Kansas

Beef Chat

Mar262015

Myths - Get the Facts

Published by Katie Sawyer at 10:33 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

We help more than 500 mother cows deliver baby calves every year. It’s not a quick or easy job but it’s what my husband loves to do and a part of farm life I’ve grown to enjoy.  Raising cattle is a big deal in our family and making sure those animals are safe and well taken care of is a top priority.

 

Lately the issue of antibiotics in livestock has dominated headlines. Many of the articles contain little accuracy and a lot of finger pointing. But if the authors were to look at the facts, they would see a different story. Here are few antibiotic myths, debunked:

 

Myth: All farms give antibiotics to all animals, all the time

Truth: Most farmers use antibiotics on a very limited basis. Some choose to never use antibiotics at all. On our farm, we practice limited and as-needed use of antibiotics. They are administered only to sick cows and calves as part of a well-rounded rehabilitation process. We have several other options for helping them regain their health so many times antibiotics aren’t even necessary.

 

Myth: Antibiotics given to animals is found in the meat humans consume

Fact: Farmers and veterinarians are required to log all uses of antibiotics and keep animals with antibiotics out of the food system. On our farm, any animal that is given a dose of antibiotics is tracked and kept out of the herd until the antibiotic has passed through their system. The United States Department of Agriculture checks beef for antibiotic reside, ensuring that the beef sold to consumers is safe and antibiotic free.

 

Myth: Antibiotics can be spread from animals to humans through soil and water run-off

Fact: Farms, like any business, are regulated by state and federal agencies. Run-off of water and soil is monitored and tracked and is never allowed to interact with water used for human consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency monitors all bodies of water and is notified if a potentially hazardous situation is occurring on or near a farm.

 

Myth: Animals and humans are prescribed the same antibiotics

Fact: About 75% of the antibiotics given to animals are never or rarely used in humans. There are different families of antibiotics – some are used primarily in humans while others are used mostly in livestock.

 

Myth: Farmers should never be allowed to use antibiotics in livestock

Fact: Farmers and ranchers are responsible for the health and livelihood of their animals. Removing antibiotics would deprive them of an important tool for helping their animals return to health. No rancher wants to watch a calf perish from a completely treatable disease. That’s not human animal care. Antibiotics have a place in responsible animal care.


 

For more information about cattle care or myths, get more information at http://factsaboutbeef.com/.



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Mar232015

What Happens at a Bull Sale

Published by Robin Kleine at 7:00 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk

Cattlemen attend cattle sales throughout the year. Here they spend time analyzing the animals, visiting with their friends who traveled from near and far to the sale and ultimately planning for future generations of cattle on their farms or ranches.

 

When beef producers like my family attend these sales, we want to purchase new animals that will help add value to our herds. These animals could have the potential to producer calves with lighter birth weights or heavier weaning weights, better structure or maternal strength, for example. Every operation wants to make some small improvement in the next generation of cattle born on their ranch.

 

What happens at a cattle sale?? Today, I’m taking you inside a cattle sale – Lee’s Cattle Co. 11th Annual Bull Sale held on March 18th, 2015.

 

First, the cattle are put into pens. Cattle sales can be held at the ranch, or another facility. This sale was held at a sale barn, where weekly auctions are held.

 

 

­­Second, the cattle are on display for the cattlemen to analyze and look at live and in the flesh, rather than the pictures and videos available prior to the sale.

 

 

 

 

Finally, it’s sale time! The ringmen (standing outside the sale ring) take bids from the crowd and tell the auctioneer when people are ready to buy a bull!

 

 

 

 

Below is a video of the action from the sale. Please note that at this specific sale, the cattle were shown on video, rather than being run through sale ring.

 https://instagram.com/p/0YaQdmMAGx/?taken-by=focusmarketinggroup

 

Welcome to the life of a cattlemen!

 

-Robin

 

 

 



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Mar162015

Bull Buying Basics

Published by Kiley DeDonder at 3:09 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General | Nutrition

Bull sales are in full swing, and my kitchen table is filled with all sorts of different sale catalogs, fliers and various promotions marketing different beef breeds. My family usually purchases several different bulls each year during the month of March. It is really important that we do our homework at home before we step foot in an auction or log in to an online sale.

There is so much to consider when our family looks at buying a new bull – expected progeny differences (EPDs) help to provide insight on the genetic potential of that animal, genomic data, rate of gain, genetic defects, previous history, etc. It can sometimes be difficult to navigate all the data in front of me. It is important to me that I know and understand the family behind the business I’m possibly buying a new animal from. We all know that it takes two-to-tango, but my family places a big focus on the selection of an outstanding bull to sire our calves that we raise.

