Feature

Ready to recover

Take steps this fall to position stressed pastures, hay fields for a rally next spring

Lately, MFA Range and Pasture Specialist David Moore has opened each of his livestock producer meetings with an exercise in imagination. He asks the farmers in the room to close their eyes, think of the greenest grass they’ve ever seen, and picture themselves walking through the lush forage.

“Now, open your eyes,” Moore tells them, adding this assurance. “Trust that God is going to bring rain again. It is going to get better.”
Perhaps the approach is a bit unorthodox, but Moore said his mission is help improve the producers’ spirits as much as it is to improve their forages. For many, the perfect storm of high fertilizer prices, severe drought and reduced hay and pasture production has taken a heavy toll, not only on their bottom line but also on their frame of mind.

Moore visits with farmers and MFA personnel who attended the summer forage tour in Mt. Vernon, Mo. The range and pasture specialist has been conducting a number of such meetings lately to not only help producers improve their forages but also improve their mindset after a stressful growing season.Moore visits with farmers and MFA personnel who attended the summer forage tour in Mt. Vernon, Mo. The range and pasture specialist has been conducting a number of such meetings lately to not only help producers improve their forages but also improve their mindset after a stressful growing season.“I try to look at their mood when they get there, and I try to look at their mood when they leave,” Moore said. “And my hope is that it’s a little bit better.”

His advice is simple and straightforward—while producers may think they can’t afford to put money into fertility and weed control right now, they really can’t afford not to.

“The longer you wait, the worse it’s going to get,” Moore said. “We’re looking at an awful lot of acres that are grubbed all the way to the ground. If we just graze it all winter like we’re doing, we don’t put any plant food on it until springtime, and we don’t control the weeds, it’s going to take a long time for those fields to turn around.”

Throughout MFA territory, producers saw hay tonnage reduced 30% to 50% or even more this season, Moore said, due mainly to lack of water and nutrients. Many forage producers chose to cut back or eliminate fertilizer applications last spring, so their pastures and hay fields didn’t get the early growth they needed to withstand the dry weather that settled over the summer and continued into the fall.

At press time in late October, 100% of Missouri was in some stage of drought, with half of the state ranging from severe to exceptional levels, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The worst conditions remain in south-central and southwest Missouri along with northwest Arkansas and southeast Kansas.

Despite the persistent drought, Moore insists that producers can take heart. There’s plenty of time between now and the next growing season to get pastures and hay fields back in shape. He suggests three key steps to take this fall:
1. Allow overgrazed forages to recover by moving cattle to a “sacrifice” pasture.
2. Apply phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), necessary nutrients for healthy root growth and tolerance to drought and winter stress.
3. Control weeds, which can become more opportunistic and competitive under drought conditions.

“If we allow forages to rest and give them some fertilizer, they have the ability to repair themselves over the winter,” Moore explained. “If we’re primarily putting P and K out, it’s not going anywhere. We don’t lose it like we do nitrogen. Just let it be there. When it does rain, it’ll go to work on those roots. Come springtime and we apply some nitrogen, all of a sudden that field will come back to life.”
Herbicide applications should also accompany the plant food applications, Moore said. Weed control is especially important during abnormally dry conditions.

“Every time we have a drought, the weed situation goes from bad to worse over the winter,” he said. “When forages are grazed absolutely to the ground, there’s lots of exposure for those weed seeds to come out and compete with desirable plants, which are already stressed.”

In the absence of a soil test or exact recommendations from a trusted MFA adviser, Moore suggests applying a fertilizer analysis of 18-46-60 (N-P-K ratio) along with 18 ounces of DuraCor herbicide and 4 ounces of Soy Plus, a methylated seed oil, per acre. He said DuraCor is his herbicide of choice because of its wide-spectrum control of range and pasture weeds, including broadleaves, and extended residual control.
2HayThis past season, dry conditions and lack of fertilization caused hay tonnage to drop 30% to 50%—or even more—over much of MFA territory. MFA Range and Pasture Specialist David Moore recommends taking steps this fall and winter to ensure that pastures and hay fields will be in better shape come spring.
A convenient and cost-effective way to accomplish both is through the UltiGraz Pasture Weed & Feed system, available at many MFA locations. The system allows a concentrated herbicide solution to be blended with dry fertilizer granules, so plant nutrients and weed-control products can be spread at the same time.

