Tag Archives: Cattle

More Than A Competition

14 Oct

wde-14-181-editedI am no stranger to livestock shows, but I recently had the opportunity to attend my first World Dairy Expo. I have to admit, some things are VERY different. Fitting is one of those on the long list. We are always in the mode of growing hair in beef cattle. In fact, I don’t think you can have too much. So, how do you fit a dairy cow who has such little hair?

That question and more were answered when I strolled through the dairy barns and got the chance to talk with Steven Nelson who won the youth fitting contest at World Dairy Expo. Steven lives in Grovespring, MO and that just happens to be my home too. There in the small southern Missouri town, Steven milks 45 head of cows with his dad. He is in charge of all the milking year-round, tackles hay in the summer months and works for his neighbor who milks 100 head. Steven plans to take over the family operation when he finishes college.

Steven further explains the competition saying he had one hour to get one dairy cow ready for the ring. “You have to blow up the hair on their top line because you want their back to be perfectly straight. You also blow up their belly hair and blend it in with their body to make her look deeper and fuller, but also making her look sharper and more angular.” A professional fitter serves as the judge and watches each contestant throughout the entire competition.

Steven didn’t bring any of his own head to show during the Expo, but was working for another Missouri string. He said it didn’t really matter how well they all did and that it was more about the opportunity because all the cattle at the World Dairy Expo were good.

Listen to my complete interview with Steven here.

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State Fairs – A Family Affair

21 Aug

IMG_0332 editedI literally grew up at the Missouri State Fair. I was just a little one when I first attended the fair with my dad and I haven’t missed a year since. My dad worked for the Missouri FFA and ran the FFA Building during the two-week event. I remember hanging out with the State FFA Officers while running through displays of corn and soybean seeds, flowers of all shapes and sizes and thinking all the ag mechanics projects were my own personal playground.

The Missouri State Fair brings back so many great memories for me. We ate meals in the youth building, slept in the administration building and when my sister and I were lucky, we even got to ride some rides. But the best memories come from exhibiting Hereford cattle year after year. Whether we walked away with a blue ribbon or not, we did it as a family. I actually met my, now husband, at the fair. The 2014 Missouri State Fair marked our 10 year anniversary of dating. How many of you can say you met the love of your life at the fair?

IMG_0346 edited Now we stay in a camper and eat our meals around a grill with our friends and family, but we still show cattle at the fair. However, my family has grown. This past year we had the privilege of welcoming a new member to our family. Miss Harper James Johansen attended her first state fair this year. When we pushed her stroller up and down the aisles of the barn or carried her as we tailed one to the ring, I have never seen my husband so excited and proud.

State fairs across the country are a family affair. My daughter’s state fair moments have already begun, even though she won’t quite remember them herself. I look forward to watching her grow up exhibiting livestock, eating corn dogs and creating friendships that will last a lifetime. Thanks dad for instilling a love of fairs in me and all the hard work and good times that go along with them.

Family Blessings Leading Up To Sale Day

24 Apr

Sale Catalog CoverAs we have prepared for our annual production sale, we can’t miss the opportunity to update folks on issues our family has faced over the last couple of months. In mid November, a supposedly minor outpatient surgery on dad’s foot exposed clear-cell sarcoma, which had spread throughout his entire right foot. Our family learned that the only way to treat this form of cancer was to remove the foot halfway between the ankle and knee. During the first week of December we traveled yet again to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis for the surgery.

Our family has been so blessed with everyone’s thoughts and prayers. We all have felt the hand of God through this trial in our lives. So many have shared their pledge of prayers. It is certainly humbling to watch the prayer support through dad’s students and friends at Missouri State, the Aurora/Mt. Vernon communities and, of course, the cattle industry across the Midwest. Our prayers were answered when doctors shared that CT scans found dad was cancer free once the amputation was completed.

Recovery has gone very well. Dad was back at the university fulltime by January 2nd. He mastered the art of driving with his left foot. And as you can guess hasn’t missed a beat when it comes to the cattle. Dad only missed one Sunday at the piano bench and his left foot has taken over the foot pedals. This life-changing event has been challenging, but recovery has progressed rapidly because of his amazing attitude towards it. His positivity has allowed so many to grow stronger in their faith and remember that God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.

Dad can continue the cattle operation, teaching and working with students. He can spoil his first granddaughter, Harper James Johansen, born to Kevin and I on February 5th, walk Joanna down the aisle as she marries Neal Wilkinson in August and continue to climb the many steps to watch Jonathan march in the Pride band.

