Welcome To Texas!

Welcome to Texas! We are excited to host the 2014 Five Nations Beef Alliance Meeting & Tour in South Texas! We have beef leaders from Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Paraguay and Brazil with us for an exciting and educational week.

We kicked off today with a Young Leader’s luncheon for the young leaders from each country. It was interesting to learn about the backgrounds of each of the participants and gain insight into each of their respective beef industries. The differences in each of our supply chains is fascinating and we look forward to learning more over the next week.

On the agenda for the week are tours of different segments of the US beef production system. We will tour the world famous and historic King Ranch on Monday, as well as touring McFaddin enterprises, the home of NCBA President Bob McCan. On Tuesday, we will tour Graham Land & Cattle as well as a visit to the Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum. Our tours will wrap up on Wednesday with visits to Capitol Land & Livestock, 44 Farms and a final stop at HEB Supermarket.

The remainder of the week will be dedicated to the business portion of FNBA. As young leaders, we have been granted the opportunity to observe the leaders of the global beef industry at work as they formulate policy.

We hope that this week will paint a picture of the US cattle industry for you and we can find common ground between our countries and learn from one and another.

Welcome to the United States!

Margaret Ann Smith & J.W. Wood
NCBA Young Beef Leaders

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A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer by Amanda Brodhagen (Canada)

A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer

Created by Amanda Brodhagen (Canada)


Every day is different for a beef producer. There is no “typical” day on the farm, but there are two components that remain unchanged: first, caring for our cattle is always our first priority, and second working alongside family members helps us achieve our goal of producing high quality beef.

Days start with family members around the kitchen table, discussing the day ahead.

Once tasks are delegated, I head out to the barn and/or the pasture to check on the cattle herd. If the herd looks healthy and happy, we usually feed hay in the barn (to supplement the grass in the pasture).

We check water sources and ensure the cattle have access to salt and mineral.  Cattle may also need cleaned out or straw bedding added.

Lunch is usually a quick affair, either on the go, or in the house as we watch the news.

The afternoons on the farm range from an assortment of activities including: seeding, haying, harvesting, or fencing. Everything that we do is directly or indirectly for the animals.

Please see the video below for a collection of photos from my family’s farm which illustrate a day in the life of a beef producer. Enjoy!

A Day in a Life of a Beef Producer – Amanda Brodhagen

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A Day in the Life of a Beef/Veal Producer by Ray Hirst (New Zealand)

A Day in the Life of a Beef/Veal Producer

Written by Ray Hirst (New Zealand)


Click on the link below to view the PDF

Ray Hirst

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A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer by Rae-Leigh Pederzolli (Canada)

A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer

Created by Rae-Leigh Pederzolli (Canada)


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A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer by Peter Fitzherbert (New Zealand)

A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer

Written by Peter Fitzherbert (New Zealand)


I remember sitting at the dining table as a child, refusing to eat my greens.

‘If you want 2 grow up big and strong you’ll eat those!’ My parents would say.

How could I argue with that? I got to see cows eating green grass every day and they were definitely big and strong.

It was only a little white lie from my parents and the ends justified the means for them.

Truth is, it was the plentiful portion of protein on my plate, that made me into the healthy beef producer I am today.


In this job there is no typical day.

So here I am droving a small mob of cattle, along an unsealed road.

I have 7 kilometres between properties to travel. I will pass three mail boxes, two woolshed’s and two yards of Beehives. I have four of my five farm dogs in tow as I idol along in a low gear.


I was born and raised in this gully, in the Northern Manawatu of New Zealand.

I am a beef producer very aware that I am part of a much larger world.

I am typing this on an iPad, while sitting in a Japanese made vehicle.

Following cattle that contain genetics that originated in Scotland and Germany, to be breed, grown and finished here, before becoming international commodities.

Beef that gets distributed to all corners of the world via our many trade networks.


From my paddock, to a far off dinner plate of a similar child to the one I once was.

