The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) recently published an article highlighting some key points that were discussed at the Midwest Cow/Calf Symposium that took place in Omaha, NE, on March 21st through the 22nd. Read the full article here. The Symposium featured experts that addressed key management decisions for raising cows and calves under roof. The outcome was astounding.
Limited pasture availability has led some cow-calf producers to look for other viable options. So, almost 300 producers from eight states attended the two-day symposium to learn about cow-calf health, nutrition, and other best management practices. The reviews that were collected were overwhelmingly positive. Most found the Midwest Cow-Calf Symposium to be informative, entertaining, and valuable.
Dr. Sara Barber, Veterinary Medical Center, was one of the six experts that were invited to speak. According to Dr. Barber, raising cows and calves under roof presents an opportunity to manage pairs individually. However, additional management practices must be implemented to maintain animal health.
One of the ways to maintain herd health is by controlling the environment under roof, starting with proper bedding management. Dr. Barber explained that pens should always be kept dry and that bedding can easily be evaluated. She does this by utilizing the “dry knee test”. Simply fall on your knees and if your knees are wet when you get up, you’ll need more bedding.
Dr. Barber stressed the importance of newborn calves taking in their mother’s colostrum, a calf’s first and only available source of antibodies. Another way to protect the newborn calf is by dipping their navels with iodine to prevent infections. She also explained the importance of using designated supplies for sick calves and healthy calves.
The producer panel was the most popular aspect of the Midwest Cow-Calf Symposium. Eleven producers from MO, NE, SD, and IA were invited to share their experiences and wisdom.
Chad and Amy Wilkerson of Linden, IA were two of the producers on the panel. They agree that prevention is key when using the calving under roof approach. They currently raise 160 cow-calf pairs in an Accu-Steel cattle barn (pictured right) they filled for the first time in January of 2016. One of the points Chad express was the importance of having a good vet and nutritionist in your back pocket. You want to be able to know they are going to be there and understand what you’re up against.
The Symposium Summary
While there are many advantages to calving under roof, experts and cow-calf producers alike concluded this system requires an intensive management system that may not be the right fit for every livestock farm. Fortunately, the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers works beside Iowa farm families as they make important management decisions about growing the farm using new livestock technology such as calving under roof.
The Midwest Cow-Calf Symposium was co-sponsored by the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Nebraska Cattlemen.