Tag Archives: animal science

An Aggie’s Time in Cozad…

In the just three short weeks that I spent with the Foodie Family, I was able to learn more than I ever expected. Anne was such an amazing mentor to me and her family’s hospitality made it seem like home. I’d like to take this last blogging opportunity to thank them for hosting me and reflect on my time spent in Cozad and the experiences I had.

As I mentioned briefly in my first post, An Aggie in Nebraska… , the main goal of my visit was to take full advantage of a learning opportunity. Having spent the past 4 years at Texas A&M University earning a degree in Animal Science, I felt that I was well equipped with knowledge to enter into the cattle industry. I had a toolbox full of practical skills and knowledge acquired through a diverse array of classes and hands on learning opportunities but one key aspect was missing… real world experience.

Like any traditional student graduating from a 4-year university after high school, I didn’t exactly have a lot of down time to experience the ins and outs of the industry firsthand.

You never truly understand something until you are fully submerged in it, and that’s what I hoped this trip would bring about.

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While my three weeks doesn’t come close to Anne’s 20 years in the business, I think she did a great job including me in every aspect of the operation. We spent many mornings at the office, something she wouldn’t necessarily say she enjoys compared to working with the cattle, but it’s all part of the job.

While there she used everything as a teaching opportunity as she went about her daily tasks, sharing her own personal experiences and lessons she’s learned over the years. She always worked hard to directly apply it to my future career desires of running a cow-calf operation.

From budgeting and planning to understanding where the industry is headed as a whole, to government regulations, audits, and taxation — she certainly covered all the bases. She even offered advice on juggling work and family as well as the importance of playing a role in your community, and how she’s able to make it all work.

On the feedyard side of things, I had the opportunity to take part in reading bunks every morning, receiving, processing, and exercising new cattle, shipping fat cattle, moving calves to pasture, operating the feed truck and much more.

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Most importantly though, I was able to witness a well run business. In my mind, a successful business is not only measured by their bottom-line but also their integrity and the way they treat their employees. It was evident that every employee loved their job at Will Feed. Regardless of the situation, I repeatedly saw everyone work together as a team each day all while treating the cattle with the utmost respect.

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I cannot thank Anne and her Foodie Family (including those at the feedyard) enough for all that they have taught me while I was here. From farming to feedyard and everything in between, my time in Cozad was full of new experiences!

A few of the big take-home messages:

  1. “Two wrongs don’t make a right”
  2. Always stay humble
  3. Listen to your animals
  4. There are many ‘practical applications of math’ throughout the day
  5. Nothing smells quite as good as the alfalfa dehy plant on a long run

 

-Emily

*The photos throughout this post are a few of my favorites taken while receiving weaned calves earlier this week.

 

BarnQuilt

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Filed under CAFO, Foodie Work!, General

An Aggie, Aussies, and Sampling…

Howdy!

We’ve been busy at the yard the past week. All of this rain we’ve been having has made for some muddy conditions! Everyone is working as hard as they can to clean out pens before we receive new cattle this upcoming week.

In addition, we had a tour group of Australians join us Friday afternoon to learn more about the feedlot industry in the United States. They were especially baffled by how close we are to ground water here in Cozad, being that the feedyard is right over the Ogallala Aquifer makes it just a short distance, about 10’, to ground water as opposed to their 500’ deep wells in Australia. Overall I think they really enjoyed their experience at Will Feed, and we certainly enjoyed their company!

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Another very important task we accomplished this week was sampling feed stuffs for monthly nutritional analysis. Being that I am studying ruminant nutrition, it only seems fitting to share a bit about this critical aspect of the feedyard.

RationEVWe feed all of the cattle rations that are formulated with the help of the nutritionist. A ration can be thought of as a casserole. There are a variety of ingredients that all serve a different nutritional purpose whether it’s cracked corn for energy or roughage for fiber content, the ratio of ingredients within the “casseroles” are carefully calculated to meet the specific needs of the cattle at certain stages of growth.

