You may have celebrated Valentine’s Day with a juicy steak this evening. I know that’s the way to this farm girl’s heart. Let’s talk about the steps involved in getting that steak from our farm to your table.
Today we sold a couple of loads of Holsteins. They were hauled to a JBS processing plant in Grand Island, NE and will be harvested for meat such as your Valentine’s Day dinner. From there they will be taken to your local grocery store or favorite restaurant for your purchase.
You might be wondering what we fed the animal that made the delicious steak you enjoyed. I’ll attempt to break that down into the various stages of growth. We work closely with a nutritionist from ADM to get these recommended rations of feed.
- The calves, which come from Western Iowa, are bottle fed and also get a starter pellet for protein for about twelve weeks prior to coming to our farm. They weigh about 150-160 pounds when they arrive.
- During their first week on our farm, we feed them the same starter pellet they ate at the nursery so the only change is that they are no longer bottle fed.
- Between a week and ten days after we get them, we vaccinate them for respiratory diseases and then give them a booster shot thirty days after that.
- At week two, we begin feeding a protein pellet along with whole shell corn. This ration is fed for about one month.
- At about 17-18 weeks old, ground grass hay is introduced into the ration. This is used as a buffering agent in their rumen which provides fiber to keep them from scouring (getting diarrhea).
- From this point until about 300 pounds, we continue to feed them ground hay, shell corn and protein pellets but the ration changes along with their development and nutritional needs at each stage.
- At 300 pounds, gluten is introduced to their diet. Gluten is a corn byproduct from the ethanol process. Their ration of hay is also increased at this time but their intake of corn is cut back. Corn provides more energy but less protein. Gluten is high in protein but low in energy so it’s important to have the right balance of each.
- At about 500 pounds, we begin feeding them a gluten balancer pellet in place of the starter pellet. This gluten balancer pellet helps to supply the micronutrients that are not already in the feed.
- We raise the steers to market weight which is about 1,500 pounds.
As you cut into that Valentine’s Day steak tonight, know that the beef you ate most likely came from a family farm like ours where the animals were well cared for. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone . . . bon appétit!