Beef Chat


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.



Welcome to the life of a cattlemen!






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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,


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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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!




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Learning Never Ends

Published by Robin Kleine at 10:39 AM under Agriculture | General

My Grandma Paula used to tell me that that day you stop learning is the day you die. A life long learner and educator, she taught me to enjoy reading, to bake a darn delicious pie and that family was the most important thing.

A picture from my grandparents’ farm in the 90s.

Although she died six years ago, I think of her often. My love of learning stems from my grandmother, and now as we enter fall, I’m reminded of her often.

While I might not be in school anymore, I still think of the end of August and the start of school as a time to start new. When I was a student (although I told my friends otherwise) I always looked forward to the start of school and absorbing as much knowledge as possible.

I’m doing my best to make use of my animal science degree, helping my family raise cattle on our farm. Contrary to popular belief … beef producers have to be proactive and open to learning new methods and/or technologies. Thanks to new advances in genetics, nutrition, vaccines, etc., we are always researching ways to raise our cattle better.

Websites such as Beef Magazine http://beefmagazine.com/ and association publications such as The Angus Journal http://www.angusjournal.com/ or the Kansas Stockman http://www.kla.org/kansasstockman.aspx all provide content about the latest technology and research in the beef industry. Some of the most informative and interesting pieces are stories from ranches and farms similar to ours, where the owners discuss how they are thinking outside the box to meet the consumers’ demands.

Often we begin utilizing these new technologies, products or feed additives in the fall after we wean the calves. On our farm, we’re weaning our spring born calves right now. This means we take the 4-6 month calves away from their mothers, and the calves begin eating grain thus starting their journey to the feedlot or the replacement heifer pen. 


Cows in the pasture at RJ Show Cattle

So, you could say that we as cattlemen also get to start new in August. This is a chance to use what we learn from fellow cattle producers in a constructive manner.

One of the things I love most about the agriculture industry is that we’re always willing to share and help other succeed. My grandmother was also entirely selfless, so I think that she would be proud that we are continuing to learn and grow our business. Maybe one day we’ll even venture into Herefords, like she and Grandpa raised.

What does August and the start of school mean to you?


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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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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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Preparing for Grilling Season

Published by Robin Kleine at 6:16 AM under Coffee Shop Talk | General

One of these days, the weather is going to break and spring will be here to stay! [I’m crossing my fingers over here at least.]

When spring hits, I am ready to cook my meals on the grill. I like nearly anything cooked that way – vegetables, pizzas and you guessed it BEEF!

After all those months of sitting idle, there are some things you’ll want to check for before firing up your grill.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shares a few tips here (http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/outdoors/grilling/grilling-safety-tips).

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.


When using a charcoal grill, you can start the fire with a charcoal chimney starter that uses newspaper as a fuel. If you choose to use a starter fluid, use one specifically for charcoal grills. Other flammable substances can flare up uncontrollably or leave an aftertaste on your food. After you have finished grilling, be sure to let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container. Picture courtesy of Safety Training Services.


If you choose to use a propane grill, be sure to check the gas tank hose for leaks when starting your grill for the first time this spring. Here’s how, according to the NFPA –


Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.


Just by taking a few moments to properly assess your grill, you could save your family’s lives. Once your grill passes these quick tests, you’re ready to grill up a delicious meal.


What’s your favorite thing to cook on the grill? I like burgers, mixed with onion soup mix on a toasted bun (on the grill too) and topped with provolone cheese.


Until next time,


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Chicken Or Beef?

Published by Robin Kleine at 10:02 AM under

For the first time, chicken outsold beef in the United States in 2013. Fifty years ago, Americans only ate about 20 lbs. of chicken per year. Today, we eat nearly 58 lbs./year.

What has changed in our economy that families everywhere are choosing poultry over a hearty, delicious roast, hamburger or steak?

BEEF Magazine blogger, Amanda Radke, asks, “Americans now eat less beef then they did in 1955, but is the change a result of a healthier diet or because people are choosing the cheaper option?”


