It's a Farm, Not a Factory
How many factory owners would put up a home right next to their building, or within view of it even? That's just one absurdity of comparing modern farms like family run feedyards to factories. Not every cattle feeder lives right where they farm of course, but regardless of address, the lifestyle of farming and raising cattle doesn't keep hours of operation (you know, like a factory).
Get a closer look at a modern approach to raising beef through learning what life is like for the people and cattle of C and G Cattle Co.
"If farming and feeding cattle using technology and research-based methods is "factory" and wrong, I don't want to be right."
- Camas Uebelacker, first generation cattle feeder, Othello, Wash.
Why cattle feeding?
Despite initially pursuing a degree in rangeland management, after working stints at both a ranch and feed yard, Camas found the draw and desire to build his own farm and feed yard too strong to deny. He and Gretchen finished degrees at Montana State with jobs secured at a feed yard and agricultural lender respectively. When the opportunity to buy their farm presented itself about ten years ago, they made it happen and have been applying that determination, hard work, and experience ever since.
The common ground between today's industrial factories and modern feed yards start and end with one main principle: Innovation. Camas combines his years of experience farming and caring for cattle with investments in exciting innovations and adoption of important farm protocols. The results? Healthier animals, and a productive and economically sustainable farm for the long run.
"There are specific reasons for doing things the way we do them," says Camas. "Like farmers decades ago, we spend our days with these animals and growing food for them. But we also collect data, we evaluate it, and always keep our eye on future opportunities to do it a little bit better."
Camas has degrees in crop & soil science and animal science. He grows most of the feed for the yard and composts all of the manure to fertilize those crops. Floats installed on stock water and investment in modern farm irrigation systems prevent wasting water.
"Our focus is a healthy farm, that keeps the surrounding area and waters we like to play in safe and clean," says Camas.
Everything you see at the farm, from the dry bedding and pen maintenance, to the balanced feed ration and vaccine choices, is intended to prevent cattle illness.
Experienced "pen riders" look for signs of sick cattle, then follow strict protocols before using treatments like antibiotics. The protocols include monitoring the animal, looking up it's digital health record, and consulting a veterinarian.
Camas credits his crew of three
Camas is an avid fisherman and the family loves camping together along the lakes and rivers of eastern Washington.
That Uebelacker life: As a fisherman who loves taking his family out on local waters, he's a conservationist at the core. Feed for Camas' cattle doesn't have to go far from his farm fields to be stored and ready to create the balanced ration they need to grow and stay healthy throughout the seasons. Camas and Gretchen's kids love the farm! They are involved in age-appropriate chores and pick their after school snacks from the family's greenhouse and garden.