Beef Chat


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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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,

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Kansas, The Beef State

Published by Katie Sawyer at 9:37 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

On Wednesday, January 29, Kansas celebrated its 153rd birthday. The “Wheat State” – as it’s known to many – has always been associated with acres of row crops and fields of sunflowers. But few realize the state is a powerhouse in beef production. In and around the crops are millions of beef cattle. In all, the state is home to more than 6.6 million head of cattle, ranking it second in the nation.



Kansas’ grassy plains, moderate climate, central location and access to feed sources make it ideal for raising cattle. And millions of acres of land not suitable for farming can be used for grazing and homing. Cattle can digest plans and grasses not suitable for human use or consumption and in return create high-quality, nutrient-rich beef.




The state is home to more than 6.6 million cattle – which means there are more than two cattle to every one person living in Kansas. In some counties, livestock outnumber humans.


And Kansas ranchers don’t just raise cattle; they keep the animals in-state for the fattening and slaughter process. The state ranks third in beef production, creating more than 5 billion pounds of beef in a year. That beef is sold to restaurants and suppliers across the U.S. and world.


Kansas is an agriculture power-house but it’s not just wheat and corn that pay the bills, the beef industry has become one of the state’s “cash-cows”, generating more than $8 billion in cash receipts and more than 70,000 jobs.


So when you see cattle, think Kansas because every day, thousands of hard working farmers and ranchers care for the cattle that make the beef you enjoy.


Happy birthday Kansas and keep the beef coming!

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Enjoy the Holidays!

Published by Kassie Curran at 3:19 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

I know I’ve said this before, but I love summer time! While Kansas summers can be extremely hot, I think I would rather be sweating than frozen. Regardless of my love for summer, I still find plenty of things to enjoy about winter time too. The holiday season can be stressful, but it is also one of the best times of the year to remember what we are thankful for and to spend time with family.

On our way home from college for Thanksgiving Break, my sisters and I stopped at my grandpa’s house just to say, “Hi” before going home. That stop to say “Hi” turned into an afternoon spent feeding cattle and helping Papa on the ranch before driving on home to see our parents and brothers.

Days like this remind me how lucky I am to be able to spend time with my family doing what we love – carrying on our family tradition and feeding the world. One of the things I love about being involved in agriculture is that by our hard work and dedication, we are providing other people with food all around the world.

For me, combining something I love to do and be a part of, with people I love is true happiness. Knowing that being involved in agriculture helps feed the world – regardless of what part of agriculture, is inspiring. I am excited to start graduate school in agricultural economics so that I can continue learning more and prepare for a career in agriculture, doing what I love.  

Remember to take time this holiday season to enjoy your family and the people you love, even if you are stressed over hosting, cleaning, or what to cook for all of them. Also take time to reflect on what you love so that you can enjoy being a part of it every day.

Hope your holiday season is an enjoyable one! Eat Beef!


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A Reason to be Thankful

Published by Robin Kleine at 7:21 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

You may remember a post, back in early October about a “freak snowstorm” that hit South Dakota and left ranchers across the western part of the state in desperate need.


The snowstorm, “Atlas,” killed more than 15,000 head of cattle, sheep, horses and bison in the western part of the state. The first shipments of donated cattle began arriving in South Dakota last week and continue. Stories like this remind me of why I love agriculture and the people involved.


One report this week from FoxNews.com included the headline – “Holy cow! Farmers donate cattle after South Dakota blizzard kills livestock”


The opening line of the story says, “Hope on hooves is arriving in South Dakota, one heifer at a time.”


Also quoted in the story, “The support from other states has been phenomenal,” Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, told FoxNews.com early Monday. “We have volunteers from in the state who have helped with cleanup, we have people from surrounding states who shipped heifers and about $1.5 million has been donated to the Rancher Relief Fund.”


To read the entire story, visit http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/11/25/donated-cattle-sent-to-south-dakota-following-freak-blizzard-that-killed/.


People from across the nation have come together to support the ranchers in this area, donating to various charities to help out the victims – like the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund and Heifers for S. Dakota.


The Heifers for S. Dakota organization has been documenting their success and donations through their Facebook account. To view and “like” their page, visit https://www.facebook.com/pledgeheifer.


One post from Nov. 19th said, Over 600 head of quality animals will be delivered within this next week. Over 300 donor's giving livestock. Untold hundreds donating monetarily. More than a dozen truckers giving of their time and equipment with several of them donating all of their fuel as well. More than a dozen veterinarians donating their services. More than a dozen brand inspectors donating their services. Local businesses covering the expenses where they are needed. Numerous individuals volunteering their time and giving of themselves to extraordinary lengths. All of this without a penny being taken out for compensation by the organizations. And one storm having wreaked it's havoc which made this necessary.

This is Heifers for South Dakota. We are merely a group of like-minded individuals trying to love our neighbor as ourselves. And folks we will make a difference to the more than 40 recipients chosen.”


Additionally, many Kansas ranch families have donated animals to the relief efforts. While, not all of us can physically be in South Dakota to assist in the clean-up efforts, we are trying to make the devastating loss a little better for the families’ affected by the storm.


As we gather for Thanksgiving, let’s take time to be thankful for all that we have, as well as take the time to say a prayer for the people elsewhere who will need strength to get through the upcoming days, weeks and years after “Atlas.”


