KANSAS beef producer Jeff George is using both technology and financial services to drive efficiencies in Finney County Feedyard near Garden City in western Kansas.
Finney is feeding 22,000 cattle supplied by 46 customers across the US. Many of the customers take advantage of the credit and financial risk management services offered.
Mr George said the transparency of the business was a major component of its success.
“There are no secrets here,” Mr George said.
“We have developed long standing relationships with our customers based on not only our performance and willingness to share information. Our focus is on feeding animals to their genetic potential but equally, we also make sure our customers have the necessary financial tools to operate in the market.
“We are effectively a bank. We borrow money at 2.6 per cent and lend it at 4.5pc, which is still well below the rate offered by commercial banks.
“We also act as an insurance company charging 15c/head a month. We buy that insurance at 8c. The margin is deposited into a fund which is used to pay the $25,000 excess if required.”
The 50 year old feedyard made a quantum leap three ago when it invested in a new $4 million feed handling facility to process the steamed flaked corn-based ration through a batch box system.
The stationary batch box has consistently enhanced the uniformity of the ration delivered three times a day to the cattle.
Finney also has an Animal Health International micro ingredient measuring machine that precisely adds often gram sized dosages to each tonne of feed.
Micro ingredients can include rumen modifiers, pathogen binders, vitamins and minerals.
“The computer controlled batch box system has virtually eliminated operator error,” Mr George said.
“It means the cattle are being offered the exact ration they have been designated.”
Mr George said the feedyard operated on a $25 million annual budget.