Member Priority: Livestock

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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 

FARMINAR

“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 

BLOG POST

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 

FARMINAR

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 

BLOG POST

Grazing cover crops can provide economic
returns to farming operations
within the same year cover crops are
planted.
• 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
project.
• Utilizing cover crops as forage represents
a win-win for livestock producers
and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction
Strategy.
Key findings:
• 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 

RESEARCH REPORT

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 

BLOG POST

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 

BLOG POST

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 

FARMINAR

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 

FARMINAR

Feeding cows during the winter is the
greatest expense for most grassbased
operations.
• Grazing cover crops and stockpiled
pastures provides low-cost feed during
times farmers would normally be
feeding hay.
• 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
needed.
Key findings:
• During the winters of 2013-2014
and 2014-2015, cover crops and
crop residue provided almost half
of the winter feed needs for the
herd.
• 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
in 2016-2017.
• Diverse winter forage sources
allow the Schmidts to feed less hay,
increase the size of their herd and
save money.

December 6, 2017 

RESEARCH REPORT