Crescent M Farms and the Hartley family added a feeding facility to finish their own cattle
FAIR GROVE, MO. – Mason Hartley and his family are in the business of beef at at Crescent M Farms. With their farm and feed lot in Fair Grove, Mo., Crescent M Farms has supplied approximately 250 beef to Missouri Prime Beef Packers in Pleasant Hope, Mo., since last summer.
For Mason, his journey into cattle farming all started with a calf when he was just 8 years old. Mason’s great-great-grandfather, Bill Hartley, gifted him a Red Angus cross calf, and this set Mason’s path into motion. Throughout his school career, Mason bought and sold cows, joined FFA, and after graduating from Fair Grove High School in 2009, and created a partnership with his parents in Crescent M Farms.
The feedlot and farm are operated on 260 acres in Greene County. Mason and his wife Kelsy Hartley are joint owners with Mason’s parents, Miles and Tina Hartley. Crescent M Farms is a big operation that requires a lot of work and help; it’s been around 31 years and in that time it has grown significantly.
Originally, the farm began as a cow/calf operation, raising calves to be weaned and sold. Now, however, the farm raises both their own cattle from calf to harvest and other producers’ calves as well. Crescent M Farms is part of the Show Me Beef operation which is a network of family farms and ranches whose goal is quality beef for consumers.
Today, Crescent M Farms deals with mostly commercial Angus-based cattle. Angus cattle tends to have a good reputation with marbling, improving flavor in the finished product, reasoning as to why the breed is used by many commercial farmers. “We run about 300 momma cows,” Mason said. In the next couple of years, they’d like to expand the feedlot operation to 1,500 to 2,000 head. “That’s definitely doable because of the packer in Pleasant Hope,” he added.
With the feedlot, they cater to both small and large producers whether the producer brings 14 or 400 head of cattle. “We use Performance Beef Technology to track their feed intake and then they can see how good their calves perform on feed, and then they can go over there [to Missouri Prime Beef] to get all their carcass data back to see how good their calves are too,” he said.
“A big part of our feed lot is all indoor. The indoor holds 400 head inside,” Mason said, adding that the indoor space is something that makes their operation unique compared to other feedlots.
As for health practices, their cattle undergo routine vaccinations, and the farm currently only uses natural cover for breeding. Their focus is on creating an optimal finish, and so a lot of thought goes into the animals’ diet. During the wintertime, the cattle is fed hay and supplemented with corn, silage, and minerals. In the spring, the farm tries to utilize rotational grazing as much as possible. Rotational grazing allows the cattle to move to a new paddock each day, grazing grass down to a certain height, then moving them to a new paddock while the previous one regrows. Custom feeding is a specialty of theirs to acquire the desired results. Their quality nutrition practices lead to a beef finish weight of around 1,400 pounds.
These results are what have producers coming back to Crescent M Farms. The Hartleys send their finished beef to the Show Me Beef operation, which uses the local independent meat processing facility Missouri Prime Beef Packers. Mason said the packing operation has been tremendously beneficial to the local and state economy.
“All feed prices have just skyrocketed,” Mason said. Crescent M Farms produces some of their own feed, but a lot of their corn comes from Northern Missouri, while some of their other commodities are sourced from surrounding states. With the increased prices cutting into their profit, having the local packer nearby is valuable for both the farm and Missouri consumers and producers alike.
Despite the current fuel and feed prices, Mason remains optimistic about the future of the feedlot and family farm, and their ability to continue producing optimal results for producers.