“I get three to four pounds of gain this way,” said Ted Dana, of his cattle’s ration. Ted, who raises registered Angus and commercial cattle in Newton County, focuses on feeding – from content to technique. He doesn’t need to be in the pen with his steers to feed them. There are concrete feeders by the pipe fence, where he uses a wagon behind his four-wheeler to shovel feed in the trough. Since he is there by himself so much of the time, it makes for better safety, and peace of mind for his wife, Judy.
Ted feeds three pounds of a dry commodity feed with 16 percent protein. The cattle also get corn syrup free choice and all the hay they can eat. Although feeder cattle are a top priority at his farm, Ted also does custom hay baling. He feeds some hay, usually what he has baled on his place, or on shares for neighbors.
There are about 150 momma cows plus bulls and calves at his farm. Ted owns and leases 320 acres where he utilizes a rotational grazing system. Much of his farm is divided into 7-acre plots where 50 head are moved on average once a week. The leased farm has 20-acre fields, with about the same amount of cattle, so they aren’t moved as often. “Oh,” Ted grinned, “I guess we are supposed to call them paddocks and pastures.” Either way, Ted has a rotational grazing system that works for him.
All of his registered Angus are synchronized and artificially inseminated. Ten days later a bull is turned in with them. Ted plans for about half his cows to calve in the spring and half in the fall. The commercial cattle are Angus/Limousin mixed, and Ted has a bull with them except for the three months that would give him June, July and August calves. With this calving schedule, he gets better use of his forage, and it also gives him cattle for sale most of the time.
Ted has just started getting calves from a Charlois bull. “I don’t think we’re going to have any problems,” he said, “but I have only gotten five, so I don’t really know how I like them yet.”
Ted keeps all his calves and backgrounds them to 800-900 pounds. The calves will be vaccinated two weeks before weaning. They typically weigh about 600 pounds when they are weaned at seven months. They get the second vaccination, and the bulls are banded when they are weaned. Ted said the bull calves grow better if he doesn’t castrate them when they are small.
Ted believes the beef cattle market is promising, largely due to the fact that national cattle numbers are down. Ted cited that this is the least amount of cows there have been in 50 years, and the cow numbers will probably not be growing because of land being taken out of production. “I’m not just talking about the concreted land, for malls, parking and housing,” he said, noting there is also concern in growing natural restoration of land and recreational lands. He spoke specifically of a 30,000-acre ranch in Colorado that was bought and turned over to wildlife.
Show-quality Cattle Here
Maisie Cunningham, a friend’s daughter, shows Ted’s cattle. At the State Fair this past summer, a cow and calf off Ted’s farm won 3rd in their class. The bull calf won first in his class. “Showing just gets in your blood,” remarked Ted. Ted and Judy’s children and grandchildren showed Angus. Now, they have adopted Maisie as their ‘cattle-showing granddaughter.’
Ted has been in the beef cow business for over 40 years. It was January 1996 when he retired and went to full time farming. Judy and Ted related the story of Judy urging a move to town shortly after she and Ted were married. Ted just grinned and said, “I still hear ‘we need to move to town.’” But, it’s obvious the farm life suits them.