Join Katie Sawyer and That’s My Farm today as we tour the Tiffany Cattle Company, located right outside of Herington, Kansas. We’ll meet owners Shawn and Shane Tiffany and learn about their feedlot, farming operation and how they market their cattle. Stay with us.
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission, the Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.
(Katie) Good morning and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer with Shawn and Shane Tiffany at the Tiffany Cattle Company outside Herington, Kansas. Today we’re going to be talking to Shawn and Shane about their feedlot, their farming operations, the marketing of their cattle. So, stay with us. (Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m here with Shawn and Shane Tiffany at the Tiffany Cattle Company outside Herington. Guys, will you guys tell a little bit about yourselves. Talk about your history in terms of the agriculture world and then talk about the history of the feedlot here because it has a unique history and background itself. (Shawn) Well the facility that we’re on is actually fairly unique. There’s a lot of history with this property. We’re actually standing on an old Army Air Corp bomber base that was built during World War II. There’s quite a few of these facilities throughout the state. But the unique thing about this one is the fact that this was actually a processing facility. So those bomber crews would train at other facilities and then as they went to the European or the Asian theater, they would process through here and you know, a great deal of history with this particular facility. (Katie) And Shane talk to us about your guys’ history and how you got into this. (Shane) Shawn and my personal history and I guess our family’s history with this particular facility, it started in 1988. Our Dad managed the yard from 1988 to 2002, so Shawn and I literally grew up on this particular facility. At that point in time our family had no the ownership. Shawn and I both went and judged livestock for Butler County and then transferred to K-State and judged livestock and horses for them. We started out in the industry, I was in the feedlot sector and Shawn was in the cow/calf sector. And then the owner Doug Lowe, it was Black Diamond at that time, contacted us in the Fall of 2007 and asked us if we would consider coming back and purchasing the feedlot from him. And at that point in time we did. December 1 of 2007 is when Shawn and I took over ownership of what is now Tiffany Cattle Company. (Katie) And what has it been like working together and what kind of roles have you each taken on? (Shawn) It’s been very unique working as brothers. And family operations have their own unique set of challenges, but they also have their unique positives as well. And with our different backgrounds, you know our educational paths were virtually identical but as we started our careers we were in separate segments of the cattle industry and so we both learned different things that have suited us for our individual roles within this business. And really have made us an asset to not only our company, but to each other as well. (Shane) We don’t have titles here but if we did I would tend to be more toward the business manager where Shawn would be the operations manager. I deal with the customer and the marketing and purchasing of the cattle. Where Shawn handles the nutrition side and all of the farming side of our operation and he largely is responsible for almost the entire crew too. We have clearly defined responsibilities and it just works. I am thankful that there’s two of us. (Katie) Wonderful. Well thank you. And stay tuned for more on That’s My Farm.
(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer here with Shane Tiffany at Tiffany Cattle Company outside Herington. You guys are custom cattle feeders. So talk to me about what that means for your customer service and the marketing end of this business? (Shane) Well when we say that we’re a custom feedlot, what that means is, is that 100 percent of the cattle that we feed and take care of are customer owned. Shawn and I don’t own any of ’em. We just provide a service. In that service we do everything from purchasing the cattle for some of our investment customers and then we market all of them. We’re responsible for the whole time that they’re here. The break down of our business is probably about 60 percent would be cattle feeders just what they do as part of their operations at home. Thirty percent would be cow/calf owners that retain ownership of their calves from birth all the way to… they go to the packing house. And then about 10 percent of our operation would be investment customers that might be a stock broker in Chicago to a school teacher in Georgia. This is just part of their portfolio that we manage for them. As far as the marketing, today’s cattle feeding business is all about having market access. And what we’ve really tried to position ourselves as, is we get to feed above average cattle. And so in order to have that right and that opportunity we need to be able to generate above average prices for those above average cattle. We do that through a number of different marketing agreements and associations with different companies. We’re largely a U.S. Premium Beef feedlot and the majority of our cattle would go there to Liberal and be marketed through that particular program. But we also have a lot of our black hided cattle, things of that nature, go to Creek Stone in Ark City in southern Kansas. And then we also market some of our cattle through Nebraska Beef in Omaha. (Katie) You guys sound like you really keep the customer in mind in what you’re doing and so that plays right into your marketing tactics as well. As the markets change, what do you guys plan to do to keep up with the changing market and changing demands? (Shane) Well, communication like any other industry, is key to our business here. We’re dealing with so much money any more as the price of cattle has increased. We’re talking literally multimillion dollar investments for a large percentage of our customers. Because of that, they just want to be communicated with- what’s going on, how’s the weather affecting the cattle, what’s the change in the market price wise, how are they feeding, how’s the health of the cattle? And so, a large percentage of my job here at the feedlot is just spending time on the phone communicating with those particular customers. (Katie) Great. And when we come back, more from Tiffany Cattle Company.
