Fox Premium Beef (copy)
Fox Premium Beef is a seventh-generation family farm started in 1860. The Amboy, Minn.-based business produces and markets quality Black Angus beef.
 
Luke and Karen Fox with children Hayden, Brinnya, Adriana, & Landon (not pictured Sloane).

AMBOY, Minn. – Temperatures moved above freezing in March, and many Minnesota farmers expected an earlier start to the growing season than during the last two years.

The snowpack rapidly disappeared south of Mankato, said Karen Fox, giving her report on March 5. The fields were mostly bare, with some snowdrifts remaining in the groves.

“It’s looking like spring, so maybe we’ll get an early one,” she said.

The lots and yards at Fox Premium Beef’s home farm required scraping and bedding. The cattle were staying dry and healthy. The gravel roads were soft, and trucks were dirty from traversing through muddy conditions.

Activities that day on the farm included preg-checking about 100-110 dairy heifers. A veterinarian is brought in to confirm the pregnancies via palpation. The information is immediately recorded via RFID tracking tags, RFID wand and DC305 dairy software.

“That confirmation data is live instantly to the server at the dairy. They will know how many will be coming home to the dairy in Wisconsin, and I know in the office who was checked and who was settled,” said Karen. “We can get the health papers ready because they will be crossing the state line.”

Gestating heifers leave the farm, and new calves are brought to the farm near Storden every three weeks. The heifers leave on three trucks, and the calves are brought in on one truck.

“The biggest thing is working with the truckers’ schedules, because they want to be able to get a backhaul,” she said. “They are coming all the way out of Wisconsin, so they want to make an arrangement that works for them.”

Other activities included shipping 5 head of Angus beef to the local locker for butchering. The livestock were sold in advance and the customers also pay processing costs. Many people were looking forward to the 2020 grilling season.

On the day of her report, Karen added she had just talked with a customer who wanted high quality beef. The customer was getting ready for surgery and wanted the healthful benefits of good quality beef. They were also looking forward to enjoying a delicious steak.

“We’ll work with them to make sure we get something processed and to them as soon as possible,” she said.

When there are more finishing cattle than direct-sale customers, Fox Premium Beef does ship to medium and large scale processors.

Karen spends four full days a week in the office completing accounting and paperwork. She’s in charge of the books for the land holding company, the feedlot enterprise, Fox Premium Beef and more. It takes her through most of March to complete the 2019 books.

She was also working through the farm program signups and making final decisions.

The Foxes made plans to raise corn for silage production, and that’s a practice that was just adopted in 2019 for the first time in years. Canning company material is no longer available, so the Foxes will be learning a lot more about what’s entailed in processing corn for silage.

With changes to the crop rotations, the entire crew at Fox Premium Beef had to work together and communicate honestly. In the office, Karen looked for ways to utilize each other’s resources and manpower for greater efficiency.

“There is a lot of researching and office work in modern-day farming. That’s how it is,” she said.

Outside of the farm, Karen and her husband, Luke, are very busy with their five children: Landon, Hayden, Adriana, Brinnya and Sloane. The kids were wrapping up their basketball and wrestling seasons, and baseball was set to start on March 9. The second trimester had finished up at Maple River School District, so it was full speed ahead to the end of the 2019-20 school year.