On June 5 and 6, Iowa beef producers can learn about low-stress handling and efficient feedyard management, check out the winners of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association Carcass Challenge Contest, and discuss ICA policy issues at the same location – the new Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames for ICA's Steer Carcass Challenge Reception and Summer Policy Conference.
All producers have the opportunity to go home with Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification. "All of these topics go hand-in-hand with issues we have on the farm that ultimately influence the product we put on our consumers' plates," says Doug Bear, Director of Industry Relations for the Iowa Beef Industry Council. "We want to provide an educational experience where producers leave with a lot more BQA information than they came with."
Thursday training sessions
The event kicks off Thursday, June 5 at 1 p.m. From 1 to 3 p.m., Dr. Kip Lukasiewicz, well-known BQA trainer, will demonstrate and discuss low-stress cattle handling, including everything from setting up a working facility to cattle behavior. A large working area will be available on site. BQA certification will follow this session.
"Being able to work in a low-stress manner helps improve worker safety, but also puts less stress on cattle," Bear says. "When you start reducing stress, cattle start performing better and have better marbling characteristics, which results in higher-quality beef products for our consumers."
Concurrent educational sessions on BQA feedyard management tools will be held at 3:30 and 4:15 p.m.
At 3:30, Dr. Nathan Pyatt, a technical consultant with Elanco, will talk about new FDA feed guidance regulations and the use of antibiotics in the feedyard. At 4:15, Pyatt will discuss practical tips for implementing BQA protocols in TMR processes and delivering those rations to the bunk.
Also at 3:30, Dr. Brett Terhaar, senior technical veterinarian with Elanco, will discuss managing moderate to high-risk cattle to reduce death loss and lower vet med costs per head. At 4:15, Terhaar will present on chute-side techniques in the feedyard to maximize implant effectiveness and vaccine response for every pen of cattle.
"The Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen's Association serve two very different roles, but we all have the same goal of working with beef producers across Iowa to promote beef," Bear says. "We're trying to evolve BQA, not just as an educational program, but a continuing education experience, so producers can take home information and truly implement it the day they learn it."
Don't miss the Carcass Challenge Contest awards program
The ICA Carcass Challenge awards program will begin with a reception at 5 p.m., followed by a banquet and awards announcement. This is the third year for the program, which showcases Iowa's feedyard performance and cattle genetics, and is a major project for the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program class, which provides input on the guidelines for awards, and helps arrange steer donations. Steers are donated from across the state, and are harvested in late April and early May.
"The Carcass Challenge Contest is a way to tie in educational material with steers, raise revenue for the association, and have some fun," says ICA seedstock manager Kellie Carolan. "There is a whole host of things we can pull from performance data. Most important is the different production methods that go into raising an animal to harvest. Whether it's new technology in the cattle feeding segment, DNA and genetics in the cow segment, they all contribute to a set of steers like this."
Awards are given in two divisions: one based on the Carcass Value per Day on Feed formula, and another based on the carcass merit formula.
"There are cash awards for each of the winners in the top five, as well as embroidered jackets," Carolan says. "We give additional awards for different traits we all strive for in beef production – highest average daily gain, largest ribeye area, top marbling score, and a category called the chef's award. That's the animal that has a 12-to-14 inch ribeye along with the highest marbling score, so it's a combination trait."
Policy discussion set for Friday
On Friday, June 6, ICA's Summer Policy Conference will shift focus to policy educational sessions and policy development discussions. Starting at 8 a.m., Ashley McDonald, deputy environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association will lead a discussion of national policy topics. After this, at 8:45, ICA contract lobbyist Lindsay Phillips and ICA Director of Government Relations and Public Policy Justine Stevenson will discuss Iowa policy.
Concurrent sessions will be held at 10 a.m., including a beef products policy discussion, and an educational session on predicting and verifying calf performance, presented by Warren Weibert, owner and general manager of Decatur County Feedyard, and Dr. Mark Allan, director of marketing and genomics at Trans Ova in Sioux Center.
At 12:30 p.m., three concurrent sessions will be held before the day wraps up – policy discussions on cattle production and business issues, and an educational session on animal disease traceability and premises registration, led by State Veterinarian Dave Schmitt and assistant district director in the Iowa office of USDA-APHIS, Kevin Petersburg.
All meals, except the Carcass Challenge banquet, are free and will be provided. To register, please call 515-296-2266. More information and a full schedule is available at the ICA website.