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Beltie-Briefs Newsletter

March 14, 2021


Managing March Madness: Mud in Iowa
By Erika Lundy, ISU extension beef specialist

Significant presence of mud can increase energy requirements by as much as 30%. Wading through mud burns more calories, resulting in reduced gain for developing breeding stock and fed cattle as well as reduced milk production for cows. Confounding things further, cattle to tend eat less by simply avoiding putting in effort to get to feed. 
On top of reduced performance, mud can have negative impacts on health, especially young calves. Mud clings to hair coats and makes it more difficult for the animal to regulate body temperatures, especially if nighttime temperatures dip below freezing. Pathogens also thrive in these conditions, creating continual exposure to calves. This occurs both directly because of the poor environment and indirectly when nursing from contaminated udders. Left unmanaged, excessive mud can also cause foot injuries and outbreaks of foot rot. 
Now that we’re entering the spring thaw and no longer have access to poor man’s concrete, here are four tips to dealing with the mud that remains. 
Destock the area. Strive to increase head space and move breeding stock and pairs more frequently to help manage mud depth. Producers commonly want to turn cows out on pasture to avoid dealing with mud this time of year. However, this significantly hinders forage production. Instead, consider turning out on tillable acres knowing that the freeze-thaw process will help reduce surface roughness before planting.  Cattle on small area of cornstalk bedding in muddy field.
Provide bedding. Multiple sources are available, but cornstalks tend to be the preferred choice in Iowa based on availability as well as the bulkiness. When managed appropriately, manure and liquids tend to settle to the bottom of cornstalk bedding allowing for a drier surface.  For feedlots and yearling cattle, it’s recommended to provide 1 pound of bedding/day/inch of mud per head, while 4 pounds of bedding/day/inch of mud is needed for cow-calf pairs with heavy bred females somewhere in the middle.
Manage the bedding. Consider bedding placement away from feed and water sources to limit congregation and loafing time around the feeder leading to increased feed waste and contamination. Be resilient in removing soiled bedding frequently or bed in new area each time to reduce pathogen buildup. If managing a deep bed pack, keep cattle “high” and add fresh bedding to maintain a dry surface.
Consider building a feeding pad. While a more expensive option, building a pad from packed gravel or lime with geotextile fabric provides a longer-term solution to managing mud. A concrete feeding area allows for easier cleaning and captures more manure nutrients for crop production. Both can be beneficial for reducing feed waste as well.


Meet our Members

Emily Wilkerson

One of Emily Wilkerson’s first memories is sitting on a barn floor playing with baby chicks. Animals and agriculture have been mainstays of Emily’s life having been raised on a small hobby farm in Adel, Iowa, and they’re a passion she’s incorporating into her future as she pursues a degree at Iowa State University.

A Passion Strengthened Through Hands-On Experiences
Growing up on the farm ignited Emily’s passion for animals.

“My parents didn’t have an ag background when they moved from West Des Moines to Adel,” says Emily. “They decided to start small with poultry and other small animals while my brother and I were young. As we grew, so did the size of the animals we convinced our parents to raise.”

As Emily and her brother’s interest in agriculture grew, so did the family farm. After joining their local 4-H and FFA chapters, the children began showing interest in cattle, and soon after, Emily got her first breeding heifer. The family now raises Belted Galloway cattle full-time and has expanded their freezer beef operations.

“The experiences I was able to have through 4-H and FFA and raising livestock taught me the importance of working hard, being a caretaker to others and much more,” notes Emily.

 Making it a Career
Emily has loved animals and agriculture since she was a young child, but she acknowledges it took her a while to realize that agriculture could be more than a fun hobby.

“Working in ag had always been in the back of my mind, but I didn’t make the decision until I was about to graduate high school,” Emily recalls. “The most interesting challenge I’ve had to tackle so far is how to keep my choice of major connected to ag.”

Although she’s interested in and passionate about the medical treatment of animals, Emily knew she didn’t want to become a veterinarian. Figuring out how to center her career around animals, however, was tricky. Emily got creative and turned to her strengths — chemistry, math and problem-solving — which led her to major in chemical engineering with a minor in biomedical engineering. Emily hopes to make her career in ag engineering, creating vaccinations and other pharmaceutical products for livestock.

Advancing Women in Ag
Emily embraces how agricultural has been an integral part in shaping her identity, and having strong female mentorship has helped encourage her.

