2017 Fall Cattle Journal: Recovering
Cattle need grass, and grass, well, it needs cattle.
But sometimes a person finds himself or herself in a pickle with grass but not cattle, or cattle but no grass.
An individual in this situation could consider seeking a share agreement.
Many in the cattle business have heard horror stories about share agreements gone wrong.
"He didn't take care of the cows and we lost too many calves."
Or, "I fed and cared for those cattle like they were my own but I didn't get paid enough to make it worthwhile."
Keeping an open mind when developing the agreement and covering as many details as possible in the contract are important to keeping both sides happy, said Wibaux, Mont., rancher Craig Helvik.
When his grandfather died, Helvik had the opportunity to run the family ranch, but after buying some of his grandfather's cows and equipment, he couldn't borrow the money to buy enough cows to finish stocking the place. A share deal with a long-time friend seemed to make sense. He is working toward building up his own cow herd and after a few three-year leases, he will probably be done taking in share cows after the current lease expires.
Helvik keeps his own cows and the share cows separate and calves them at separate facilities. He doesn't retain any heifers from the share cows, and neither does the cow owner, so every calf from the share cows goes to town in the fall, and the check is split 70-30 with Helvik getting 70 percent.
The cow owner replaces any sold cull cows with bred heifers, to keep the number of cows consistent with the contract.
Helvik provides all of the inputs, including feed, labor, vaccine, medication, mineral, salt, etc. The cow owner buys the bulls. Helvik does winter the bulls but that is a separate arrangement.
The number of pounds of hay that will be fed per day, free-choice mineral and salt being provided year round, the type of vaccines that will be administered – all of these are points covered in his share contract, said Helvik.
He and his business partner have known each other for years and have always had a good working relationship, Helvik said. If there are questions that arise or items that need to be changed on the contract, the two of them meet and agree to new terms, although that is rare.
Helvik puts his brand on the calves and then pays the cow owner when the calves are sold. All cows bear the cow owner's brand.
One year the grass was particularly good and Helvik told the cow owner he could bring another semi-load of cows in, so he did and those calves were sold with the original calves, with the check being split accordingly.
The cow owner is available to help with cattle work when needed, but Helvik doesn't take advantage of him. "He'll come and help if we need him to, but he's not required to. We've done business long enough that I trust him and he trusts me. If we're short of labor, he's here."
Helvik said he won't take just any old cow – he wants healthy cows that are in good shape, and he culls any opens or those who develop chronic health problems.
"Whoever you are getting into it with, make sure you can talk to them. Keep communication lines open," he stressed.
"The main point is if the two parties can agree to it, it should work. You need to be a little flexible and adjust when necessary.
"It sure has helped me get rolling here the last few years," he added.
As with any business arrangement there is room for error, and honesty from both parties is priority number one, said Dustin LePlatt, Trinidad, Colorado.
But LePlatt said a share arrangement can be the perfect way to turn a profit on pasture without borrowing money to buy cattle.
"The reason I got in the share deal was to rebuild without borrowing a bunch of money," he said. LePlatt had sold his own herd down due to drought and was down to just 50 cows, with pasture for a lot more, when the rain finally came.
So he took in cows for an acquaintance and gradually built up his own cowherd again.
LePlatt said the first share agreement ended amicably and then he then took in cattle for another individual and is now on his third share deal.
He likes to make year-to-year agreements, and said a 60/40 split has worked well for him, with LePlatt getting 60 percent of the calf crop at weaning time. He splits the cost of bulls with the cow owner.
The cow owner's brand is on all of the cows as well as the calves.
LePlatt and the cow owner both like to keep replacement heifers out of the cows, so after the two of them sort the replacement-quality heifers out, they gate cut 60 percent of them for LePlatt and 40 percent for the cow owner, then LePlatt re-brands his heifers.
The rest of the calves are sold private treaty or at the salebarn, and LePlatt and the cow owner split the check 60-40.
The cows all bear the brand of the owner, and the cow owner gets all the salvage value for the cows.
"Thank God we've never had a bad wreck," LePlatt said, adding that there are the usual calving issues of bad weather and such but that he grafts calves whenever possible and will even put one of his own calves on a share cow if the situation calls for it.
A share agreement can work well for a young producer without the equity to borrow money to buy cows, or any producer who doesn't want debt on cows, he said.
Even with a one-year contract, though, LePlatt said the situation can become challenging because of unpredictable circumstances like weather. One year the weather turned dry and he had to drylot a bunch of cows in order to fulfill a contract. "I kept my end of the bargain but I didn't make any money. There are pros and cons to the idea, just like with most things," he said.
Both Helvik and LePlatt said with today's low cattle market and the continued increase in input costs, profitability for either party becomes more difficult.
"It's getting tougher and tougher. I'm thankful I've been able to grow my own herd," said Helvik.
When the avian influenza and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus hit the poultry and pork industries in recent years, researchers at the South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (ADRDL), located in Brookings, S.D., worked to quickly respond to these contagious diseases, limit the spread of the outbreaks and secure human and animal health as swiftly and effectively as possible.
Even though it was successful in managing these outbreaks, researchers, agricultural leaders and the state's commodity groups are exploring ways to upgrade and enhance the state's only animal health laboratory in an effort to better serve the community in the event of a future outbreak.
"The lab was originally built nearly 50 years ago, and it hasn't been updated since 1993," said Daniel Scholl, interim Dean for the South Dakota State University (SDSU) College of Agricultural and Biological Science. "Since then, the volume of samples that are being sent to the laboratory has grown dramatically, and the methods for testing have changed, as well. This puts a lot of demand on laboratory space and personnel. On top of that, the building is old, and no longer has the very specific needs for environmental controls to do certain tests."
The state's $7.3 billion livestock industry is safeguarded by the ADRDL, and several commodity groups — South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, South Dakota Farm Bureau, Ag Unity Group, and South Dakota Pork Producers Council — have joined together to help lobby support for the renovation and expansion of the animal health facility.
