HOOP BEEF SYSTEM®: Designed by Cattlemen for Cattlemen
Published on Tue, 12/01/2015 - 3:26pm
By Steve Weisman
What to build? How big to build? When to build? Where to build? These are common questions cattle producers often ask as they try to determine how to best protect their cattle from the elements and at the same time maximize their herd’s overall health and growth potential. For the past nine years, the Hoop Beef System, LLC (www.hoopbeef.com) has grown into a system that does just that.
After a decade of research, Dr. Robert Bryant, a longtime veterinarian and cattleman near the rural northwest Iowa town of Washta, has successfully turned what he envisioned for his own family farm into a system that cattle producers from Alberta to Tennessee have grown to trust.
According to Tim Bickett, System Consultant at Hoop Beef System since 2007, “All of us here are cattlemen. It is what we do and defines who we are. We are focused on our cattle and what is best for our cattle. We believe in what we sell.” At the same time, Bickett notes that with over 100 years of combined cattle experience, “We understand cattle and people. If we don’t use it, we don’t sell it!”
In essence, Hoop Beef System, LLC offers a complete package that delivers buildings, bunks, waterers, gates, blueprints, construction advice, nutrition advice on ethanol co-product usage, and complete consulting services for effective system set-up to provide a controlled environment that protects the beef animal from environmental extremes, while incorporating and utilizing the cattle’s natural behaviors and instincts.
To emphasize this, Hoop Beef System, LLC has built an entire system at Grand Meadow Feeders, located on the Bryant family farm, to test its own products and to gain even more knowledge to share with customers. Tours are regularly hosted at Grand Meadows Feeders where visitors can explore the following:
- Five Original Hoop Beef System® buildings, each 320 feet long housing 320 head each
- Two Hoop Beef Choice system buildings, 320 feet long housing 320 head
- Working facilities and load-in/load-out facilities built in as part of the starting and receiving barn
- Custom designed 75 foot commodity shed
- Two hoop bale sheds 200 feet long that hold over 1,000 large round corn stalk bales
This system allows visitors the opportunity to see how an entire Hoop Beef System® works and to get an idea of how it would work at their site. In addition, data is constantly being collected on the virtues of deep-bedded cattle facilities. With a smile Bickett says, “We are helping build a cattle hotel!” By using the Hoop Beef System,® the weather variable is eliminated, and the cattle are provided a consistent environment.
The positive results include:
- No Wind Chill
- No Frozen Ground
- No Bruised Hooves
- Hair Coats Always Dry
- No Summer Sun
- Venturi effect creates Cooling Air flow with open curtains even in no-wind conditions in summer heat
- No Spoiled Feed
- Feed Bunks Protected from Snow and Rain
Part of that commitment is accurately tracking cattle performance, feed and bedding usage and profitability. This even goes to the extent of weighing every pound of manure as it is hauled to nearby crop fields and to have a regular nutrient testing program to track the manure value.
So, how does it work? Bickett says, “Our goal is to find the right solution for each producer. That means any size from small to large. We will listen to what the producer wants and tailor it to meet the needs of their operation.”
The process to determine what a producer might need revolves around four steps.
The first is a needs assessment. “We will come out to the farm and help analyze the situation, the location and where a building would work best, the size that would meet the needs and what would be the most cost-effective.” Once the options have been agreed upon, a set of blueprints can be drawn up to give the producer a good visual of what the building will look like.
“Once the design is approved, we will then ship the materials from the manufacturing site in Lennox, South Dakota. Next we will work with local contractors or the customer (if they want to construct the facility themselves) to ensure the building process goes smoothly.” The final step is to be there after construction.
“We will gladly share what has worked with our herd as far as nutrition, animal health and what makes our operation successful. With the weather risk eliminated, it becomes all about consistency. Our goal is that three to five years down the road our customers look back and know that building a Hoop Beef System® was a good decision. We are there for their success.”
Original Hoop Beef System®
Even today, this first building design is under continuous improvement. Using this design, cattlemen from 13 states and 2 Canadian provinces have built systems ranging from 80 to 4,000 head of capacity.
By combining the Hoop Beef System® with a patented drover’s alley, producers have a cattle barn that can be bedded, cleaned, scraped and cattle can be moved all by one person. All this can be done easily and safely without the cattle needing to leave the comfort of the building during these operations. Producers have two basic designs to consider.
The “Original” Hoop Beef System® is 36 feet wide with a 4 foot awning over the feed bunk with wood posts and a tongue and groove wood wall on the back of the buildings. All buildings have a center ridge vent with steel end walls and heavy duty steel roll-up doors.
The “Choice” design introduced in 2011 is 44 feet wide with 4 foot awing, I-beam legs and options of precast concrete walls and bunks.
What Customers Say
Brent Bryant, managing director at Hoop Beef System, LLC says more and more producers are realizing the benefits of the Hoop Beef System® buildings. Currently, approximately 16 miles of Hoop Beef System® buildings have been established across Canada and the United States.
One such customer is Jeff Morse, whose farm is located in Pottawattamie County in southwest Iowa. In 2013, Morse built two Hoop Beef System® buildings to finish cattle. This has now expanded to include his cow-calf herd. In the first year, as the calving season progressed, he began feeding cows throughout the year under the hoop roof. Morse found that this turned out to be an even better fit for cows than finishing out cattle.
Bryant notes that as more corn and beans are planted, there are fewer and fewer acres for pasture land. As a result, more producers are turning to the Hoop Beef System® buildings because, as Bryant says, “We can now feed a cow year-round under a roof for less than we can on grass.” Producers are now able to feed baled stalks, co-products and wet distillers grain.
Being under roof throughout the year shelters the cattle from severe winter weather and the heat of summer. It makes for an optimum production environment. Producers such as Morse and Bryant have developed a diversified system that includes calving at three separate times of the year: fall, winter and spring.
Bickett says, “Calving in three groups allows producers to maximize the amount of head they can handle in a certain square footage.”
The Bottom Line
There is little doubt that moving cattle under roof is both a major decision and a major investment. That’s why Hoop Beef System, LLC is there for its customers throughout the entire decision-making, construction process and beyond.
Bickett adds, “We believe in a simple formula: Cost of Construction + Cost of Operation cannot exceed the Cattle Performance Benefit. This means we will work with our customers to develop a project that fits their needs, their budget and their cattle. At the same time, we understand that a reputation is earned and that our customers’ business and trust must be earned. We know that in the cattle business there is no such thing as business hours. As a result, when you need us, we are just a phone call away!”