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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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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Mar252014

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!

Kassie



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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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Jan292014

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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