"The need to remodel and expand the lab has been an ongoing topic of discussion for the last decade, and we will be going to the legislature this year to discuss ways to fund this project," said Jodie Anderson, South Dakota Cattlemen's Association executive director. "We are currently in negotiations with industry groups and the governor's office and administration to determine where the funding will come from and how much would come from the industry."
During the 1993 expansion of the lab, funding came in part from the removal of the sales tax exemption of parasiticide drugs (wormers), and the revenue from that was directed to the ADRDL. The parasiticide tax was voted in the 1995 Legislative Session to continue indefinitely to help support veterinary student tuition grants and the continued operation of the ADRDL.
Currently, the ADRDL hosts several lab sections dedicated to the following: Serology, Bacteriology, Histopathology, Clinical Pathology, Virology, Food Safety, Molecular Diagnostics, DNA Sequencing, and Specialized Research Testing. However, without infrastructure updates to the lab, Jane Christopher-Hennings, DVM, MS, Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences Department professor head and director of the ADRDL, fears the lab won't be able to continue to function and handle the most dangerous and infectious outbreaks, should they occur.
"Unless we renovate the current building, we will not be able to properly function in the near future," said Christopher-Hennings. "We have a number of issues that we are dealing with now that limit our ability to handle infectious diseases and maintain biosecurity and safety for our employees."
The new and improved laboratory is currently in the design phase and calls for a complete renovation of the existing 36,000 sq. ft. lab space and building a new 74,500 sq. ft. lab, complete with a Biosafety Level 3 lab space.
"The Biosafety Level Three Lab allows for high risk pathogens like anthrax, rabies, foot and mouth disease, etc. to be present," she explained. "Some argue that in the event of an emergency, we could just send samples to labs in Minnesota, North Dakota or Iowa; however, in a crisis situation, we wouldn't be a top priority in another state. It's important to have animal health labs in locations where there are a lot of livestock, like South Dakota, so we can respond quickly in these situations."
The ADRDL is a qualified lab in the federal government's Food Emergency Response Network and plays a key role in offering timely diagnostic tests, development of vaccinations and protection for people and livestock in case of an outbreak.
"Global concerns over livestock infectious diseases have increased in recent years due to growth in global trade, which opens the door to disease movement between countries," said Scholl. "If foot and mouth disease were to hit the U.S., you can imagine the impact it would have on the livestock industry. With the current state of the laboratory, we would be severely limited in the services we could provide to South Dakota and regional producers to swiftly resolve the outbreak."
The projected cost of the project is an estimated $65-70 million. More than $2 million has already been spent on the architecture and engineering component, which was funded by ADRDL fees and the Livestock Disease Emergency (LDE) fund.
While discussions are still underway about funding, it's likely that the financing package will include an investment from the state of South Dakota, as well as support from the agricultural industry and community donations.
"We are currently at the end of the design development phase in which we will have a more accurate estimated cost of the project," said Scholl. "Assuming the proposal for funding is passed in the 2017 legislative session, construction could begin by the end of 2017 or early 2018. Phase one of the project, which includes the new building, would be complete by the summer of 2019, and phase two, which is the renovation of the old facility, is expected to be completed by the spring of 2020."
"I don't think there is a single livestock industry group who has not shown support of this project," added Scholl. "Virtually all livestock groups are represented as members of the advisory board for the ADRDL and have been involved in conversations to address the needs of this lab."
"We are here to serve the region's livestock producers," said Christopher-Hennings. "I encourage producers to talk to their legislators about the importance of this lab. The work the lab does in helping to create a rapid test, a vaccine or a solution to an outbreak is instrumental. We want South Dakota livestock producers to take precedence in the event of an outbreak, so we need the resources to stay within the state."
For more information on the ADRDL, visit http://www.sdstate.edu/vs.adrdl/.
The livestock industry is a capital intensive business. Seldom does any rancher leap headfirst into buying a sustainably-sized cattle herd; most are built over time. With a little hard work, research and creativity, young people can get a jump start on their own herd at an early age, and learn to become cattle managers as they grow with their own herds.
Project launch pads
Heifer projects are often the launching point of many young producers' herds. 4-H, FFA, breed associations, and livestock shows create a venue for raising and showing a quality female year after year. Often times project heifers are loaned, bought or gifted from family. Some programs also offer scholarship heifers to qualified applicants to give them a hand up in ownership.
The NILE Merit Heifer program at the Northern International Livestock Exposition in Billings, Mont., is one such program. Applicants ages 12-16 can compete for one of 20-25 purebred heifers donated each year by regional ranchers. Applicants submit a personal essay, reference letters, and a 3-5 minute YouTube video.
Heifer winners are required to maintain records, submit monthly reports, have the heifer bred, and bring her back to show at the following NILE. Shelby Shaw of Worden, Mont., is the livestock manager and director of youth education for the NILE. She was also a heifer recipient in 2008, and still has her Merit Heifer in her herd today. Shaw says her cow is coming on 10 years old, and has not disappointed with the progeny she's had year after year. "By being a recipient in the past and now being coordinator of the program, I feel like I've seen the program go full circle."
Shaw says the program is designed to help youth get a start in the beef cattle business by awarding heifer calves to recipients based on merit, future goals and ability to care for the animal.
The Cattlemen's Family Legacy Heifer Scholarship is a similar program sponsored by the Western Junior Livestock Show and the Central States Fair Foundation. A cattle producer at the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City, South Dakota donates a heifer and a recipient is chosen from a pool of applicants through an application and interview process. Similar to the NILE program, the recipient is asked to bring the heifer back to show in the Western Junior Livestock Show futurity the next year, and must submit routine reports and train the heifer.
Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis offers a heifer donation program to junior college students. The NCTA Heifer Link program launched in January 2015, as a supplement to the college's noted 100 Beef Cow Ownership Advantage. Through Heifer Link, students have the opportunity to be assigned a breeding heifer during their fourth semester and leave campus with a bred heifer upon graduation.
