The tours are coordinated by Dave Patterson, University of Missouri Extension specialist. Lending support this year was John Kleiboeker and the Missouri Beef Industry Council. The four tours have had the ultimate purpose of seeing University of Missouri steers from the Thompson and Greenley Research Center in north Missouri as they reached slaughter weights.

Along the way we were educated by backgrounders, seedstock producers, packers, feedlot personnel and Certified Angus Beef staff. While on the bus, speakers from Missouri and three artificial companies did some educating too. Even the guests on the buses were asked to voice their thoughts about the tour on the way home. Here are a few “bullets.” 

Bill Haw – CEO of National Farms, Kansas City and owner of a large backgrounding ranch in the Flint Hills.

  • The anti-meat people are making a better case not to eat meat then those who say we should eat meat.
  • If you don’t use machinery every day you can’t afford it.
  • Economies of scale are real but will only be available to small cow herds by expansion or joining forces with other small producers.

Mark Sebranek, Irsik & Doll, Feed Yard Garden City, Kansas

  • We feed three times a day within 5 minutes of the day before.
  • Also feeding 6,000 Holstein steer calves for a year.
  • We exercise cattle upon arrival and it seems to improve their health.
  • We try to figure out what cattle make the most money.
  • Carcass weight adds a lot to the bottom line.

Mark Gardiner, Gardiner Angus Ranch, Ashland, Kansas

  • If I could, I’d like to only use a bull that has an EPD of .99 accuracy. He’ll use bulls that are around .90 accuracy but he wants them to be tested against the best.
  • Modern technology will make better cattle sooner.
  • While at the working pens we were given a few tips on freeze branding. If you’ve ever seen Gardiner cattle, the legible freeze brands are striking. The tips were: use Sunnyside denatured alcohol solvent and dry ice as the coolant; Use one iron at a time; use 3 1⁄2 inch brand on weaning age calves; 4 inches for yearlings; they brand year round; hold the iron on for 35 to 45 seconds; to speed up the re-cooling, use two sets of numbers as it takes an iron 2 to 4 minutes to reach the needed temperature. 

Jerry Bohn, Pratt Feeders, Pratt, Kansas

  • Currently has lots of Holstein steer calves in their pens. They’re from Idaho and California and will be here nearly a year. Their destination is Tysons.
  • Feeding one-third wheat now due to its lower cost and they do not feed distillers grains.
  • We can’t pay more for your calves if we don’t know what you have. Cow-calf producers must feed some of their cattle to learn that.
  • There are too many feedyards for the supply of cattle.

Galen Fink – Angus and Charolais seedstock breeder at Randoph, Kansas.

  • If I could get by with no iron I’d be happy. I hate machinery.
  • We’re very happy with our use of sexed semen.
  • I like to use high accuracy bulls, but I find I’m using more young bulls lately.
  • We offer a three-year guarantee on bulls for a bad semen evaluation or bad feet.

The Kansas trip was a good one. Word of its benefit will get around. Dave may have to charter three buses next year. end_mark

Eldon Cole is a beef specialist with the University of Missouri Extension in Mount Vernon, Missouri. This report comes from the May 2012 University of Missouri Extension Beef Newsletter.