Kansas

Beef Chat

Jul182014

Building a Base

Published by Katie Sawyer at 2:30 AM under Agriculture | Beef Team | General

For most runners, summer is spent on long runs, tough track workouts and sweat sessions that build character and stamina. It’s the time of year you build your mileage base, expand your CO2 capacity and simply become a better, strong runner. It’s also the season to clean up your diet by enjoying more fresh fruits, vegetable and lean proteins – hot off the grill. Hard work and dedication in the summer pays off on race days in the fall.

 

We see the summer as much the same for our cattle. No, they’re not running laps in the pasture or really doing much of any type of workout, but they are building their base and lean muscle mass through the consumption of nutrient-rich grasses in the Kansas Flint Hills. Many of our cows become pregnant in the spring, which means they spend their all-important first trimester out at pasture. The grasses provide enough calories to allow both the new calf and the mother to thrive and grow. We supplement the grass with minerals essential to a growing baby and mother and ensure the animals always have access to fresh water.

 

Allowing our cattle to graze throughout the spring and summer months pays big dividends in the winter. Our mother cows are healthy and strong enough to care for a newborn calf. And the calves that have spent their first summer with their mothers in the pastures are healthy, strong and ready to be weaned. 

 

The summer grazing season is an essential part of our cattle’s lifecycle and our feed regimen. And the summer running season is vital to feeling confident on race day each fall.



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Jul102014

Summer Slowdown?

Published by Robin Kleine at 3:59 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

For some people, summer is a slower time. They might get to sleep in and stay up late, enjoy a few hours in the pool every day, eat tremendous amounts of cotton candy and watermelon and relax. 

 

At our house, we do a little bit of those things --- but not very often.  

 

Here’s 3 reasons why farmers and ranchers are so busy during the summer –

 

  1. We’ve got to make hay. Because cows are ruminants (their stomachs have four parts), they need to eat forage (like hay) to keep it functioning properly. Hay also provides valuable nutrients and protein to their diet. But, hay is finicky and depends on the weather. We have to have a few day window from when you mow it, to when you bale it without any rain to ensure that the hay is dry and won’t mold easily.

    IMG_1341.JPG
    Image courtesy of www.freerepublic.com

  2. Cows and calves need our attention. After all the cows are done calving in the spring, we take the cows and their babies to a different pasture for the summer along with a few bulls to breed the cows. Every day, we visit the pasture to make sure everything is in place – all the fences are still in tact, do a quick head count, and check over the herd for sickness or injuries. Also, we will run all the cows in to give them a de-wormer and treat for flies – two major problems in the summer – as well as do a pregnancy check to make sure the bulls are doing their job.

    IMG_7416.jpg
    Cow and calf on pasture. Picture taken at my farm.

  3. We’re celebrating our hard work at fairs and cattle shows. For some of us, we show our cattle and other livestock at our county fair or other shows on a state or national level. We work all year for this moment, when we get to present our animals to the judge and spend some time socializing with all our friends too.

    RKK_2896.JPG
    This picture was taken at the National Junior Shorthorn Show in Louisville, KY.

 

While, the summer might not be slow moving on our farm. We still enjoy the time we get to spend together, working as a family and preparing our farm for the winter, when we can’t grow feed for the cows and get to start calving season again! Farming is a cycle, and we’re happy to keep it going!

 

Until next time,
Robin



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Jun182014

Just Ask!

Published by Kassie Curran at 11:10 AM under Agriculture | General

I grew up in a part of Kansas where most of the land was pasture rather than cropland. My family raises beef cattle, meat goats and some fruits and vegetables in our garden so I didn’t know as much about row crop farms until I came to college. By taking more agriculture classes and asking my friends who grew up on row crop farms, I am always learning new things about the various crops and how they are planted, cared for, and harvested. Throughout my college career, I have been exposed to the complexity of the food system and continue to learn the importance of collaboration and cooperation within the agriculture industry. For example, the beef industry must maintain close relationships with the corn industry since much of the field corn crop is used for cattle feed. 

 

This summer I have the opportunity to intern at Monsanto Company in St. Louis, MO, where I get to work on analyzing nutrient composition of genetically modified crops. During my time with the company I have learned so much about plant breeding, crop production, the testing and safety assessments completed before commercializing products, and the commitment Monsanto has to educate consumers about technology used in seed production. I have been extremely impressed with Monsanto’s pledge to work with farmers to produce more food, conserve more resources, and improve lives around the world. By reaching out to various people throughout the company and asking questions, I feel much more confident in my knowledge about crops and their uses in foods and feeds. I also feel confident in the work the company does and their products.

