Hoop Beef System, LLC.
Published on Tue, 12/06/2016 - 9:27am
Hoop Beef System, LLC.
Helping Producers Increase Cattle Performance
By Steve Weisman
There is little doubt that America’s farming/ranching landscape is changing.
In many states, traditional pastureland has been broken up in response to the cry for more cropland and grain production. Yet at the same time, there has been a cry from the cattle market for more cows. The trouble is this cry comes on the heels of 34 million acres of pasture lost since 2007. Although the traditional cow-calf grazing model is still the most prevalent, what are cattle producers that don’t have access to grass land or simply can’t pay the cost of renting high-priced grassland to do? Are there options or have these producers reached a dead end? The good news is there are sound, solid options.
One of these is a semi or confined cow/calf model, and more and more producers are turning to this option. But where do you begin? Enter the Hoop Beef System, LLC (www.hoopbeef.com), which for the past 10 years has been working with producers to develop a confinement system that specifically fits each producer’s needs. Originally designed by Dr. Robert Bryant, a longtime veterinarian and cattleman near the rural northwest Iowa town of Washta, Bryant has successfully turned what he envisioned for his own family farm into the Hoop Beef System®, a system that cattle producers from Alberta to Tennessee have grown to trust.
According to Tim Bickett, System Consultant at Hoop Beef System since 2007, “All of us here are cattlemen. It is what we do and defines who we are. We are focused on our cattle and what is best for our cattle. We believe in what we sell.” At the same time, Bickett notes that with over 100 years of combined cattle experience, “We understand cattle and people. If we don’t use it, we don’t sell it!”
The term “confinement” often brings up negative thoughts about animals being crowded and unclean conditions. However, Bickett sees this as being more of a controlled environment that is clean, where the cows are out of the mud, or the snow or the rain and wind! Fresh cornstalks provide optimum bedding, exact rations are given and both cows/calves are set up to always have the same quality environment. Craig Howard, cow boss/foreman at Bieber Red Angus Ranch in Leola, SD, echoed that sentiment. “When we built our first Hoop Beef Systems at the ranch I was quite skeptical about how the system would work for housing pairs in the spring. Now after using the system to not only house pairs for the first 30 days or so post calving in the spring, but breed our heifers and wean calves into in the fall, I know they work like they said they would.”
Bickett continues, “What we can offer producers is a system that gives them flexibility, the opportunity to maximize their system and the ability to increase their bottom line. We currently have 15,000 cows/calves housed inside our systems sold to producers.” To help producers see this type of facility in person, Hoop Beef System, LLC has built an entire system at Grand Meadow Feeders, located on the Bryant family farm near Washta, Iowa to test its own products and to gain even more knowledge to share with customers. Tours are regularly hosted at Grand Meadows Feeders where visitors can witness the following:
• Five Original Hoop Beef System® buildings, each 320 feet long housing 320 head each
• Two Hoop Beef Choice system buildings, 320 feet long housing 320 head
• Working facilities and load in - load out facilities built in as part of the starting and receiving barn
• Custom designed 75 foot commodity shed
• Two hoop bale sheds 200 feet long that hold over 1000 large round corn stalk bales
This visit allows visitors the opportunity to see how an entire Hoop Beef System® works and to get an idea of how it would work at their site. In addition, data is constantly being collected on the virtues of deep-bedded cattle facilities. With a smile Bickett says, “We are helping build a cattle hotel!” By using the Hoop Beef System®, the weather variable is eliminated, and the cattle are provided a consistent environment.
The positive results include:
• No Wind Chill
• No Frozen Ground
• No Bruised Hooves
• Hair Coats Always Dry
• No Summer Sun
• Venturi Effect (Cooling Air flow with open curtains even in no wind conditions)
• No Spoiled Feed
• Feed Bunks Protected from Snow and Rain
Increasing size and bottom line with less
Although this sounds like a contradiction, it really isn’t! According to Bickett, the Hoop Beef System® fits perfectly for systems both under roof year-round or for part of the year. It’s also a way to raise cattle with very little pasture to no pasture at all. This is ideal for a young producer wanting to get started, who can’t afford to buy or rent high priced pastureland. Once again, Hoop Beef System, LLC’s Grand Meadow Feeders provides a demonstration site to prove this point.
