Feeding cows during the winter is the
greatest expense for most grassbased
• Grazing cover crops and stockpiled
pastures provides low-cost feed during
times farmers would normally be
• For many years, Dave and Meg
Schmidt have recorded grazing
moves and the amount of hay they
fed to the herd.
• From 2013 to 2017, they experimented
with feeding cover crops,
crop residue and stockpiled pastures
to cut down on the amount of hay
• During the winters of 2013-2014
and 2014-2015, cover crops and
crop residue provided almost half
of the winter feed needs for the
• During the winter of 2015-2016,
the most hay was fed, because
the farmers were not able to plant
cover crops the season prior.
• The least hay was fed in 2016-2017,
due to a combination of grazing
stockpiled pastures along with
cover crops and crop residue.
• Calf average daily gains were greatest
• Diverse winter forage sources
allow the Schmidts to feed less hay,
increase the size of their herd and
December 6, 2017
This week, On-Farm is back on the road and we visited the farm of Russ Wischover – Windswept Acres – right on the Missouri border in south west Iowa. Several years ago, Russ retired from his job as a herdsman at the University of Illinois’s swine research farm and bought a farm near Bedford. Since […]
July 21, 2017
Time was when oats were included in the diet of nearly every single farm animal (aside from maybe the dogs and cats) raised in the state of Iowa. Cattle, dairy cows, horses, chickens, pigs and sheep all ate oats (and other small grains) at various stages of their lives. That time has now past, of […]
March 2, 2017
In a Nutshell
• 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.
• Rotationally grazed pastures have
the capacity to support greater bird
populations, for some species, than
conservation areas that are not grazed.
• Restored prairie in a conservation area
supported 285 birds of 21 species.
• Rotationally grazed perennial pasture
supported 553 birds of 22 species.
• Rotationally grazed perennial+annual
pasture supported 524 birds of 28
• Pastures better supported some birds
that have conservation implications,
than the restored prairie.
December 6, 2016
In a Nutshell
• Planting cover crops, then grazing or
harvesting them, is a practical way to
effectively reduce nutrient pollution,
plus provide economic benefits to
• This represents a win-win for livestock
producers and water quality for Iowa.
• Four farmers in northwest Iowa
reported that in the fall and winter of
2015, cover crops provided 0.07 to
3.74 tons of dry matter per acre.
• Grazing this cover saved farmers
$1,306 to $22,801 in hay or other
stored feed expenses
November 9, 2016
Objective: To measure the effects of grazing on fallow land that has been in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for 10 years.
The growth of the grass-fed meat sector is driven by positive eating experiences. To ensure satisfied consumers, it’s critical for cattle graziers to have a solid understanding of grass-finishing. Ryan and Kristine Jepsen, of Dorchester, Iowa, will discuss the importance of meeting the nutritional needs of cattle at each stage of life and knowing your cost of gain. Daniel Sheetz, a row crop and beef cattle producer in Toledo, Iowa, is transitioning his operation to organic and grass-fed. He has seeded 60 acres of new pasture and will be implementing a grazing plan in the spring. Daniel will ask Ryan and Kristine questions about grass-based beef production.
November 25, 2015
Shanen and Beau Ebersole, of Ebersole Cattle Co., will share their expertise raising grain-finished beef cattle with no hormones or antibiotics. Learn about issues from production to marketing methods, then listen in as the Ebersoles answer beginning farmer Dave Hill’s questions on starting up this type of enterprise.
December 30, 2014