Connecting the Dots…

The vast majority of cattle have more than one address during their lifetime.  This occurs because of the long life cycle of a bovine as well as the diverse resources needed to grow beef.  Most of my cattle spend the first 8-15 months on the home ranch before traveling to my feed yard, and then ultimately a few months later to the Tyson Foods packing plant in Lexington, NE.

2011 Steers from the Denke's ranch...

2011 Steers from That A Way ranch…

About a dozen years ago, my father in law told me to design my own niche business model and start purchasing cattle that would enable it to be successful.  The model that I designed is based on tracing cattle from birth to harvest — focusing on building collaborative relationships all along the calf life cycle in order to work toward continuous improvement.

I soon discovered that building relationships with ranchers was much easier if I also acted as the cattle buyer, the person that orchestrated the deal between the rancher and the feed yard.  I perform this role in more than 85% of the transitions of cattle off of the ranch of origin into my feed yard.  I love the time that I spend interacting with ranchers — getting to know their families as well as their cattle herds — working each year to share information that will improve cattle performance, beef quality, and animal welfare.

The sunrise that gave a beautiful start to my day as I traveled to the ranch...

The sunrise that gave a beautiful start to my day as I traveled to the ranch.

I left home Wednesday morning at 5:15am to head north to Donita and Larry Denke’s That A Way ranch.  I met Donita and Larry through their son, Tony, who was a member of our Cozad community for a number of years.  Our children were friends, and Matt and I helped coach Tony’s kids on the youth track team.  Larry and Donita have a beautiful Red Angus cow herd, and their steers that I purchase are phenomenal beef producing animals.

Fall on the ranch is breathtakingly beautiful...

Fall on the ranch is breathtakingly beautiful.

The Denke’s hard work and attention to detail makes them a pleasure to work with.  My favorite farmer teases me that Larry is just as particular as I am, and that we make quite a pair.  Larry is Beef Quality Assurance certified and works carefully with his vet to ensure that calf vaccinations and health are excellent.  The Denke’s are also outstanding herdsmen, practicing the same cattle handling practices that I do at the feed yard.

Donita patiently waits on horseback for Larry to share his plan...

Donita patiently waits on horseback for Larry to share his plan while sorting and preparing to ship the calves.

Tony is there to help as well...

Tony is there to help as well.

The calves are soon loaded up on the trucks to travel to their new home at the feed yard...

The calves are soon loaded up on the trucks to travel to their new home at the feed yard.

Their dogs are just as well behaved as their calves, and obediently remain out of the way during the sorting and loading process...

The Denke’s dogs are just as well behaved as their calves, and obediently remain out of the way during the sorting and loading process.

The breeding herd remains on the home ranch...

The breeding herd remains on the home ranch…

While the steer calves, destined to make beef, travel to the feed yard where they find fresh grass hay -- water -- and a dry place to sleep their first night...

while the steer calves, destined to make beef, travel to the feed yard where they find fresh grass hay — water — and a comfortable place to sleep the first night at their new home…

 Connecting the dots in the cattle life cycle and beef farming is incredibly important.  When the Denke’s and I remain committed to providing high quality care all across the calf life cycle, each of you benefits by having access to having safe and high quality beef that is humanely raised.

*The Denke’s steers will call my feed yard home until April.  Look for periodic posts between now and then following their life as they prepare to make beef.

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Beef Cattle Life Cycle: Ranch to Retail, Foodie Work!, General

6 responses to “Connecting the Dots…

  1. Anne,
    The fact that you have a “small” feed yard and are able to build personal relationships with cow-calf ranchers is awesome. I think it’s neat that you have found people as passionate about raising high quality beef as you are and are willing to be as transparent too. I’m sure the business partnership and lifelong friendships you have made are priceless.

    • That is a part of my job that I really enjoy, Robyn. To me, life is all about relationships and our ability to allow them to create a positive environment.

      You have just remarked upon one of the main reasons why my feed yard remains “small” 🙂

      I hope that all is well on the ranch,
      Anne

  2. Larry Denke

    It means a lot, to get a nod of approval, from another herdsman. In this day and age so much is taken for granted or simply over looked. Are the trucks clean, do the cattle have “clean fresh water”, is there clean bedding for the calves. It is our thought that “clean” cannot be over used or over done. Thank you again Ann and we will see you down the trail.

    • Yes, Larry. I agree on all counts. Creating a positive environment for our cattle involves taking care on all of the details, no matter how small or simple they seem. Your attention to those things is what has allowed your ranch success over the years, and it is my pleasure to work with you.

      I hope that you will enjoy the periodic updates on your calves that I will be posting over the next few months. They are settling in nicely.

      Happy Trails,
      Anne

  3. Jim Tomek

    Anne, I especially enjoyed this post. In my mind, you help consumers “connect the dots” in the supply chain process. Great pictures which are always beneficial. You are a great spokesperson for the beef industry.

    • Thank you, Jim. I am glad that you enjoyed it. I seem to have a growing love for taking pictures and, as you point out, sometimes those images are the most effective way to tell the story.

      I hope that all is well in Texas.
      Anne

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