Dad began walking again with a prosthetic leg in mid February, but brags of catching a calf with only one leg on his hands and knees earlier this winter. Just the other day I watched my dad help his mom, who has two bad knees, down a step while leaving a restaurant. Then, she turned around and helped him balance the same step down. If you didn’t know the pair, you could have easily felt sorry for them, but not my dad and grandma. As I watched them help each other, all I could see was their smiles stretching from ear to ear.

2014 has started out with a bang for our family. God’s grace continues to bless our lives and as we have prepared for this sale we are once again reminded that none of this would be possible without you. Few things make my dad happier then creating mating’s that will help others grow their herds of “No Excuse Herefords.” We know we have a great offering to share with you in our 14th Production Sale. Thank you for being a part of our family for so many years.

View our online sale catalog here.

Baby|Calf Watch 2014

5 Jan
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The hubs has already spent half the night in the pasture watching for new babies, but is at it again just as the sun is coming up.

Just about 3 weeks away from D-Day, but our cows are in the heat of calving and today many decided to pop out during the first snow storm of 2014. Not only are we expected to get about 8 inches of snow, but the wind chill is suppose to be in the -20’s. Those of us living in Southern Missouri sure aren’t used to these sub-zero temps.

Calving season is my favorite time of the year. All the hard work throughout the year makes it worth it when you see the calves nursing and chasing their mamas across the field.

At this stage in my pregnancy, I can’t really do a whole lot on the farm. However, I do make a pretty good side-kick, secretary, tag-maker and gate-getter. Since I can’t get out of the truck, I snapped some pics with my phone to keep myself entertained.

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Extended cab trucks come in handy during these winter calving months. Thawing out this baby, she was one of four who chilled out in the truck with me this morning.

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Crow Foods: Unethical Marketing by Chipotle

18 Sep

The Scarecrow

I have felt compelled to post something about the recent marketing scheme by the popular fast-food chain Chipotle for the past week. But just haven’t had the chance to sit down and get my thoughts together. Thankfully I know a few great agricultural bloggers from across the United States that have taken the words right out of my mouth. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look at Chipotle’s recent campaign to sell burrito’s called, The Scarecrow.  Here I would like to share their educated and informative posts so you can understand the unethical marketing that has gone on behind Chipotle’s advertising.

Must Read Blog Posts:

Farming America by David Hayden – Hey Chipotle

Righteous Bacon by Diana Prichard – Chipotle’s Scarecrow Part One: Lessons in Corporate Greed

Righteous Bacon By Diana Prichard – Chipotle’s Scarecrow Part Two: A World of Pure Imagination, Indeed

Country Night, City Lights by Kelly M. Rivard – Integrity in Advertising, and Chipotle’s “Scarecrow”

Agriculture Proud by Ryan Goodman – Chipotle Takes on Big Food with Animated Scarecrow

Black Gold Farms  – The B Word

Buzzard’s Beats by Brandi Buzzard – Chipotle: A World of Pure Imagination

 

And there are more I’m sure. If you have five minutes, read just one of these and ask yourself if it’s okay to lie to consumers to simply sell a burrito.

 

Calving…ET Style

10 Jan

January marks the start to a pretty busy time of the year for many farmers and ranchers across the country. Why you might ask? Well, the answer is simple, it’s time for those cows we bred last spring to start calving. Although the answer is simple, the process may not be.
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Many chose to avoid calving during this time of the year because of the chance of cold and inclement weather. We don’t have that luxury because most of our customers desire a spring born calf. Luckily, weather here in Southwest Missouri has been pretty mild compared to past years. But as many from around here know, that couldn’t easily change tomorrow.
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Because all of our cows are synchronized, they should all calve between about a two week interval. This isn’t an exact science and sometimes mother nature takes over and cows calve early or later than their expected due date. Just like in humans. Our group of calving cows are checked at least three times a day. Once in the morning, once before dark and then again at about 3am. How do you synchronize these pregnancies? The cows are implanted with a CIDR for one week. It projects a hormone making them come into heat at the same time and therefore bred at the same time.  Once the CIDR is removed the cow will come into heat seven days later.

