By nature, I am a “peacemaker”. I really do not like conflict and prefer to keep my life on a positive and proactive slant. That being said, I have been told by many that I am tenacious and possess a “steel will”. When you combine the two, you get a woman who is particular about the way that things are done, but prefers to build communication and partnerships in order to get what she wants rather than argue about it…
I do not have "mama cows" like this one. She lives on a ranch and makes a calf every year that will be finished in order to make beef.
Over the past ten years, I have slowly transitioned into personally buying the vast majority of the cattle that we bring into the feed yard. This shift enabled me to build relationships with my cow/calf suppliers. We work together and learn from each other. Although I do not personally take care of my animals from birth to harvest, (in fact, beef cattle spend the majority of their lives on ranches grazing grass not in finishing feed yards like mine), I have an interest in their care from the day that they are born because everything that happens during the lifetime of a calf affects the beef that he produces.
One of these animals is the offspring of the cow shown above. These steers are waiting to be loaded on to semi-trucks to travel to my feed yard...
Traditionally, there is a “middle man” in between the cow/calf rancher and the feed yard. He is called a “cattle buyer”, and he may be an individual or he may be a Livestock Market Auction. He facilitates the transaction when a beef animal is moved from the ranch of origin to the next level of the beef production chain. As my own “cattle buyer”, I remove the middle man and work directly with the original caregiver of the cattle.
Why did I make this change as I transitioned to the “Boss Lady”?
In order to implement the holistic herd health plan that I developed using Beef Quality Assurance protocols, I needed health information on the cattle that I brought into the feed yard. I wanted to focus on creating a lifetime of good health for my animals in order to reduce the likelihood of sickness and subsequent use of antibiotics. I also wanted access to the birth records of the cattle that I was purchasing in order to market the cattle as Age and Source Verified. In return for being given access to this information, I offer to my rancher partners individual feed yard and carcass performance information. This allows them to understand how efficient their animals are, and what level of beef quality they produce. Together we make a healthier and more efficient animal that produces high quality and great tasting beef.
So what does being a “cattle buyer” entail?
*I visit the ranches of my cow/calf suppliers to look at the cattle and visit about cattle care and health issues.
*I make business deals with my cow/calf suppliers relative to the value of the animal at the time of transfer from the ranch to my feed yard.
*I travel to the ranches with semi-trucks to load the cattle and transfer them from the ranch to the feed yard.
*I collect individual information on each animal to document its efficiency and quality. I then pass this information back (either via email or snail mail) to the rancher.
Here I am taking down identification and weight information on a calf which I will send back to my cow/calf rancher so that he knows how his animal performs...
Being a cattle buyer is an incredibly rewarding experience. I have facilitated relationships with some of the very finest people. Additionally, it is incredibly satisfying to watch our teamwork result in better cattle welfare and beef production performance. I love to watch my animals thrive and grow. There is nothing better than watching a group of cattle run around and play with excitement as they watch the feed truck deliver their breakfast. Exuberance is a beautiful sight! The icing on the cake is the knowledge that these animals will nourish my family and families all over the world with a unique and high quality protein source.
Here are the same calves shown above enjoying a well balanced breakfast of prairie hay, alfalfa hay, and wet distillers grains--their address has changed and now they live at my feed yard...
The blend of peacemaker/relationship builder and a tenacious commitment to detail makes a winning combination for this cattle buyer!