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BeeF MONTH-Managing Herefords with horsepower

By Staff | May 6, 2014

TROY SEVERSON said he prefers using his draft horses, Prince and Steve, to do the daily hay feeding of his cow herd over a tractor that he also has available.

BELMOND – It might be a bit old-fashioned, but Troy Severson said he prefers managing his Hereford cow-calf herd with horses.

Troy and Beth Severson own Grandview Farm and Ranch, just southwest of Belmond in Wright County

The farm received its name from Troy Severson’s great-grandmother, Erma Leonard, when she and her husband bought the farm in 1914.

Severson is the fourth generation to operate it.

The original farm purchase was for 120 acres with two 80-acre parcels added later.

HAYING THE COW herd each afternoon gives Troy Severson a chance to see how calving season is progressing.

Beth Severson grew up as Beth Oberhauser in the same area. The Oberhausers’ half-section is part of Grandview Farm and Ranch.

Severson’s farm and ranch is located on more rolling ground than flat farmland, situated on a high spot overlooking the nearby Iowa River watershed offering “a grand view.”

Troy Severson describes himself as “First, a Christian; second, a husband; third, a father; fourth, a rancher; and fifth, a farmer.”

He grew up within a mile of where he lives now and at age 53, he said, “I’ve done lot of living.”

Severson started participating in rodeos when he was 10 doing bull riding and bare back riding in Little Britches events.

TROY AND BETH SEVERSON feed a ground ear corn ration to these yearling heifers that will be bred for next spring’s calving season.

He continued for the next 10 years ending up steer-wrestling and calf-roping.

These formative years were spent traveling to rodeos in Iowa, Missouri and South Dakota.

In 1979-80 he attended college in Rapid City, S.D., on a two-year rodeo scholarship.

During 1983 and 1984 he farmed on his own.

When he and Beth married in 1985, they moved to St. Louis where she worked for McDonnell-Douglas Corp. Troy worked for August Busch, of Anheuser-Busch, on the Clydesdale breeding farm.

TROY AND BETH SEVERSON load hay for their cows that have not yet had their calves.

“We washed them, trimmed their feet, and broke them to drive,” said Troy Severson.

He did these jobs daily in front of 3,000 visitors who toured the farm.

After two years in St. Louis, he was happy to return to the farm and did not want to raise his children in a city.

The cattle rancher grows corn, soybeans and hay.

The Severson cattle herd features horned Herefords. Troy Severson said he has three reasons for this. They are:

  • Horns offer cattle protection from their predators. Coyotes are a problem for Grand View Farm and Ranch.
  • When being sorted by mounted riders, cattle with horns do not bunch up as tightly.
  • With a rope around their horns, the bovines are easier to control.

THIS YEAR’S CALVING season is about half on the Severson farm, Grand View Farm and Ranch.

For much of the year, afternoon cattle chores are done by taking hay to the pasture using a pair of draft horses pulling a flat rack on wheels, except for the winter when the rack is mounted on a bobsled.

Severson said he’ll use a tractor for feeding chores by changing to a shorter drawbar on the wagon, but prefers using his Percheron horses, Prince and Steve.

The draft animals haul hay to cattle daily.

Severson said when Prince and Steve are pulling the hay rack it’s the highlight of his day, regardless of the weather.

Breeding

Severson’s cattle breeding schedule includes turning bulls out onto the pasture on Father’s Day and brought home on Labor Day.

Calving this year began on March 20. As of the end of April, calving was about half complete. There are around 100 cows in the breeding herd.

Calves are weaned in early November. Steer calves are backgrounded for 45 to 60 days with a ration of ground ear corn harvested on the Severson farm and kept in a corn crib.

The steer calves are sold and heifers are kept back for the breeding herd.

The black-white face, or black baldy, heifers are bred and sold

The cow-calf pairs spend summers south of Belmond. They are hauled to the pasture in spring and driven back with riders on horses in the fall.

“That’s my favorite work day of the year,” said Troy Severson of the fall trail drive.

A joiner

Severson has been active in several organizations, including a board member of the Wright County Fair, Iowa High School Rodeo Association president, since 2005; Iowa Hereford Breeders; and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

After 25 years of various board memberships, Severson said he is done serving on boards.

Beth Severson is on her fourth year as a member of the Clarion-Goldfield school board.

The Seversons said they want to tell agriculture’s story to people who are removed from farming.

“Consumers need to know where their food comes from and how fortunate they are,” said Troy Severson. “Nobody else is going to tell them.

“Beef is an affordable food source, an important and healthy one,” said Troy Severson.

Beth Severson said she uses Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to show pictures of activities on Grand View Farm and Ranch.

A recent photo showed Troy trimming his draft horses’ hooves.

The Severson’s are parents of three children.

Their daughter Allison works in student affairs at Iowa State University, where her husband is going to graduate in May from the veterinary medicine school.

They recently became parents to Troy and Beth’s first grandchild.

Their sons are Clayton, a musician in Los Angeles, and Knuton, a sophomore at ISU in turf management.

Both sons have indicated an interest of possibly returning to the farm some day in the future, continuing the Severson Century Farm.

The daily work schedule at Grand View Farm and Ranch, Troy Severson said, allows little time for hobbies.

However, the family travels when it can.

Troy Severson said, “The years have become repetitious, but I enjoy doing it.”

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