Welcome, Velkommen, Herzlich, Willkommen, Bienvenido! Every language has a way to say “Welcome!”. When we say “Welcome!” we are extending a friendly invitation to enter our home, or our town or maybe a special event. Steve and I like to welcome visitors to our farm. We’ve been blessed to receive guests from all over Nebraska and from countries around the world. We also welcome cattle to our farm from states like Kansas, Kentucky and Nebraska. Cattle don’t speak our language so we’ve learned what they need to know they are welcome on our farm.
Our cattle come from a variety of locations. It’s important to my husband, Steve, and I to put out a virtual welcome mat for each steer that walks off the truck. Those cattle have usually spent several hours on the truck and will be looking for water and feed when they get off. We have special pens called starter pens designed for newly arriving cattle. These pens are a little smaller in size and allow cattle to find the bunk full of hay and water quickly.
We fill the bunk with grass hay for the cattle to eat because of their ruminant system. Cattle have four compartments to their stomach including a rumen. All cattle need some type of grass or roughage to keep the rumen healthy. Understanding the unique needs cattle have is key to helping them transition from one plant based diet to another. On our farm we utilize a variety of corn-based products in their diet.
Our nutritionist helps us design the diet or ration we feed our cattle. We have six rations that start out with more roughage and gradually have more corn and less roughage. We use some crops grown on our farm like corn silage, earlage, alfalfa hay, corn stalks and dry corn. We also buy corn from local farmers and a corn by-product from a local ethanol plant. Our nutritionist tests the ingredients for nutrient levels and the formulates a supplement to make sure every essential vitamin and mineral is included in each mouthful of feed.
In addition to making sure the cattle have the right food and fresh water we also make sure the pen they are in meets their comfort needs. A feedlot has regular house cleaning types of chores that include scraping up manure in pens to give cattle plenty of space to lay down. By providing the right feed, water and a place to lay down we help cattle adjust to their new home.
In addition to meeting the basic physical needs for our cattle we will also work to prevent illness by using a vaccination protocol our veterinarians have helped us develop. We want our cattle to be comfortable and healthy. If we have one that gets sick then we have antibiotic protocols in place our veterinarians worked with us on. Detailed records are kept on any animal receiving an antibiotic to make sure withdrawal times are met before the animal enters the food supply.
Fall is a busy time of year for many feedlots like ours. Calves are sold from farms and ranches around the country so the cows can raise another calf for the next year. Those calves are able to go to feedlots like ours for the finishing phase. We recently had a load of cattle arrive on a beautiful fall morning so I made a video to help people understand what happens when cattle arrive at our farm.
We will continue to welcome more cattle to our farm with a focus on quality care. If you have any questions about the life of cattle in the feedlot or any other questions about how cattle are raised please ask or check the information out on this website.
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the Glory of God.” Romans 15:7
You can learn more about Joan Ruskamp and her life as a woman in agriculture by following her blog Dust in My Coffee.