“Prime Promoter,” Dr. Barz has fun caring for cattle
Dave Barz, DVM, knows it’s not just dollars that draw South Dakota beef producers to pastures and rangeland every morning to tend cows and calves.
Owner and operator of Parkston’s Northwest Veterinary & Supply, Barz has worked right alongside South Dakota beef producers over the past 30 years to provide the best nutrition and health care for their animals.
The South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) recently recognized Barz for his efforts in promoting South Dakota beef and beef producers every day.
“The award is a real honor,” Barz says. “It’s not difficult to promote South Dakota beef because it’s such a great product that’s produced by some of the best people in the United States. I have no trouble promoting products and people that are so good.”
South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension Educator Jim Krantz, was one of those nominating Barz for the SDBIC Prime Promoter Award.
“He’s one of the strongest voices I know for South Dakota agriculture, but in particular, the beef industry,” Krantz says.
Barz began his beef industry career on his family’s farm in north central Iowa, learning firsthand that the grit and gumption common to beef producers originates in a deeply embedded dedication to caring for animals that provide some of the best beef products found in the world.
“I’ve always enjoyed the sciences,” Barz says. “When my science studies in college progressed well, it led me to the decision to attend veterinary school. Fortunately, I was one of many applicants who had that opportunity.”
Among the activities that caused Barz to stand out as a Prime Promoter nominee include his lead role in the fund raising effort of a new state-of-the-art cow/calf unit at SDSU. He also sponsored positions in the SDSU Extension Ag CEO program, demonstrating a desire to create a business mindset for livestock producers as they face a changing and challenging agricultural environment.
At 2013 Dakotafest, Barz provided Beef Quality Assurance training, helping beef producers understand how to couple common sense animal husbandry techniques with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions.
“In the last 15 or so years, I’ve seen improvements in how South Dakota beef producers manage their herds,” Barz says. “They’re very innovative and focus on increasing outputs, making the most of the resources available in every animal. Because of the winter weather South Dakota beef producers deal with, I’ve seen a trend to raise fleshy animals with good body size.”
Barz credits South Dakota beef producers with emphasizing meat traits in their genetic selections. He believes that practice is behind the top quality found in today’s South Dakota beef products.
“For our state’s beef producers, their herd is a huge part of their life,” Barz says. “They take pride in doing all they can to improve meat quality. That’s one of the things that makes South Dakota beef so popular in today’s meat market.”
Barz points out that beef production in South Dakota differs from that of other states. Based on available resources, most South Dakota beef production is accomplished on cow/calf operations.
“Raising calves every year is very rewarding for beef producers,” Barz says. “They participate in the annual renewal that goes with spring and a new calf crop. Every year they’re able to harvest what they produce. It’s a different and appreciated way of life.”
In recent years, Barz has also identified some new challenges South Dakota beef producers face. A growing trend for converting pasture into cropland is raising concerns.
“Shrinking pastureland is putting stress on our state’s beef producers,” Barz says. “Grassland is more and more difficult to find and it’s not easy to maintain a beef herd without it. It’s possible that the new cow/calf unit being developed at SDSU will help researchers identify ways to cow/calf operations produce beef by using grass resources more intensively.”
Recent baseline beef prices have been a very positive aspect of beef production, greatly improving the economic viability of South Dakota’s beef industry.
“For many years, in the 1980s and 1990s, South Dakota beef producers struggled to break even when beef prices were low. Many were raising cattle because they loved the work and enjoyed providing a quality product,” Barz says. “If feed costs remain at more manageable levels, beef producers will have an opportunity to make a profit again.”
While he doesn’t own his own cattle, Barz receives great reward from assisting beef producers in making the most of their animals.
“I work with good people and experience some kind of personal reward every day,” he says. “It’s fun when you work cattle and the beef producer points out an animal that you treated in the past. Maybe it was a broken leg or an emergency Cesarean. Now you see that animal thriving and taking its place as a valuable member of the herd. That’s a direct benefit of all the work that’s done.”
Barz was one of four recipients honored with the 2013 SDBIC awards. D&K Outpost restaurant in Highmore and Mid-Dakota Meats, LLC at Winner received Prime Promoter Awards. Dean and Eileen Strong at Belle Fourche were honored by SDBIC for the impact hey had during 36 years of ownership at Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange.
Barz credits his wife for supporting him in his veterinary career and appreciates having had a quality place to raise his family.
“We came to South Dakota because I wanted to pursue working in a cow/calf environment,” Barz says. “There aren’t a lot of cow/calf units in Iowa. I don’t know that I’ve worked any harder than anyone else to promote South Dakota beef and beef producers, but the award is a great honor for me.
“South Dakota’s ranchers and beef producers work every bit as hard as I do every day,” Barz adds. “When you see someone working so hard at something they love to do, it’s easier to do your own hard work. I know my clients appreciate the services we provide. My daily reward is knowing I’m helping them continue to provide a high quality product and care for the animals that mean so much to them.”
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A pasture or lot with plenty of grass or bedding and windbreak is important when calving in the cold.