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Where the burgers come from

By Staff | May 31, 2013

DAVID VAINREB, in white, gesturing, talks about his 1,150-head cattle company in rural Gilmore City on May 24 to sixth graders from Pocahontas Area School District. It was part of an annual tour Vainreb conducts to help students “understand where their cheeseburgers come from.”

GILMORE CITY- Max Seiler and Jacob Hubbell elbowed their way to the front of their classmate on Friday and took pinches of distillers’ dried grain between their fingers and savored the aroma.

The pair was part of two school bus loads of sixth graders from the Pocahontas Area Community School District touring the cattle farm of David Vainreb, about seven miles northwest of Gilmore City.

“It smells good,” Hubbell said. Seiler said he also smelled the fermented silage that was on display and liked that pungent odor, too.

Vainreb, serving his first term as an Iowa Cattlemen’s Association board director for District 7, was conducting an annual tour of his Bar V Cattle Co. operation, said the event was to draw attention to May Beef Month, “and to help kids know where their cheeseburgers come from.”

Darren Henrickson, one of the two teachers chaperoning the pupils, said gone are the days when many of the students would be from farms with cattle on them.

DAVID VAINREB shows Pocahontas sixth-graders fermented silage, one of the different types of forages that go into making up a modern-day cattle feed. As the calves grow, he said, the feed mix is changed to meet the demands of the animals’ bigger bodies.

“It’s just not that way anymore,” he said, adding he hoped that these young people would have a deeper appreciation for where their food comes from and the process it requires to get beef from the hoof to the mouth.

Vainreb started the tour showing his audience the various types of forages and ethanol products that are respectively ground and mixed to become feed for his beef calves.

He operates a feedlot of about 1,150 calves, feeding a total of 20 to 22 tons daily. He told them how the ration is altered as the calves grow bigger, especially for the last few months when more calories are added to finish them off in weight and to develop marbling into their muscles.

He invited the students to sniff the various feeds. Showing them the finished feed mix, he acknowledged that to humans it may not look appetizing, but “they eat it and they’re growing.”

Vainreb was assisted by his daughter, Bailey Vainreb, 15, and Cody Peterson, 13, a seventh-grader and Addie Duitscher, an eighth grader. Bailey Vainreb and Peterson demonstrated to their listeners how they care for the animals individually, following prescribed Beef Quality Assurance methods. These include inoculations to keep the calves healthy, similar to vaccination of children, plus liquid solutions to keep bugs and lice out of their hides and tools to move a calf from one place to another, without causing it harm.

-Farm News photos by Larry Kershner CODY PETERSON, a seventh-grader in the Pocahontas Area School system, was demonstrating how innoculations are given to cattle in the neck area, just under the hide. It was part of a demonstration on prescribed Beef Quality Assurance techniques when handling cattle. In the background, explaining the process, is cattle company owner David Vainreb.

The tour included getting the pupils to guess the weight of one of Bailey Vainreb’s calves she’s raising for the county fair. The winners – Henrickson, Seiler and sixth-grader Zach Gather — received beef certificates.

Members of the Pocahontas Cattlemen’s Association were on site, cooking hamburgers for the youths.

The afternoon went mostly without a hitch except that no one brought buns for the burgers.

While Vainreb made a run to town, ice cream desserts were served to the hungry students.

After the tour of Vainreb’s farm, the two bus loads of students traveled to the nearby dairy farm of Dave Duitscher, in rural Rolfe, to learn about how cattle are managed to produce milk.

TAKING A BIT of distillers’ dried grains between their fingers to sniff are Jacob Hubbell and Max Seiler, both sixth-graders in the Pocahontas Area Community School District. They said they liked the aroma.

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