Friday, August 15, 2014

Northwest Iowa Livestock Tour: Bar-K Cattle

Bar-K Cattle was the second stop on the Iowa Corn Northwest Iowa Livestock Tour. If you missed the details of our visit to Center Fresh, be sure to check that out here

The Iowa Corn AAE Committee enjoyed learning from Chad and Brent of Bar-K Cattle.

When our group first arrived, Chad and Brent gave us an overview of the operation. The location we visited holds 10,000 plus head of cattle. We discussed where their cattle come from, the careful care each animal gets, and their rations of corn and other agricultural products. I learned the heifers and steers are bed on corn stalks. What a great way to recycle!

After we looked at the loading facility and sheltered area where the cattle live, the guys showed us their manure handling practices. Many farmers use manure rather than chemical fertilizer for various reasons. In this particular part of Iowa, with all of the livestock, manure is easily sourced. This isn't necessarily great news for Bar-K because it means the market is saturated, and they have a lot of waste to get rid of. They must find some way to differentiate their product. 

Bar-K uses an innovative system to compost their manure. It's piled and turned regularly to ensure the highest quality. Their agronomist samples and analyzes it often to help his farmer customers know exactly what they are getting in their fertilizer.

It was thought provoking to see so many people who raise our food in one place learning about each other's production practices. Not that I ever doubted their intentions, but it definitely makes me feel good to know these farmers care enough about the people who consume what they harvest to take a day away from their operation to learn how to do their job better.

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