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Rock-Nobles Cattlemen prepare to host state tour in July

Event, postponed from 2020, is anticipated to draw approximately 1,000 attendees.

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An aerial view of the cattle barns on the Grant Binford farm east of Luverne. (Special to The Globe)

REGIONAL — Plans to bring the 2021 Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Tour to Rock and Nobles counties are ramping back up after the 2020 tour had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event will take place July 13, with eight different tour stops across the two counties. The Rock-Nobles Cattlemen’s Association anticipates approximately 1,000 attendees, according to President Jay Bakken, a cattle producer from rural Garretson, South Dakota.

“We’re pretty proud of what we have down here and we’re looking forward to showing it to the rest of the state,” said Bakken. “We’re looking forward to good attendance because I think people are ready to get back to something normal.”

The tour’s location, in the southwestern most corner of Minnesota, is hoped to draw producers from Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska — locations where state tours typically aren’t offered.

“It’s typically one of the larger tours as it moves around the state,” Bakken said of the event, which is being hosted by RNCA for the fourth time in the 40-year history of the state tour. Previous tours locally took place in 1989, 2000 and 2011.

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“We have a wide variety of production facilities,” Bakken shared. “We have everything from slatted confinement to open yards to cow-calf facilities that will be on the tour.”

In addition to the tour stops, a trade show will be set up at the Nobles County Fairgrounds in Worthington and include ag retail and vendors. On-site vendors such as ag businesses, retailers and lenders will also be at the tour stops to visit with attendees.

While the show caters to cattle producers, Bakken said it's open to anyone and everyone.

“We encourage the general public to attend,” he said. “For those that want to learn about beef production, this is an excellent opportunity to see beef producers where they live and see how their beef is raised.”

The day-long tour includes a noon meal at New Vision Cooperative’s Magnolia feed facility, with the evening meal in Worthington.

“We’re excited to have the tour,” Bakken said, noting that 80% of the event will be outdoors. It’s hoped by July, precautions against the coronavirus will have eased as the vaccine becomes more readily available.

“We’re going to work with any regulations in the state to make the event as safe as we can for anyone that attends,” Bakken said.

The tour stops

The eight farms included in the 2021 State Cattlemen’s Tour include operations near Hills, Steen and Luverne in Rock County, and Adrian, Rushmore and Wilmont in Nobles County. What follows are brief descriptions of each operation.

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Binford Farms, Luverne: Brothers Grant and Eric Binford of rural Luverne raise Holstein, Holstein-cross and western (native) breeds in several monoslope bedding barns.

Four years ago the brothers incorporated cattle management software (Performance Beef, developed by Performance Livestock Analytics) on their farm, and tag most of the cattle that come into their operation. Last year they expanded to incorporate the new health features, using electronic ID tags on most of the cattle that come into their operation.

During the course of an animal’s time at the Binford farm (approximately 400 days), their tag may be read up to five or six times. Each reading gives the Binfords valuable information about the animal’s rate of gain, and can also be used as a tool to manage health.

Van De Berg Farms, Hills: Brad Van De Berg built two new barns in the summer of 2016 — a 900-head capacity slat barn and a 95-head capacity shipping/receiving and bed pack barn with sick pens. He also added concrete to existing cattle yards to create feed storage.

“(The farm) is set up so I can handle it,” Van De Berg said. “All I own here is the acreage, and I wanted to have enough livestock to make a living on the farm.”

Van De Berg buys cattle at between 850 to 950 pounds, and has them on feed for about 180 days before they go to market.

G&A Farms Inc., Steen: Comprised of adjoining farms — Glen and Ann Boeve’s to the west and Matt and Kayla Boeve’s to the east — this operation has a capacity for up to 2,500 head of cattle and 8,000 hogs, with Matt and Glen farming about 2,700 acres of tillable land.

The farm’s most recent expansion was five years ago, when the Boeves went to complete containment — a requirement to be able to expand the number of animal units. All runoff is collected in lagoons — one on each farm — with underground pipes connecting the two lagoons to manage water levels.

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Mente Cattle Company, Adrian: Owners Dave and Stacy Mente, along with sons Dylan, Trevor and Justin, have spent the past two decades improving the genetics of their Maine-Anjou cattle with a focus on creating quality show and breeding stock. Today, they raise a mix of Maine Anjou, Simmental and Angus cattle, while moving toward three-quarter and hybrid Maine.

The Mentes converted their tillable farmland into rotational grazing paddocks, receiving help through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to seed the grazing land.

3B Farms, Adrian: Jeff, Steve and Ted Bullerman transitioned their farming operation from dairy to beef, and now buy 200- to 300-pound Holstein calves for finishing. They built their first cattle barn in 2003 and, by 2005, construction began on their first slatted floor finishing barn. Four more slatted finishing barns were constructed in the next five years.

“Calves go from the starter to grower barn, and at 600 pounds they go to the finisher barn,” Jeff said. “Today we’re at about 4,000 head and finish out a little over 3,000 head a year.”

Brake Feedyards, Wilmont: This operation now supports the third generation of the Brake family. At this stop, visitors will tour the double-wide slat barn constructed on the farm site nine years ago. The 2,400-head capacity barn houses cattle from 1,000 pounds to market weight.

“Most slat barns are only a single wide,” Jesse Brake shared. “We built a double wide, where you feed on each side. Part of the reason we did it is we saved a lot of money with the way this barn was designed with the (underground manure) pit.”

Summit Lake Livestock, Wilmont: Brothers Russ and Brian Penning started Summit Lake Livestock about 15 years ago. They purchase day-old Holstein-Angus cross bottle calves, though a majority come in at 200 pounds, as well as 600-pounders to finish out.

On the tour, they will showcase the hog barns they converted for cattle production. They gutted the buildings, installed new electrical components and custom beams in the floors and replaced the slats.

R&R Thier Feedlots, Rushmore: Ryan Thier and his dad, Richard, are the R&R in the farm’s name and, after significant expansion efforts during the past decade, now have pen space for up to 15,000 head of cattle. Included on the tour will be a view of their two 3,000-head capacity monoslope barns, a pair of 1,500-head capacity monoslope barns and a dozen outside lots.

While Holsteins have been their breed of choice, the Thiers are in the process of converting to native cattle because of the greater access to markets.

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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