"This innovative program requiring student management, hands-on sweat equity, a sound business plan and commitment to the Nebraska cattle industry allows the student to get a jump start into the cattle business," says Dr. Douglas Smith, division chair and assistant professor of animal science and agricultural education at NCTA. "Students are able to become owner of a heifer to call their own and begin their herd."
To be awarded a heifer, students must be enrolled in the NCTA 100 Beef Cow Ownership Advantage program and go through a rigorous interview process. Heifers are donated either by contributions of $2,000 to the Nebraska Foundation, with the heifer coming from the NCTA cowherd, or as live donations that must meet certain criteria from sponsoring cattle breeders.
A donated heifer might launch a dream, and also serve as great collateral. But continual herd building requires additional knowledge and most of all, financing.
Animal science and agribusiness management programs provide solid backgrounds for ranch management, but specialized programs, such as the 100 Beef Cow Ownership Advantage at NCTA, recognize the need for practical experience targeted at financing and managing a small cow herd.
The 100 Beef Cow program has been in existence for decades, long before the donation heifer aspect was added, with the goal of helping college students launch their own herd. Through the four-semester curriculum, which is an add-on option for ag majors, students receive training in lending.
"We want them to create a business plan, be prepared to get a loan, and be successful in the management of their cowherd," says Smith, who oversees the 100 Beef Cow program. He brings in guest speakers such as bankers, lawyers and accountants to share real-world considerations with students. In the capstone course, students create an actual loan application package.
"Our goal is for students to be able to start their own 100 cow program – some are even funded before they graduate," says Smith. Although students are not required to pursue ownership, and those that do are free to bank anywhere they choose, most obtain financing through their local USDA Farm Service Agency program with a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Loan.
Norm Bellows is a lending officer with FSA in Miles City, Montana, and has worked with many young farmers and ranchers.
FSA offers low-interest loans, currently at 2.25 percent and up to $300,000, on livestock purchases and operating lines. Bellows says the advantage of their program is they are able to lend to more high-risk applicants who don't have a credit history or strong collateral.
"FSA wants a 150 percent security margin if it's available, but we only have to have 100 percent," he says. "A lot of people have a pickup and horse trailer – that's all they have."
He views his job as not only lending, but training and working with youth to create a successful plan.
"We are pretty detailed on cash flows, we want them pretty well put together so we know we're going to have a successful operation" says Bellows. "By far we're going to stress operational management too, to allow someone to move forward."
His ultimate goal is to help producers successfully "graduate" from their beginning loan, and transition to bigger lending.
"We want to help them save their money and get in a position to work with a commercial lender down the road."
Bellows says his job is very rewarding, as it offers him an opportunity to see youth or beginning ranchers build something successful and help educate them in the process.
"If the projection they put together doesn't work, we try to point out alternatives, or opportunities of something different. We can't expect our borrowers to come in here and be master's level finance gurus."
Bellows adds that although his borrowers are considered higher risk and operate with tighter cash margins and lower collateral than commercial lenders, FSA's delinquency rate and losses are much lower than commercial bankers. FSA also offers loan servicing to help during tough times.
"We're not just here to get people in the business, we're there to keep them in the business," he says.
Although it may seem like an end goal, purchasing cattle is really just the start of the work. Decisions such as nutrition, health care, breeding, financial planning and tax accounting require continual management and learning. Resources such as Extension, state and national trade association, lending institutions, conferences, or online classes offer additional outlets for education.
Starting a herd "opens the doors to ownership and gives [young producers] an opportunity," says Smith. "It really comes back to helping each other and paying it forward."
I was blessed to become a mother in June 2014, and having my daughter Scarlett certainly turned my world upside down in so many ways. Admittedly, there were times I struggled to find a balance between my duties as a first-time mom and my responsibilities on the cattle ranch I run with my husband Tyler. I quickly realized that being flexible, prepared and forgiving of myself in what I could accomplish each day were the keys to my success both in raising a baby and getting things done outside.
And Scarlett proved to be very adaptable. In the early months, nursing and baby-wearing were lifesavers, and she spent plenty of time napping in the carseat or stroller while we worked. As she's gotten older, she wants to be closer to the action, and giving her a safe spot to play and watch what we're doing has been a great way to get her involved on the ranch from a young age.
We added a fourth member to our family in June, so I'm again trying to find a balance of raising both kids and cattle. I decided to ask other ranch moms for their best advice on how they make things work.
First, I talked to Spring Padden, a mother of two from Ludlow, S.D. Through trial and error, she has found ways to navigate through each developmental stage of her daughters — Kaydy (age 5) and Kaylen (age 8) — while also operating her family's cow-calf and sheep operation.
"My husband Kely works for Olson Construction, which takes him to the oil fields five days each week," she said. "That leaves me to do the everyday ranch work alongside my uncle. He tends to the pastures further away from the home place, so I'm responsible for whatever needs to be done around the ranch."
Although Padden does have the assistance of family to help her out from time to time with the girls, she says for the most part, Kaydy and Kaylen have been right by her side from day one, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
"The girls will sometimes stay with my grandma, but she's almost 80, and I don't expect her to have the kids for long periods of time," she said. "When they were little, I learned to always pack lunches and snacks because we never quite knew how long a job would take or what else would come up before we could get back to the house. I also relied heavily on carseats and playpens, and when it came time for potty training, a portable ring set on top of a five-gallon pail worked for wherever we happened to be on the ranch."
Padden said the girls have been able to get involved in the sheep side of things from a very young age. At age four, both girls could bring a ewe in and lamb her out on their own.
"They grew up watching me and going along for the ride, and they have quickly become great help from a young age," she said. "My five year old sometimes knows more about the ranch than I do. The other day, she realized some ewes were in the wrong spot before I did! Kaylen is great helping outside, but now I'm also able to give her responsibilities inside, as well. She cleans or makes lunches and helps out around the house while I'm outside working, which is great."
