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Working Ranch April/May 2016

The last few pens of cattle in the Josefi ak’s backgrounding lot have performed well through the feeding phase with average daily gains of 4.5 to 4.9 pounds per day. specialized interests but still willing to do whatever task is needed, the Josefi aks have a very special and unique operation in an area of the country that is struggling to maintain its population. SHORT GRASS COUNTRY, AND LOTS OF SAND The family’s Angus-based cowherd has been developed to effi ciently thrive in the dry environment persistent in the high plains. The short grass country in the sand hills south of the ranch headquarters is made up primarily of Buffalo Grass. “We’re not as focused on what kind of grass we have like some folks back east are,” Kory says. “We’re just lucky to have some.” The cattle are spread out over a mixture of different available forages ranging from native prairie, irrigated improved pastures and cover crops. “We utilize sedan with turnips and radishes as our summer mix, and we have a winter mix where we use wheat or rye with triticale and turnips or radishes,” Kory shares. “We also use corn or milo stalks as well. Whatever is available we try to reduce feeding as much as possible.” Stocking rates vary depending on the year and availability of water. “Through the summer months we can run a pair on six to eight acres, and that’s going in the middle of April and coming off the middle of October,” Richard shares. “If it’s dry you’re usually not able to do that. We had about a six year period where we were not able to do that.” Most of the pastures do contain ponds, but due to the sporadic nature of the rainfall in the area, a majority of the cowherd is watered by wells. In yet another effort to gain effi ciency, the family is moving away from older and more labor-intensive windmills and transitioning to solar power. “I’m afraid to climb a windmill anymore,” Richard laughs. “It used to not bother me, but now it does and we’re moving away from them and making a move to solar pumps.” To Richard, the ideal cow for his operation is a female that weighs between 1,250 and 1,300 pounds and has some longevity in terms of fertility, structure and fl eshing ability. Sonin law Aaron feels that selecting sires with strong maternal backgrounds can pay dividends down the road. “If you stick with more maternal-type genetics your cows tend to last to that 12- or 14-year mark before you have to cull them,” Aaron says. “Trying to fi nd that balance where we have good stayability and on the other end have good performance in the feedlot and with carcass traits can be tricky.” Calves coming off the dryland native pastures will generally weigh about 600 pounds, while calves from outside herds that are also brought into the lot weigh a bit less. ”We bring them right into the lot and don’t do any fence line weaning,” Kory says. “We just start them right up on grass hay, get them bunk broke, two rounds of shots in them and get them on feed as quick as we can.” The calves are grown to around 800 to 850 pounds. From there, market conditions help Richard decide where they end up. 60 I WORKING RANCH I APRIL / MAY 2016


Working Ranch April/May 2016
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