It is time to sell all the feeder cattle. On Sunday, we will haul all of the calves to the livestock auction. Then, on Monday we will go to the sale and see how they do. It seems a little crazy, but this is the one “payday” for the year. Basically, we haven’t received any direct income off the cow herd since last January when we sold the calves.IMG_9462

Earlier this winter, I wrote about our winter farm routine. Well, that is just about over now! There will lots less “morning chores” and “evening chores” after these calves are gone.IMG_9444

Every day since birth (last spring) these calves have been cared for here on our farm. If you have been following along with the Farmin’ Fridays, you saw when we had these calves out to pasture…DSCN5963

….and when we weaned them. At this point, they averaged about 500 pounds.

Now, it is time for the calves to leave our farm. I’m guessing they will average between 850-950 pounds on Monday. The steers will most likely be purchased and shipped to a feed lot. If you would like to hear from another ranch woman about the work that goes on at a family-owned feed lot, I suggest Anne Burkholder’s blog. She does an excellent job of explaining the work she and her crew do in Nebraska.

They will remain at the feed lot until they weigh about 1,200-1,400 pounds. Then, they will be shipped to a processing facility and humanely harvested. calf

In a couple of months, the cycle will begin again. The mama cows will start having babies! It is sad to see the calves go, but this is part of the beauty of the beef industry – it is not vertically integrated & there are lots of ‘players.’ IMG_9479

There are lots of families just like us who raise calves. We call ourselves “cow-calf operations.” Then, there are lots of folks who sell their calves a bit earlier than we do. Those calves might be shipped to a “grow yard” where another family will feed them. Finally, the majority of the calves  end up at a feed lot. Yep, another person feeds them there, too. That’s at least three different segments, three different “areas of specialty” and three different sets of people. IMG_9435

The only downside to this structure is that the “story of beef production” gets broken into pieces. When you purchase a steak at Hy-Vee, you don’t get to hear from the ranch wife like me who really wants to say: Hey! Thanks for buying this steak. This is what we love to do: raise nutritious, safe and healthy beef for American’s to enjoy.

At least one neat company that I know of is working on coming up with a solution to this farm-to-plate disconnect problem, it is appropriately called: Where Food Comes From.

I think this will be a few years down the road but, I’m looking forward to the day when you can swing by Hy-Vee, use your phone to scan a bar code on a package of steaks we raised, then up pops a picture of our family & farm!

Won’t that be a neat trip to the store?

In the meantime, I’ll be blogging!