YSA class visits central, western Kansas

One tour stop was held at Loving Farms near Pawnee Rock. Pictured are (front row, L to R) Garret Otter, Almena; Brody Thayer, La Cygne; Allison Castilleja, Satanta; Leslie Smith, Ashland; Jack Adams, Plains; Cooper Imthurn, Maple Hill; Jay Ziegelmeier, Hays; Garret Smith, Great Bend; Bubba Sullivan, Amarillo, TX; (back row, L to R) Cody Howell, Chanute; Erica Auchard, Cimarron; Tara Jo Bina, Halstead; Emily Grund; Wamego; Eric Blythe, White City; Logan Hoobler, Maple Hill; Cole Baumgartner, Westmoreland; Arlan Newby, Haven; Jose Woolfolk, Hugoton; and Cole Renner, Monument.(Photo courtesy of Kansas Livestock Association.)

During its third session, the 2023 Kansas Livestock Association Young Stockmen’s Academy recently toured central and western Kansas. Class members from across the state attended the three-day bus tour of various segments of the beef and dairy industries. The YSA program is exclusively sponsored by Merck Animal Health. 

The first stop on the tour was held at El Dorado Livestock Auction. Dr. Tim Parks, DVM, and Jenna Goetzmann, both with Merck, led a beef quality assurance demonstration and certification. Livestock auction co-owner Josh Mueller then spoke to the group about the history of the facility and improvements made in the past five years under his ownership; the benefits of the beef checkoff; and the importance of advocacy from producers for the agricultural industry. Dr. Dayul Dick, DVM, and Devin Dick of 3D Farm and Ranch provided an overview of their unique commercial Simmental and SimAngus herd and farming operation near Burrton. 3D Farm and Ranch has a rich history in Kansas, with Dayul’s father bringing the first Simmental to the state. The Dicks practice rotational grazing and utilize converted cropland to run cow-calf pairs on irrigated grass, with the ultimate goal of a one pair per irrigated acre stocking rate.

Day two took the class to Golden Belt Feeders in St. John. In addition to a feed mill tour and historical overview of the feedyard, Stan and Kyle Kaiser provided more insight to a tour stop held at Golden Belt Beef in May during the group’s Kansas City-area meeting and showed the class their second retail shop on-site in St. John, which had just hosted its grand opening the previous week. Members learned about Golden Belt Feeders’ emphasis on exceptional animal care, quality beef production and cowherd grazing practices. Loving Farms of Pawnee Rock hosted the class for lunch. Co-owners Marty and Scott Loving discussed their registered Shorthorn operation, highlighting a focus on breeding for efficiency in a variety of traits as well as the importance of collecting and reporting data on cattle. The Lovings host a sale annually and provide top-notch customer service. Class members were able to tour the Roto-Mix plant in Dodge City, getting an inside look at the process from fabrication of the metal during the initial steps of building the product to the final details of their popular feed delivery systems. During the last stop on day two, members visited Kansas Dairy Development in Deerfield. The operation primarily raises Holstein calves from a few days old generally through breeding and until heifers reach seven months of gestation before sending the animals back to their home dairy. KDD serves customers ranging from the upper Midwest to New England and in pockets of the Southeast.

National Beef was the last stop of the session. Brian Bertelsen with U.S. Premium Beef hosted the class for a tour of the packing plant in Dodge City. 

Members of the 2023 class are Jack Adams, Plains; Erica Auchard, Cimarron; Cole Baumgartner, Westmoreland; Tara Jo Bina, Halstead; Eric Blythe, White City; Allison Castilleja, Satanta; Emily Grund, Wamego; Logan Hoobler, Maple Hill; Cody Howell, Chanute; Cooper Imthurn, Maple Hill; Kyler Jost, Spring Hill; Arlan Newby, Haven; Garret Otter, Almena; Cole Renner, Monument; Garret Smith, Great Bend; Leslie Smith, Ashland; Bubba Sullivan, Amarillo, Texas; Brody Thayer, La Cygne; Jose Woolfolk, Hugoton; and Jay Ziegelmeier, Hays.