Pennings to host Breakfast on the Farm Saturday
WILMONT -- The Penning family of rural Wilmont will host the 2016 Nobles County Breakfast on the Farm from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The event, sponsored by Nobles County Farm Bureau, aims at connecting urban and rural neighbors to agriculture whi...
WILMONT -- The Penning family of rural Wilmont will host the 2016 Nobles County Breakfast on the Farm from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The event, sponsored by Nobles County Farm Bureau, aims at connecting urban and rural neighbors to agriculture while providing consumers a glimpse of how their food is produced.
The Pennings -- second-generation producers John, Rick and Tom; and third-generation producers Brian and Russ -- operate cattle feedlots and grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa in northern Nobles County. Visitors to the farm will have an opportunity to view the cattle feeding operation, see tractors and other farm implements and enjoy a free breakfast of pancakes and sausage in the large shop on the Penning farm, 16936 King Ave., Wilmont.
Russ Penning said the family wants to show the public how they work together to raise their cattle and produce a safe product.
“I think it’s a good thing to have people out here to see what you’re doing,” he said. “I’m kind of excited to show what we do. I’m proud of what we do.”
The farm is located three miles northwest of Reading, just north of Nobles County 25 (formerly Minnesota 266). It has been in the Penning family since John purchased the parcel in the 1970s, a couple of years after he returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam. The site is just a mile from where John and his siblings grew up and where Russ’s grandfather began the Penning tradition of cattle feeding and crop production.
Russ, currently president-elect of the Rock-Nobles Cattlemen’s Association, and his brother, Brian, joined in partnership about 14 years ago. A few years later, they ventured into bottle calves, and they continue to raise them today. They receive baby Holstein bull calves when they are days old and feed them up to 300 or 400 pounds.
“What we don’t keep to finish we sell to the Penning Brothers (his dad and uncles),” Russ said. “It’s kind of from beginning to end for us. It’s been working out really well.”
Five families are supported by the Penning farms, not including the three full-time employees that work for them. They also hire a couple of part-time workers each spring and fall.
“(We grow) corn, soybeans and some alfalfa,” Russ said. “We run two to three years of corn on corn and then back to soybeans. Some farms are split every year with a corn-bean rotation.
“With the feedlot, we need more corn than soybeans,” he said, adding that their cattle are fed a mix of earlage, dry rolled corn, ground hay, liquid protein supplement, dried distillers and wet gluten.
Tours will be offered Saturday morning, during which visitors will be able to see the feedlots, including a slat barn and deep-bedding barn that use some of the newer technology in the cattle industry.
“We have a Minnesota-compliant zero-runoff facility,” Russ said. “Everything that falls on the feedlot ends up in our settling basin and in our lagoon.
“The newer facilities are built for a reason -- cattle health and cattle comfort are all better than what we did 20 years ago -- but that all comes with a cost,” he added.
Visitors will also get to see the Pennings’ loading and working facilities, earlage and haylage hauling rigs and feeding equipment used for batching and mixing ingredients.
The Pennings will be on hand to answer questions, and Russ may have the farm’s cattle nutritionist available as well to talk about cattle feeding.
“We’re definitely willing to give people tours and answer questions,” he said. “The whole idea to put this on is to educate people on what is done.”
Andrew Dierks, Nobles County Farm Bureau member, encourages the public to visit the farm on Saturday.
“We’re just hoping that people come out and enjoy a free breakfast and check out some equipment and some things about beef operations,” Dierks said. “We’re hoping that people are interested in how (a farm) works and how their beef gets to the table.”