AGRICULTURE

Amstutz named Commercial Cattle Producer of the Year

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Farm Forum

AMES, IOWA – Aaron Amstutz is indicative of the new face of commercial cattle producers in Iowa. Through the use of production technology and modern cattle facilities, this 34-year-old from Bloomfield earned this year’s Iowa Outstanding Commercial Cattle Producer Award. He received the award during the Iowa Cattle Industry Convention held Dec. 9-11 in Altoona. The award is jointly sponsored by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Breeds Council.

Amstutz uses both spring and fall calving in his farm operation in southeastern Davis County. The majority, about 275 cows and heifers, are in the spring calving herd; there are 100 head of fall calving cows. “This allows us to spread out cash flow and make better use of our herd sires,” he said.

Calves are early weaned, between 90 to 130 days of age. Once weaned, the calves are moved to a bedded monoslope building where they are fed a total mixed ration which is primarily forages harvested on the farm and corn co-product feeds. The monoslopes, which was built in 2010, has allowed the farm to shift to a wean-to-finish facility. Once cattle hit the 850-pound mark, the ration changes to corn, corn silage, and corn co-product feeds, and includes the use of feed additives that focus growth on muscle instead of fat.

Amstutz Cattle, Inc. markets its fed cattle on either live weight or carcass weight basis, and Amstutz says the focus on adding muscle weight “has enabled me to increase profitability by selling heavier calves due to improved feed efficiency and performance.”

Besides selling fed cattle from his calf crop, Amstutz said about 5% of his calf crop is sold as market weaned calves, and 20% are sold as replacement quality heifers, which is another way to add premium to the cattle sold from the farm.

Amstutz credits the use of high quality bulls and artificial insemination that has improved his breeding stock and provides him with quality heifers for sale. The source for the farm’s herd bulls is Ellingson Angus of North Dakota. Amstutz says the bulls meet his needs for performance, carcass traits, good phenotype and maternal qualities in his cow herd.

Amstutz is a graduate of Kirkwood Community College, and returned to the family farm in 2000. He bought a 75% interest in his father’s cow herd, which numbered 85 at the time. He bought another 36 cows in 2003, but since then has maintained a closed herd so he can take full advantage of his herd genetics.