 

In today’s marketplace, there is so much noise when it comes to food purchases. It can be difficult to know what is right, what is wrong, what is relevant, and what the best thing is for you and your family. Many times the media shares incorrect information about food production, because they know it will make for “entertaining TV.” This happens at the expense of the consumers and the people actually doing the work to produce the food, without considering the science.

 

I always encourage people to ask questions and learn more about their food, to learn the science behind the product on the shelf. This does take time, which is why most consumers don’t do so, but regardless of what your food preferences are it is important to understand that all food production methods have their place and can help to produce enough food for our growing population. Having an interest in food science, marketing, and policy, as well as consumer demand and education, I am thoroughly enjoying this internship experience and would love to answer any questions!!

 

Just Ask!!

Kassie Curran



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Jun052014

Grass-fed vs Grain-fed

Published by Katie Sawyer at 10:18 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | Nutrition

It’s officially grilling season which means Americans are on the hunt for quality beef cuts and possibly a fact or two about where their meat came from. During a recent interaction with consumers, I found myself explaining to more than one person grass-fed versus grain-fed beef.

 

We fed our cattle both grass and grain. About eight months of the year, our cows grazing in pastures, enjoying green grasses in the Kansas Flint Hills. The other four months – during the winter – our animals are on our farm and enjoy a diet of corn silage, dry distillers grain and hay. This is also the time they are calving so nutrition is vital for both mother and baby. By industry standards, this makes our cattle grain fed.

 

To be classified as grass-fed, cattle must only consume grasses. That means no grains, ever. Many people assume that grass-fed cattle produce healthier beef. This has been proven untrue.

 

A recent article outlines two studies comparing the nutritional component of grass-fed beef to grain-fed beef. The results showed a slight different in fats but no significant nutritional difference.

 

Ground beef from grass-fed cattle naturally contains more omega-3 fatty acids than from grain-fed cattle (three times as much), but is higher in saturated and transfat. At the other end of the spectrum is premium ground beef, such as from conventionally produced Certified Angus Beef or cattle with Japanese genetics (available as Wagyu or Akaushi ground beef). Ground beef from these cattle is very high in oleic acid, and also much lower in saturated and transfat, than ground beef from grass-fed cattle.” - Grass-Fed Vs. Grain-Fed Ground Beef -- No Difference In Healthfulness by Stephen B. Smith, Texas A&M University

 

Read the entire article at http://beefmagazine.com/beef-quality/grass-fed-vs-grain-fed-ground-beef-no-difference-healthfulness

 

Consumers must also be aware that grass-fed does not mean anti-biotic-free or hormone-free. Producers of both types of cattle can use both resources to help treat sick cattle.

 

Some consumers believe there is a noticeable taste and texture difference between grass and grain-fed beef and therefore chose one over the other. For those that don’t have a previous bias or favorite, selecting a type of beef based on nutritional components means both are great options. And with both grass and grain fed, you will find 29 lean cuts to enjoy this summer grilling season.



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May232014

Celebrate Beef Month

Published by Kiley Stinson at 3:55 AM under Agriculture | General

cel·e·brate  [sel-uh-breyt]

verb (used with object), cel·e·brat·ed, cel·e·brat·ing.

1. To observe (a day) or commemorate (an event) with ceremonies or festivities

2. To make known publicly; proclaim

 

May is a busy time of year filled with holidays and special occasions just waiting to be celebrated! Making it a perfect time of year to proclaim May as Beef Month! In reality, once I flip my calendar to May there is usually already a list from here to Timbuktu penciling out all the wonderful, fun-filled spring time traditions Americans celebrate.  In my mind there is no better way to celebrate special occasions than by sharing my love affair of BEEF with friends and family. Beef is such a versatile protein source for any meal and regardless of your cooking style; there are countless ways to prepare it. For a few recipe ideas, I recommend BEEF It’s What’s For Dinner.

But before I go any further – I must share why I am proud to celebrate the beef community.

  • 97 percent of beef farms or ranches are family-owned. Working side-by-side my family every day to raise a high quality, wholesome food product to share with my neighbors next door and across the world; that is what my passion for beef is all about and something I’m most proud of!

  • 54 percent of these farms and ranches have been in the same family for three generations or more.  It’s a Stinson Tradition! I’m humbled to be the sixth generation to farm the same land that my ancestors pioneered nearly two centuries ago.

