Cattleman to cattlemen
LYTTON – Brazil’s beef industry is expanding fast, and when the country’s leading producers wanted to learn more about year-round cattle production, they came to Iowa.
“Our goal is to visit cattle producers with mud,” said Dr. Marcello Manella, a veterinarian and animal nutrition specialist who traveled with the five-member group to Iowa in late April. “We want to know how other cattle producers deal with their environment, including snow and heat.”
In addition to touring Iowa State University’s beef nutrition research farm, Couser Cattle Co., near Nevada, Summit Farms, near Alden and other Iowa beef farms, the group stopped at Jerry Corey’s feedlot south of Lytton on April 24 to view his monoslope barn and hoop building.
“Cattle do best outside when you have ideal conditions,” said Corey, “but we don’t always have ideal conditions in Iowa.”
The 78-year-old, long-time Calhoun County cattle feeder said, “When you get a spring like this, a building is worth a lot of money to you.”
Keeping cattle cool
Built in 2011, Corey’s 400-by-64-foot monoslope barn includesa concrete flooring and two large pens that can hold 280 to 290 cattle per pen. “I like to allow 45 to 50 square feet per animal,” said Corey, who added that the cost of his monoslope runs about $650 per head.
Baled corn stalks provide bedding in the monoslope, and Corey said he adds two bales a day to the bedding pack.
In addition to weekly cleaning along the perimeter and bunks, Corey removes the bedding pack in the spring and the fall for spreading on his fields.
The monoslope is located north of Corey’s 400-by-64-foot hoop barn that he built five years ago. Corey tends to favor the monoslope, because he doesn’t have to worry about a fabric cover.
The monoslope has proven to be most beneficial in the summer, added Corey, whose feedlot can hold up to 2,000 cattle at a time.
“It’s cooler in the summer, and the cattle don’t suffer in the heat of the day. The main disadvantage comes on those days when it’s hot and humid in the evening, with no breeze.
It takes the cattle in the monoslope longer to cool down than the cattle outside,” said Corey, who uses large squirrel-cage fans in the barn to circulate the air and improve cattle comfort.
All this was interesting to the five Brazilian visitors who participated in the Iowa Beef Center’s three-day tour through central and western Iowa.
While most of the cattle in Brazil are grass-fed, the industry is changing. “The average Brazilian cattle producer still raises 1,000 to 2,000 head of cattle per year, but the trend is moving towards large feedlots in Brazil,” said Manella, who noted that some members of his group are in the top 10 percent of Brazil’s cattle industry, producing more than 100,000 beef cattle a year.
Brazil has a wet season and dry season, and traditionally cattle have been raised on pasture in the dry season, which runs from May to September.
“As beef prices get higher, producers are trying to produce more cattle year-round,” said Manella, whose group raises cattle in the state of Sao Paulo, in southern Brazil, and the state of Goias, in the central region of Brazil. “We don’t have enough pasture, and 60 percent of Brazil’s land is untouchable because it’s forest, so feedlots are becoming more important.”
The Brazilians said they wanted to find out how the monoslope’s bedding pack influences cattle health in terms of hoof and leg issues.
They also wanted to learn about the rations that the Coreys feed their cattle, Manella said. “We feed a lot of byproducts in Brazil, including soy hulls and corn gluten feed; citrus pulp, which provides a good energy source; and sugarcane byproducts from ethanol production, which provide a fiber source.”
Corey and his neighbors, many of whom are also cattle feeders, appreciated the opportunity to visit with the Brazilians. “We’ve been feeding cattle here since 1959, and cattle farming is our life,” Corey said. “It has been good to us.”
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