“Growing up, I was one of the youngest members in my 4-H club,” Emily recalls. “But the older female members were definitely mentors for me and took me under their wing. The experiences I was able to have with them, even when I wasn’t old enough to be in the club, are what I found most valuable because it made me more confident.”

She also admits that being a woman in agriculture can have its challenges, but being different than the normal brings new perspective, thinking and problem-solving. The women who have been part of Emily’s ag journey have helped her along the path, and she’s already stepped into a mentorship role to continue to help women find success in ag.

“Don’t be scared to dive in headfirst,” Emily encourages girls as they discover their love for ag and find footing in their careers. And for those women who have experience in the ag world, she offers this, “Encourage young women to seek a path in ag and share your stories on how you got to where you are today. Seeing successful women is a great way to encourage young women that it is possible to also be successful in ag.”

Great Lakes Calendar of Events 2021

February 19-21     
2020 Hoosier Beef Congress      Indianapolis, IN 

June 11 – 13 (tentative)
GLBGA Spring Field Day     Columbia City, IN

June 10-12 (9th check-in)   
Regional Round Up Junior Activities & Show Columbia City, IN

June 13 (tentative)
Doug Abney Memorial Open Show     Columbia City, IN

June 26
Midwest Classic Show     Pecatonica, IL

July 20 - 22
Wisconsin Farm Tech Days    Eau Claire, WI

August 6 - 22
Indiana State Fair     Indianapolis, IN

August 12 – 22
Illinois State Fair    Springfield, IL

August 12 – 22
Iowa State Fair     Des Moines, IA

August 19 – 23 (19th move in; 21st show; 23rd release)
New York Show     Syracuse, NY

September 23 – 26
World Beef Expo      Milwaukee, WI

October 12 – 24 (tentative)
American Royal     Kansas City, MO

November 15 – 18 (tentative)
NAILE National Show     Louisville, KY

World Galloway Congress     Louisville, KY

December 2 – 5 (tentative)
Hoosier Beef Congress      Indianapolis, IN
Regional Roundup Update:
Please let us know if you will be joining! Email Terry Willis and let him know you will be attending. Events like these support Juniors and Future Leaders like those featured in this months Beltie Briefs. 

Herd this at the fence...

A solution from the field... 

Junior member builds a green solution for a water tank heater
By Sawyer Bales
Belted Galloway junior member Sawyer Bales in Indiana was faced with a problem.  How does he keep a water tank from freezing in the winter without electricity?    He had 2 obvious choices, run an electric line or put in a frost- free waterer.  But both of these choices would cost more than what he had in his budget.  After reading an article he came up with a plan, a wood powered heater.  He had plenty of wood available and access to steel to build it.
Sawyer built a metal box with a hinged top, a vent for air, and put a chain on it so he could lift it in and out with the loader tractor. He used tractor weights in the bottom to keep it from floating.   Now each morning and night when he did chores all he had to do was stock the box with fire wood.  The box would heat up and keep the water in the tank warm so it wouldn’t freeze.    
Sawyer now has a low cost, low maintenance heater than it friendly to the environment and not dependent on electricity to use. He already has several ideas to improve the second-generation heater. 

Corned Beef and Cabbage...

Just in time for Saint Patrick's Day! 

Contributed by John Hamm

Prep: 20 Minutes Cook: 3 hours 45 minutes

Corned beef is a beef brisket that has been cured in a brine to give a distinct flavor. Don't confuse it with a plain cut of meat called a brisket. Corned beef is sold in a sealed plastic bag with the brine. Since the brine contains plenty of salt, none is called for in the recipe.

2 1/2 to 3 Lb. well trimmed corned beef brisket, undrained
1 medium onion cut into 6 wedges
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 small head of cabbage, cut into 6 wedges
1# baby carrots

1. Place beef in a 4-Quart Dutch oven; add juices from package of corned beef. Add enough water to cover the beef. Add onion and garlic. 

2. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours and 30 minutes or until beef is tender. 

3. Remove beef to warm platter; keep warn. Skin fat from broth. Add carrots to broth. Heat to boiling. 

4. After 20 minutes, add cabbage. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 15 minutes until cabbage is tender. Server cabbage with beef. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
If you are interested in learning more about grazing and grazing management, an excellent periodical is the Stockman Grass Farmer. Subscriptions for this are paid, but you can try an issue for free. 
Copyright © 2021 Great Lakes Belted Galloway Association, All rights reserved.

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