When resources are already stretched thin, Moore said UltiGraz can help by allowing one less trip across the field and one less application cost while protecting the potential for higher forage yields. In fact, Moore said, for every pound of weeds removed, producers can expect 2 to 5 pounds of grass to grow in its place.

“The real benefit of weed control is we don’t have something out there stealing water and plant food,” he said. “All the moisture and all the nutrients go for the benefit of the forages, which is what we want to grow. That’s why we want weeds gone.”

In the meantime, for those left with limited pastures and poor-quality hay this fall and winter, Moore said providing supplemental protein tubs, liquid feeds and forage extender cubes can help ensure their animals receive proper nutrition. He also said covering hay with tarps or storing it inside a shed or barn can help preserve as much quality as possible. Left uncovered, 25% of net-wrapped hay and 45% of twine-tied bales can be lost to the weather in the first year.

“Basically, everything we’re doing right now is betting on next year,” Moore said. “We can’t fix the debacle that we’ve had this year. We just have to make our way through it.”

While these rule-of-thumb recommendations are a good starting point to manage forages this fall, Moore encourages producers to visit with their MFA livestock specialist, agronomist or key account manager to get specific guidance for their individual situations.

“The good news is that we live in an area that can recover quickly,” Moore said. “If we do our homework, get the fertilizer out there ahead of time, get the animals off the ground so it can rest, and do everything we can on our part to stop the weeds, I truly believe we will be in better shape next spring.

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In this October 2022 Today's Farmer Magazine

FEATURES

Farming Fiber
Agriculture becomes artistry for talented textile producers

by Allison Jenkins

Grand upgrade for grain
Rebuilt, expanded facility officially opens at West Central AGRIServices in Adrian

by Allison Jenkins

Conversion complete
MFA is now fully operating under new Merchant Grain software system

by Allison Jenkins

Weather or not, Training Camp continues
Rain pushes MFA’s annual field day indoors but doesn’t stop opportunities for learning

by Allison Jenkins

Sharing MFA’s history
Former manager donates memorabilia to Chariton County museum

by Jessica Ekern

Building business for beef
3C Cattle Company takes pride in its emerging Angus seedstock farm

by Jessica Ekern

What lies beneath: a look into fall fertility
In a volatile marketplace, it’s wise to make the most of your plant food investment

by Colin Kraft

Keep cows in condition for better breeding
Fall is prime time to evaluate your herd’s body scores

by  Dr. Jim White

DEPARTMENTS & COLUMNS

Country Corner
Betting smart money on climate solutions

by Allison Jenkins

UpFront
Drive to Feed Kids provides 2.4 million meals to Missourians in need
Celebration of cooperation
Dicamba decision

Markets (as printed)
Corn: Yields likely to be lower in upcoming reports
Soybeans: South America farmers may grow more beans
Cattle: Cattle prices headed higher
Wheat: Black Sea unrest continues to impact markets

Recipes (as printed)
Pack a lunch

BUY, sell, trade (as printed)
Marketplace


Viewpoint
There can be constants in the waves of change

by Ernie Verslues

Closing Thought - Oct. 22
Photo by Allison Jenkins
Poem by Walter Bargen

Click below on the image to view the October Issue as a flip book.

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Building business for beef

BEING A FIRST-GENERATION REGISTERED ANGUS BREEDER might seem like a daunting task in today’s cattle business. To make it a successful and sustainable operation might prove to be almost impossible. However, with unwavering determination and advice from a few established registered Angus seedstock producers, Todd Creason founded 3C Cattle Company in 2014 and never looked back.

Located near his hometown of Carrollton, Mo., Creason said he had a de­sire to build a beef operation that he could retire to and pass down to future generations.

“I take pride in our operation,” said Creason with a characteristic humble­ness. “There is a statistic that says the average Angus seedstock producer lasts only about seven years. Well, we’ve made it past that seven-year mark.”

An entrepreneur most of his life, Creason began his career in the oil and gas pipeline industry while attending the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.

“Sort of bored with classroom work, I started taking aviation classes,” Crea­son said. “I realized that those classes counted toward my college credit, and I would graduate sooner.”