  • 64 percent of cattle farmers and ranchers say that they hope to continue the tradition by passing down their farm or ranch to their children. I know my parents have always shared this vision and it’s one that I’ll always hold onto as I embark on my journey to feed the mouths of a growing population in our great nation. 

Raising beef is a family tradition and with a calendar full of special occasions this month, each one has been celebrated in a traditional fashion:  Featuring beef as the main attraction!

Dad shares his wisdom of ranching with me as we check on a set of heifers together.

 

Cheers to BEEF and celebrating traditions,

Kiley



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May152014

This One is Ours

Published by Heath Larson at 10:04 AM under

 

It's the time of year that every cattle rancher has been dreaming about all winter.  It's time to take the cattle to pasture for the summer!  "Going to grass" is the unofficial first day of summer to me.  Before going to grass, each cow, calf, and steer is vaccinated to prevent disease, tagged and poured to prevent nuisance flies and pests, and given one final checkup before being hauled to pasture.  This year, I was responsible for branding the steers.  Brands, for being little more than a simple mark on an animal, are surprisingly complex.  Each owner has a unique brand, registered with the government, that may be placed on one specific location of their cattle.  But, considering the wandering nature of cattle and the ever present threat of rustling, a permanent brand is the best way for one to look at a wayward steer and say definitively, "This one is mine."

 

 

Another unofficial sign that winter is over is the running of the Boston Marathon.  As the world's longest continuously run marathon, Boston is truly Mecca for marathoners, and I was fortunate enough to run it for the second time a few weeks ago.  No matter how many races I run, turning onto Boylston Street with the crowds screaming "Go Team Beef!" and seeing the finish line after 26 miles is a memory I will never forget.  Running up Heartbreak Hill, the most famous and difficult hill on the course, is a "gut check" moment unparalleled by any road race.  While I've been to a fun college tailgate party or two in my time, there's few that truly hold a candle to the rowdiness of college students watching the race at Boston College, Tufts, and of course, Wellesley, where the screams from the all-female campus can be heard 1/2 mile away.

 

 

Marathon Monday, with all its tradition and history, has also made its mark on the city of Boston...literally.  The finish line on Boylston is permanently painted across the street and remains there year round.  Marathon day is the first day of spring break in Boston, and it seems nearly every front yard becomes a cross between an aid station and a party, offering everything from oranges and bananas to donuts for runners.  Then there are the signs.  From funny ("Hurry up, the Kenyans are drinking your beer") to inspirational ("Chuck Norris never ran a marathon") to geeky (Darth Vader holding a sign saying "May the course be with you"), these folks have really taken the time to get creative with their support.  But perhaps the most prevalent sign from this year's race was a simple declaration stating "This is OUR marathon."  Boston forever bears the "brand" of the race that has come to define the resilience of their city, and as runners, we forever carry our memories from this iconic race.  This is our marathon.  May it always be so.

 

 



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Apr112014

Bucket Calves

Published by Kiley Stinson at 5:07 AM under Agriculture | General

Finally, the forecast has featured 70 degree weather all week long and I think we’ve waved old man winter goodbye!  Yippy Skippy! The grass is greening up, trees are budding and it’s much more fun to feed bucket calves in shorts and boots vs. snow suits and gloves!

 

“What’s a bucket calf you ask?”

 

A bucket calf is the term we use to describe a baby calf that has lost its mother. Sometimes a momma cow has twins and doesn’t have enough milk to feed two babies or momma might not claim her new born baby period. When something like this happens, farmers and ranchers quickly take the young calves under their wing and provide immediate care for them. At this point the calves are fed milk through bottles or buckets; hence the name “bucket calf.”

 

 

Bethany helps love on a new calf that had a rough start during a snow storm earlier in the year.

 

Since we raise beef cattle, we don’t have access to fresh cow’s milk like dairy farms do to feed orphan calves, so we select a quality milk replacer; I think of it as baby formula for cattle! Milk replacer is the primary source of food for the first few weeks of a calf's life.

 

 

Owen lent a helping hand with mixing the powdered milk replacer and water.

 

Young calves cannot yet digest grains or hay like an adult cow can. Once a calf is old enough to begin digesting grains and fiber, we will begin the transition from milk replacer to then providing a starter feed. Bucket calves also need a routine; therefore the kiddos feed calves twice a day at the same times each day.

 

  

 

Dinner Time!!!

Twins Andrea and Owen help feed one of the calves while Leo feeds the other. 

