For the Bay: Precision feeding now extends to beef cattle in Pennsylvania


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A strategy to control nutrient pollution from livestock in the Chesapeake Bay watershed — precision feeding, which increasingly has been employed in dairy operations — is now being extended to beef cattle.

Penn State Extension educators, who have been guiding agricultural producers through the process of employing precision feeding, are taking the next step by offering special training aimed at controlling nutrient pollution from beef cattle herds.

Feed workshop

A beef feed-management certification workshop will be offered by Extension June 21 in Elizabethtown to certify animal nutritionists in Pennsylvania to write plans for beef- cattle operations.

The workshop, which will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., is significant because Pennsylvania is the first state to have beef feed management, according to Virginia Ishler, Penn State dairy extension associate and nutrient management specialist, who is coordinating the event.

“This feed-management workshop expands to the beef industry the precision-feeding training that up until now has targeted the dairy industry,” she said.

“For the past five years, our training has focused on certifying dairy nutritionists and consultants to write feed-management plans, which requires taking an exam through the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists.”

Soil and water quality

Feed management is important for soil and water quality because nutrients may build-up in the soil or leach into groundwater due to manure application, Ishler explained.

Feed-management practices may reduce the volume and nutrient content of manure and may be an effective approach to minimizing the import of nutrients to the farm.

The Chesapeake Bay Commission has estimated that precision feeding could reduce nitrogen and phosphorous in manure by up to 50 percent.

“With the explosion of feed-management contracts this year, we have several beef operations signed up for feed management,” she said.

They worked with American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists — also known as ARPAS — to get the exam questions completed, and now have curriculum developed to get nutritionists certified in beef.


The Beef Feed Management Certification Workshop will allow any Pennsylvania Natural Resources Conservation Service-qualified feed-management plan writer to get certified to write plans for beef operations, Ishler noted.

This program also is open to beef producers and agricultural professionals who are interested in the feed-management program. The beef ARPAS exam will be given at the workshop.


The workshop will be held at the Masonic Village Farm, 1 Masonic Drive, Elizabethtown, Pa. More information is available online at

Ishler urges interested attendees to register before June 14. For more information, contact Virginia Ishler at 814-863-3912 or by e-mail at


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