Until Next Time,

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Ensuring Consumer Condfidence

Published by Kassie Curran at 9:42 AM under Agriculture | General

A Message for cattlemen and cattlewomen-
The United States meat industry has continually evolved throughout its history, which has also led to fewer people being involved in the actual production of the meat they consume. These changes have impacted the producer/consumer relationship, which often experiences a knowledge gap, because consumers do not know how their meat is produced. Therefore, it is important for the meat industry to have an understanding of consumer perceptions, the concerns involved and why they are important, as well as challenges and opportunities of meeting demands of the consumers that determine their profitability and economic success. 
Consumer perceptions are very complex and difficult to understand, however they are critically important. These perceptions of the meat industry are shaped by what consumers need and what is available to meet those needs. Due to the constant change in the factors that perception depends on, consumer perception constantly changes and cannot be categorized based on one type of behavior. Concerns that today’s consumers have include price, food quality, food safety, animal welfare, health and nutrition, science, and sustainability. These factors are what consumers take into consideration when determining what products to purchase and while some may affect their decisions more than others, they are all important. Therefore the meat industry must keep making improvements in these areas in order to better serve their consumers.
As the meat industry is a very competitive one, it is important to understand consumer perception as it is a strong economic driver of the industry and the sustainability of the industry depends on consumers demanding and paying for products. Challenges for the meat industry include the distance most consumers are from food production, the increase in vegetarians and vegans, as well as the growing trend of meat consumption being related to greenhouse gas emissions. However, just because there are challenges and it will be hard, does not make any effort insignificant. Each and every farmer and rancher can contribute to the advancement of the industry by improving consumer perceptions.
In addition to investing in innovative production practices to improve price and quality of beef products, I believe farmers and ranchers can be promoting their products to consumers every day in ways that do not take a big time or energy investment. By engaging in conversations with neighbors, friends, and members of your community, farmers and ranchers can promote the safety and healthfulness of the beef products they produce. These conversations can also ensure consumer confidence in animal welfare, sustainability, and the science used to raise cattle and beef products. Every person that raises cattle is a face of the entire industry to someone who is removed from the farm. While it may seem unimportant and trivial, it is incredibly important to exhibit belief and confidence in our own industry that we care about so much, and the way we raise our own cattle so that other consumers have a connection that builds confidence in the entire beef industry.
I challenge you to engage in a conversation this week that encourages consumer confidence – not only in your personal cattle operation and what you produce, but in the entire industry. We must help each other and pass on the passion and confidence we have for the beef industry or the future will be even more challenging for the next generation of cattlemen and cattlewomen.
Eat Beef and Pass On Your Passion!

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Fall Activities on the Ranch

Published by Katie Sawyer at 6:17 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General | Recipe

It’s been a very busy fall! We’ve picked corn, cut soybeans, swathed corn stalks, chopped forage sorghum and moved cattle home.


I don’t drive the equipment but I do aim to keep the crew fed and happy so that means lots of great fall recipes. Because I work full-time and have a 6-month-old son, I am not blessed with hours of extra time and tons of extra energy. So, I’m always looking for new, easy and time-friendly recipes that travel well and can be divided into individual portions.


My mother-in-law, who has lived through years of harvests, has passed along a few recipes and because my husband grew up eating them, I know he approves when I deliver them to the field.


One of my favorite harvest meals is hamburger rolls. They can be made a head of time, refrigerated before being cooked or frozen after they are prepared. Plus, the recipe makes several servings, perfect for a large, hungry harvest crew.


Hamburger Rolls


1 package Rhodes Texas Rolls (use 12 for recipe)

2 lbs browned hamburger

1 ½ package shredded cheddar cheese


Garlic salt/onion salt – to taste



Mix hamburger, cheese, pepper and garlic/onion salt

Microwave 12 rolls for 1 minute – flip rolls, microwave 1 minute

Stretch rolls out and put about  ¼ cup of hamburger mixture in each roll. Fold over and seal.

Let filled rolls rise 1 hour.

 Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes.

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Storm Atlas and Her Aftermath

Published by Kiley Stinson at 2:41 AM under Agriculture | General

Each night this week as I’ve sat down to catch the evening news, I feel as if I’ve been slammed left and right with reports of the recent government shutdown and little national media coverage of a devastating snow storm.  Social Media was where I found my initial glimpse of coverage on Winter Storm Atlas. This record-breaking storm dumped nearly 58” of snow with wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour in parts of western South Dakota this week, leaving communities and ranchers to deal with some terrifying losses.

The Rapid City Journal reports, “Tens of thousands of cattle lie dead across South Dakota on Monday following a blizzard that could become one of the most costly in the history of the state’s agriculture industry.” That means many ranchers lost this year’s entire calf crop and a good majority of their cow herds. Many of the livestock were out on summer and fall pastures, nowhere near shelter better suited for winter storms. Even horses and livestock closer to homes perished in the feet of snow, strong winds, and cold that came unseasonably early. Many cattle were driven by the wind and when they found shelter were buried as snow drifted and covered them.

Now as the storm has passed, ranchers face the grim task of documenting the losses and cleaning up the devastation. The images, video, and stories coming out of the communities are devastating and graphic. As a rancher, I’ve experienced losing cattle due to the extremes of Mother Nature, in particular having several cattle all at once struck dead by a single bolt of lightning. Even so, I cannot imagine what it must be like to witness what South Dakota ranchers are going through this week. Not only is it a financial loss for these farming families, it’s even more personal…when a rancher loses an animal, it is a loss of years and often generations within their family of building solid foundations of genetics and legacies throughout their herds.

On Tuesday, The South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund was established by Black Hills Area Community Foundation to provide support and relief assistance to those in the agriculture industry impacted by the blizzard. The fund will be administered by BHACF in cooperation with the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association for the direct benefit of the livestock producers impacted by this devastating blizzard.

For more information on donating to help our South Dakota ranching families visit https://www.giveblackhills.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Organizations.Overview&Organization_ID=27677 

Please feel free to pass along encouraging words and to let the ranching families know we are thinking of them. 


Kiley Stinson

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