They call him “Lil’ Dave,” but there is nothing little about Dave Stanton. At 32-years old, and standing at 6’4” and about 250 pounds, Dave looks the part of a good, old-fashioned, western movie. And watching his farm employee Bryan Backus round up cattle on horseback lends credibility to the illusion.
Stanton’s raising a cross of Black Angus and Hereford cattle called Black Baldies, near Franklin, NY.
“The reason I breed for Black Baldy is for Hereford disposition with the Angus quality,” says Stanton. “And by cross-breeding your cattle, you can get a couple more years out of the mother as a brood cow.”
Stanton started his herd out nearly five years ago with six cows with calves at their side and three heifers.
“We bought the first bunch from Dave Morenus.” Morenus was selling out due to being struck by Lyme disease. When he sold the cattle to Stanton he asked to be allowed to continue feeding them and still helps out on Stanton’s farm.
The herd, including both Angus and Herefords, has now grown to 70 head. “There are 45 mature cows and two bulls. We have 20 calves on the ground and are expecting 10 more.”
Stanton grew up on a dairy farm in Walton, NY, where he milked for 11 years. “Then I went off the farm to work doing excavating, and in 2012 I started into the beef business. The herd has grown pretty well over the years. Calving season is always exciting, we drive around almost every night to check them and see the new ones.”
Cows are kept on 42 acres at the home farm, and on property in two other locations, where they run with a bull on about 35 acres in each location.
“Advice I would have for anybody getting into beef, is spend your money on the bull,” Stanton advises. “Buy average cows and spend your money on a good bull.”
Stanton says he’s not against A.I., but thinks the cost is a bit prohibitive. At this time he says that having bulls run with the cows works best for him, although down the road he is planning to build up to a herd of 200 head, and at that time A.I. will be more beneficial, since now he has cows calving out over a period of about 4 months and ideally he will be able to concentrate on calving 2 months in the spring, producing calves of a more uniform in weight for marketing in the autumn.
“It works for me. I don’t have a lot of time, so for me, right now, buying a good bull works.”
Stanton has brought in an Angus bull from Whitestone Farm, Aldie, VA, and bringing new genetics into his herd.
“We brought in some good genetics, so if anyone wants to know the genetics on these calves, I can give them the bull’s paperwork. And show the EP on their growth.”
Stanton is pleased with the calves the Angus bull, Riptide, has produced so far. And last year’s calves were the first to be sold in Central New York Beef Producers’ first Feeder Calf Pool.
Stanton says he had 100 percent conception rate this year with the Angus bull.
The second bull is a New York bred Hereford, Big Ben, who is like a pet to the family.
Cows pasture out in the summer and come back to the home farm mid-October. There they roam the cornfields in controlled, rotated pens, using electric fencing. Stanton says this way the manure is utilized and evenly spread throughout the fields.
“We’re planning to put in cover crops, then will move cows into the planting when it’s about knee high, then put it into corn.”
The cows begin calving in January and previously new calves would be brought into the house if they needed special care. However, work on the new facility will supply maternity pens where mothers and calves can be housed to receive additional care as needed. “We’re still building. It is very expensive to go from scratch to building something.”
When weaning, Stanton pens the calves right next to the mothers. “So, they can see each other and it takes the stress off of the calves and the cows. And if one gets out, you don’t have to chase them all over the countryside, they’re looking for their mother and they stand right here at the gate.”
Calves have to be weaned 30 days before going into the sale for the CNY Beef Producers. “It takes the bawl out of them,” comments Stanton. “So, they won’t be bawling, you handle that stress at the farm.”
“The NY Feeder Calf Pool is an excellent opportunity for small beef producers to get a higher yield by putting cattle together to provide semi loads versus pickup truck loads,” Stanton reasons. “The more cattle you have in one spot the more buyers you will attract.”
His calves are classified as “all natural,” having had no antibiotics.
Calves receive their first round of vaccinations and then a minimum of 21 days after that they receive a second round of boosters in preparation for the sale. A chute is used for vaccinations and veterinarian work, for the protection of all.
Weaned calves are fed silage and baleage topped with “a couple pounds of grain.”
Stanton says that good nutrition for his cattle, dependable help, a passion for the business and a never quit attitude attributes to his success as a beef farmer. “Knowing that the sky is the limit and the only one to hold you up is yourself.”
His advice is not only good for farming, but for every day life for everyone.
“We always have to improve. To be the best person you can, with whatever you are doing. Do it with your best attitude.”