 Key questions we ask ourselves before we buy an animal for our ranch are:

 

What values do they have? What guarantees do they offer on the bull after the sale is over? The big one though, is what our goals for our farm are this year, and will we have a market for the type of bull we are purchasing? It sounds a lot like what you might ask yourself before you buy a new pair of shoes. What do I know about the brand, what is their reputation? If something happens, what are the chances they will replace or help find a solution to my problem? Does this shoe coordinate with any of the clothes I have at home?

Why is bull selection important to our ranch?

Bull or sire selection, on average, has a greater impact on the genetic improvement of our cattle herd because the sire is more likely to produce a higher number of calves in his lifetime compared to a cow, a sire has the potential to contribute a larger portion of the genes to the herd.

Why is bull selection important to you?

Our goal is to raise nutritious and great tasting beef for families to enjoy for years to come. When the bull we purchase sires cattle that are able to efficiently perform on our ranch we raise healthy and quality cattle that are able to provide the great tasting and nutritious food that your family deserves!

Until next time,

Kiley

 



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Feb122015

Made to Be Mothers

Published by Katie Sawyer at 8:41 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

I have a love-hate relationship with winter. It’s my favorite season on our farm because it brings a new crop of baby calves and proud mother cows. But it also creates long, sleepless nights for my farmer hubby and the occasional sad news of a calf that just didn’t make it.

But as I soak up the joy that is new calves playing in our backyard, anti-animal-agriculture groups continue to criticize animal owners like my husband and I for breeding our cows each year. They consider it abuse for our animals to be continually pregnant and instead advocate for cattle to spend their days mindlessly munching on green grass and carrying a calf every few years.

 

But I disagree. Our cows are born to be mothers. Not just in the literal sense of reproductive organs and hormones, but in their behaviors and temperaments. It’s their genetic make up and natural calling to carry a calf.

 

Our cows deliver a calf each winter and nurse it through the spring and summer months. In late April and early June they are usually impregnated again. All the while receiving the proper feed and nutrition – which varies according to their stage of pregnancy. We work to ensure all of our cows get pregnant around the time same so that we know when to expect calves.

 

The mothers provide all of their calf’s nutritional needs. She protects it from wildlife and the weather and watch over it as it runs, plays, grows and explores.  Mothers lick their newborns warm and dry and clean a dirty behind with a quick pass of the tongue. Mother cows and calves communicate with moo’s and bellows and pair up each night and throughout the day for food and protection. It’s a relationship not unlike that of my son and I’s and as I hear for the mothers call to their calves at the end of each day I know that motherhood is in their DNA.

 

We treat our cows with respect and a gentle hand and they, in return, allow us to participate in raising their calves. A cow’s job is to raise calves. That is her mission and purpose in life. Cows allow us to grow our herd and continue our dream of handing this farm and way of life to our children. Motherhood is not abuse, it’s a continuing of the life cycle we all depend on for food and fuel and it’s what our cows love to do.



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Feb042015

A Beef-y Vacation

Published by Robin Kleine at 7:42 AM under

Every year during the first week of February, thousands of cattlemen flock the Cattle Industry Convention & National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Tradeshow. The location changes every year, but this year’s convention – going on now – is in San Antonio, TX at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center

 

This event serves as a learning opportunity for cattlemen with any size cattle operation, and those with 20 cows at home can often be found socializing with owners of 50,000 head feed yards.

 

Furthermore, the Cattle Industry Convention serves as a meeting place for five different organizations within the beef industry –

  National Cattlemen's Beef Association www.beef.org

  Cattlemen's Beef Promotion & Research Board  www.beefboard.org

  American National CattleWomen, Inc.  www.ancw.org  

  CattleFax  www.cattlefax.com

  National Cattlemen's Foundation  www.nationalcattlemensfoundation.org

 

There’s more than just socializing at these events. Beef producers have endless learning opportunities, including the Cattlemen’s College. Various sessions take place during each day of the convention, including information about bovine reproduction, ranch management, beef cooking, estate planning, grazing and more! These sessions serve as a way for cattlemen to gather new information to take back home to our farms or ranches, as well as ask follow-up questions to the professionals delivering the information.

Image courtesy of @ChanMulvaney on Twitter

 

Additionally, the NCBA Tradeshow is always a highlight of the event. With hundreds of booths from breed associations and retailers, all highlighting new products and services, there are even more reasons to attend the event.

This event might sound like a bore to some of our audience … but for many, the Cattle Industry Convention is a highlight of our year. It’s a time to meet up with old friends, many of whom live across the country, and to make new friends, all while learning about our livelihood and favorite protein source – beef!

Because we are so passionate about beef cattle production, we’re always trying to learn new ways to do it better. Better might mean more economical practices, safer handling for us and the cattle, healthier end product or even insurance that ranchers will be able to pass on their operations to the next generation.