Padden admits it's not always easy, but she believes raising kids on the ranch is a great way to teach her daughters about responsibility and hard work and to instill in them a passion for production agriculture.
"I feel really privileged to be able to raise our daughters in this lifestyle," she said. "It takes a lot of patience to teach them the ropes and get them a good start without burning them out. Sometimes they get upset when they miss out on fun things their friends from town are doing, but this is our way of life, and they understand the responsibility of needing to do chores or take care of a calving cow first."
Her best advice for other first-time ranch moms? Patience.
"It takes a lot of patience, and everything takes a little bit longer to get done with kids in tow," she said. "I've learned to improvise and use whatever resources I have for entertainment. For example, my kids will happily play in the dirt with an empty pop bottle. It's also important to find a safe spot for them to play while you're working. Accidents can happen really fast, so I try to plan things out before we do them, and I've always taught them to recognize dangerous situations. I'm trying to be proactive about that to keep them safe. I talk to them like adults. I trust them, and they respect me better for it. Awareness is the best policy to keeping kids safe and healthy on the ranch."
She also reassured me that the baby and toddler years are the toughest, and the older my kids get, the easier it will be to get things accomplished and have extra chore help, too.
I also asked my fellow Tri-State Livestock News writers/ranch moms for advice, and they echoed much of Padden's sentiments.
Freelance writer Jan Swan Wood of Newell, S.D. said, "I used a backpack and took my son out as early as possible. Just dress 'em warm enough and understand that dirt creates good gut bacteria and that earth worms and manure won’t kill 'em."
TSLN Editor Carrie Longwood Stadheim of Reeder, N.D. is a mother of six and explained how she has encouraged her kids from a young age to get involved on the ranch.
"By age five or six, kids with a good horse can help gather, sort cattle, or bring cattle up the alley," said Stadheim. "At that age, they can also help with chores, feed bum calves or lambs and pitch hay or straw. They can feed some pellets or grain, too, with some good direction by that age, and water critters as long as they don’t have to pack buckets (use a hose.) By age six or seven, kids can do a lot with sheep – sorting, bringing in lambs, etc. As far as cattle, I did a lot of riding and moving cattle from age five on up (some kids do it earlier). By age 10, my sisters and I were helping sort cattle in the corral. Obviously, the demeanor of the cattle and your kids’ abilities will help dictate what they are capable of and what is safe.
"At brandings, if we don’t have the little ones on horseback, we put them in the back of a pickup with some toys, a babysitter, and snacks," she added. "Having snacks and water with you at all times and a few outside-friendly toys is a great help. Dirt and fresh straw are two more things that entertain kids. We have the kids help us bed the lambing barn and if we’d let them, they would play in the fresh straw for hours. As far as chores, my seven-year old twins, at branding last year, were helpful by using a paint stick to mark the calves that had been vaccinated. Kids that age can also carry the “nut bucket,” keep calves from getting out of the branding pen, and help with the snacks, water and coffee for the adults."
Freelance writer Heather Maude of Scenic, South Dakota is the mom of one-year-old Lyle, and she's learned how to take him along for the ride and get things done on the ranch.
"I love my jogging stroller with foam filled tires, and I'm also a big believer in taking hand-me-downs of strollers, walkers, and swings, and I keep these older versions in the barn, corral and shop, so they are handy when we need them," she said. "At 10 months old, Lyle went to feed every morning, check cows most nights, and watched while we worked pigs or cattle. I think showing your kids the life firsthand exposes them to the positives and negatives. Growing up, my parents included my brother and me in everything from the financial and tax discussions, to bull buying and daily work from a young age, and I hope to do the same."
Without a doubt, no two ranching operations are the same, and no two ranch moms have the same parenting styles; however, it seems to be that patience, getting creative, giving age-appropriate responsibilities, and sharing our passion for agriculture with our kids seems to be a common theme amongst all ranching parents. I'm certainly going to use this advice as my kids grow up, and I can't wait to teach my kids the ropes of the ranch as they get older.
For a lot of people, a career in agriculture starts with on-the-job training as soon as you can walk. But if you weren't born into it, or want to get into a different segment of the industry, there can be some pretty high hills to climb.
"My best advice is to open your mind to opportunities. The heart of it all is opening up your mind to new things, new ideas, new approaches," said Barry Dunn, president of South Dakota State University. "It doesn't mean you have to agree with them or adopt them but it's really good for a young person to listen to them. The world is changing very rapidly, technology is changing even more rapidly, so I think that's really important for young people to be open to it."
Having an open mind in today's agricultural industry is a crucial quality for a successful career in the field. Employers are seeking candidates with a teachable attitude so that they can quickly adapt to the practices on any given operation.
"Hire the attitude and teach the skills if you want a successful organization. A person with the right attitude can and will learn the skills necessary to do the job right," said Bill Pelton, a long-time recruiter for many ag companies, including T-Bone Feeders, MoorMan's Feed Company, Prudential Insurance Company and Westfeeds.
"A degree in animal science, agronomy, precision agriculture, or ag business is a great tool. A major in one and a minor in one of the others is really a powerful preparation for a career in production agriculture," Dunn said. "Whether it's at a tech school or junior college or here at South Dakota State, college gives a young person depth and unbiased information that allows them to form a solid foundation. They have enormous preparation in marketing, management and multi-disciplines beyond just field work or livestock care and handling."
"We sure want them to care about the livestock and the pastures and land," said Gerald Davis, general manager of Rush Creek Land and Livestock, an operation that runs 7,000 cows on five different ranch units, each with a manager, foreman and several other employees.
"It's important that they get out and learn as much as they can about the cattle business, be interested in the cattle and learning how to manage them, get some experience and learn to work."