If we do not know the right nutritional contents of our ingredients, our rations will be off and the cattle may not be able to reach their full potential and it could even cause health problems such as bloating. By sampling each individual ingredient, we can check the composition and ensure we are keeping the cattle happy and healthy with properly formulated rations.

All of the ingredients for a ration are loaded into the feed truck and the back of the truck acts like a giant mixing bowl. There is a combination of paddles and augers that mix the ration after all ingredients have been added. In theory this should create a perfectly homogeneous mixture.

To ensure this is the case, we also must sample the rations once they are mixed and delivered to the bunk. This ensures the feed truck is working properly, thoroughly combining all of the ingredients, and there is consistency amongst what is being fed.

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One load of feed in the truck may be dispersed throughout multiple pens, it is key that what is delivered to the first bunk is the exact same as what is delivered to the last. Therefore, we collect samples along the bunk line from the first and last bunk the load was delivered to.

RationSamplingEVOnce all the samples are collected, both individual ingredients and mixed rations, they are brought to Ward Laboratories in Kearney, NE for testing. The feed results are reported back a few days later and analyzed by the nutritionist, that way rations/mixing procedures can be adjusted accordingly if necessary.

The nutritionist especially uses the calcium content as an indicator of how well the ration was mixed. It is important the mix is homogenous for a variety of reasons but especially so the supplement pellet is distributed to all of the cattle at the right amount being that it includes a variety of ingredients vital to food safety.

When we dropped off the samples, Dr. Ward was nice enough to show us around the lab. They do a variety of testing there including, soil, water, and feedstuffs.

Did you know people will send in homemade craft beers to be tested for mineral content to best be able to match/adjust their unique flavor profiles?

It was definitely a week full of learning experiences! I look forward to my last few days here in Cozad. We have a busy schedule ahead with lots of incoming cattle to receive, process, and acclimate!

-Emily

Corn

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Filed under Nutrition (cattle and human)

An Aggie In Nebraska…

Howdy!

My name is Emily and I have the privilege to be a guest on the Feedyard Foodie’s blog this week! I am originally from rural Connecticut but am currently residing in Texas. Both my Fiancé, Garrett, and I are recent graduates of Texas A&M University (just two weeks ago, actually!) with our Bachelor’s in Animal Science and are both currently pursuing a Master’s in Ruminant Nutrition.

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A ruminant refers to an animal with a four compartment stomach (ie. cattle, sheep, or goats), however, both of us are specifically studying the beef cattle sector. Our ultimate goal in the future is to start our own cow-calf operation in Texas. A cow-calf operation essentially raises the animals that will later go to the feedlot.

So how did I end up in Cozad, Nebraska?

As Anne mentioned in her previous post, I had the privilege of hosting her and Megan at Texas A&M in the fall after inviting her for a speaking engagement through the Animal Science Department. Every feed yard utilizes a ruminant nutritionist to make sure the cattle are being fed properly and nutritional requirements are being met. Knowing that I was going to be studying in this field, it seemed fitting to come visit the feed yard for a few weeks over the summer to get an inside view on how the operation is run, even if it isn’t the exact path I plan to take.

The thought behind my visit was that it’s always worth taking advantage of an opportunity to learn.

There is a good chance that my future career will somehow relate back to the feed yard, especially if it includes a cow-calf operation responsible for filling empty pens.

The Feedyard Foodie Family graciously accepted me into their home for three weeks and I have been learning everything from the business side of the operation to running various equipment at the feedyard. As far as the cattle go, we’ve processed, transported, and shipped cattle and will be receiving new calves into the yard next week.

Every day has been something new to do and another skill-set to learn. I’ve even had the opportunity to learn about the various farming sectors in Cozad from planting to harvest and of course the town, and family’s love of sports has led me to a new insight into both the track and swimming season! Anne has been a great mentor sharing her experiences in the industry, as a manager, and making time for what’s important as small business-owning parents. It has been quite the adventure and I look forward to sharing more about my journey as I move into my final week with the family!

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Filed under Family, General, Nutrition (cattle and human)