What are the most common designs of a feedlot? Most of us walking past a feedlot have to take a peek and study it while holding our breath so we don’t smell what I’ve been told my whole life. , it is “the money”. Dad always said to me as we walked past a feedlot, “Can you smell that Malloree?” It smells like money!
For a long time, I never really understood what he was saying, but as I get older I realize where the term comes from. From a distance looking inside here are a few things we know: they stink, there are a lot of cattle and you can usually see a truck or two and maybe (if you’re lucky) even a cow- boy on horseback.
There are many types of feedlots, but they all have one thing in common: feeding and developing a creature to the point that it can transform into Prime Beef. In the surrounding community of Gothenburg, there are several different types of feedlot operations. Some are bigger, some are smaller. Some feed only for themselves and others only buy cattle to bring back.
Or there are operations like K-Farm. Co-owner Brian Keizer took the time to explain how they feed their own cattle, as well as custom cattle. And because K-Farm feeds year round, they have cattle from Montana, South Carolina, and even Texas.
Being family run, the feedlot has been owned by the Keizer family since Brian’s father returned from the Korean War in the 1950s. They moved to their current location just northeast of Gothenburg in the 1960s and have remained there ever since.
The Keisers are very flexible when it comes to their personalized operation, ranging from freshly weaned calves to well-established yearlings. In whatever circumstance the customer brings to the table, he takes the cattle all the way through finishing (conditioned to the point they are ready to go to the meat conditioner) and negotiates the price with the buyer for it. .
He explained how negotiations have become increasingly difficult due to the limited number of packers available; however, K-Farm has the advantage of having a lasting relationship with the conditioner and may ultimately obtain a better price for the livestock of its customers.
Brian also pointed out that they are even developing heifers for breeders who are not looking to send their potential breeders to the meat conditioner. This is a very important process in the growth of a young heifer that will breed and eventually fall into the breeder’s cow herd. A good start to life as a young cow will mean the longevity of the herd for the breeder. In many cases it is worth the extra cost of developing the heifer just for this reason and K-Farm develops heifers with this philosophy in mind.
Speaking with Brian, I didn’t realize how well balanced the K-Farm business is. He explained to me how they use their own crops to fuel the feedlot, which cuts out the middleman. They also use the value-added manure produced by all of the cattle in the feedlot to help fertilize and prepare the farm’s land for a successful growing season. It’s really, really interesting to get the full concept of what goes into a feedlot of this caliber.
One of the most unique benefits of their personalized program is the cereal bank they have on site. If the customer has a certain type of grain or hay they can contribute to their livestock feed rations, K-Farm will take that feed and credit the customer on their feed bill. This is just another tick off the list for just how versatile this family business can be.
I could tell by the way Brian spoke that he was really invested in this business. He was proud to talk about how everything works internally and didn’t have to buy from outside sources for power very often. He was also proud that they not only employ family, but also full-time outside help.
It takes everyone to make sure the livestock is the top priority. From office work, herd health, feeding and processing to livestock – it all pays off when livestock are taken care of and come closer and closer to selling. It’s a proud process to get involved in this one that becomes less and less important when it comes to family feedlots.
Malloree Barnes and her husband, Ty, own Smilin ‘Ranch Co., located southwest of Gothenburg, where they run a cow-calf farm.