Triangle H Grain and Cattle Co., south of Garden City, KS, is an integrated operation that includes farming, cow-calf production and a feedlot. Owned and operated by the Hands family, the operation was an early investor in U.S. Premium Beef and their goals for the cattle operation are to produce the highest quality beef they can.
Like all High Plains cattle feeding operations, the feedlot pays close attention to its ration. Cattle are fed a scientifically-developed, complete ration that meets all their nutritional needs.
Work starts early, and the first order of the day is to get feed in the bunk. As the trucks roll, cattle crowd to the bunk to get their morning fill.
The Triangle H feedlot uses a dry roll mill to process the corn that goes in the ration. In addition, the ration is topped off with a liquid supplement, which is mixed throughout the feed on the truck.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this calf doesn’t seem to appreciate BEEF magazine interrupting.
Timing and consistency is important in cattle feeding. Cattle do best when fed on a regular schedule, so feedyards use multiple trucks and feed at the same times throughout the day, every day.
Since the feedlot is integrated with the operation’s other enterprises, which include grain and forage production as well as commercial cow-calf production, much of the feedstuffs that the feedlot utilizes are produced close by.
The Ogallala aquifer underlies much of the High Plains, which allows producers to grow a myriad of crops in an otherwise semi-arid climate. This alfalfa field next to the feedlot is growing well with irrigation and abundant sunshine.
Environmental stewardship is important to all cattle feeders. Runoff is captured in a lagoon and then recycled back onto crops under the feedyard’s nutrient management plan or allowed to evaporate.
While keeping adequate feed on hand is necessary, most feedlots run on a variation of “just in time” deliveries to keep feed as fresh and palatable as possible.
The various components in the ration—corn, distillers’ grains, roughage and supplements—are added separately in the feedtruck, then mixed on-board as the truck heads to the bunks. An on-board computer and scales allow for precise measurements as feedstuffs are added.
Silage pits are ubiquitous throughout cattle country, and Triangle H is no exception. Long utilized as a way to store and preserve both the stalk and ears, silage pits utilize plastic covers and old tires to attain the anaerobic environment needed to produce the end product.
Commercial cow-calf production is an important part of the Triangle H operation. These pairs are grazing an irrigated pasture and are standing belly deep in grass in places.
Animal health is critical to cattle producers. Cattle are checked frequently to ensure that both cow and calf are as healthy as possible.
Lots of sunshine and plenty of feed can make for lazy days, and this cow-calf pair are enjoying each other’s company.
Triangle H develops its heifers on pasture and extensively utilizes estrus synchronization and AI in its breeding program. First calf heifers are synchronized and bred in early June.
Any change in routine is cause for curiosity. These first calf heifers are checking out the intruding pickup, perhaps hoping for a handout.
While ensuring animal health is important throughout the operation, it’s most critical in the feedlot. Just as soon as the feedtrucks start rolling in the morning, cowboys saddle up and start riding pens, looking at every animal. This calf is being pulled and on its way to the hospital for some extra TLC.
A feedyard environment can challenge incoming cattle, especially those that haven’t been properly managed on the ranch with a robust vaccination and weaning program. Research shows that cattle that are pulled and treated fall behind their pen mates in growth and performance, and struggle to catch up.
Sometimes it’s good to pause and take an overview of how cattle behave in the pen. To an experienced pen rider, even subtle changes in animal behavior can signal that something needs attention.
Bright eyes and alert ears signal that all’s good. Now if that feedtruck will just hurry up, things will be even better.
Take a virtual tour of Triangle H Grain & Cattle Co., an integrated cattle operation south of Garden City, KS. Photos are by BEEF Senior Editor Burt Rutherford.