One important pillar program under the Beef Checkoff umbrella is Beef Quality Assurance (BQA). It serves as a vehicle for encouraging industry advancement, where scientific standards are used to set the bar and drive change. As technology evolves, so do we as beef producers. In more recent years we have started communicating the merits of this program to our consumer customers. Research shows consumers respond positively to beef and how it’s raised once they understand that producers subscribe to continuing education via the BQA program. Each year the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) acknowledges outstanding people in the industry who have helped facilitate that process. These awards were presented at the Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit on December 16th at Prairie Meadows Conference Center.
The Iowa Feedyard award recognizes outstanding farmer feeders with a commitment to BQA principles. The 2021 winner hails from Fredericksburg, Iowa, and has quite a tale to tell. This producer’s passion for cattle is readily apparent in how he describes the family operation, he truly has a love for the cattle. When he started in business, it was with a horse and plow. Now, 70 years later, the operation has reinvented itself to adapt to the changing needs of today’s business environment. He started in the dairy business where he became well-known for his high-quality genetics and high standards of care. Over a 20 year career, he brokered replacement dairy heifers to South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Honduras among others. He contributes this success to making sure the cattle never had a bad day, noting all vaccines, identification and export requirements were met. When the dairy business was seeing diminishing returns, he pivoted and started feeding beef cattle. They operate open front barns and pride themselves on cattle care. Pens are bedded daily and manure management is a year-round process. Hadwin walks the pens daily and when describing these daily routines he noted, “we get to know the cattle and the cattle get to know us” going on to say “we like cattle that love one another.” Perhaps one of his most notable talents is describing how, when and why the cattle are cared for in such a way, describing it in terms that anyone can understand. His cattle buyer also agreed, stating that he can send reporters unaccompanied to this operation with complete confidence that they will leave with an understanding of how cattle are raised. It’s a family operation with three sons managing the crop production which directly supports the feedlot. It’s particularly intriguing to learn how the operation utilizes sewage from the nearby town to supplement the crops with irrigation where possible. Other innovations include the implementation of cover crops and a bud box working system for low-stress cattle handling. Hadwen was quick to mention it’s not a one-man band, sons Dale, Doug and Gene manage the farm while grandsons Tim, Adam and Dustin are key drivers on the livestock side. IBIC is elated to present Hadwen Kleiss and the entire team at Stardell Farms as the recipient of the Feedyard Award.
This family has become a household name in the business. Spanning five generations and dating back to 1894, the family matriarch, Ed, traveled 33 miles by horse and buggy to purchase the farm’s first herd sire. This operation is meticulous in its record-keeping, collecting a variety of performance indicators such as calving ease and birth weight while also scoring the dams on udder quality, mothering ability, and disposition among other key performance measures. They take pride in balancing the use of technology, such as AI synchronization protocols, with keeping commercial cattlemen ideals top priority where each animal is expected to earn their keep. The implementation of waterways, headlands and terraces on crop ground are prioritized to diminish soil erosion. Trees are planted to support air quality, provide windbreaks and shade for the cattle. They’re big believers in utilizing cover crops and implementing wildlife habitats on land not suitable for crop production. If you peruse their website, it offers a thorough explanation of how they operate. This is what they had to say, “We like to consider ourselves stewards of the land and believe that it’s our responsibility to do our part to ensure our soil is fertile and prosperous for future generations.” It’s the culmination of these efforts that led to their selection for the 1996 ESAP award. If you’re from Southwest Iowa you’re probably familiar with their “Good Doin Bulls.” Congratulations to Wiese and Sons from Manning, Iowa.
Iowa is the home to a robust live auction system facilitated by the work of auction markets across the state. This award category recognizes the auction markets for the work done to support the BQA program. This year’s award winner purchased the market in 2016 from the previous owners and shared, “It’s always something we’ve wanted to do. We just love the cattle industry, it’s a great business to be in.” He goes on to say, “Some of the greatest cattle in the country come through [here], and that says a lot about the business and surrounding communities.” These owners have gone above and beyond to work alongside BQA educator Denise Schwab to provide opportunities for producers to access BQA certification opportunities. They’ve hosted several BQA certification programs at the market and actively support the tenets of the program. IBIC would like to congratulate Todd and Karen Bergfeld of Cascade Livestock Auction for their outstanding work.
For additional information on the awards or the Iowa BQA program, please visit www.iabeef.org.
About the Iowa Beef Industry Council: The Iowa Beef Industry Council is funded by the $1.50-per-head beef checkoff. Checkoff dollars are invested in beef promotion, consumer information, research, industry information and foreign market development, all with the purpose of strengthening beef demand. For more information, visit www.iabeef.org.