According to a recent survey from the national beef checkoff, Millenials (born between 1980 and 2000) cited 10 reasons for choosing chicken over beef when preparing food for their children. To read the entire article, click here - http://beefmagazine.com/beef-demand/industry-glance-millennial-parents-chicken-vs-beef




Additionally, the poultry industry in the United States has grown tremendously in recent years. A report from the USDA Economic Research Service (http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2012-september/us-consumption-of-chicken.aspx#.UuAFrPbnbjA) states, “Chicken's relatively lower price may, in part, reflect efficiencies in chicken production that have led to lower bird mortality rates and a higher average live weight per broiler--5.8 pounds today versus 3.4 pounds in 1960.”


With these improvements and others, poultry producers can now have meat readily available more quickly and with lower input costs thanks to technological advancements.


As beef producers, we have some of the highest input costs. And although we are producing more pounds of beef with fewer cattle and less land than before, the cost of our protein source is still high, when compared to chicken.


So what advantages does beef have over chicken?

These are my favorite talking points -


  • There are 29 lean cuts of beef to choose from, and many of them are nutritionally similar to a boneless, skinless chicken breast. Three ounces of beef is a great source of protein, zinc, Vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, choline, niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin. It’s also less than 10% of your calories in a 2,000-calorie diet. 

  • It’s a great way to “cook once, dine twice.” Buy a chuck roast (also a lean cut) at your local grocery store, and make a tasty pot roast using a slow cooker. Then, with the leftovers have sandwiches the next night. You can also serve on top of your favorite greens for a quick salad option. Sometimes, you can buy a roast for as low as $2.99/lb. 

  • Some cuts, like ground beef or a thinly sliced sandwich steak can be cooked just as quickly as their chicken counterparts. 

  • Taste! When choosing between a chicken breast and a strip steak prepared the same way, I’d rather have the steak!

Photo courtesy of oklahomafarmreport.com


So, when you’re visiting with family members or perhaps a stranger in the grocery store, remember these talking points. You might even want to carry this handy card (http://www.idbeef.org/CMDocs/IdahoBC/29%20lean%20cuts%20wallet%20card_low.pdf)  in your wallet to share with anyone on the fence about the benefits of beef.


Until next time,

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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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100 Years of the Kansas State Fair

Published by Robin Kleine at 7:08 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, head to the Kansas State Fair (http://www.kansasstatefair.com/) in Hutchinson. This is the event’s 100th anniversary, and the fine folks at KSF have put together a great list of attractions, vendors and show to keep you entertained! What’s even better is that KSF runs Sept. 6 – 15th.


To see a full list, visit http://www.kansasstatefair.com/pagedescription.php?id=2&pages=sf


Agriculture is at the forefront of this year’s attractions, including the livestock shows.


Kansas has a great program, The Grand Drive, which takes place the first Saturday of the fair. Sponsors from across the state come together to support Kansas youth and their livestock projects, awarding a number of scholarships, awards and more to the winners.



Photo courtesy of The Grand Drive


Check out the all-new Facebook page here - https://www.facebook.com/thegranddriveKSF.


While at the KSF, be sure to check out Agriland, a hands on exhibit at the KSF. According to a recent press release from the KDA, “Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman said Agriland provides the setting for young and old alike to learn more about agriculture firsthand and interact with those who raise crops and livestock.” (To read the full press release, visit http://agriculture.ks.gov/news-events/news-releases/2013/08/30/agriculture-education-is-hands-on-at-agriland-during-the-kansas-state-fair)


Agriland is sponsored by the Kansas Beef Council, the Kansas Corn Commission, Kansas Cotton, the Kansas Dairy Association, the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, the Kansas Soybean Commission, the Kansas Sunflower Commission, Kansas Wheat, the Soil Tunnel Trailer, Kansas Agri-Women and the Kansas Department of Agriculture.


Here’s a picture from last year’s Agriland exhibit –




Photo courtesy of Kansas Agiriland


Don’t forget there’s also delicious fried fair foods and carnival rides. There’s something for everyone at the Kansas State Fair!


Until next time,


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