While the annual meeting is a prime chance to bond with teammates, it’s also an important time to reconnect with the land and livestock. For us, continuing education happens out in the field — literally. As an eight-year veteran of Midan, I’ve toured more than a few cattle and hog farms and have learned that it’s not only what you see on the farm, but whom you meet there that reminds us of why we do what we do.
This year we had the pleasure of visiting two special operations near the Flint Hills of central Kansas: the Tiffany Cattle Company, Inc. and Kniebel Cattle Company.
Tiffany Cattle Company, Inc.
Tiffany Cattle is a mid-sized cattle feed lot owned and run by brothers Shane and Shawn Tiffany. As we were led on an awesome tour by Shane, I was struck by two things: how much pride and passion he has for his work and how knowledgeable he was about so many aspects of the cattle business. The Tiffany Brothers have figured out the secret to success is taking good care of their two most important assets: their team members and the cattle that are entrusted to them.
Caring for cattle is a 24-7, 365-days-a-year job, and it’s an “all hands on deck” endeavor. Shane and his brother consult a whole team of specialists to create optimum conditions for the cattle, including veterinarians and nutritionists. Sustainability also plays a big part in their operations; they grow their own corn to feed the cattle and use the manure to help fertilize next year’s corn crop.
The real value of the corn is the role it plays in finishing the cattle and helping them achieve their full genetic potential for weight gain and marbling. The Tiffany brothers never lose sight of the fact that the care they take in making these cattle fat and happy ensures the greatest potential for their customers to be profitable and consumers to enjoy quality, flavorful beef products.
Kniebel Cattle Company
By the time we finished our second tour at the Kniebel Farm, I was wishing that I had grown up in rural America rather than the suburbs of Philadelphia. The Kniebel family is comprised of fourth-generation ranchers raising registered and commercial Red Angus cattle on a gorgeous 3,000-acre farm. We were led on the tour by co-owners Kevin and Mary Ann Kniebel, who run the operation along with Kevin’s brother and his wife. The sun was shining, the air temperature was a perfect 75 degrees and we were able to get up close and personal with the cattle.
But although we were enjoying a leisurely day in this idyllic setting, it was clear that Mary Ann and Kevin work very hard to maintain the operation that was started by Kevin’s grandfather. Up until recently, they had very little outside help, aside from when their now-grown children provided what they affectionately referred to as “slave labor.”
My greatest takeaway from Kniebel is the pride they take in breeding and raising higher grading, choice quality cattle. The Kniebel’s belong to U.S. Premium Beef, a cooperative of ranchers that purchased part of National Beef, giving them greater market access and allowing them to continue feeding their cattle at home.
Mary Ann and Kevin could not have been more gracious or hospitable to the Midan team. They set up picnic tables in their shop for us to eat lunch, and Mary Ann served delicious homemade cakes.
When I see articles in the media that today’s consumers are disconnected from their food sources, I wish that everyone could visit places like Kniebel Farm or Tiffany Brothers feed lot. There is nothing better than meeting those who care deeply about the health and well-being of livestock to remind you of the quality of the people producing America’s food.
That’s why a farm tour is always on the agenda at the annual Midan Team Meeting.