Until next time,

Robin


P.S. – Who says farmers aren’t hip? Check out the #beefmeet hashtag on Twitter to follow along with what’s happening in San Antonio! [https://twitter.com/hashtag/beefmeet]



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Jan152015

Ranching – a Full Time Job

Published by Kassie Curran at 4:29 AM under Agriculture | General

As a college student, I feel extremely blessed to be able to get the “best of both worlds.” I have opportunities to learn about topics I’m interested in from experts in the field of food and agriculture, but when I get tired of the “big city” of Manhattan, KS I can go home and enjoy the rural lifestyle. When I’m at home I get to help work and feed cattle, care for newborn calves, and take lots of pictures of the scenery to remind me of home when I go back to school.

Something that I’ve been reminded of lately in these frigid temperatures is that while I get to relish the joys of being a rancher whenever I choose (which is usually when I have time and when the weather is nice), there are thousands of ranchers across the country who don’t get to go inside when it gets a little too cold for their liking. Nope – these guys and gals are sacrificing their own comfort for the sake of the cattle. Just as cattlemen and cattlewomen suffer in the heat of summer to care for their cattle, they also suffer in the chill of winter to make sure that cattle are well taken care of, have feed, shelter, and most importantly access to water. Ranching is not something that can be done at your leisure or when it’s most convenient, it’s a full time job – 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

My brothers chopping ice to make sure the cows have access to water.

One could wonder why someone would want to put themselves through this kind of torment and discomfort. It’s a valid question, and a big reason why so many people don’t return to their family farms and ranches in exchange for an 8 to 5 job – usually one that’s inside. This is also one of the reasons why we’ve seen the number of farms and ranches shrink, while the size of them grow. Consequently, farmers and ranchers have needed to adopt innovative technologies that help them be more efficient with less man power. Like most industries, the beef industry has evolved to fit the times and we now see a more technologically advanced industry with fewer than 2% of the population raising the food we eat while 10% of jobs in the U.S. are directly related to agriculture. However, in my opinion nearly any job can be related to agriculture if you think about it.  

Me and my siblings bundled up and feeding cattle.

Regardless of your occupation, let us be grateful to those who are willing to do the job we aren’t so that we can enjoy the fruits of their labor. Next time you take a bite into that juicy steak or savory burger, remember the hard work and sacrifice that ranchers put in to it that allow you to enjoy that delicious and nutritious protein in a nice, warm place.

Thank you to all farmers and ranchers that work every day of the year – rain or shine, heat or cold, wind or snow – to provide food for others throughout the world!

As always, eat beef!

Kassie



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Dec042014

Beef: Handled With Care

Published by Kassie Curran at 1:55 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

As I have shared before, the beef business is a family business for me and my family. As much as we treat our family members with care and respect, we have a similar sense of care and respect towards our cattle. Last week, when I was at home I was reminded of the importance of the care and respect that we must give our animals and its presence in the family business.

 

My brother was already over at my uncle’s ranch working so my dad, two other siblings, and I decided to go over and see what they were doing. As we were getting ready to leave the house I told my sister she didn’t need to wear her work boots since we were just going over to take pictures of my brother for his FFA record book.

I should have known we would end up working!

Not five minutes after we had arrived and taken a few pictures, each of us had assumed a job in the process of working the calves that had recently arrived at the ranch before they were turned out to pasture. One brother was checking to see if the calves needed castrated, doing so when needed, and keeping record of the weights. The other brother helped him by holding the tail out of his face and helped with branding. My sister and my dad gave shots and tagged the calves while I sorted and moved the cattle through the pens and up the alley for their turn to be processed. It was a beautiful fall day that I enjoyed spending outside with the cattle and my family. It also reminded me how much I love being a part of the beef industry that is so family-oriented. The lessons in responsibility and respect are two of the most important to me when I think about all that I’ve learned growing up with cattle.

Providing animals a comfortable environment and treating them with respect takes a lot of responsibility. This is something that is always on my mind when I’m working with cattle, because I know that they will be healthier and perform to their potential when they are treated well. In my experience this is how other beef cattle ranchers treat their animals too, which gives me confidence in the U.S. beef supply.

 

If you’re thinking about a protein for the center of the plate for your family this holiday season, I hope you choose beef and feel confident that beef producers have used care and respect for the beef that feeds our families and yours!

 

Eat Beef and Happy Holidays!

Kassie Curran



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Nov192014

Winter Chill

Published by Katie Sawyer at 4:29 AM under

For those farming only crops, the end is in sight. Most rushed to get the last fields cut before the season’s first snowfall. Those that didn’t make it have only days – maybe hours – left in the field before a slowdown for the holidays and winter chill.

 

But farmers who raise crops and cattle aren’t winding down for the winter. They’re simply catching their breath before winter moves in for good.