With 26 years experience as general manager, Davis says work ethic is the most important characteristic that an employee can have. "Having been around agriculture is a preference too, but that doesn't necessarily mean that's all we hire. The big thing is that they understand what a ranch job involves. There's no set hours and mother nature can throw curves at you. Sometimes there's long hours and other times, there's short."
“Everybody wants to look at a resume to see what skills the job seeker has but without work ethic and a good attitude all the skills in the world won't make them a good employee," Pelton said.
While an interview and conversation is the best way to reveal a solid work ethic and forward-thinking attitude, there are some ways to show it on a resume. With today's rapidly changing consumer, farmers and ranchers need to be willing to learn new ways to meet their needs. Conferences, workshops, field days, tours and involvement in industry organizations show prospective employers you're committed to helping build the future of the industry.
After earning the job, it is important to continue building on your skills, education and attitude. Like on Rush Creek Land and Livestock, the different levels of employment are usually filled from within the company.
"A college education in agriculture would be nice, but the experience and the work ethic probably have more emphasis. Sure, some college certainly helps as they move along though," Davis said. "We have enough employees that we try to move them up to a foreman or manager within the company. We don't necessarily go out and hire them. But there again, if they have a college degree, that's probably going to help them move along."
Dunn confirms that this is a trend throughout agriculture. The majority of companies promote from within their current staff and at that point, each degree level can take the employee one step higher.
"Once a person who has a degree kind of gets their feet under them, the degree just propels them into lots of different opportunities," Dunn said. "With every degree level you get that much more. You may not see it starting out as much, but towards the end of your career, it'll be huge."
Building the perfect resume and possessing all of the qualities a great job candidate needs can't be the stopping point. Taking every opportunity to learn more, whether it be through college, seminars, internships or jobs will positively add to the value of a job candidate.
It isn't the fact that another generation has joined the family cattle-buying business. It isn't even the fact that a young ranch girl with a fresh college degree has returned home to work alongside her dad in their large heifer development and feeder calf backgrounding outfit. The impressive part is that this young lady has obtained her own license and is already intent on creating a niche for herself in the world of cattle procurement.
Karoline Rose is a second generation cattle buyer in Three Forks, Montana. She recently started her own company, KRose Cattle Company. Rose graduated from Montana State University in May 2015 with a degree in Animal Science.
"My father, John Rose, has been an order buyer for 22 years and owns Rose Cattle Company. I grew up observing the passion and business savvy that my dad has for this business. I wanted to follow in his footsteps, and still be able to do my own thing, as well. In my business, I am buying feeder calves in partnership with my father, but I also wanted to specialize on the female aspect of the cattle business with bred heifers, bred cows, and replacement females," she explains.
After signing up to market cattle with Superior Livestock Auction in January, she also took on 4,500 bred heifers and cows to sell. "It's still a little early to market bred heifers but we are seeing a few of them move, and we are also contracting feeder calves to our customers in the Midwest," she said in August.
These past few years have been a very exciting time in the cattle industry with higher prices, and there is currently a big demand for females as ranchers seek to expand their herds. "We raise bred heifers, and this is what sparked my interest in marketing them. It's a different marketing avenue than with feeder calves, and I get to develop my marketing skills in the videos. I am reaching out to buyers in a little different aspect and I really enjoy it," says Rose.
"There are a lot of bred heifers on the market this year. I think we are blessed to have a lot of customers with really high quality bred heifers. We want to represent the quality aspect and not just quantity," she says.
Rose has a strong background in the cattle business. Her grandparents owned a ranch near Jerome, Idaho, and were purebred Charolais breeders for many years. "After my dad graduated from college they moved to Montana. My grandma actually lives in Portland, Oregon, now but she flies her own plane and flies back and forth. She helps here year-round, but only flies during fair weather," she says
Currently there aren't any mother cows on the ranch except her purebred Angus herd. "I won a NILE merit heifer (Angus) in a scholarship when I was a freshman in high school and with her, I've built my small purebred herd," Rose says.
The other cattle on the ranch are bred heifers. "We bred over 800 heifers in May and background about 1,200 calves every winter," she explains.
Rose excelled in high school and college and also had a long list of extracurricular activities and honors. After graduation, however, she wanted to continue to work with her family.
"My brother and his wife live on the ranch and work full-time with my dad. I have my cattle there, as well. We are a three-generation ranch, with my grandma, my dad, and my brother and his wife and me. We would not be able to accomplish all of this without each other's support," she says.
"I am enjoying my new venture with my KRose Cattle Company. I feel lucky to have family members who are very successful and have been very influential in my life. They are happy to have me continuing on with them in the cattle industry. They are great mentors and have done a good job of showing me the right way to do things," she says.
"We are very blessed to be ranchers, and also to be all working together."
Even though working with family and with cattle can sometimes be stressful, Rose identifies the trait that helps them stay successful. "Honesty is what kept our family in business for more than 20 years and we hope that's what will keep us in business for a long time to come."
Karoline's father, John Rose, says he is very excited to have his daughter working in the cattle industry. "It's not just the fact that she came back to be part of a family program, but also the fact that it's great to see a young person doing this. With today's economics and how much money it takes to get going, we are not seeing very many young people coming back into production agriculture. We have been very supportive of other young people that have tried to get into agriculture, because we think this is very important," he says.
"There are a lot of young people who are very talented in agriculture, but not very many of them are good at standing up and telling our story. This is one thing that has separated Karoline from the others. Along with her livestock judging, agricultural interests, and cattle buying activities, she has also stepped up to be an ambassador. She went to Australia on a program through school, and to Africa on a small mission. She has not only stepped up in agriculture but has also stepped up in life. It is exciting for us, and not just the fact that she's our daughter. We are pleased to see any young person who wants to make a difference and wants to do what's right," says John. F
Cattle and college
Karoline was involved in cattle activities while she was going to school. "I started my undergrad studies at Kansas State University, then transferred to Montana State University after my first semester. When I came to MSU I was a little out of the loop, starting there in mid-year. All the other freshmen had made friends and I was coming in as a second-semester freshman and didn't know anyone," she says.
