Today’s RealAg LIVE! guest breaks down what it means to run a feedyard, discussing grazing and balancing family life amidst it all. Andrea Stroeve-Sawa of Shipwheel Cattle joins our host Shaun Haney.
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- Identity trouble: farmer or rancher?
- Grazing feeder cattle
- Blake, her dad, was into soil health before soil health was cool
- Multi paddocks and people thought were nots
- He took crop land and tried to grow pasture, and it was an epic fail. He needed more cows!
- Feed yard management, custom feedyard
- Customers come back year over year
- It used to be 20 customers, now it’s more like six or eight larger customers
- Backgrounding and fattening cattle. Backgrounding builds frame and muscle (around 900 pounds), cost effective gains
- Managing death loss, too
- More mild winters do make a difference on feed conversation
- 2015 took over the feeder company, and said she wouldn’t hire her husband…but then did
- The son is involved too
- Adaptive, multi-paddock grazing — not rotational! Rotation suggests moving in a “linear” fashion from one to the next
- Adaptive means planning ahead, water cycle, and the mineral cycle, and rainfall and time of year.
- 500 head might move more than once a year.
- Two dryland cells, one large cell is irrigated
- Rating paddocks: animal days per acre. Done every year. Being doing this from 1982.
- All will depend on so many factors: what was “left”, animals, deer feeding
- There are some challenging paddocks that aren’t as diverse as they would like
- 91% sand base. It’s a brittle environment.
- They do own their own feeder cattle, and either sell in the fall or put them into their own feedlot
- What does maintenance look like? Wind broke 13 fences.
- Measuring soil carbon. Building soil! It’s complex and long term, and agriculture can be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem
- Grazing isn’t the only way to build soil
- Custom feeding is one way to manage some risk. Hedging, too.
- What do you for heavy soil and wet times?
- What about weeds? Manage for the grass you do want, but might use a well-placed mineral block to knock some back….
- Compost! Windrow manure and compost it
- Make sure you’ve got that carbon to nitrogen ratio correct
- Work life balance doesn’t exist. Do the right things, at the right time, for the right reasons.
- Dad is still around. Gets the mail, goes to the bank, helps with marketing and capital projects.
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