With a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and aviation in hand, Creason con­tinued working for a pipeline contractor, serving as a pipeline patrol pilot. To add more ventures into the mix, he started raising row crops on his grand­mother’s farm and dabbled in construction.

“I bought an old junky backhoe and half-ton truck and started fixing water and sewer lines,” Creason said. This guided him into establishing Todd Crea­son Construction, Inc. (TCCI), which now handles contract work with major oil and gas pipelines throughout the Midwest.

As he developed TCCI into a flourishing company, Creason began thinking about future business plans. Cattle and family farming were on top of his list.

Then in 2012, his son, Jordan, 15 at the time, was in a sprint car racing accident at the Missouri State Fair. Helping Jordan recuperate from his injuries became a focus for Creason and his wife, Robyn, who retired from her position as controller for Cargill to care for their son.

After a long and challenging recovery, Jordan attended his parents’ alma mater, UCM, taking classes in agriculture.

“Jordan has difficulties with his short-term memory,” Creason explained. “That was one reason why I decided to look into row crops and cattle as a secondary business. It would be something that Jordan could learn and grow into.”

In 2014, the Creasons started buying beef cows with the help of Spencer Owen, vice president of operations at the construction business. Like Creason, Owen was born and raised in Carrollton.

“I went to the University of Nebraska for a few years, then moved back and started working for Todd in 2000 on the pipeline,” Owen said. “I do have a background in farming, plus have cattle of my own. So, when Todd started talking about an Angus seedstock operation, I was all in.”

3C Cattle Company’s initial purchase was 80 head of cattle in Osceola, Mo. The operation needed a registered Angus bull, so Creason made a trip to Sydenstricker Genetics in Mexico, Mo. That’s when the pieces really started to come together, he said. “I was totally impressed with Eddie’s (Sydenstricker) whole operation and how things worked. It put big ideas into my head,” Creason said. “I told Spencer this is what we need to do, and he agreed.”

In the first year of building the business, Creason said he and Owen would visit different farms to buy registered females, con­sidering both EPDs (expected progeny differences) and physical traits of the cattle.

“There are many different factors you need to consider,” Creason said. “We are learning new things each day as we try to boost the quality of the animal, and I really enjoy the genetics side of the operation. Spencer is more of the traditional cow guy, and it is important to have both sides.”

“Our goal is to produce cattle that have top-tier genetics and that will have longevity,” Owen added. “You have to really look at the cow. You cannot go strictly by what is on paper. The pa­per can say one thing, but this is a living and breathing animal that has to thrive in Missouri when it’s 100 degrees or 20 below zero. Trying to get it all put together is the magic wand you must have. Producing animals that thrive in our environment and climate is what we are striving for to set us apart from other breeders.”

Creason said his journey into the registered Angus breeding business has provided him the opportunity to learn from the best.

“Most of the time your competitors would not think of help­ing someone like me just starting in the business,” he said. “But Eddie (Sydenstricker) and Ben (Eggers, manager of Sydenstrick­er Genetics) have bent over backward to help us. Everyone I have asked for advice has been very helpful.”

In turn, taking trusted advice from leaders in the industry has earned Creason some deserved praise.

“He is definitely the kind of guy who does it right the first time,” Eggers said. “As an entrepreneur, he has proven his ability in the business world and is applying those same principles to the cattle. He saw the things that we were doing in terms of customer service and breeding good cattle and applied similar techniques to his operation. I have seen his son with him, and like anybody in agriculture, I think Todd is trying to lay the groundwork for the next generation.”

The Creasons reached a major milestone in 2021 when 3C Cattle Company began hosting its first production sales. Two are planned each year, in the spring and fall. The next sale is coming up on Saturday, Oct. 15.

“We have grown our herd to around 1,150 from those first 80 head,” Creason said. “For years, we just kept building and building the herd. Today, we have more than 680 mature breed­ing females. We continue to retain most of our females and sell the majority of the bulls in our spring and fall production sales. We have a better idea of how the future offspring will perform. Quality is what we offer. We are building our reputation with each sale.”

The sales are held inside the farm’s top-of-the-line 3C Event Center and Agri-Complex. Creason again credits input from his competitors for helping achieve that goal.

“When I was discussing my ideas about an event center, Gardiner Angus Ranch in Kansas shared their blueprints with me,” Creason said. “Those ideas helped turn our vision into reality.”

