Friday, January 15, 2016

I am Indiana Agriculture: Bruce Lamb

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Bruce Lamb, DVM of Milford, Indiana in Kosciusko County is a 1976 graduate of Purdue University and is also the proud father of four Purdue University graduates.  He and his wife Beth of 38 years live on a farm and raise Registered Angus cattle and hay.  They also have three grandchildren.  Prior to his job with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH), Bruce was a large animal veterinarian at Milford Large Animal Clinic where he also served as co-owner for 27 years, was a consultant for Progressive Pork Concepts for 5 years, and was the owner of Northern Lakes Food Animal Veterinary Service.   For the past 12 years he has worked as field veterinarian in District 2 and is also the Director of the Johne’s Program and Cattle Specialist for BOAH.

As Director of the Johne’s Program and Cattle Specialist, Bruce’s job responsibilities include: regulatory issues, including testing and monitoring for regulatory diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, chronic wasting disease, avain influenza, PED virus, and foreign animal diseases.  He also investigates milk and meat drug residue violations, animal welfare and abuse cases, and other investigations.
Bruce didn’t grow up on a farm directly, but he had a close connection.  “We lived 2 miles from my grandparent’s farm and I spent as much time there as possible.  I was a 10-year 4-Her and went to the farm to train and raise my calves for the county fair.  I took a lot of 4-H projects and tried to take advantage of everything the Indiana 4-H program offered.  The 4-H program was also an influence in my career and college choice.  My wife, Beth, grew up on a farm and showed cattle, as did all four of our children.”
“When I was a freshman in high school, my grandfather took me to a career night sponsored by our local veterinary association.  He knew I liked animals and thought I might be interested in going to the meeting.  I loved being on the farm with my grandfather.  He raised beef cattle, hogs, and chickens.  Whenever he worked with the animals, I was there.  After high school graduation, I was fortunate to get accepted to Purdue.  I applied to Veterinary School and the rest is history.”

Not only does Bruce have a love for animals, he also enjoys working with the farmers who raise them.   “I like farm animals.  More importantly, I like helping livestock owners keep their animals healthy and their operations profitable.  I like working with people, especially people involved in agriculture and animal agriculture.  They are genuine and hard working.”
“Society considers veterinarians as credible professionals.  That trust and credibility has given me the opportunity to develop a platform and inform others about the importance of animals and animal products in our diets and in our lives.  There’s a lot of misinformation in the media and I like to do my part to talk about the benefits of animal agriculture.  Agriculture and animal agriculture are more than businesses; they define you and become a way of life.”

Monday, January 4, 2016

We Are Indiana Agriculture: The Stewarts

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Andrew Stewart of Greensburg is the fourth generation to operate the family farm.  He and his wife Darci live in a house on the cattle farm with their three children: Matthew, 11; Haleigh, 5; and Ella Kate, 4.  Andrew attended Purdue University and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics in May of 2006.  Before graduation, he received an offer to work for Farm Credit Mid-America in their office in Louisville.  He worked there for 5 years and was able to gain some valuable insights and experience that he was able to put to use on their farm operation.

"My great grandfather, Arthur, started farming in the early 1900s.  He sold his first bag of seed in 1918 and there has been seed sold under the Stewart brand ever since.  My grandfather John and great uncle Gilman bought the first Angus cows in 1955.  My cousin, Josh Gunn, and I are the fourth generation to farm the family farm.”
Stewarts farm commercial corn, seed beans, seed wheat, alfalfa hay, and have a herd of 200 registered Angus cows.  Andrew’s main responsibility on the farm is managing the cow herd.  “Stewart Select Angus is a performance seedstock operation that is focused on raising high-quality breeding bulls for the commercial cattleman.  A seedstock operation is one that sells breeding stock (bulls, heifers, and cows) to commercial producers along with other seedstock operators,” Andrew explains.  “Being a performance herd means that we measure our cattle in almost every way possible to help them be more predictable and profitable for our customers.  We measure birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, hip height, and so ultrasound measurements to determine ribeye area, intramuscular fat, rib fat, rump fat.  All of these measurements and more factor into the profitability of the bull for each buyer.”
The cows at Stewart Select Angus are on pasture for 10 to 11 months of the year.  “We have an annual herd test for our cattle the first part of December where we give annual vaccinations and draw blood from each cow to check for certain diseases.  This is just like me going to the doctor for an annual checkup.”
Most of the year, the cows get a mixture of several different forages in the pastures, including grass hay, alfalfa hay, wheat silage, corn silage, and clover.  In the fall, the cows can graze on corn stalks after the corn has been harvested.   “During this mid-gestation time frame of the cow, when the calves have already been weaned, they will be able to pick through the field and find enough nutrients to meet their needs.  The bulls that I develop will get a mix of corn, corn gluten pellets, and soybean hull pellets to help them develop into sound breeding bulls at 15 months of age.”
Stewarts have 200 cows that give birth every year.  In addition to those 200 cows, they will raise approximately 60 bulls on the home farm, 20 bulls at two different sites in Indiana and Montana, 60 replacement heifers, and almost all of the 200 calves that were born that year.  On April 1, they will have about 520 head of cattle of various ages to take care of at home and another 20 off-site.
“We bale straw and corn stalks to bed the barns that our cattle are in routinely to make sure it is fresh.  When the temperature gets colder and the cows will need more energy to keep their body heat, we adjust their feed and give them an additional 10 to 15%.  Cows will actually perform better in 40-degree temperatures than 80-degree temperatures, because of their hair coat.  When their hair coat gets wet and it is windy, they will require more energy to keep their body heat constant.”  An enclosed shed with small pens for birthing  helps baby calves get off to the best start without having the added stress of the cold.
Andrew says his favorite part of his job is seeing a new calf being born.  “Since I start calving around Christmas time, it helps to remind us of God’s gift of Jesus and the power of all His creation.  Being able to have our kids grow up on the farm is also something that I love about my job.  The farm teaches them many things such as responsibility, hard work, problem solving, innovation, and many more.”