Beef Chat


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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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.

    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.

    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.

    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,

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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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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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2 Ways we “Came Together” for May Beef Month

Published by Robin Kleine at 6:49 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | Recipe

I recently came across this quote from Helen Keller –


“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”


Immediately I thought about our tight knit agricultural community. Every day, we work on our farm or ranch, working to produce the best beef possible … ultimately something that betters the entire industry. But, in just this past month, we’ve come together to celebrate National Beef Month and promote this awesome protein in two additional ways.


1. Sharing beef facts or recipes via social media.


My newsfeed as been filled with awesome beef infographics, recipes and factoids about beef … there’s nothing I like more!


Today, May 28th in National Hamburger Day! Here’s a collection of 25 gourmet recipes to help you concoct the best burger for your family tonight from Examiner.com - http://www.examiner.com/article/celebrate-national-hamburger-day-free-burgers-and-25-gourmet-burger-recipes



Picture courtesy of Robbie Owen Wahl.


2. Educating adults about beef and those that raise it


On May 1st, foodies and chefs gathered in Kansas City for “Zest and Zing: A Foodie & Farmer Event” hosted by the Kansas Farm Bureau. The event was a competition for chefs with delicious appetizers drinks and a bag of kitchen goods for all attendees.



 Picture courtesy of the Drovers CattleNetwork Facebook page.


Singularly, the Kansas Beef Council will continue to promote beef. However, events and celebrations like National Beef Month are a great way to join forces and invite news outlets, schools, consumers and other organizations to learn from ranchers about how beef is raised and the innumerable benefits of beef.


Don’t worry, there’s still a few days left in May … go grab a pound of hamburger, a pack of buns and light the grill!


Until next time,

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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,


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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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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,


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Kansas Ag Week!

Published by Kassie Curran at 10:05 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

This week is a very special celebration – its Kansas Ag Week! Kansas Governor Brownback signed a proclamation declaring March 23-29 as Kansas Agriculture Week and March 25, Kansas Agriculture Day. Not only are we celebrating agriculture in Kansas, but Tuesday, March 25, 2014 is also National Agriculture Day! Check it out at http://www.agday.org/.


This is a week devoted to celebrating the strong tradition of agriculture in Kansas and throughout the nation by bringing awareness to the importance of agriculture in our everyday lives. As the state’s largest economic driver, agriculture provides us with so much to be grateful for. There are farmers and ranchers in communities across the state and nation that work hard to grow the food, fiber, and fuel that we use each day. But agriculture is more than farming and ranching! In order for us to enjoy the many products that come from agriculture, we must remember the agribusinesses that support farmers and ranchers, as well as those that add value to what’s grown on the farm.


While we may recognize that it is important for today’s farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses grow enough food for our families, it is also important to recognize that we have more people on earth each day that also need food. With the population projected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050, there is a serious challenge ahead of us – all of us!


Agriculture is a team – a team that needs all hands on deck, including you, to work towards overcoming the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050 with fewer resources. We must consider how we can be innovative, collaborative, and diligent in working with everyone in the food chain to meet the nutritional needs and consumer preferences in today’s society, as well as tomorrow.


I encourage you to get involved in Kansas Ag Week. Whether you want to learn more about where your food comes from, how you can contribute to the team, or how you can teach others about the importance of agriculture – we need you on the agriculture team!


At Kansas State University, Kansas Ag Week is being celebrated with Ag Fest events all week long. These include a “Give Thanks to Agriculture” booth in the student union, agriculture awareness workshops at the public library, a social media challenge, agriculture demonstrations for elementary school students, informational session about careers in agriculture for high school students, an agriculture competition event for college students, plus much more. There are also several fundraiser events being held all week to raise money for the Harvester’s Community Food Network for food banks in Kansas. Check out http://www.ag.k-state.edu/current-students/clubs-and-activities/ag-fest.html.


You can also “Like” K-State College of Agriculture Student Council on Facebook to learn more about Ag Fest, and use the hashtags #agfest and #ksagday on social media! 


Join the agriculture team and celebrate Kansas Agriculture this week!


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Lifecycle of a Cow

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

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