LUVERNE, N.D. – Jordan Svenningsen, 28, operates a “mid-sized” farming/ranching operation in northern Barnes County, featuring both grain farming and a cow/calf cattle herd.
While Jordan owns the largest percentage of the commercial herd, three other family members also take part in the cattle operation, including his parents, Rodd and Debbie, and brother Austin. Jordan has a three-month-old daughter, Grayson, and his significant other is Tiffannie Justesen. His sister, Amy, lives in Fargo.
Jordan started with is first cattle about 12 years ago.
“I bought my first cows from my grandpa, and I think that was 10 animals,” he said. “My grandpa had blacks and a few red cattle, and my father’s herd was mostly red and that what I grew up with, so I am a little bet biased to the red ones. Everything is a cross with between Red Angus, Red Simmental and Red Gelbvieh, and I have a lot of the Gelbvieh influence in my herd.”
He calves out about 140 of his own cows each spring and another 90 cows for a neighbor under a shares type arrangement. This will be the second year for this arrangement with his neighbor. Everything is bred by natural service, with the breeding season lasting about 90 days before the bulls are taken out from the herd. The bulls are turned out around the end of April, which allows the calving season to start around the first part of February.
“This gives us a 90-day calving period, but we do so many animals and have only a 40-foot by 60-foot barn to use for calving,” he noted. “Running all those animals through in the cold North Dakota winter weather, it’s nice to have the calving time spread out a little bit.”
The calves go out on pasture once spring grazing permits, and they are started on a creep feed program while still on pasture the first part of July. Once the calves consume about 50-60 pounds of creep feed through each calf on average, they are then switched to an 80-20 blend of Purina’s Accuration, which is basically cracked corn and fish oil, according to Jordan.
“The fish oil keeps them from over eating so they won’t bloat,” he explained. “Last year, because of the weather problems, we didn’t get them weaned on time and didn’t switch to the Accuration and that was the most disappointing set of calves we have ever had.”
The calves are normally weaned around the first part of October and this year they have gotten back to their normal routine. Jordan hopes the calves will be ready to hit the sales barn when they reach a weight of 750-850 pounds.
“I try to pack a few pounds on them. I feel the buyers like the bigger cattle,” he said. “The calves are shipped down to Hub City in Aberdeen, S.D., to sell. I like to keep my top 15-20 heifers – whatever I feel is my top end. I like to keep them to breed back into the program.”
The cows are grazing some cover crop fields right now. Jordan was forced to bring the herd back from the regular pasture ground earlier this fall because of a lack of rainfall. During those three or four days he fed hay from his winter supply. He fortunately he had some growth on an oat field that he had combined plus some regrowth on a rye field, as well as a harvested corn field to graze on, which bought him some grazing time.
The cattle still had access to the pasture for water and he had to string an electric wire around the fields where the cattle were grazing.
Jordan has two pastures where he does rotational grazing during the summer months, one of which is a pasture set up with EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) funds for rotational grazing. The cells are rotated on a two-week basis, which means a cell will have six weeks of growth on it before it is grazed again.
In our next installment with Jordan, we will discover how his cropping plan work to compliment the cattle operation on his farm.
Farm & Ranch Guide would like to thank Jordan Svenningsen and the rest of his family for sharing their story over the coming months. We wish them the best of success!