Market research shows that one of the most important factors to millennials when it comes to purchasing food is knowing where it came from. As a millennial myself, I can absolutely relate to that. I want to know as much as possible about the food I’m providing to my family. So, millennial to millennial, in this post I’ll show you an inside look at where the steak or hamburger you will eat about four months from now came from. I’ll also show you what we are busy doing right now to provide high quality feed for these animals for months to come.
Over this past weekend, we made high moisture corn which we will store over the next several months and feed to our cattle (your future steak). In this process, we shell corn that is wetter than the normal moisture threshold for harvesting corn.
We run the corn through a tub grinder machine and pile it in a bunker. We pack the pile of corn down tight by driving over it with a tractor in order to remove air pockets and create a hard pack.
The end product is a very high quality feed for our cattle. We will mix the high moisture corn with grass and alfalfa hay, corn silage and an ethanol corn byproduct. This means that our cattle are both grass and grain fed. Our cows and calves that are out in the pastures right now are eating a grass diet. But this winter when the pastures are covered in snow and the grass is dead, we’ll feed them this mixture of corn and hay.
This corn will travel less than a mile from where it was planted to where it will be fed to our cattle – that’s locally raised in every sense of the term.
But wait, there’s more! Think back to the field of corn that we just harvested to make feed for our cattle. The next thing we’ll do is make cornstalk bales off of the remaining corn plant residue from this field. We will use these cornstalk bales in our cattle hoop barns for bedding. The cattle love fresh bedding – think about how good it feels to lay in your bed with clean sheets – they feel the same way about fresh cornstalk bedding. This bedding pack will inevitably get manure in it from the animals and we will have to clean out the manure regularly to keep their environment nice and tidy. We compost the manure/cornstalk bedding residue and then eventually haul that manure/compost back out to the field where we made the cornstalk bales. We spread it on the field to replace the key nutrients that we took out of the soil from growing corn and making bales. Replacing these nutrients with cattle manure will help us to raise a crop in this field again next year.
If that isn’t sustainable farming, I don’t know what is! It’s a constant cycle of giving and taking, ensuring that all resources are used as efficiently as possible to minimize waste and cost. This provides you with a healthy, delicious product while keeping costs as low as possible (by better utilizing resources) and providing a living for our family. Win-win-win.
The corn we shelled this weekend will provide energy and nutrition to our cattle which will ultimately end up in your freezer to provide many delicious meals for your family.
That’s the inside scoop on where your beef comes from: from our field, to our feedlot, to your freezer.