"I felt I needed something to be really passionate about. My dad was on the board of the Montana Stockgrowers when I was very young, like 6 years old. Stockgrowers was always part of our life," says Rose.
"So when I was in my second semester at MSU I sat down with Lauren Neale (Chase) who was the media specialist at the Montana Stockgrowers Association and we developed the idea of having a Collegiate Stockgrowers organization. We implemented this at MSU and it was very well accepted. The first meeting attracted over 90 people.
"I was co-founder, and then co-president the first year of its existence," she said. Now, Collegiate Stockgrowers groups have been established at the college at Dillon, University of Montana in Missoula, in Havre, and Purdue University. She helped plant the organizations on multiple campuses.
"After I passed on the torch, I was able to mentor some other leaders and help them get it started in other avenues. The main goal was to bridge the gap between young stockgrowers (in 4-H and FFA) and young adults, and involve the collegiate level students. The college years tend to be an age when we don't have active participation in the industry. There was a gap between the young activities and when young adults went home from college and started a family. We needed to involve young people age 26 and under," she explains.
Errol Rice, Montana Stockgrowers executive vice president, says Rose has been a great advocate for the beef industry and agriculture. "She was instrumental with our organization in starting that first collegiate chapter at Montana State University. She has always been very pro-active and outgoing, trying to get young people involved in advocating for the beef industry and becoming better spokespersons," he says.
The Collegiate Stockgrowers group is growing. "It is exciting to be around young people and to draw from their energy and passion to be involved, because they are the future of agriculture. It's been great to work with these kids and give them the tools to better build their leadership skills, to help lead the future of our industry," says Errol.
"She is a very bright young lady, very talented, and very driven—very passionate about what she is doing, and we hold her in high regard. With the start of her new company, and working with her dad, it's exciting to see her embody that entrepreneur spirit, passion and drive. I am confident that she will be successful, whatever her path in life might be, in her future career."
They might not technically be more active, but cattle given Matt Zancanella's product are expected to feel
Why would a professional team roper from South Dakota be involved with a cattle supplement company?
Matt Zancanella says he became enthusiastic about the product nine years ago, after it saved one of his horses that was dying of a digestive tract problem.
Seven years ago he started ProEarth Animal Health as a means to market the all natural product intended for horses and livestock. He said the supplement is designed to eliminate the effects of stress.
Touted as an all-natural antibiotic that "cleans out" bad bacteria during times of stress or illness, the ingredients create a pH in the rumen that encourages proper digestion, he said.
"The ingredients neutralize acid in the stomach. During times of stress like branding, fall vaccinating, weaning, etc. this can be very helpful. Our product is a drench that you put down the throat. We have a three-step program for cow-calf producers. We recommend giving the calf 5 ccs at tagging (soon after birth), 5 ccs at branding, and 10 ccs in the fall when they get their fall vaccinations. We also recommend giving some to the cow at branding time," Zancanella says.
"The reason we give the tagging dose is that after the calf nurses colostrum and lies down, acidosis starts in the stomach if the calf lies there too long and doesn't get back up to nurse soon enough. Acidosis fuels the bad bacteria," he says.
Acidosis can occur from stress of a difficult birth (and the calf being short on oxygen), or if the calf is chilled at birth, or doesn't nurse on time – and possibly chills, or when a young calf's metabolism is altered due to scours and dehydration.
"At branding, calves are stressed by being branded, castrated, and vaccinated. It's a proven fact that stress reduces effectiveness of vaccination." The immune system is hindered by stress and the animal can't respond appropriately to the vaccination.
"We are finding that no matter how badly stressed those calves are, when you neutralize the acid in the stomach it's like that calf has never been stressed." Zancanella said this allows the vaccination is able to develop the desired immune response.
In the fall, the older calves' rumens are developing. "The fall dose is when we can really see a difference in weight gain. When we wean, vaccinate, etc. and stress those big calves, there will be acid in their system. The rumen will develop more easily and be healthier without that stress and acid," he says.
Zancanella says this is a great product for newly-purchased cattle because they are already likely stressed. "When you bring those cattle into your facility we recommend giving them 10 cc when they come off the truck–on 500 pound calves and above–to neutralize the acid in that calf's stomach. Then those calves go right to feed and water. We also recommend keeping it in the water tank for the first 5 to 10 days they are in the pen, to ensure that every calf is getting a clean drink of water–especially when co-mingling cattle–and to keep the acid down in their stomachs," he says.
"We also recommend using it when treating a sick calf. If he's sick, his stomach is acidic. When treating with antibiotics we cause more acid. Then the calf won't eat or drink. If you give this product along with antibiotics it neutralizes the acid and the calf wants to eat and drink, so the antibiotic works better," he explains.
Drenching cows at branding time can also help improve conception rates, Zancanella said.
"Without the acid, the animal utilizes feed better and gets a burst of energy. It all works to help them start cycling better and they tend to become pregnant on the first or second cycle. We have a lot of ranchers who use it when they bring heifers in to install the CIDRs for heat synchronization, and again when they bring them back for AI. It's been proven that semen can only survive 5 to 7 hours in a stressed environment and can live up to 18 hours in a non-stressed environment. Using this product, we have really good luck when doing AI on heifers," Zancanella says. Conception rates are always better in the non-stressed animal.
"The total cost for the whole program on a cow-calf operation (to drench the cows and the calves) is $6.54 a pair for the whole year. We also provide drench guns for the cattle," he says. For those desiring to treat livestock in large numbers, the product comes in gallon and half gallon jugs.
The ingredients are corn oil, gaur gum, orange extract, onion extract, soybean oil, glycerin, vegetable-based fatty acid, mineral water and water. "We have not been able to pinpoint which ingredients neutralize acid in the stomach, and veterinarians have a hard time putting their minds around why it works, but it does," Zancanella says.
