Providing cattle with the best nutrition and care not only means higher-quality beef for consumers, it's also the right thing to do.
When Shelby Krebs arrives at the Quincy feedyard each day, she knows delivering top-flight customer service starts with animal care - and ensuring cattle are healthy and productive throughout the feeding cycle.
"Whether it's from a feeding standpoint or an animal health standpoint, we are always looking out for the best welfare for our cattle, the best handling of our cattle, the best feed quality and the best environmental responsibility," she says.
Comfort. Low-stress handling. Health and well-being.
These are keys to Beef Northwest's success, and animal well-being is something we take seriously.
Every day — seven days a week — our team rides each pen, evaluating each animal in all of our feedyards.
When we identify cattle that aren't feeling well, we intervene immediately in a low-stress manner to get those animals back on track.
Cattle at Beef Northwest are handled quietly and in a low-stress manner — and Beef Northwest provides continuous, hands-on training for its cowboys - including one-on-one sessions — with some of the leading experts in the industry.
Beef Northwest's team has trained extensively with leading animal behaviorists, such as Bud Williams, Dr. Tom Noffsinger and Curt Pate to improve its low-stress, cattle-handling practices.
We've also installed facilities — chutes, tubs, pens and alleys — inspired by the world-renowned animal behaviorist and author Temple Grandin. This ensures cattle are handled comfortably, easily and with minimal stress.
Our experience in feeding 50,000 head of cattle each year for Country Natural Beef, a branded program that prohibits the use of antibiotics, has taught us a lot about the power of prevention when it comes to the health and well-being of all the cattle we feed.
Directing our program is Dr. Galen Weaver of Amarillo, Texas, who's designed a system that starts with ranchers vaccinating all of their calves long before they enter the feedyard — and sharing their health information with us when their cattle arrive.
This system ensures the immune systems of cattle are working properly and protects them against sickness during transport, arrival and feeding. Most of all, this holistic, preventive system reduces the need for treatment and the use of antibiotics.
When we do identify sick cattle, treatment is done immediately and in a low-stress manner. The animal's individual information is entered into our computer system, which provides our team as well as the customer instant access to each animal's medical record and helps us to more effectively manage and market that animal.
This holistic system — along with our experienced doctoring and cowboy crews — keeps annual mortality rates well under 0.5 percent.
Best of all, our commitment to health helps produce high-quality beef and a cost of gain competitive with feeders anywhere in the country.
Production of quality beef depends on good nutrition.
The regional availability of locally grown feedstuffs and by-products provides us with the opportunity to design "best cost," high-quality rations without sacrificing feedyard performance and beef quality.
In fact, research shows that Beef Northwest's costs of gain are among the most competitive in North America. This is precisely because of our close proximity to other sources of feedstuffs, such as potato byproducts.
Our use of crop by-products also supports our environmental protection efforts, making use of resources like potato by-products in its rations. In effect, it's a win-win for us, our customers and the environment - competitive gains at a lower cost that ultimately improve our use of natural resources for everyone.
Our computerized bunk management system enables feed managers to efficiently and accurately call feed to every pen of cattle, assuring each pen is fed within the same 10-minute window on each of the three feedings per day.
To guarantee quality control, rations are prepared three times per day, and each ingredient is prepared once per day to determine the actual dry-matter content.
Ingredients and mixed rations are regularly sent to an independent laboratory for full nutritional analysis. We don't guess at nutrition by using theoretical numbers.
Dr. Abe Turgeon of Koers-Turgeon Consulting has been guiding the nutrition programs at Beef Northwest since 1995. Turgeon is well known as one of the top feedyard nutritionists in the industry and is one of the few specialists who have knowledge specific to feeding potato byproducts to cattle. He works with the management, feeding and milling crews at each yard to ensure that the procedures and human side of the feeding programs have the same quality control and high performance as the rations.