Getting the word out
AMES – Following cattle industry research and getting results out to producers is job one for a young beef producer in Story County.
For the past year, Erika Lundy has held the position as Iowa State University Extension program specialist for the Iowa Beef Center.
In addition to the last year, Lundy has previous experience working for the IBC, working there as a graduate student her last two years of college at ISU with a focus on feedlot nutrition.
Lundy said her position as Extension program specialist has her acting as a right hand to ISU Extension field specialists and campus staff, in addition to producers and industry leaders, but also uses her position as an opportunity to continue to gain experience.
“It’s a great learning opportunity for me getting to interact with them,” Lundy said, “but I am also here to help alleviate some of their workload.”
Lundy said she is doing something different every day whether it’s research, formulating rations, meetings, or trouble-shooting problems that producers are faced with.
“All of our duties in the beef center are focused on getting the latest, research-based information out to producers so they can make changes on their operations to improve their bottom line and stay profitable and sustainable,” said Lundy.
Some of the highlights over the past year at her job, Lundy said, have been helping to host field days at the ISU research sites and assisting with on-farm research.
The IBC, Lundy said, reaches out to beginning and young farmers as well.
“While our field days and meetings across the state are a great way to interact, educate and work with producers,” Lundy said, “the demographics of our beef industry are changing so we need to continue to find ways to interact with younger generations of beef producers
“We made beginning and young farmers an area of emphasis.”
On-farm research, Lundy said, includes a focus on feed lot efficiency, as well as benefits of grazing of cover crops.
Lundy said ISU is one of 11 universities across the United States that receive U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to identify genetic markers in cattle.
These markers predict feed intake as well as develop genetic-assisted management technology selection tools; educating beef producers effective use these tools in their operations.
Lundy said The American Hereford Association released new dry matter intake expected progeny differences in the past year, so this particular study that she is managing now is a group of Hereford steers sired by bulls with known differences in these DMI EPD.
“Our goal of this study,” Lundy said, “is to evaluate whether changes in feeding management programs to cattle with a low DMI EPD, or a high DMI EPD, will impact cattle performance differently.
“Ultimately, if beef producers know the DMI EPD of a group of calves entering the feedlot, they can strategically make changes to the diets being offered getting more optimal use of feed resources and cattle performance.”
Cover crops have been growing in popularity for their soil conservation and water quality benefits. However, Lundy said livestock producers are starting to recognize the potential for an additional forage source to include in their operations.
To better understand how cover crops can be integrated into a sustainable row crop and livestock production system, members from the ISU Extension and Outreach beef and agronomy teams teamed up to start a grazing cover crop project at ISU research farms – watching cattle performance, potential grazing days and impact of grazing on the soil health.
“We are just completing data analysis from year one and hope to continue this project for an additional two to three years,” Lundy said, “to look at impact across years to take into account weather variability.”
Her findings from research will not only help producers in our state, but Lundy said she takes what she has learned to her own operation.
In addition, any issues that arise on her operation are addressed to help others.
“As a young producer myself, I can bring some of my own production questions to the table and work on fresh ideas to ensure that both the Iowa Beef Center and Iowa’s beef industry continue to thrive,” said Lundy.
Lundy grew up near Adair on a diversified family farm with cattle, corn, soybeans and hay production; including 230 cow-calf pairs and a 100-head feedlot operation.
She attended earned an ISU bachelor’s degree in animal science with a focus on feedlot nutrition.
As an undergrad, she had internships with the Iowa Beef Industry Council and a feed company as well as worked in a ruminant nutrition lab.
It was those internships that expanded her interest in beef nutrition. Her grad-school experience included an Extension assistantship with IBC and research focused on feeding new distillers grains.
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