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You might be wondering why this black, cross-bred cow has a white, Charolais baby calf. Our operation is a little different than normal. We run an embryo transfer (ET) herd. Those in the purebred cattle business want more offspring from their best cows. That’s where we come in. These breeders send us their superior mama cows (we call them donor cows) and we give them hormones that enables them to produce more than one egg during a cycle. While still in the cow those eggs are artificially fertilized. Then before they have time to grow inside the cow they are flushed out. This process is very similar to IVF in humans, but the embryos are either frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored in tanks or immediately implanted into recipient (recip) cows. These cows are similar to what people would call a surrogate mom. The recip cow carries the calf until birth and nurses it until it is weaned. Once it is time for weaning, the ET babies are then sold back to the purebred breeder and our recip cows are once again synchronized for their next breeding.

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Babies of different breeds, owned by different people are born each day on our farm. Because of this, records are extremely important. Each breeder is assigned a different color ear tag that each calf is given. The information on the tag includes: date of birth, sire, dam and the recip cows tag number. This information is also recorded in a notebook kept in the feed truck and is later entered into our computer database program.

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Calves are tagged right after they are born to eliminate any confusion later. This time is also the easiest time to actually catch the calf. They haven’t quite adjusted to life on Earth and don’t know how to exactly use their feet yet. But it is always a good idea to keep an eye on mama cow. She is typically very irritated by this process. Wouldn’t it be easier if they could understand that we are just trying to help?

For us here at Utopia Genetics, we will be calving out spring babies through March. We get a short break during the summer months and then fall calving kicks off in early September.

Does anyone have any memorable calving stories or tricks of the trade that help make this time of the year easier on both farmer and bovine?

BEEF – It’s What’s For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

17 Dec
As a beef producer I am naturally a beef lover. I love to eat it and I love advocating for it. Last week I attended the Missouri Cattlemen’s Convention and I loved being surrounded by fellow Missouri beef producers who had the same passion as I do. During the convention I spent a lot of time with the Missouri Beef Industry Council crew and couldn’t help but absorb their wealth of beef nutrition information. Today, I want to share with you a few things I learned about how eating lean beef daily can help lower cholesterol and should be part of your heart-healthy diet.
  • A 3oz. serving of lean beef contributes less than 10% of calories to a 2,000 calorie diet, yet supplies more than 10% of the daily value for 10 essential nutrients:
Protein 48%
Selenium 41%
B12 37%
Zinc 33%
Niacin 25%
B6 20%
Phosphorus 19%
Choline 17%
Iron 12%
Riboflavin 10%
  • BOLD – Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet, is a clinical study conducted a Penn State University that evaluated adults with moderately elevated cholesterol levels.  They measured the impact of diets including varying amounts of lean beef on total and LDL cholesterol levels. Participants had a 10% decrease in LDL.
  • The BOLD diet included 4.0 oz. of lean beef per day. Here is an example of what you could eat on BOLD.
Breakfast: Egg w/ red pepper and onion (1 Tbsp. Each)
Low-Fat cheddar (1/4 cup)
Whole wheat bagel (1 small)
Margarine (2 tsp.)
Lunch: Sirloin w/ Sugar Snap Peas & Pasta Salad w/ light dressing
Apple(1 med.)
Dinner: Beef, Mango & Barley Salad (1 1/4 cup salad w. 3 oz. beef)
Dinner Roll (1 small)
Margarine (2 tsp.)
Snacks: Nonfat yogurt (6 oz.)
Low-fat granola (1/4 cup)
Almonds (1 1/2 Tbsp/)
  • There are 29 cuts of beef that meet governmental guidelines for being lean. Download the 29 lean cuts wallet card for an easy reference. Look for for these naturally nutrient-rich lean beef cuts:
Eye Round Roast
Eye Round Steak
Sirloin Tip Side Steak
Top Round Roast
Top Round Steak
Bottom Round Roast
Bottom Round Steak
Top Sirloin Steak
Brisket, Fat Half
95% Lean Ground Beef
Round Tip Roast
Round Tip Steak
Round Steak
Shank Cross Cuts
Chuck Should Pot Roast
Sirloin Tip Center Roast
Sirloin Tip Center Steak
Chuck Should Steak
Bottom Round (Western Griller) Steak
Top Loin (Strip) Steak
Shoulder Petite Tender
Should Petite Medallions
Flank Steak
Should Center (Ranch) Steak
Tri-Tip Roast
Tri-Tip Steak
Tenderloin Roast
Tenderloin Steak
T-Bone Steak

For more information check out www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com.  You can also get lots of great beef recipes from the Missouri Beef Council. Keep up with how Beef Checkoff dollars are being put to work by following @BeefCouncil and @BeefUSA on Twitter.

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