For Carrie Daly of Winnebago County, raising beef cattle have almost always been a way of life. So when she and her family decided transform their original feeding operation into a custom feeding operation, it was an easy transition.
“My dad always fed out beef cattle,” Carrie said. “In fact, he still has some stock cows that we calve out in the spring and we keep a few of those calves for replacement heifers. Even though dad used to feed out his own cattle, we decided to go the custom route because it was less risky financially than buying our own cattle.”
If you’re not exactly sure what that means, think of it this way: You’re in the market for a house. You fall in love with a fixer-upper and do some of the preliminary updating yourself, but rather than spending the time and money to do all the fixing and painting yourself, you hire a professional to finish it out for you. In a nutshell, that’s what clients hire Carrie and her family to do — feed out and market the cattle that we’re initially born on the clients’ farms.
And just like a carpenter or house painter, Carrie and her family have to make sure they’re up-to-date on the newest trends, procedures and industry information to ensure they’re providing their clients with the best end product.
“All of our pens are walked twice a day to make sure all the cattle are up and looking good,” Carrie said. “When we, or our hired man, walk the pens, we’re looking for lameness or sick animals. Plus, my husband and my dad are Beef Quality Assurance-certified. That taught us the best places to treat animals and where to give injections.”
Only when it’s required, Carrie and her family are sure to give injections to cattle behind the ear to ensure the meat isn’t tainted or even receives a lower grade after market. They keep detailed records to make sure any antibiotics given to animals to treat illnesses are out of their system before the animal goes to market. And they also use safe handling practices to ensure animals are calm and easy to work with.
“We work hard at being calm and quiet around the animals,” Carrie said. “When we do that, it doesn’t take long for them to get used to us working with them or being in the pens.”
What does all that mean for someone buying a pound of ground beef at the store? It means Carrie and her family worked hard to ensure the meat is safe, and the cow that made it was treated with respect.
“We definitely put the animals first,” Carrie said. “We work closely with a nutritionist from DeKalb Feeds to get weight on as efficiently as possible and we feed good quality products. We work really hard to keep the pens clean and all of our cattle have access to shelter and fresh air. We just work really hard to take the very vest care of the animals that we can.”
Want to know more about Carrie, her husband, four seriously cute kids and their farm? Check out Carrie’s blog! And, don’t forget to check out all the awesome blogs happening this month over at Prairie Farmer.
For the full Faces Behind Your Food Series, check out the links below: