will discuss on-farm research results of grazing cover crops. Data will be presented on dry matter digestibility (energy) and crude protein content of different cover crop forages, average daily gains of growing calves, the amount of grazing cover crops provide, and the economics.
December 19, 2017
Have you ever heard of “graze cropping?” John Stigge, a farmer from northeastern Kansas, owns Stigge and Sons farm, a 2000-acre no-till, cover crop and beef cattle operation. John is an advanced cover crop grazier and in lieu of planting a field for grain production, John plants cover crops and puts cattle out to graze for a whole production year or longer. John and his son Ian will discuss how his integrated crop and cattle system has improved soil health, productivity and profitability.
December 12, 2017
Wild bird populations can thrive in
properly managed working landscapes.
• Cattle activity changes grassland structure;
creating areas with short and tall
vegetation, which provides habitat that
is less available in conservation areas.
• For some species, rotationally grazed
pastures have the capacity to support
greater bird population sizes compared
to conservation areas that are
• Prairies and pastures complement one
another to protect a wider range of
birds then either habitat alone.
• Restored prairie in a conservation
area supported 285 birds (21 species)
in 2016 and 230 birds (25 species) in
• Rotationally grazed perennial pasture
supported 553 birds (22 species) in
2016 and 468 birds (23 species) in
• Rotationally grazed perennial + annual
pasture supported 524 birds (28
species) and supported 545 birds (21
species) in 2017.
• Pastures better supported some birds
that are considered in decline than the
December 6, 2017