by Judy Van Put
Stonewall Farms, located on Callicoon Center Road, Jeffersonville, NY, was the place to be recently for all who have an interest in Beef Cattle. Host Eddie Moran worked tirelessly in preparation of the event, which drew Beef Cattle enthusiasts from near and far, along with his wife, Barbara, who was pleased with the almost-300 that came to their farm for the clinic.
It was the first endeavor of its kind for Stonewall Farms, long known for its Equine clinics and youth programs. Eddie Moran said he got the idea over the winter, when he realized how, for many years, his wife Barbara had hosted similar events for horse enthusiasts, and thought, “why not cattle?“ and decided to showcase the animals he enjoys most. He contacted several experts from the beef cattle world, and was pleased at finding “a tremendous outpouring of support” and enthusiasm from fellow beef enthusiasts, many of whom offered to help out.
Phil Trowbridge, President of the American Angus Association, was the first presenter. His topic on genetics was well-received by the group. He explained the importance of knowing the EPD, or Expected Progeny Difference of each calf — the individual’s data and birth weight, citing examples of how even within a group of cattle raised under one manager, on the same farm, not all of the calves will achieve the same size. He followed the group throughout their growing stages, and pointed out the difference in the birth and weaning weights; at the time of sale, the difference was noticeable. By the time the animals reached five years of age, if the bulls in herd one averaged 570 pounds, at $1.40 per pound, the herd of 150 would yield $119,700. If the bulls weighed an average of 550 pounds, herd two of 150 bulls would yield only $115,500 — a difference of about $4,200 for careful breeding.
What proved most interesting was that in the case of these two herds, they were fed the same feed, and were raised the same way. It was easy to see that reason why it was important to buy a better bull — as the end result was a matter of money at the market.
He stressed the importance of using the EPD when selecting a bull for your herd; and showed to what degree will the offspring inherit that bull’s genetic performance: in reproduction, the chances were low, less than 20 percent. For growth, a moderate degree (from 20–40 percent) but the real difference came in the carcass size — a high probability (greater than 40 percent) of the offspring inheriting the bull’s good weight at market time. “Get rid of junky cows and bulls,” he suggested, saying that it is important to be consistent each year in improving your herd.
Mike Shanahan, President of the New York Angus Association gave an interesting and informative talk on marketing, stressing that things have changed greatly in the past few years and in order to be successful in selling your animals, it’s important to get your name out in the media.
He said that if you wanted to sell your beef cattle today, you should also have a website for potential customers to go to, and next think about how to expand your marketing campaign into the digital arena — through the use of videos. Using a video of your cattle can expand your pool of buyers from regional to those across the country. Videos are an excellent tool to use — buyers can see how a cow moves, what she looks like, how sound she is, all by watching your video.
In addition, he stressed that having “just the right picture” is important — the animal should be in tip-top condition, impeccably groomed — and it might take 20–30 minutes, an hour or more just to get one good photo.
“You want to be able to tell your story, especially right before an auction or sale,” he said, by using a number of different advertising resources rather than just one. “But if they don’t know you, it’s hard to get them to come. If they see you and follow you (through your advertising) all year, they can make a connection with you and feel comfortable buying from you.”
Facebook is another part of computer and digital advertising that gets a lot of attention when buying and selling livestock, and farmers will do well by learning what their buying public is looking for, and finding a niche market to capitalize on. The use of postcards is sometimes helpful, sending out cards to everyone who has contacted you or bought from you in the past two years, for example, to keep your farm and your name current with potential customers. In addition, he suggested working with the local associations of your particular breed of cattle, talking to people who are affiliated with those breeds.
Dr. Mike Sheruda, DVM of the Youngsville Veterinary Clinic, talked about establishing a program of vaccinating your animals and gave the basic beef vaccinations farmers should consider for their herd, with the target areas being prevention against Clostridial Disease (Black leg); Respiratory Disease (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis) and Reproductive disease (Leptospirosis.) He stated that calves of from one to three months of age should be vaccinated with the Clostridial 7-Way vac; pre-weaning and weanlings should receive the Clostridial 7-Way and 5-Way vacs; and replacement heifers and cows should have the Clostridial 7-Way, and 10-Way, which is a combination of 5-Way and Lepto (5 strains.)
He discussed handling of the vaccines, stressing the importance of reading the label and following the routes of administration (whether intramuscular or subcutaneous); whether a booster is required; whether the vaccine is safe for pregnant animals or calves nursing pregnant animals; and if there is a withholding period. The vaccines should be refrigerated, kept out of direct sunlight, and reconstituted immediately prior to use, as the efficacy of the vaccine is reduced the longer it is reconstituted. Other optional vaccines were also discussed.
Barbara Moran invited all in attendance to take a break and enjoy a complimentary Angus burger lunch — with burgers hot off the grill, homemade salads and desserts. On hand during the program and assisting with lunch, etc. were a group of Sullivan County BOCES 11th and 12th grade students from the Animal Sciences program, headed by Denise Sullivan (Director of career and technical education at the Sullivan County BOCES.) High schoolers have studied the Animal Sciences program here at Stonewall Farms for the past 10 years under the direction of Barbara and Eddie Moran, where they earn school credit for participating in a number of programs, learning about horses, cattle, poultry, and sheep. Each year about 35–40 students have the opportunity to experience hands-on education in livestock care, production and all aspects of the animal industry.
The large indoor arena provided plenty of room for presenters, as well as for live cattle handling demonstrations by Jeff Nogan, of Pennsylvania’s Applewood Farm, who invited members of the audience to try their hand at using the gate system for moving cattle, which moves the cattle along easily and smoothly, makes it easy to catch and stop one cow at a time, and “saves money as well as keeps cattlemen safe.” Justin Herman, of Trowbridge Angus Farm near Corfu, NY, demonstrated the use of a grooming stand to assist in grooming, shearing and prepping his cattle.
Presenters Bonnie Bargstedt, of Merial, discussed Long-Range Dewormers; and Michelle Roman, of Southern States, rounded out the day with a talk on cow and calf nutrition.
Attendees at the Stone Wall Farm All Breed Beef Cattle Clinic were given a wealth of education and opportunity to learn new ways to improve their farms, helpful advice from experts in the field, a chance to mingle with fellow beef farmers, as well as a delicious luncheon — all at no charge. The Morans were pleased at the enthusiastic turnout, and promised another clinic in the future.
by Judy Van Put