A child that is faced with a similar dichotomy of, do I risk growing up to be small or do I call my parents bluff.



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A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer by Lyndsay Smith (Canada)

A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer : Never the Same Day Twice

Written by Lyndsay Smith (Canada)


When you ask many people why they love what they do, they may say “No two days are ever the same.”

For someone in the beef industry that is especially true during branding season.

It truly takes a community to make a branding successful on our ranch.

Without 50 fellow ranchers, neighbors, and friends donating over 250 hours of time it would be nearly impossible to do an entire branding in a single day, let alone a single week!

With 50 people, 650 calves, and 12 horses on hand; things can feel a little hectic.

Luckily hectic doesn’t bother these beef industry participants.

And of course, after any branding, the crew is rewarded with some prairie oysters.

Our volunteers aren’t afraid to help out here as well, ensuring everyone gets a taste of this post-branding treat.

A few folks are hesitant to try a prairie oyster, but we usually convince them with a little bit (or a lot) of insisting.

Something tells me this won’t be the last prairie oyster they eat.

Tomorrow it’s back to the office analyzing charts and managing risk, a much different day than branding outside with 50 volunteers.

Truly, no two days are ever the same.

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A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer by Kimberley Mayhead (New Zealand)

A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer

Written by Kimberley Mayhead (New Zealand)

Kimberley Mayhead

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A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer by Erin Durrell (Canada)

A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer

Written by Erin Durrell

A “Good Job” has evolved into something that no longer resembles Work, and that has detached us from a great many things, including our food and the people that provide it. ~ Mike Rowe

I often look at the above quote and wonder if sometimes if a “good job” might be something away from this ranch, away from these cows and most certainly something with a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 schedule and a steady pay cheque.  But I am one of those who works every day of the year.  All 365 days – often 12 to 14 hours or more and it’s not uncommon during calving and haying to put in more than that. Hard work yes, but I enjoy it. Well most days I do, today maybe wasn’t really one of them.

It was one of those days where its 40 degrees Celsius in the shade by 10 am and the breeze is beyond non-existent. Today was one of THOSE days. One of the ones that makes you want to put all the cows on the truck to the auction barn and go find one of those “good jobs” in town.  It really started out ok, nothing extremely exciting planned, just another 4 am morning headed out to the range to move some cattle further back into the bush, into more meadows of grass and to keep some of those old sour range bulls out of their favourite willow bush in the middle of a swamp.

At 4:15 I rolled out of the home ranch. Clancy my 5 year old loaded in the trailer and 4 dogs on the deck of the truck.  It’s a good 40 minute drive to the place where I wanted to unload and for the last 20 kilometres I get the joy of dodging oncoming loaded logging trucks and the half a kilometre of dust that follows them.  By 11am the day was moving right along, it was hot but I’d pushed about 200 head of cows and calves back into one meadow and was headed back to my truck when I rode up one of the current banes of our business in the last 5 years. Wolves. Or rather in this case a wolf kill. In the words of a very wise man close to me – “wolves do nothing to benefit current society”. And finding nice 400 pound steer calf that has been hamstringed and torn apart from the back end I have to agree with him. It’s the kind of frustration that rolls over you in waves. It’s at least a $1000 more less that we won’t be putting in the bank this fall. It’s the feeling of helplessness.  Today was the day where I wished I had one of those “good jobs” in town. Today I wished I wish I was detached from providing our country and world with food. Today I wished the closest I’d ever come to a cow was a steak in the grocery store.


