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"I would rather attempt something great and fail. Than to do nothing at all and succeed"

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Manhatten, Kansas & Clay Centre, Nebraska, USA

G'day All,

Manhatten, Kansas

Our next visit in Kansas was at the Beef Stocker Unit, which is set in the beautiful rolling hills, not far from Manhattan.
From Lorraine to Manhatten
My host was Dr Dale Blasi and his offsider and site manager Brendan. We discussed some of the more recent technology the University is exploring, including their yard design and feed rations.  Dr Blasi also explained the need for seasonal burning (for weed control) throughout the entire ranch.
Discussion time - Brendan, Dr Dale Blasi and myself.
The backyard work, made easy through the use of "Molly Manufacturing's" turret gate and hydraulic crush.
Beef Stock - Backyards

This device is inserted inter-vaginal, which then records the heifers temperature every 20 seconds. This helps in exploring the effects of stress and also oestrus cycle identification.
Inter-vaginal Thermometer
The device is then extracted and simply plugged
into a PC via a USB cable to download its data.

We then travelled into Manhattan and met with Dr Bob Larsen who showed us throughout the animal science and veterinary section of the Kansas State University. Dr Larsen extensively toured us throughout the bovine and equine sections of the veterinary clinic.
Dr Bob Larsen from the Kansas State University

A typical examination pen in the cattle area.
A 360° rotating cattle crush. Which is commonly used for hoof maintenance, Caesareans and any procedures that require the beast to be on its back
Rotating Cattle Crush - front view.

Rotating Cattle Crush - side view.
Clay Centre, Nebraska

Our next visit was at the USDA meat animal research Centre in Clay Centre Nebraska. Where researcher John Hollman drove us around some of the 35,000 acres of the USDA property.
Around World War II 50,000 acres were acquired at a minimal expense from farmers in the area.  Bunkers, which were camouflaged from the air, were builts to store artillery, ammunition and explosives.  1300 bunkers were built in total.
Rows of bunkers which covered thousands of acres.
A portion was then sold back to farmers after the war and the rest remained US property and has provided the USDA with the research facility. 900 bunkers are still standing today and provide an overkill of storage room.
An abandoned bunker now used for storage.
The research Department is home to 6000 cattle and thousands of pigs and sheep excluding a 5000 head feedlot. The department also owns and operates a slaughtering facility.  I then sat down to a presentation from Dr Roger Eigenberg and Dr Tami Brown – brand of contributing factors to heat stress on feedlot cattle. 
John Hollman, Dr Roger Eigenberg and Dr Tami Brown
from the Animal Research Centre
On our drive from the USDA animal research Centre towards the next appointment we passed by a neighbouring property which has turned the abandoned bunkers into a commercial piggery.
Bunkers converted to a Piggery
Catch you at the next stop.

Cheers, Rob

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dodge City & Lorraine, Kansas, USA

Hey All,

We couldn't tour Kansas and not visit Dodge city, which is home to some of the biggest processing and packing plants not to mention feedlots.
From Pratt to Dodge City
But just as famously, it's where the legend of Wyatt Earp began.
Here we are with the Wyatt Earp statue in the centre of town.
Dodge City, processing and packing plant.
Let us not forget Dodge City's "Miss Kitty and the Dancing Saloon Girls"
Our next stop was an extremely exciting visit for myself. We travel to Lorraine where owner and manager John Mollhagon showed us throughout one of the many Molly Manufacturing factories.
From Dodge City to Lorraine
Priced around $50,000 you get the world-famous Turret gate, race and crush which is all hydraulic and operated by remote control.  The speed and accuracy is extremely fast and efficient.  The hydraulic crush is extremely well built, the thinnest material used is 6 mm wall RHS.  This factory can produce on average 3 crushes a day.
A demo configuration John put together for my benefit.
Manufacturing of a Hydraulic Crush
Stockpile of Hydraulic Crushes
Computerised Bandsaw
Spot Welding Robot. (I was speechless)
The Production Line
John Mollhagon and Myself
Thankyou for a tour I won't forget John!!

Cheers All,

From Oklahoma to Kansas

Hey All,

One more pic from Hope and Ryan Pjesky's Ranch, Enid, Oklahoma before we headed for Ashland, Kansas. 

