Fox Feedlot

Fox family cattle in the feedlot.

AMBOY, Minn. – Trucks are rolling at Fox Premium Beef. Grain is being hauled out and new dairy heifers are being brought in. In addition to the new calves, the feedlot received a new piece of technology that has completely changed the record keeping process.

Most of the grain being hauled is being taken to a nearby ethanol plant in Welcome, Minn.

“We have been very fortunate to have those ethanol plants nearby,” said Karen Fox on Dec. 21. “We've been able to capture some really nice basis here this fall and going into winter.”

The grain is actually contracted through CHS and the ethanol plant is the Foxes requested drop off site. Over the years, they have developed a good working relationship with CHS, which makes selling the grain that much easier.

Due to the challenging year and the corn coming out of the field at such a high moisture content, much of the Foxes corn has been stored at a neighbor’s facility.

“We don't have the drying infrastructure for a wet year, like this year,” Karen said. “We worked with a neighbor farmer that has a really nice drying set up and we custom ran our grain through his facility this year.”

Not all the grain was hauled to the neighbor’s facility. The Foxes have bins and a batch drying system that they use. They also store a fair amount of corn in bags.

“With the cattle, there's been a lot of merit in a bagging system because you can hold the moisture in those bags,” she said. “We did end up filling some bags, but the majority of it went to the neighbor.”

Filling the bags does allow for storage of a little higher moisture grain as the bags seal out air and oxygen, inhibiting mold growth. However, the Foxes are looking to have a fully ferment corn feed product, so the corn in the bags still needs to be somewhat dry.

The bagged corn will be fed to the cattle in the feedlot – both the finishing beef animals and the dairy heifers they raise for a Wisconsin dairy farmer.

Recently, a load of bred heifers was sent back to the dairy farm and a new group of young calves were brought in.

“On the feedlot side, we were able to implement DC305, kind of a power horse for dairy software,” she said. “The dairy we work with primarily has that.”

Up until now, the Foxes have had access to the software program as a client through the dairy they work with, but they have not had the infrastructure to use it to its full potential.

All the dairy calves come in with RFID tracking tags. At the dairy farm, these tags are scanned whenever the animal is moved, milked, bred or treated. Every time something happens with the animal, the tag is scanned and the information is immediately entered into the system.

At the feedlot, they have not had the tools needed to scan the tags. Meaning, they have had to manually enter the information, from the animal’s identification number to the event that happened with that animal.

“It doesn't matter how well you can type or how good you are with numbers, there's always human error – animals move and errors happen,” Karen said.

They have now purchased the RFID wand that works in conjunction with the DC305 software. The wand scans the animals ID and opens their individual history.

“We can record any events on that animal and have tracking without human error,” she said. “The guys at the feedlot are thrilled. They're happier with it than I am because it has made their life so much simpler.”

Previously, the feedlot staff had to document on paper every action with each individual animal. When heifers are bred and to which sire, when they are moved to a different pen, when they were treated and so on. Every event had to be written down.

Then, at the end of the day, someone had to enter all that information into the software program.

With the scanner, now the feedlot staff enters the information as they go, and at the end of the day the scanner is plugged into the computer and the data automatically uploads to the program.

“There's a wealth of knowledge in there,” she said. “That's been really a fun thing and this week we've implemented the new software.”

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