Special visit to US farming operations
THE fences surrounding Capitol Land and Livestock are green.
Green represents the colour of money.
It’s a fitting colour scheme for one of the largest cattle traders in the United States.
Recently a group of around 53 Australian cattle farmers travelled to the United States on the Riverina Stockfeeds USA Feedlot and Agricultural Study Tour.
The tour was organised by Riverina’s Territory sales manager Glen Whitton.
The group consisted of Riverina clients from across Queensland and the Northern Territory.
“The tour was organised to experience first-hand what our American counterparts are doing in their operations,” Mr Whitton said.
“We visited some of the most influential cattle businesses in the USA with feedlotters, backgrounders, irrigation, cropping and animal science as well as some tourist attractions.
“We saw some amazing country and met some of the very best in the business.” Here’s a snapshot of the tour and their learnings:
ST GENETIC DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
IN THE heart of Texas, Sexting Technologies is a world leader in sexed semen and embryo production.
Mr Whitton said they took semen from bulls and sexed them male and female for clients.
“It’s a big business for clients all around the world,” he said.
“They have a large clientele in Australia, especially with brahman breeders in Queensland.
“There was a lot of dairy bulls in this operation as well as brangus, red brahman, angus and wagyu bulls.
“They also have a feed efficiency feedlot centre where they are able to weigh all the feed consumed by each animal, so they can capture what amount they eat at what time and how much water they consume.”
Mr Whitton said this was ground-breaking technology in the US as they can have the same bull in a herd of cows, but the cattle all have different weight gains.
“It allows the breeder to take out the inefficient cows in the herd from data they have and replace them with more feed-efficient genetic cows to produce better beef steers and heifers in feedlot performance.”
AS FAR as ranches go, Mr Whitton said 44 Farms Angus Stud at Cameron in Texas, was “unbelievable”.
“They sell 1500 bulls a year through two on-farm sales,” Mr Whitton said.
“The bull selling centre and
entertainment areas are just pristine, all with beautifully manicured lawns and gardens.
“You have to get an invitation to attend their bull sales, you can’t just rock up on the day and you are expected to purchase a bull or two.”
44 Farms use sexed semen from their top sires and the semen is being used in Australian angus stud herds.
“They also have their own retail meat division. They purchase the progeny off the people who buy their bulls,” he said.
“They have restaurants, including Saltbush, who use the 44 Farms bred beef on the menu.”
CAPITOL LAND AND LIVESTOCK
MR WHITTON said this “absolutely huge” cattle trading operation had captured a niche market.
“They trade 500,000 cattle per year and each day they have 2500 weaners come into the facility,” he said.
“They are very definite all the cattle that comes into the facility has to be sold prior to anyone leaving for the day.
“The cattle are all branded, ear tagged, vaccinated and tested for BVD.”
They also have 40,000 head in their backgrounding operation under centre pivots and a grain bin in the paddock for clients who want to properly wean their calves prior to going into a feedlot.
“Capitol have all their own cattle trucks to bring the cattle in and out,” Mr Whitton said. “All the cattle are weighed, they get $45 per head clear profit for 70% of the cattle.”
Mr Whitton said the owner Jim Schwertner had photos with George Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump on his wall.
“Even a photo of him getting off the president’s plane,” he said.
“He’s extremely interested in Australian cattle. He’s heard about the Roma Saleyards and wants to come and have a look at them.”
Mr Whitton said they also offered a weaning program where calves were de-horned, castrated and fed on improved pastures and supplementary feed for a minimum of 45 days – all for approximately $2.50 Australian per day.
NEBRASKA STATE UNIVERSITY
TOP researchers from the genetic research facility explained production, silage management and nutrition.
“This was probably one of the best aspects of the whole tour. The speakers gave us incredible information,” Mr Whitton said.
“They spoke about the need to look at our dry lick and pasture supplement to increase the amount of metabolisable energy, especially on breeders.
“The information on too much lime in these rations ties up the available phosphorous and other nutrients getting into the blood stream and they are either coming out in urine or manure and are a loss to the animal.
“Having a liquid supplement with high energy will help with all types of cattle in growing their skeletal area, health, performance and conception.”
Mr Whitton said they discussed the importance of checking silage every two weeks.
“The quality of the silage pit actually degenerates in protein, moisture and quality once the air gets to it,” he said.
“As time goes along the air escapes from the bunker and in turn creates a lesser quality silage, only by small amounts but at times it can be quite significant. Especially in dairy herds that are on high silage ration, the dairy farmers test their silage daily for dry matter, protein and millijoules of energy.”
NORTH PLATT FEEDLOT
THIS was an expansive feedlot with 82,000 head of cattle on feed.
“There would have been close to 25,000 head of holstein steers on feed and they were magnificent,” Mr Whitton said.
“These steers are implanted with 250-day hormonal growth promotants and at the 160-day mark they are implanted again with a further HGP.
“The Holsteins are fed for 350 days, all the other British bred cattle are fed for a minimum of 240 days and all the rations are corn-based throughout all the US feedlots.
“All the finished cattle are somewhere between 680 and 750kg on Australian weights.”
MR WHITTON said the tour was extremely rewarding for all the participants.
If you would like more information contact Glen Whitton at gwhitton@ riverina.com.au.
The tour group with Jim Schwertner, owner of Capitol Land and Livestock, Schwertner, Texas, in the viewing area of the large cattle trading centre explaining how it all works.
44 Farms Angus Stud Bull Barn at Cameron, Texas.
Glen and Janelle Whitton at XIT Feedlot in Hereford, Texas.
Holstein steers being fed at North Platt Feedlot in Nebraska.
Gustavo Toro, Sexing Technologies, Navasota, Texas, with the tour group and students.
The tour group at Barrett and Crofoot Feedlot, Hereford, Texas.
The group at Global Animal products, Amarillo, Texas.