Today is the first, official, day of Kansas Agriculture Week – although I think any time is a great time to celebrate agriculture. I want to start the week by spotlighting what has been keeping us busy for the past three months – calves. Kansas is home to more than 3.5 million cows annually, which makes it one of the top 10 beef-producing states in the U.S.
The average beef-eating American will consume about 70 pounds each year. Much of that in the form of steaks and hamburgers. And while the greasy hamburger joints often come to mind when one thinks about beef, red meat is actually part of a healthy diet. Calorie for calorie, it is one of the most nutrient-rich foods. There are 29 lean cuts of beef including some of America’s favorite: ground beef, tenderloin and the T-bone steak. Go to www.beef.org for dozens of great beef recipes and more information on lean cuts of beef.
Beef comes from a cow – in case you had any questions. But a cow starts as a calf and right now is calving season for expectant mother cows on our farm. Sawyer Land & Cattle is one of the hundreds of farms in Kansas that raises cattle for beef consumption. We have cows of all shapes, sizes and colors on our farm but our animals are predominantly Black Angus, which means they produce some of the best beef in the world.
As animal owners, it is our job to deliver to our cattle, a nutritious and balanced meal daily, provide a resting place for mother cows and space for little ones to run. We also check our expectant cows several times each day – and through the night – to ensure all deliveries are going smoothly. Yesterday, I accompanied my husband on one of his routine calf checks and we found calves!
This little guy (a bull calf is the proper term) was born only minutes before we arrived. We put a tag in its ear – like an earring – so we can identify which mother it belongs to. The mother cow immediately began cleaning off her calf as the calf attempted to stand and begin sucking. Just like in people, the first meal is the most important for a new calf.
Caring for cattle is no easy task. Like people, they need to eat everyday – even Sundays and holidays – and must always have safe, secure and clean accommodations. We take great pride in our cattle and the time and attention my husband and his father put into our animals shows! Thank you Derek and all farmers across Kansas and this great nation for the time, attention and hard work you put into providing feed, fuel and fiber for the world.