"By dosing cattle at major stress points in their lives, we are getting better health and better weight gain. We have a money-back guarantee on every product we sell, which includes horse products, cattle products, sheep, chicken and pig products. It's all the same, and the only difference is that Equi-Sure is apple flavored and more palatable for the horse," Zancanella says.
"The nice thing about this product for cattle is that you can put it in the water tanks, at a rate of one cc per gallon in the water." A person could keep this in the water tank for several days, such as during weaning for a group of calves.
Healthy calves equals happy customers
Jordon Willis has around 1,600 commercial Angus cows on his southwestern Wyoming ranch. "We've been using this product for three years, giving it to our calves soon after birth—when we tag them and give them some shots—and another round of it at branding, and again in the fall when giving preconditioning shots. It's easy to give because we are handling the calves during those times anyway," he says.
"I don't know if I've seen a bunch of weight gain from it, but our calves have been really healthy. In earlier years, in our baby calves we had a lot of bloat and enterotoxemia problems at about a month old, before we turned them out on summer pasture. Since we've been using this product we haven't had nearly as much problem. I don't know for sure if that's the reason, but the calves have done better," he says.
Willis said he would never stop vaccinating, but that CattleActive can work in conjunction with a good vaccination protocol. "It all works together. If you have a less-stressed, healthier calf, it won't get sick and get set back. Sick calves don't eat as well and won't gain as well," he explains.
Willis only gives it to his calves. "We did an experiment one year on our yearling replacement heifers and didn't see any difference in conception rate or weight gain on them, so we feel it's most beneficial for calves."
Kent Johnson runs cattle in northern Utah near Bear Lake. "We have 550 mother cows and I've been using the CattleActive product for 5 years. I started experimenting with it when it first came on the scene. We used it that first year primarily along with antibiotics when an animal was sick. I had mixed results that year, because we weren't using it the way it was recommended to be used, but it was brand new and we were skeptical. Most ranchers are slow to change and try new things. Every time someone comes out with something they claim is wonderful, we want to make sure it works before we try it for real," says Johnson.
"I probably used it before anyone else because my son-in-law is a dealer for the company. Since that first year I've totally changed my opinion about it. I started using it on our calves at birth, branding, and one time in the fall at weaning, and have definitely had better results. Our calf sickness hasn't completely disappeared but has greatly diminished. This has really lowered our costs. We had a lot of problems with scours in the spring and used to give ScourGuard vaccination to our cows for many years. We were able to quit doing that, and the overall health of the calves is better," he says.
"I've used this product enough years now that I can say it really helps. There are always variables you can't control like weather, feed, what kind of condition cows are in, etc. But using this product the way I do, there are some real benefits," says Johnson. He has less sickness in the calves which equates to better weight gain.
"A lot of people make claims for various products saying it will make calves gain more weight. I would never stick my neck out to say that, but I will say that if a person uses this product the correct way, calves will have better health, and better health means they feel better and eat more, and they put on more weight." You don't have as many calves that are lighter because they were sick, so this brings up the average.
"I've been ranching my whole life. We've seen years when bad winters and bad springs brought a lot of sickness, and those calves never catch up. Prevention is a big deal. If you can keep those calves healthier, there will be fewer calves that won't meet your goals for weight," says Johnson.
"It definitely helps on the baby calves with bloat and enterotoxemia. You can give an antitoxin that helps those calves, but this product helps the gut handle everything better. I always give some to a sick calf as well as at birth and branding. I have never seen a problem with giving too much. By contrast, with antibiotics and other drugs you have to be careful to not overdose–and try to figure out how much the calves weigh, or remember how much you gave them earlier, etc. But this product, even if I've given it several times, I'll give another dose if a calf still has a problem. It's like taking an antacid. It won't hurt you to take more, and it might help!"
"I also use it on my horses. They have a different label (same product) for horses but it's the same thing. I've seen good results with the horses, especially if they are colicky; it's a life-saver for horses. We even take it ourselves, if we have an upset stomach! I am not trying to sell it. If someone wants to use it or not, it doesn't matter to me. But it's definitely helped my program," says Johnson.
Equi-sure for horses – The horse product is becoming popular in the horse industry, especially with the rodeo and barrel horse industry and futurity riders, Zancanella said. Competitions are stressful for horses, and taking young horses to rodeos and competitive events is always hard on them. "Every time we put a horse on a trailer we create acid, and then we take it to the rodeo and that causes more acid," says Zancanella. "Then that night you put the horse back on the trailer to come home and cause more acid. Before you know it the acid level in the stomach is so high that it goes over the protective lining and causes ulcers. The discomfort of ulcers causes horses to be nervous in the roping box or coming into the arena to barrel race," he says.
"When I put my horse on the trailer I can give a dose of Equi-Sure, to neutralize acid. We get to the rodeo 5 or 6 hours later, and give another dose before we run that horse. This keeps nervous horses calm because they are more comfortable," Zancanella says.
"Most gastric colics or ulcer-related colics can be helped by this product. It neutralizes the acid, like a Rolaid for horses. If you go somewhere with a horse and the horse quits eating and drinking, it's usually because the gut hurts. If we can keep the acid level down in the stomach when we are on the road or putting stress on the horses, they also don't get lactic acid buildup," he says.
Equi-Sure for a horse is $2.50 per dose in the small bottle. If you buy it by the larger bottle it is $1.86 per dose. There is a syringe with the small bottle that goes right in the top of the bottle.
Veterinarian's opinion – There are many products and supplements available for calf health, and very few of them have any research or trial evidence to back up their claims, according to Russ Daly, Extension Veterinarian/Professor, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Science, South Dakota State University. "They can be marketed as nutritional supplements and don't have to go through any rigorous research to be sold (unlike vaccines and antibiotics). I don't think this type of product is likely to cause any harm, although they can at times be quite expensive," says Daly.
"In cattle populations, acidosis is more frequently an issue on the feedlot cattle side due to the higher concentration of grain in the diet. In baby calves, acidosis is only an issue for those very young calves going through active scours illnesses. In calves on pasture, or in cows, I'm not sure it enters into the equation all that often," he says.
"This kind of product gets a following because the mindset of many producers is that we just have to get our hands on the right "bottle" and all our health problems will be solved. In reality, most of the animal health challenges we face are multifactorial, needing several different approaches that may or may not include a dose of a supplement or medication," says Daly.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the beef industry.
I was born and raised on a ranch north of Belgrade, Montana where we raise primarily Black Angus cattle with a few club calves for market shows. My sister and I started our own cattle company, "Sister Act Cattle Company" where we raise club calves for show.
I am also a member of the National Junior Angus Association. I have travelled across the country to many NJAA shows and have received my Bronze and Silver awards. I have shown cattle at jackpot shows and fairs since I was 9 years old and am still at it.
2. Why did you want to be a Beef Ambassador?
I wanted to be a Beef Ambassador to promote the beef industry in a positive way and one in which my generation will comprehend and appreciate.
3. What did you do to prepare?
In preparation for being the Montana Beef Ambassador, I researched the new dietary guidelines and the latest news related to anything beef. I studied issues relating to beef production and problems associated with it as well as what the industry was doing to rectify any perceived problems.
4. What do you enjoy about being a Beef Ambassador?
I have enjoyed meeting new people across the state and sharing information about beef and its benefits. I have enjoyed learning about the Montana Cattle Women and helping the beef industry get the word out. I like being the spokesperson for beef.
5. What do you think should be the top priorities in the beef industry going forward?
I think the beef industry should focus its message to the general public related to the excellent quality of animal care. Ranchers need to make sure their animals are properly fed, vaccinated, and cared for, up to and including processing. Ranchers, feeders and packers also need to be willing to engage in conversations with those adverse to beef production to get the correct information out while at the same time remaining mindful and respectful of the adversaries' positions.
6. What challenges do you think the industry needs to be prepared for?
The beef industry needs to be ready to respond to the animal rights activists who have a lot of money and power to get the wrong information out to the public. We need to be proactive and able to support our arguments with clear and correct facts. At the same time, we need to police our own and make sure that we do not provide any more ammunition for such groups.
7. What are your future plans?
I plan to attend college in the agri business area and hope to livestock judge for the college I attend. After experiencing a career in agri business, I would ultimately like to continue to raise cattle on our ranch and would be the fifth generation of Callantines to do so.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the beef industry.
I'm from Alliance, Nebraska and I grew up working with my family on our commercial cow-calf operation. As I got older I became involved with my local FFA chapter where I was a two time chapter president and went on to serve as the 2014 Nebraska State FFA Vice President. I fully attribute my passion for the agriculture industry to my involvement in the National FFA Organization. It was in those classrooms, contests and supervised agricultural experiences where I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and challenged to become a leader in the agriculture industry. Through FFA I also started my personal herd, where I am working on growing a seedstock operation to raise and sell Red Angus Bulls. I am currently a junior Animal Science major at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln with a minor in Agribusiness Entrepreneurship. I am very involved on campus serving as Block and Bridle President, Collegiate Cattlemen Vice President, as well as an active member of the Nebraska Beef Industry Scholars, Collegiate Farm Bureau, as well as the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program.
2. Why did you want to be a beef ambassador?
I wanted to be a beef ambassador to have the opportunity to share the beef story. I absolutely love working in agriculture but I also have a passion for telling the agriculture story. The beef ambassador position presented an excellent opportunity to share my experiences with consumers and combine my interests in consumer education with my passion for the beef industry. As I look ahead to the National Beef Ambassador contest in late September the same idea applies, having the opportunity to serve as a National Beef Ambassador would only continue to open doors to share the beef communities story with people that need to hear it most.
3. What did you do to prepare?
To prepare for the state contest I foused on studying the major industry issues as well as learning some of the fast facts on beef nutrition. I have a lot of experience with public speaking from my State FFA Office position, so my priority was making sure I had the information needed to be successful. As I am in preparations for the National Beef Ambassador Contest I am working on the same principles. I have spent a lot of time breaking down details of big issues such as the Clean Water Act, Dietary Guidelines, and Veterinary Feed Directives as well as finding new information on beef nutrition benefits and diets. With the vast number of media sources today, it's incredibly easy to get information however finding good fact base industry information can often be a challenge.
4. What do you enjoy about being an ambassador?
I have really enjoyed the opportunities to network with producers, consumers and children as well as the members of Nebraska Cattlewomen who put an incredible amount of time into setting up the events. As a beef ambassador I do school visits, trade show events, as well as media interviews. Another requirement to qualify for nationals is the creation and execution of a special beef project. For my project I have written a children's book on beef production from "pasture to plate." The book is in the printing process now and I plan to have over 2,000 books distributed to Nebraska classrooms this fall.
5. What do you think should be the top priorities of people in the beef industry going forward?
I think the top priority of people in the beef industry going forward has to be transparency. We have a growing population of people who want to know where there food comes from and what goes into it. As an industry we don't have anything to hide, everything we do is done for a good reason and is based on sound science. As producers we need to tackle these issues head on and be willing and ready to share our stories.
6. What challenges do you think the industry needs to be prepared for?
As a whole I think the industry needs to be prepared for higher regulation, we are seeing a good example of that currently with the Veterinary Feed Directive being put into action. In my opinon that higher regulation will not be going away, so we need to embrace it as an opportunity to show the general public that we are doing our jobs right and we are willing to prove it.
7. What are your future plans?
After graduating from UNL I plan to attend graduate school in Ruminant Nutrition. I hope to work in the beef industry focusing on cow/calf nutrition and management of reproduction. In addition, I want to continue to grow my personal herd and continue to raise and sell registered Red Angus bulls.