THEDFORD - - Saturday, Oct. 26, a ranch tour encompassing ranches in Cherry, Blaine and Thomas counties was held. This was the first tour organized by the Nebraska Cattlemen, Sandhills Affiliate (NCSA).
Officers of the NCSA - President Brenda Masek of Purdum, Vice-President Marc Ericksen of Mullen and Secretary-Treasurer Craig Miles of Brownlee - were on hand to greet the attendees at the first stop, TLC Ranch located northeast of Thedford. Sponsors assisting in the effort included Harsh Mercantile and Western Nebraska Bank of Purdum, and Pearson Livestock Equipment of Thedford.
The TLC ranch has been in the Nieman family for 55 years. Owner, Carol Nieman-Lewis was on hand to welcome the group and explain a little of their operation. The group then went to the corrals where a working demonstration of the latest Pearson Livestock Equipment hydraulic chute was given by owner, Ricky Rater.
Ricky, wife Corrie, and his parents, David and Joann, purchased Pearson Livestock in January of this year from previous owners, Jack and Gail Johnston of Thedford. Ricky and Corrie moved to Thedford from Texas to oversee the daily operations of the company; his parents still call Texas home.
Ricky was assisted in the demonstration by TLC ranch managers, Heath and Rhonda Kursave. Some of the new features Ricky highlighted was the head sweep bar, which prevents the animal from moving their head, a huge safety factor for the worker when tagging a cow or bull. A compartment to hold vaccine guns, complete with a place to put ice paks caught this writerâ€™s attention as did the side swing gate, both half and full.
â€śThe bottom swing gate is necessary in Europe where the underbelly of the animal must be clipped prior to it being sent for processingâ€ť, stated Ricky. â€śIt will be easier here when grafting calves on cows, no more heavy lifting to get the bottom panels outâ€ť.
Dr. Don Cain, DVM, from Broken Bow, then visited with the producers about vaccination programs. One he stressed was the importance of injectable vitamins.
â€śOne cannot feed enough vitamins to get out of vitamin deficiency. Feeding vitamins will only maintain or enhance. Injectable vitamins at the same time of pre-conditioning or booster shots is the method of choice for vitamin deficiency,â€ť Dr. Cain said.
Over the course of his practice and yet today, Dr. Cain makes custom vaccines for producers when called upon. â€śEvery producer is unique â€“ in their herd genetics, their land, in their management and in the feed they give, so vaccines should be implemented to their specific needs.â€ť
The next tour stop was at the Bestol-Masek Ranch, a few miles up the road. Earl Bestol and his late wife, Claudia, purchased the ranch shortly after they were married, almost 57 years ago. They have expanded upon it, and daughter Brenda has taken over the reins of the daily workload and management, with Earl still an integral part. Brenda led the group across the river, to view the solar panels which provides power to 6 miles of pipeline containing 9 hydrants. This was made possible by EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program) of the Valentine office of the NRCS.
Callie Kreutner discussed the various programs NRCS can provide. â€śThese programs are all voluntary, the producers must come to us; we do not go to them. They can assist in funding of pipelines, fencing, and a host of other projects producers could not afford on their own.â€ť
As Brenda commented, â€śThis is a way for we the taxpayers, to get a return on our investment of raising beef.â€ť
The last stop of the day was at the AL Ranch, where the group was welcomed by Al and Sallie Atkins of Halsey. Al explained the many facets of their business, from raising the corn that is part of the feed for not only their cowherd, but also for the backgrounding of their and other ranchersâ€™ calves.
He led the group past their newly weaned heifer calves out on pasture and their fall cow herd. Some of the calves backgrounded this year include the bull calves of the Hoffman Hereford Ranch of Thedford. Dennis Hoffman stated their annual bull sale will be in February, and Al will continue to feed them up to a week prior to sale date.
â€śIt is nice to have them closer to home, where we can view them easier,â€ť said Hoffman.
The evening concluded with steaks grilled to perfection by Dave Masek, whose day job is construction contractor, but also provides Masek Catering, aided by wife Brenda, when called upon. The meal was topped off by salads, rolls and desserts provided by the Purdum United Church of Christ Womenâ€™s Fellowship.
The last presenter of the day was Rick Funston, associate professor Beef Reproductive Physiology Specialist, of the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, but whose work is mainly at the Gudmund-sen Sandhills Laboratory, UNLâ€™s ranch near Whitman.
â€śThe single most important factor on a ranch, is reproduction, and getting a calf within the first 21 days of breeding is vital,â€ť said Funston. He went on to explain some of the research they are conducting to assure that success.
Though the Big Red on the football field that day did not do as well as we would have liked, the first tour of the NCSA proved the other Big Red of Nebraska, (Beef) whether producing it, helping in its production or eating it, is always a winner.