Along I-75 in Ohio between Lima and Dayton, contrasting the busy interstate, near Sidney, quiet cropland encircles the Bensmancattle operation. On the Bensman farm, cattle fill buildings and good people raise them well. A large barn housing finish cattle above 600 lbs., lies on the westside of the farmstead. Calves at 300 lbs. to 600 lbs. lounge in abuilding on the south side. And off and on, a building on the north side houses five- to six-week old calves.
So, when it comes to beef, the Bensmans are surrounded. And they like it like that. They purchase calves from their grower, who typically raises them for the first 16 weeks, and enterthe Bensman operation at about 300 lbs. First their grower, then the family pays close attention to the feeding program. The Bensmans keep the calves on stuffers and corn pellets to 500 lbs. Then they add distillers to the ration until the cattle are finished. On a typical day, they start feeding at about 6:30 a.m., check the younger calves, and treat those that need it. They finish feeding
around noon. Around 5 p.m., they walk through the herd, and scrape.
Herd health matters to the Bensmans. “The biggest thing is a good vaccination program that helps us keep cattle themselves healthy,” says Tony. They follow a typical vaccination plan. The grower vaccinates twice at the beginning, then the Bensmans re-vaccinate once and give a 70-day implant at about 300 lbs. Then they booster them, worm them and re-implant one last time. Nexus Livestock Director, PatLampert, says, “They know how to raise a good calf, from health and feeding programs to selecting quality calves in the first place. They raise good quality cattle from start to finish.”Tony handles the majority of all the feeding, while Randy focuseson the field work and maintenance. When a new group of cattle arrives, Randy provides an extra set of eyes on the animals, so two different people check the new livestock. Tony appreciates the two feed representatives who assist them, one with younger cattle and another with the older cattle.
They provide useful information, and give two different perspectives about what’s happening in their area’s ag community and feeding trends. “We’ve increased our rate of gain quite a bit with the younger calves,” Tony says. They aim for 3.7 with them, and 3.5 for the older groups. They usually work with their feed salesman and run scenarios in different phases, so they know how many bushels are required to finish the cattle. “Even though we grind our feed ourselves, we figure an expense in there for grinding our feed, which helps give us a budget to roll our equipment on,” Tony adds.
But when it comes to marketing the cattle when they’re finished,Bensmans count on National Farmers’ Nexus Marketing. Bensmans understand basis changes everything, or it can. “Typically we do a basis contract right away at the beginning,” Tony explains.The operation might lock in the price six months after locking in the basis, for example, says Lampert. They price their cattle at least 30 days prior to delivery, as the plant requires. “We’ve been working with Pat now for several years, and we didn’t necessarily have the groups we have now at the start, but risk management has really been a big plus for us,” Tony adds.
“Having Pat help us along with when to sell and stuff like that, I think it’s made us quite a bit of money,” Tony says. “They like to stay in touch with us about what’s happening in the market,” Lampert says. “While it’s my role to watch the market for them and keep them updated, they remain involved and that’s very important.”Working with National Farmers and Nexus gives their operation more flexibility in marketing scenarios, Tony says. And if they’re not right on with our contracts, Lampert helps them work through that issue with the packers. “Risk management for us just makes sense as far as getting the extra help,” Tony says. “We’re paying a little bit to get the help and outside input as to when we should buy and sell, and breakeven costs.“Pat is just so easy to work with for us. He just does a great job for us. If we need help grading and sorting, he works it out,” Tony says. “He seems like he’s there for us. He’s great to work with.”
Food for the Future
Supplying beef to meet demand matters to the Bensmans. “With the Zilmax, gaining the one or 1.5 percent yield, you start gaining that amount of red meat on the animal and it makes a whole lot of difference, ”Tony explains. “Farming’s always been in my blood. I tried working off the farm for awhile,” Tony says. Two Bensman brothers stayed on the operation started by their dad, Orville. Two other Bensman brothers work with their in-laws. So the agricultural influence runs strong in their blood. “They’re good people and they love agriculture. It’s rewarding to see such a young, hard-working family succeed so well in the beef industry,” Lampert says. “My kids help. They help scrape and feed,” Tony says. The work with their 4-H project calves, too, and live the farm life. “It’s a family business.”
Nexus Marketing 877.207.1051
P.O. Box 1767
Ames, Iowa 50010-1767