Snowy farm

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — What beef producers want is often influenced by the weather they get.

David Finkenscher, the creator of a wireless barn camera, often sees an increase in queries about cameras when the mercury dips.

“Nothing like five below to say a barn camera is a good idea,” he said.

For Finkenscher, owner of Riverwind Surveillance Supply, necessity is the mother of invention. He lost a horse having difficulty giving birth. A police officer, in 1997, he borrowed an undercover surveillance camera from work and was able to observe the next time a horse was foaling and needed help on his northern Kentucky farm. He pulled the foal and saved it.

“It’s not just for convenience. It saves babies. Save one baby and you’ve paid for the system two times over,” said Finkenscher.

He figured more livestock producers could benefit. Cattle producers are by far his biggest business today, he said Feb. 21 at the Illinois Beef Expo in Springfield.

“About 80 percent of our business is for cattle; sheep are No. 2,” he said. Many are in Iowa, Illinois and Michigan, both large and small operations.

All kinds of products that serve beef producers were available at the trade show, often to help farmers in challenging weather. Several exhibitors were contractors involved with livestock buildings.

Among them was Craig White of Greenfield Contractors, based in Princeville, Illinois. He said there is interest in tension fabric hoop buildings this year — for housing cattle or hay or both. In the Quad Cities area, he said there is a lot of interest in buildings for hay storage.

Currently they have two cattle barns under construction, one in Knox County in northwest Illinois and one in Fulton County in western Illinois.

This winter has presented both mud and cold to challenge beef producers, said Marty Lathom of MBC Buildings in Pleasant Plains, Illinois.

“This is one of the worst winters central Illinois has had,” he said.

He said farmers are interested in having shelter and feeding areas for the cattle, which could also save pastures for the long-term.

He expects there to be more mud and cold ahead, but said most of the beef producers he talked to are pretty upbeat.

Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.