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A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer by Erika Strande (Canada)

A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer

Written by Erika Strande (Canada)


I am going to be very specific to my area and our ranch because each ranch does this slightly different depending on personal strengths, geographic location and business goals.During the winter months we are busy feeding the cows hay because there is no long grass to graze. In February we start calving, so prior to that we are getting things ready for calving like hauling in fresh bedding, to give the mother cows a dry clean place to lay down and have their calves. Cleanliness is the best defense against scours and others sickness that can affect newborn calves.Once February hits it is full on busy with little sleep. We tend not to stray far from the cows in case they need assistance during the birthing process. We also check cows during the night because unfortunately for us, cows can calve at all hours and have problems giving birth at all hours. This time of year is my favourite, it is a lot of work, but it is so worth it when you see the healthy calves running around the field.


Just when you think you can’t go on and you are so tired from waking up in the middle of the night the air starts to warm up, the snow melts and it’s spring. It’s time to sleep a full nights sleep again! We turn cows onto grass close to home so we can stop feeding them hay and on May 1st we turn the bulls in with the cows. Cows, like humans have a 9 month gestation period, so by turning bulls out on May 1st we know we will start calving next year around February 1st. Moving cows and bulls around means we get to move cows on horse back. I really enjoy using our horses to work cows and get a job done. Spring is also a time when field work and irrigation starts to ensure a bountiful hay crop so we have feed for our cattle during the winter months.



Where I ranch in BC, we lease crown land to turn our cows onto in the summer months. In June we move cows from pasture close to home to crown range land. That means during the summer we ride the 126,000 acre range to move cows to different pastures so we do not overgraze. In addition to moving cows on the range, we are also busy haying.



Fall involves a lot of range riding as well because we have to find our animals to bring them home. This is the time of year when we see how great of a job our cows have done raising their calf. We wean the calves from their mom’s and sell all the steer calves (castrated males) and keep about 50 heifer calves (females) that we feel are the best females due to genetics and other attributes to put them back in the breeding herd and sell the rest of the heifers. The calves that we sell go to the auction where they are sold and we get our once a year pay day.


From here the cycle continues. Every year we do the same thing, but it never happens the same, maybe we get an awesome year for rain so our crops and range land look great, sometimes we have great luck with finding all our cows on the range and some years not, and we ride in places we have never been before trying to find cows. A day in the life of a rancher is hard work, but I enjoy it everyday and couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

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A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer by Cameron Black (New Zealand)

A Day in the Life of a Beef Producer

Written by Cameron Black (New Zealand)

As the sun begins its lonely ascent through the dawn sky, its first fingers of light begin to reach out over the land. This begins the day’s proceedings. Vegetarians of all shapes, sizes and colouration begin their day with a selection of the finest greenery on offer. Grass.

Beef production is an exciting industry to be a part of, but there are challenges and opportunities aplenty facing our sector. In NZ, dairy farming has seen a significant increase in its cow numbers and this has meant that the majority of intensive farm land has been converted, forcing beef breeders into increasingly isolated areas.

While the dairy boom has created a number of issues through the reduction in prime farm land, it has also created a number of opportunities. Close to 50% of NZ beef production is now a result of finishing unwanted dairy stock. This has altered the traditional composition of the NZ beef industry where animals were primarily traditional breeds (e.g. Angus or Hereford) but now have a larger proportion of dairy breeds as well.

With both opportunities and challenges created, it is a topic reliant on perspective, and will determine the future of the NZ beef industry.

"Harry" the Hereford, modelling the far away look under a thundery summer sky.

Swede paddock on a foggy Southland morning. Swedes, the winter fodder of choice for the majority of cattle in Southland, NZ.

These boys are curious as to who is coming to see them. The sheep don’t seem to be as bothered though.

Dairy bull beef. These young calves don't stop long enough for the camera to focus.

The closest thing you’ll find to a pedestrian crossing around here…only access road to Mt Nicholas and Walter Peak stations, Northern Southland NZ

Running out the wire. Break fencing the pasture.

These boys are looking pretty happy with life.

The view from the top of the hill block. Some of the country beef breeding units are being pushed back into with the current dairy boom.

Mustering down the hill block to mark the calves. First time they’ve been brought in since birth.

Sunset over the family farm, Western Southland, NZ

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