 

Since my soon –to– be niece Bethany is old enough to be in 4-H she will be working hard every day to care for these calves as part of the bucket calf project that she is enrolled in. The bucket calf project is a fantastic way to teach kids responsibility, proper health and nutritional requirements of young cattle, basic beef management skills and record-keeping skills!

Stay tuned for future updates on the bucket calf project!

Until next time,

Kiley



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Mar142014

Lifecycle of a Cow

Published by Katie Sawyer at 2:23 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General



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Feb282014

Not Exactly What I Call A Snow Day

Published by Kiley Stinson at 3:03 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

Saturday marks the 1st of March and most of you are thinking, ‘yay spring is right around the corner’ …but not so fast, the latest weather forecast is predicting another nice sized snow storm for our area this weekend. I won’t say too many things about old man winter, because we really did need some serious moisture this winter out on the prairie.  But, heavy snow and extended periods of below freezing temperatures can sure take a toll on life on a cattle ranch.

Winter on the ranch is a beautiful sight, but it also means a lot of work for those caring for the animals. Ranchers feed them, break ice for them so they can drink from water tanks and ponds, build windbreaks and lay down straw and hay in the pastures to provide a warmer place for them to lie.  Cattle can handle below freezing temperatures if they are kept dry, adequately fed, and have plenty of water. Here are a few pictures that have been taken this winter in the northern parts of Lyon County, Kansas on the ranch of Keith Cattle Company.

Soon to be mommas being called in for dinner time.

One last drink for the cows before they head back to shelter from the snow.

Sick calves still need to be cared for when the weather isn’t so kind to the cowboys.

And then God gives you this moment. Complete peace surrounds you and you’re reminded why we’re caretakers of this land and caregivers for these wonderful cows.

Until next time,
Kiley



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Feb192014

What It Takes

Published by Heath Larson at 10:15 AM under Agriculture | Beef Team | Coffee Shop Talk | General

It's Time for the Winter Olympics!  And whether you're a curling fanatic or a downhill skiing fan, chances are strong that you heard about the Jamaican bobsled team's improbable run to this year's Olympic Games.  They qualified for the games for the first time since 2002, only to realize they had one week to raise $80,000 for team costs in order to compete at the games.  But nothing is impossible when you're a Jamaican bobsledder.  They raised the cash, and managed to compete in Sochi, against obstacles most would find insurmountable. 

 

The first ever Olympic Jamaican bobsled team was of course immortalized in the 1993 Disney Classic "Cool Runnings."  One of my favorite parts of the film occurs between the coach (Irv) and Sanka, who thinks he should be the driver, instead of his more dedicated friend, Derice: 

Irv: You see Sanka, the driver has to work harder than anyone. He's the first to show up, and the last to leave. When his buddies are all out drinking beer, he's up in his room studying pictures of turns. You see, a driver must remain focused one hundred percent at all times. Not only is he responsible for knowing every inch of every course he races, he's also responsible for the lives of the other men in the sled. Now do you want that responsibility?

Sanka: I say we make Derice the driver. 

Irv: So do I, Sanka. So do I.

 

This spring, I will be running the Boston Marathon, which is essentially a combination of a world class 3 hour foot race and a parade.  The weather will be nice (hopefully), and the crowd of 500,000 spectators will be incredibly supportive.  What few people realize is how much sacrifice, how much time "studying pictures of turns" each runner has put into that one single race.  Without a treadmill at home and no gym membership, I am often out running for 2-3 hours in very unfriendly late winter weather in preparation for Boston.  Two days ago, the wind was so strong on my 15 miler that I wasn't even sure I'd be able to finish.    However, that's the price that must be paid for a strong race in Boston.

 

In a similar vein, it's calving season on most ranches across the state.  While everyone loves seeing new baby calves take their first steps, few understand the sacrifice it takes on behalf of the rancher to keep each calf alive.  New calves must be protected from brutal late winter snowstorms and "rookie" heifers that don't know how to take care of them.  It's often the case that the rancher has to help pull the calf out by hand during labor.  And during calving season, there are no hours or schedules.  Ranchers are up at all hours of the night and day, sacrificing sleep and sanity, ensuring that the newest members of their herd (and their mothers) are safe and sound.

 

So whether you're sitting inside watching the luge, or out playing with your kids in the next winter storm, don't forget to say a prayer for the ranchers working overtime to protect their cattle from the elements.  And while our task isn't remotely as important, don't forget about the crazy spring marathoners trying to grind out another long training run in the cold!



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