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  • Miranda Reiman, Angus Media

Cattle Feeders Share Their Wishlist, Predictions

Kee Jim and Mike Thoren join The Angus Conversation.





The days of feed cards and calculators have given way to computer-balanced rations, mixed pens of cattle have become more uniform and carcass-based premiums are now figured into the target rather than an afterthought, but the main objectives of cattle feeders remain the same today as they were decades ago.  


From left, Mike Thoren, Five Rivers, and Kee Jim, G.K. Jim Farms and founding partner of Feedlot Health Management, share their perspectives on the outlook of the cattle feeding industry.


“Calling feed was a race all day long, because you had ribbon printed cards and get them down, print them, run them on the 10 key as fast as you can to figure out what the next call is going to be,” said Mike Thoren, Five Rivers CEO, recalling his early days in the ContiBeef feedyard at the start of his career. 


He and Kee Jim, G.K. Jim Farms and founding partner of Feedlot Health Management services, joined The Angus Conversation to talk history of the industry, the kind of cattle they’re currently demanding and an outlook on the future of the feedlot business.  


They noted cattle genetics and management have made huge improvements over the decades and point to three main areas of focus at the breeder and commercial cow-calf level for the future: health, feed efficiency and disposition. 


“If you get sets of cattle that you know are going to be treacherous, dangerous for your people, they almost get to be a no-bid situation at any value,” Thoren said, emphasizing the importance of temperament. “Somebody else needs to deal with them.” 


Jim explained that health improved for decades, and now that improvement has stalled.   


“I think sometimes they worry that they’re producing cattle that somehow are more prone to die than they were 20 years ago. I don’t believe that's the case at all,” Jim said.  


There have been changes in management and target end points, but also new technology may point to solutions. 


“I think [with] long-term projects that are now possible with improved genomics and tools, other species have been able to improve disease resistance, and they’ve been able to improve survivability,” Jim said. “It should be on the radar of trying to get at that piece genetically, and I think that it is possible.” 


The duo covered everything from beef-on-dairy and roller-compacted concrete to advice Angus breeders can take to heart.  


Listen to the full episode, “Cattle Feeders Share Their Wishlist, Predictions — Kee Jim and Mike Thoren Discuss the Future,” below or search for The Angus Conversation anywhere you get your podcasts.




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