3C’s Event Center is an expansive, multi-purpose facility that is used for auctions, sales and special events. For example, it was recently rented for an Amish horse sale, and the place was packed, Creason said. The building includes a commercial kitchen, conference rooms and offices, dining areas, bars and lounge as well as living quarters.

“It’s quite a space, and we have lots of room to grow,” said Angie Green, who serves multiple roles in Creason’s companies and exemplifies his skill of surrounding himself with talented people. Green is human resource and administrative assistant for both 3C and TCCI, keeps the records and data on the regis­tered Angus, and has her own cattle.

“We are fortunate to have the ability to bring help from our pipeline company to do some work here with the cattle or on the farms,” Creason said. “They might not have a background in cattle or farming, but they are always willing to help.”

Owen also serves a major role in each business, including managing the pastures and health of 3C’s herd. “We do as much as we can in-house,” he said. “I help with the artificial insemina­tion, trimming, grooming, hooves, you name it.”

Creason’s employees are a tight-knit community, all pitching in to make it a successful operation. Robyn is the controller for both companies, while Jordan has several roles at 3C and is currently learning more about cattle health. Owen, who has worked with the family for 22 years, said that one of the keys to Creason’s success is that he doesn’t ask anyone to do something he would not do. “I mean, I’ve even seen Todd clean the port-a-potties,” Owen said.

Wes Tiemann, owner of Wes Tiemann Marketing LLC, in Hallsville, Mo., shares a similar sentiment. He met Creason when the new cattle producer first started purchasing animals for the foundation of his herd.

“There are no preconceived notions as to what can and can’t be done, so Todd is willing to try things others wouldn’t,” explained Tiemann. “As he continued to build his registered An­gus operation, we stayed in touch. I knew that he was very seri­ous about his endeavors in the Angus world, so before long we got together and worked out a marketing plan to start merchandising his seedstock.”

“Wes has been a member of our team since the start,” Creason added. Tiemann was on location the day of this interview to help photograph the cattle for farm’s upcoming Fall Production Sale, and he also serves as auctioneer and provides an online clerking system for buyers.

“This October will be our fourth sale with 3C,” Tiemann said. “Todd is steady and ready at all times. He doesn’t get wound up about little things. He looks at the big picture and keeps moving forward. He is one of the most hands-on owners I have dealt with. He learns best by doing and he does a lot. It’s not often you see an owner of a big cattle production company waiting in line with a trailer to haul cattle.”

Through the years, Creason has relied on MFA for farm supplies, including fencing materials and feed. MFA Livestock Key Account Manager Matt McDaniel is currently working with 3C to evaluate how Cadence creep feed can add value to their operation. This complete pelleted, intake-regulating feed is formulated to improve weight gain and promote fast, healthy growth on forages and mother’s milk, McDaniel said.

“It’s a real benefit to have MFA in so many locations,” Creason said. “If one store doesn’t have what we need in stock, they search their other locations until they find it.”

“As far as suppliers, it’s all about the service,” Owen added. “MFA has always answered our questions, and they are able to get the products we need, which is very challenging today with supply chain issues across the world. MFA can also do custom blends, so that is a great value to us.”

McDaniel, who has been with MFA for four years, said that he likes to ask producers questions about their operations and really dive deep into their needs.

“I feel it is so important to listen, then work together as a team to put together a plan that meets the producer’s goals,” he said. “I enjoy seeing the progression of a well-made plan.”

Piecing it all together, Creason said he has been able to benefit from sound advice, great partnerships and wise decisions as 3C Cattle Company grows in both size and reputation.

“I knew I wanted more than just a cow/calf operation,” Creason said. “I didn’t realize all the extra work, but I really like what we are doing. Top-quality Angus is what we offer our customers, and we want to build long-term relationships with them.”

“We recognize the challenges cattle producers have, and we are actively working to try to ease those challenges through our seedstock operation,” Owen added. “In the long run, it all boils down to dollars and cents. The breeding stock we raise and sell has to put money in our producers’ pockets year after year—no matter the size of their operation.”

The 3C Cattle Company Fall Production Sale is Saturday, Oct. 15, at 12 p.m. at the 3C Events Center and Agri-Complex, located at 10572 Highway 65 in Hale, Mo. For more information, visit online at 3ccattlecompany.com.

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