Saturday, June 16, 2012

Time for a hair cut...

4-H fair time is fast approaching and it will soon be time to give the show calves a hair cut!  We recently had the chance to attend a Kirk Stierwalt clipping and fitting clinic.  It was a pretty intense 3-day educational seminar covering everything from hair care, clipping, equipment, feeds and nutrition, showmanship, daily training and routines, and much more.   

It was a great hands-on clinic for the kids and their families.  Ally got to try her hand at clipping one of her heifers.  Luckily, Nila stood real still and didn't seem to mind the 6 hour hair cut!  Pretty sure I couldn't get any of the kids to sit still for that long!

There were about 18 families that came from 3 states to learn from the Stierwalt family.  It was yet another opportunity to make friends all over the country!  The best part was watching the kids learn about livestock and how to market their project.  It's not so much about the clipping and fitting, but about teaching them about what goes into raising beef.   

These kids know how to have fun and how to get the job done!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ranching 101

A few weeks ago, I had an incredible opportunity to participate in an educational seminar.  Certified Angus Beef has developed a program called 'Masters of Brand Advocacy' which gathers food service distributors from all across the United States.  Their goal is to expose these individuals to beef production systems from ranch to rail so they are informed about the products they sell.  They met with a seedstock producer to learn about genetic selection and they also shadow ranchers in small groups to learn all about the day to day activities it takes to produce the beef they are eventually selling to the retailers.  One of these small groups came to a local rancher who happens to be a customer where I work.  My boss and I were invited to share lunch with them and visit about how heifer development and artificial insemination fits into their ranch management plan.  
With all of the negative press about our industry, it is more important than ever to be able to effectively communicate about our business and how our ultimate goal is to produce the most safe, nutritious, cost effective product possible for the consumer.  That being said, it is intimidating to step in front of a group of executive chefs and wonder what they are going to ask you to explain.  I was amazed at how appreciative and open they all were to our industry.  Our group represented chefs and food service execs from places like Las Vegas, St. Louis, New York, New Orleans, Denver, Chicago, and San Diego just to name a few.  As one of the CAB folks said, "These guys are the last link in our beef production chain before the product hits the retail level.  It is critical that they can effectively tell our story and sell our product."

Program participants went out with local ranchers to check cattle on grass and learn about daily chores on the farm.

Some of the topics we discussed included the use of antibiotics in livestock, products used for synchronization in breeding cattle, how EPD's can be used to improve herd genetics and product quality, and how farms and ranches are managed with conservation practices for future generations of the family.  You can read more about the day's program here and here.  All in all, it was a great day and a great opportunity.  I walked away knowing most people just want to know our side of the story and we have to be willing to step up and tell it when they ask!