For generations, cattlemen made decisions based solely on what they could see. They looked across their pastures and watched their herd graze and grow, bred the cattle they thought best, and then they watched the next generation. It was only after the animal was sold or butchered that they were truly able to know its worth.
Cattlemen still make their decisions on what they can see, but thanks to new technologies, people like Kevin Johansen are able to see more than ever before. At his job as Herdsman for Finley Brothers Cattle Company, Kevin uses the skills he learned while getting his Animal Science degree at MSU to produce “good solid animals that work in all situations.”
Part of Kevin’s job includes using ultrasound technology to examine cattle, and by doing so he is able to know more about the animal’s internal structure than would have been possible without dissection. He is able to use the information he gains from the ultrasound image to make breeding and marketing decisions that improve the Finley herd, as well as the herds of the many other producers who choose to buy Finley cattle.  
Kevin generally takes three ultrasound images that allow him to determine the rib eye area, the marbling or intramuscular fat of the animal, and a rump fat image. These pictures also allow the producer to be able to determine the animal’s back fat. By examining the laboratory analysis of the images, the skilled grower is able to learn what the projected feed efficiency of the animal and possible carcass EPDs if the animal is bred.
Kevin said, “It is always good to have an animal that scans high, but it is better to have a good balance.” He went on to say that the body composition he looks for is both the balance of a good size rib eye and good marbling, and as well as animals that are adaptable and can thrive in a wide variety of conditions.
By using his training and ultrasound abilities and carefully watching the herd, Kevin has helped Finley Brothers work toward their goal to “produce top end seedstock.” In the future, the Finley’s would like to grow their herd to around 100 head of registered Angus cows. Kevin said their “ultimate goal is to be able to produce cattle that are able to help other growers improve their herds.”
Kevin’s responsibilities include many of the daily tasks required to keep over 100 cows in top shape, as well as maintaining his own ultrasound business. He also has been busy recently taking animals to show at the Missouri State Fair, Ozark Empire Fair, and the Tulsa State Fair. Kevin is used to those demands, though; he used to travel to fit and clip show animals for many different exhibitors.
As if Kevin doesn’t have enough going on, he also helps his family with their Charolais cattle in Syracuse, Mo. and his wife’s family’s Herefords in Aurora, Mo. He and his wife, Jamie Bellis Johansen, who teaches agriculture classes at McDonald County High School, are working on starting their own herd in Goodman, Mo.
Kevin still drives around – to several different locations – and watches cattle. He still uses many of the same evaluation tools that his predecessors used, but he also uses technologies his forefathers could not have imagined to help produce the type of cattle from their dreams.


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