In 2007, Moes Feedlot in South Dakota built their first monoslope barn. This was in preparation to expand their operation so Bryan Moes could come back to the family farm after college. In 2011, with no available farmland to buy, Bryan’s dad started to expand their facilities to hold 1,999 head of cattle and continued to improve how their operation ran.
When Bryan came back to the family farm in 2014, he had received his degree in Ag Engineering and first worked at Bobcat. He used his technical and statistical knowledge from working at Bobcat to better manage their farming business. For example, he gathered information that helped him determine when a pen of cattle would be ready to sell.
Since Moes Feedlot did not have the ability to buy more farmland, they started focusing on the feedlot and caring for the land they had. Their feedlot is surrounded by prairie potholes – or shallow wet spots – and that encouraged them to become more environmentally friendly and efficient. They soon saw improvements in their soil organic matter which in turn improved the water holding capacity on their farmland. In 2018, Bryan and his dad received the Environmental Stewardship Award.
Bryan and his dad saw major gains on the cattle they backgrounded and decided to start finishing their cattle out. Others around the area started to see and hear about the success Moes Feedlot was having and soon began asking questions about what changes they had made. Another success they saw was when they started custom feeding for a neighbor and his group of cattle had an average of 4.5 lb /day of gain. This grew the custom feeding side of their operation while Bryan and his dad were in the midst of expanding their own cow/calf herd to 350 head of commercial Black Angus.
To be as efficient as possible, they continued to work closely with SDSU’s breeding program and started looking for other technology that would help their operation. They knew data played an important role and wanted to incorporate precision agriculture on the beef side of their business. With usable data they would be able to make changes for the future with breeding and purchasing decisions.
In 2017, Bryan found Performance Beef and liked what he saw. “The flexibility of loading ingredients and the whole complete package with closeout reports stuck out most to me,” says Moes. Before using Performance Beef they kept track of everything on an Excel spreadsheet. In order to find performance information on a group, they would dig back through pages of old records. Now they are able to find information easily and quickly with Performance Beef.
Bryan finds Performance Beef valuable for monitoring every pound and every dollar by group for the custom feeding side of their business. “Even if we didn’t use any of the closeout reports, just having the ability to have feed sheets from a paper copy to digital is huge,” adds Moes. “Also, we are capturing shrink a lot better because we are getting actual pounds loaded and actual pounds fed.”
“With a fluctuating market, guessing isn’t good enough,” says Moes. “We need valuable data that we can use instead of getting data just for the sake of it and getting nothing out of it.”