(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer here at Tiffany Cattle Company outside Herington, Kansas, with Shawn Tiffany. Shawn you’re in charge of the more nutritional component of the business, so talk to me about what you guys do. (Shawn) Well, our business is actually comprised of more than just what we do here in the feedlot. We have an extensive farming operation. We hay a great deal and utilize a lot of by products from our farming operation through roughage sources like hay. And then we also do a great deal of custom grazing here in the Flint Hills. These particular calves that we’re standing next to have been here at the feedlot for about two weeks, but they’ve actually been in our care since April. And we’ve just been taking care of them out grazing native Flint Hills pastures and so you know, that’s a big part of the feedlot industry in the state of Kansas. Now, as far as once these animals get here, they are on as an intensive managed plan of nutrition as any livestock are. We’ve got a consulting nutritionist that is here balancing our diets for protein, for energy, fat and to where these cattle are just extremely healthy. Our diets are comprised of all sorts of farm raised products, but we also use a great deal of distillers which is a by product of the ethanol industry. And so, one of the assets of a feed lot is, they really utilize by products that without a concentrated area of cattle, are hard to utilize based off of a shelf life, or even marketability from other industries. And one of the things that I do the first thing every morning is I read bunks when I get here. And when I talk about reading bunks, what that means is I go around in the pickup and I’m inspecting every bunk to see how the cattle consumed the previous day’s feed. Whether they didn’t eat it all or you know, they slicked it up. You’ve got to be very mindful of weather events and where the cattle are and their plan of nutrition or their growth stage and manage those accordingly to where they are as healthy as they can possibly be. (Katie) Now you talked about you guys being able to use different components of feed stocks. The drought has affected everyone across Kansas. (Shawn) Yep. (Katie) And I’m sure yourselves included. What have you guys done to respond to the drought which I am sure has affected your feed sources? (Shawn) Well the drought has actually created some unique opportunities. There is as much opportunity to be had in bad times as there are good times. And so it has forced us to look at other avenues for feed provision, such as we do a lot of cover crop grazing now. And that was largely due to the drought and trying to find ways to graze cattle during times of the year in the Flint Hills that is not typical. And so what we found with that is it’s not only great for staging the cattle for our customers and for the feedlot, but it also adds a great deal of advantage and soil health to our farming operation as well. (Katie) Sounds like you guys really keep nutrition at the forefront at everything you guys do here. (Shawn) All of our decisions are based off of what’s best for the cattle. Ultimately our customers and our industry really need to make the transition from producing cattle to producing beef. Because this is a product that is going to end up on somebody’s plate and we need to raise that with as much integrity and thought as we possibly can. Not just for the customer, but also for our environment. Shane and I have seven children between the two of us, and if we don’t take care of this facility and the ground that we manage right now, there won’t be anything left for them to step into when they become adults. (Katie) Stay with us. More from Tiffany Cattle Company on That’s My Farm.