 

My husband and his father manage not only our crops but our growing Angus cow herd. Our cows have returned home from a summer of grazing and will be delivering calves starting in January. A calving season typically lasts three months so the men will be on calf watch until nearly April.

 

Between now and New Years Day, my husband will keep himself busy hauling water to our cows grazing in our picked corn and milo fields, vaccinating and tagging heifers and steers as they arrive to our farm and organizing feed sources for the long winter ahead.

 

 

The mother cows are in their final months of pregnancy with their calves, so nutrition and proper medical care – if necessary – is essential. As 2015 approaches, all of our animals will be moved to more secure calving areas that provide protection from the wind and snow. The guys will make daily trips to the fields and facilities to check on each animal and when calves start arriving those trips will become hourly visits to ensure each new calf is up, active and nursing.

 

The work of a cattle farmer is never done and as some farmers settle in for a winter of maintenance and meetings, my husband and others will be busy battling the cold to care for our cows and their newborn calves.



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Oct082014

Planning for the Next Generation

Published by Katie Sawyer at 8:59 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

My 18-month-old son has an affinity for all things cows. I’m guessing this admiration is due to the fact that everything he owns and wears has either cows or tractors on it. He is a farm kid for sure.

 

Still in his Halloween pajamas, my son and a young steer greet one another.

 

Now that he is old enough to not only make the cow sound but recognize and locate cows, there is nothing better than seeing him gaze lovingly at a group of cows and calves and run, with open arms, after a group of steers hoping one of them will decide to befriend him.

 

While I must admit the farm dogs and cats receive the same level of excitement and attention, the cattle are different. They are our livelihood, my husband’s past and hopefully our son’s future and watching my son enjoy them the way I know my husband does makes my heart swell.

 

We care for our animals all day, every day because they are our business - our means to putting food on the table, gas in the truck and money in the bank. And we want to see that business continue to the next generation. We are the fourth generation to own my husband’s family farm but we do not want to be the last.

 

As we bring mother cows and their calves home from a summer of grazing in the Flint Hills, my husband recalls doing the same when he was a boy and recounts the lineage of his cows. He vaccinates and cares for the animals alongside his father and I know he cherishes the day a third generation joins the work.

 

As I watch my son clap with glee at seeing the cows, I pray that he will someday witness the same joy in his children’s eyes. Farming and ranching is a family affair but it takes time, energy and dedication to the land and the animals to ensure the next generation has an opportunity to operate the family farm. We feed, care for and tend to our animals daily to not only ensure our way of life, but to sustain this opportunity for our children to enjoy.



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Oct022014

Cows Aren't Squirrels

Published by Robin Kleine at 5:36 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk

I know that’s a strange title for a blog.

 

 

Image courtesy of National Geographic.

 

But, I’ve been thinking about all of the work happening around our place and I was thinking that our jobs as farmers would be considerably easier if cows could gather their own food for the winter, you know … like squirrels.

 

While cows aren’t squirrels, sometimes I feel like one. It’s up to my family to harvest, protect and distribute the cows’ winter food supply.

 

Here’s how we’ve been preparing –

 

In the past few weeks we’ve been chopping silage, putting up the last cutting of hay and corn harvest is just beginning around these parts.

 

As you very well know, cows graze on grass. They need this grass, or forage, to keep their rumen (one piece of their four part stomachs) going strong. But in the winter … the grass is often dormant and/or covered in snow.

 

The cows still need to keep their stomachs fully functional, so we must provide this forage in other forms such as hay or silage. Silage is usually made from corn or sorghum plants, where the entire green plant is harvested and cut into small pieces. This silage is then put in a silo, silage piles covered in plastic or silage bags (long plastic, sealed tubes). It must undergo a fermentation process before it can be fed. For more information on silage, visit -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silage.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Kansas Ag Network.

 

 

 

After the cows have eaten down the grass in the pasture and the temperature drops, we will begin feeding them big, round bales of hay and a precise amount of silage every day. Together these two feed stuffs (along with minerals we supply to them free choice) will provide enough energy and protein to keep the cows happy and healthy throughout the winter.

 

The corn we didn’t chop for silage will be allowed to dry a little longer in the field, before our favorite farmer harvests it with his big red combine. We then feed the corn to the cattle in the feedlot, to help them get to the “finished” stage/weight and ready for the butcher.

 

Sometimes, we even bale the corn stalks after we harvest the corn. These bales are then laid out for the cows in the pasture. It helps them stay warm in the frigid winter temps too.

 

For today, the cows are enjoying the sunshine and delightful temperatures. Little do they know, we’re working like squirrels to make sure they are properly cared for in the coming months … when the weather won’t likely be as pleasant!

 

Best,

Robin



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