Book addresses Midwest cow-calf management issues


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A book written by a team composed predominantly of Purdue Extension specialists provides management advice for an agricultural sector that often doesn’t demand the same attention as some other commodities in the Midwest.


Cow-Calf Production in the U.S. Corn Belt covers topics from breeding to marketing. The 272-page book (publication MWPS-66) is $40 plus shipping and handling and is available through MidWest Plan Service, a university-based publishing cooperative at Iowa State University.

The book contains information valuable to both veteran cattle producers and those new to the industry, said Don Jones, a retired Purdue agricultural engineer and one of the book’s authors.

“It’s geared toward the cow-calf industry in Indiana and surrounding states because we felt that this industry, compared to at least the dairy and swine industries, is underserved by Extension,” Jones said.

“This is a very large industry in the Midwest with more than 200,000 cow-calf producers, most of whom have relatively small operations.”


As its title indicates, the book focuses on cattle production in the nation’s primary grain-producing region. Raising cattle in the Midwest is vastly different than at cow-calf operations in the West, where ranchers often manage 1,000 animals or more.

“In the Corn Belt, cow-calf operators often graze their animals on cornstalks left over from harvest, while operators in the West are going to be grazing animals on the range, in general,” Jones said.

“We may get 35-40 inches of rain a year in parts of the Eastern Corn Belt while a lot of the range areas in the West might be getting 15-20 inches. So pasturing, managing forage, rotational grazing, feeding and watering systems are going to be different.”


The book devotes chapters to farmstead planning, utilities, watering systems, fences and gates, lots and housing, harsh environments, handling facilities, manure management, forage management, feeds and feed storage, body condition score and reproduction, nutritional management, breeding programs, calving management, herd health, non-ambulatory animals and disposal of dead animals, arthropod pests, vertebrate pests and predators, beef operation safety and value-added marketing.

The final chapter is a herd management calendar, outlining considerations for periods during reproduction and calving, and accounts for both fall and spring calving operations. Photos, charts, graphics and diagrams are sprinkled throughout the publication.


To order the book, visit the MidWest Plan Service website at and click on the publication link. For additional information, contact MidWest Plan by email at or toll-free at 800-562-3618. International orders must be made by phone and cannot be completed online.

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