“At Grand Meadow Feeders, we show how this design is the best marriage between the crop operation and the cattle operation. On a lot of farms, producers will turn their cows out to graze on cornstalks. Research shows that on a 160-acre field, 60-70 cows can utilize this feed for about 60-70 days. What we do here is bale all of the cornstalks from this 160-acre field. We can then feed up to 120 cows housed in the Hoop Beef System® for an entire year!”
Any way you put it, that’s truly increased efficiency and utilization of what would normally end up being unutilized as feed and tilled back into the soil. It often takes up to five years for the stalks to completely decompose into the soil. “We will then take the manure from the system and return that to the field. What we have found is that by doing this we are improving the health, organic matter, in the soil. Over the past five years, we have seen a 20 percent increase in organic matter on fields with a corn on corn rotation.” Plus, utilizing the manure back on the field with what’s left in the cornstalk bedding helps lessen the amount of commercial fertilizer used. Now, that is a win-win deal!
About the Hoop Beef System® process and package
The process to determine what a producer might need revolves around four steps.
The first is a needs assessment. “We will come out to the farm and help analyze the situation, the location and where a building would work best, the size that would meet the needs and what would be the most cost effective.” Once the options have been agreed upon, a set of blueprints can be drawn up to give the producer a good visual of what the building will look like.
“Once the design is approved, we will then ship the materials from the manufacturing site in Lennox, SD. Next we will work with local contractors or the customer (if they want to construct the facility themselves) to ensure the construction process goes as smoothly as possible.” The final step is to be there after construction. “We will gladly share what has worked with our herd as far as nutrition, animal health and what makes our operation successful. With the weather risk eliminated, it becomes all about consistency. Our goal is that three to five years down the road our customers look back and know that building a Hoop Beef System was a good decision. We are there for their success.”
In essence, Hoop Beef System, LLC offers a complete package that delivers buildings, bunks, waterers, gates, blueprints, construction advice, nutrition advice on ethanol co-product usage, and complete consulting services for effective system set-up to provide a controlled environment that protects the beef animal from environmental extremes, while incorporating and utilizing the cattle’s natural behaviors and instincts.
Female development program
In response to producer demand and the company’s dedication for increasing their customers’ success, Bickett discussed the growing popularity of the female development program at Grand Meadows Feeders. “We have spent a lot of time and effort at the research farm breeding a line we call ‘new generation females’. They are a Gelbvieh cross that are moderate in size, docile, fertile and when bred to high end terminal sires, produce progeny that are attractive to the market.” Heifers are bred to calve every month but January and July with over 2,500 bred heifers sold annually. They currently have approximately 900 head left in inventory that will calve in the spring of 2017. Producers do not need to have a Hoop Beef System to purchase these females and they will fit most commercial operations.
Another satisfied customer
Jeff Morse a Council Bluffs, Iowa producer and Hoop Beef System customer started with one and soon after built his second Hoop Beef System. “I was looking for options on how to bring my two sons back into the operation. “ Morse stated. “We wanted to expand our cow/calf operation, but with the high cost of pasture to buy or rent in our area, we needed to look at other options.” Stocked with mostly New Generation Females, Morse has experienced 90%+ consistent breedback with Ai and then clean up bulls. Morse sums his experience up this way,” Raising cows under roof is probably the way of the future for beef operations around here.”
The bottom line
There is little doubt that moving cattle under roof is both a major decision and a major investment. That’s why Hoop Beef System, LLC is there for its customers throughout the entire decision-making, construction process and beyond. Bickett adds, “We believe in a simple formula: Cost of Construction + Cost of Operation cannot exceed the Cattle Performance Benefit. This means we will work with our customers to develop a project that fits their needs, their budget and their cattle. At the same time, we understand that a reputation is earned and that our customers’ business and trust must be earned. We know that in the cattle business there is no such thing as business hours. As a result, when you need us, we are just a phone call away!”