(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I am Katie Sawyer, here with Shawn Tiffany with Tiffany Cattle Company outside of Herington, Kansas. As you can see we’ve moved to the farm portion, the crop portion of their farm. And tell me a little bit about what you guys do in terms of raising your own crops. (Shawn) Well, we raise primarily corn and wheat and then a lot of different forage crops. What we’re harvesting here today is actually silage, this is corn silage and we will utilize all of this to balance the diet for the cattle and provide a roughage source. And we farm quite a bit of silage. Compared to some of the other crops grown in the state of Kansas, it’s not necessarily unique to our industry but it is fairly unique to a lot of different farming operations. (Katie) And you not only grow the traditional row crops, but you’ve gotten into some unique cover crops. Talk about that and talk about why you’ve gotten into that practice. (Shawn) Well, this particular farm right here has been in… it will have something growing in it virtually year around. Shortly here in the next couple weeks, we’ll be planting a cover crop here. Than around October, we’ll be kicking some calves out here. We got into the cover crop, like I said, because of the drought. But what we have found is, it’s essential for preventing erosion during the off season, more nutrient penetration into the ground and also providing an additional feed source for the cattle. So, in many ways it’s more than one plus one equals two type deal. It’s one of those scenarios where there’s a lot of benefits. (Katie) And bring this back around to the actual cattle feeding component of your business. How does this allow you guys to be flexible in your feeding? And what does this allow you guys to do in terms of your inputs? (Shawn) Well in a way having grazing programs in the fall and winter time is actually kind of a supply management for the feedlot. So we can be staging cattle out here creating cheap gain for our customers, but yet creating more business for a couple months from now. (Katie) And the cost control on this? Is it significant since most of the inputs are grown on your farm? (Shawn) Yes. You know, that is one of our goals. We try to raise as much of the feed that we provide for our customers ourselves because we can keep costs down, keep their cost down and easily manage the quality of that product that way. Just provide a better and more profitable experience for our customers. (Katie) Thank you. Stay with us for more on That’s My Farm.
(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer with Shawn and Shane Tiffany at Tiffany Cattle Company outside Herington, Kansas. Shawn and Shane, you guys have been in the business for seven years now. So, you’re relative newcomers but you already have the next generation around. So, talk to me about what the future holds. You guys are laying the groundwork for a lot of great things to come. What do you guys see and how are you guys planning for that? (Shawn) You’ve just got to be flexible with markets, with changing farming practices, with various regulations. And just be forward thinking and just try to be adaptive. (Shane) We feel very fortunate. There’s a lot of changes going on in agriculture right now. Largely, the population of the people that are in agriculture is getting older and older and we choose to look at that not as something to be scared of but as an opportunity for young people that want to live this lifestyle, want to be in the rural communities. And Shawn and I really try and make decisions based off of here. Based, not only what’s best for here but what’s best for our surrounding areas. We’re actively involved in our communities. Our children are actively involved in a lot of extracurricular activities and because of that we have a vested interest to see not only this operation succeed, but rural America as well. (Katie) And you guys plan on being here for years and years to come. What do you guys see as any big hurdles that you will have to overcome in the near future? (Shawn) Well, obviously ground prices and just the volatility in the markets. You have to be very intensive on your risk management. But just like Shane said, our surrounding area is very important to us. Our neighbors are important to us. Our relationships and our reputation. And we like to think that this business here is not just profitable for our operation, but also our neighbors as well. You know we buy a lot of commodities from our neighbors and have great relationships with them. (Katie) But I sense optimism and I sense a fore looking business plan and sense from you guys that you guys plan to be here and plan to raise quality beef for years to come. (Shane) Absolutely. I mean agriculture always has been and always will be rather risky. Within that it takes hard work and a plan and a strategy and so we are optimistic about the future. We love what we do. It’s near and dear to our hearts and I don’t think that either one of us can think of anything we’d rather be doing. So, the future is bright. (Katie) Wonderful. Thank you for spending time with us. And thank you for joining us at Tiffany Cattle Company on That’s My Farm. We’ll see you next time.
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission, the Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.