"We are trying to produce the highest possible product here, beef.” - Steve Folkman
The Folkman Family have been raising cattle on C&L Hereford Ranch for almost 50 years. Steve and his wife, Jill, started in the small town of Blair in Trempealeau County before moving the cows down to Ixonia in 1990 and starting their family.
“We chose to raise our children within this industry,” Steve said. “The responsibility and the character building that the day-to-day operation of the farm expounds on the kids. There’s a world of experience on a farm.”
They have always worked to improve cattle quality and care. Steve explained their cows give birth to calves around the first of the year. Because of the snow and cold, they do bring them inside buildings and closely monitor the new calves to make sure they get off to a healthy start.
“I joke about it, but I believe our cattle are taken care of as well as or better than our children,” Steve said laughing.
They work with veterinarians, nutritionists, and other experts in the industry to meet the needs of their livestock.
Sustainability and environmental stewardship are also top of mind for the Folkmans to make sure future generations can continue using local land and resources. They practice rotational grazing and are conscious of their proximity to the Rock River.
“We have the area fenced out away from the river, so we try to minimalize runoff on that,” Steve said. “We have done quite a bit of work because we do enjoy the outdoors and respect wildlife and nature here. Along fence lines, we planted white oak, red oak and some tamarack to try to both improve fence lines, as well as for the wildlife. The oaks produce nuts and acorns that the deer like. We've got a resident herd of about 40 deer that roam here. We do have turkeys, a couple of flocks of resident wood ducks, and teal are well noted here in the southern part of Wisconsin. We'll see several hatches of little ones.”
Beef cattle also play a role in that sustainability story, taking products humans cannot eat and converting them into protein.
“We consider it almost free food, non-usable food because the corn has been harvested off, but the stalks and the residue provide fiber and feed stuffs to the cow. They're able to convert this roughage into protein for a highly usable product that humans can consume.”
C&L Hereford Ranch embraces technology and uses DNA testing and ultrasound technology for genetic improvement.
“We want to see the whole picture of what we’re doing,” Steve said. “We get the proper information to make proper decisions. We are trying to produce the highest possible product here, beef.”
Check out the video above for a virtual farm tour of C&L Hereford Ranch!