This is the typical 'large' form of transport for US ranchers.  It will hold 30 head of cattle each weighing around 700 - 800lb.  The photo is taken from the ground at the rear gate which is where the cattle are loaded.
Mode of stock transport in the USA
After lunch we hit the road for Kansas.
From Oklahoma to Kansas
Our first visit was to the Gardiner Angus Ranch in Ashland, with owner/operator Mark Gardiner.
Road travelled from Enid to Ashland
Gardiner Angus Ranch signpost
Mark Gardiner has a long family history of breeding the ideal Angus. They Artificially Inseminate (A.I.) their entire breeder herd and also sell semen from their many proven and selectively sired bulls.
Gardiner ranch Bulls ready for A.I.
Their feedlot was built, for finishing their saleable cattle and also to keep their bulls close to the A.I. shed.  Nothing is done by halves on this Ranch, including their feedlot, which is round, with pens tapering in to a centre yard. This is where the cattle are then sorted or the Bulls are moved to the A.I. shed.
Gardiner Angus Ranch feedlot
Their identification scheme is just as intense with the tags differentiated by colour, names, numbers, age, sex and sires.  After the Gardiner Angus Ranch we hit the road for Pratt.
From Ashland to Pratt, Kansas
Along the way we passed many windfarms which cover the Kansas Horizons.
One of many Kansas Windfarms
Then again, not the only thing you may see along the road!!
Roadside Sightings
Our next visit was to the Pratt Feed Yard where we were met with long-time manager Jerry Bohn.  
Cattle eating at the Pratt Feed Yard
Their feedlot has its own on-site mill where all of the cattle feed is customised.
Pratt Feed Yard Mill
Due to the drought they are also milling hay to use as a gap fill, due to lack of grain/corn.  Hay is fed into the mixer, chaffed and then added to the feed ratio for the entire feedlot.  The Pratt Feed Yard Mill produces 1 million pounds of feed a day, this coincidentally, is the same amount of feed that is fed out to the cattle.
Hay being milled into chaffe
The feedlot currently holds 38,000 head with 80% being customer owned.  The Pratt Feed Yard is not currently using any form of RFID tag but are exploring options to maximise on the value adding options. 

Catch you further along the track...
Cheers Rob

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Poteau, Tulsa, Stillwater & Enid Oklahoma (USA)

Back Again,

We made the four-hour journey from Ardmore to Poteau to visit with Agrability client and Longhorn producer William Brown. 
William shared some of the ways Agrability has helped him get on with the job at hand including a personal lift for his tractor.

From poteau we travelled back into mainstream Oklahoma at Tulsa city.
Where we enjoyed the morning with John and Debra Hassell who are the owners of the new RFID tag Zig beef. John explained all of the tag's technology in a transparent display including its 150 feet reading range and without the use of wand or reader just a simple dongle connected to a laptop to gather more than enough information.

We then jumped in the van and drove through to Stillwater which is home to the Oklahoma State University where contacts and networks were shared and on our way out of Stillwater we met with Oklahoma's Agrability Department of Rehabilitation .
Next we visited with dog trainer David Cox, who generously worked three of his dogs for our benefit.
Our last stop on the day was at an elk farm with Ernest and his family showing us around, here he is feeding a 14-year-old elk who is sporting a set of racks that are only five months old.  Braxton, Luke and Lawson are feeding an elk cow.
Elk shed their horns yearly and have a velvet texture right up until they crystallise and harden which is when they are shed.

Below is a photo of some burnt country we came across on the way to see the Ernst's Elk farm.  The fires took place one week earlier and due to heat stress one of the local firemen sadly lost his life.
After travelling through to Enid and settling into a hotel we visited with cereal grain and beef grower John Enns.
John is also the districts Representative senator and is a T12 paraplegic.
John is also an advocate for Agrability and he showed us some of the tools Agrability has given him to use around the farm.
On Saturday we drove 30 miles out of Enid To Visit with Hope and Ryan Pjesky on their ranch.
Some hay forks built into the back of a pickup and is used for lifting round bales up onto the bed of the pickup
Here is a complete portable Corral (yards) which just fold up together on the wheels and tows behind the truck.
We had a fantastic visit at the Pjesky Ranch and Hope was the main person behind all my Oklahoma visits.

Catch you later! Rob