Did you think April was for showers and May was to bring Flowers?
Well yes, that is true, but in the farming world, we celebrate May for another reason. May is Beef Month!
Why should we celebrate beef month??
The beef industry contributes $7.4 billion annually to the Iowa economy, and creates jobs for nearly 40,000 Iowans!
You say you don’t want to eat beef that has HORMONES in it…
We use steroid implants in the feedlot cattle to improve feed efficiency, when using implants, growth rates increase by 15% – 20% which REDUCES the carbon footprint of beef production!!
WHAT IS IN A STEROID IMPLANT???
The steroids used are estrogen, progesterone and a testosterone analog called trenbolone acetate. All are naturally produced in animals and HUMANS!!
What are the 5 ways farmers celebrate May beef month?
1. The winter feedlot cattle get sent to market
Calves that are born between January and May get put into the feedlot from September to May, and during that time, they are fed a calculated ration of feed that is determined by their weight. This ration includes corn, ground hay, distillers grain (by-product of ethanol production) and minerals. During April and May, the cattle have reached their ideal weight to go to market, and are shipped to become the meat that everyday people eat at restaurants and can buy at the grocery store.
2. The heifers and cows are finishing up calving
For us, calving begins in the middle of February, for some, it’s as early as the beginning of January. It can extend all the way until the end of May or even June! Cows and heifers, we hope, don’t need help when giving birth, on the occasion that they do need help, we (Cale or his Dad) can pull the calf.
Several different reasons they might need help include:
- Backwards calf
- Since heifers are first time moms, the calf can be too big for the heifer to do it alone
- One of the front legs is facing backwards
- When they are having twins, it’s a lot easier for something to go wrong
Cow with her newborn calf
3. Cows, calves and heifers get their yearly shots
Cows and heifers are given two shots:
- Wormer, just like you give your dogs and cats,
- Modified-live vaccine to guard against respiratory and reproductive diseases.
Calves are given three shots:
- Wormer (just like the cows get, and again just like you give your dogs and cats).
- Modified-live vaccine to guard against respiratory diseases.
- A seven-way black leg protection vaccine.
- Their first Ralgro implant.
- Bulls are castrated, and are from then on considered steers. We do not raise our own bulls. Steers have a better quality meat, more marbling, and less tough meat than bulls because bulls have more muscle tissue. Steers are also safer to work with, bulls are very aggressive.
This whole process can take a different amount of time for different farmers, it just depends on how many pairs of cows/calves they have and what type of facilities they use. Since the guys have a feedlot and weigh every calf in the feedlot several times over the feeding period, they have a nice hydraulic chute that also has a scale on it. For us, we worked all the cows and calves last week, and it took 5 days; between moving the cows/calves in and out and running them through the chute. We try to stay organized and have an excel file with all the cows on it and which pasture they are going to, what the sex of their calf is, how much the calf weighed, and I also write down the current weight of the cow.
4. Cows and calves get turned out to pasture
After the cows and calves get their year shots, they get sorted and Cale organizes them by which bull he wants them to be bred by. They get hauled on a trailer to their respective pastures and spend the whole summer eating the deliciously tall grass. The calves will stay with their mothers until we bring them back home in September, where they will be weaned and put in the feedlot!
5. We eat beef at least once a day!
You’re saying, “There is no way you eat beef once a day!!”
Yes, yes there is. Since we raise cattle, it is cheaper for us to butcher one of the smaller calves (that wouldn’t grade very well, and in return wouldn’t be worth as much money as the others) in the feedlot, than it is to buy it at the grocery store. When you have a freezer full of beef, you must become creative with different ways to cook it! One of Cale’s absolute favorites is what we call cheeseburger ring. I will share with you the recipe the next time I make it! It’s simple and different!
Now I know this is A TON of information to be thrown at you, but I hope you learned something from it!! If you have ANY questions please feel free to contact me through my contact page, or by commenting on this post!
**please refrain from derogatory and negative comments, I’m not here to argue, but to help those who aren’t involved with cattle, understand what it’s like to be a farmer!
BEEF FACT: Iowa is ranked FOURTH for the number of cattle on feed, and SEVENTH for the number of cattle and calves in the United States!