Rancher: Garrett Foote
Location: Texico, NM
Operation Name: Tim Foote Cattle Company
FactsAboutBeef.com: Tell us a little about yourself.
Garrett: I just graduated from Texas Tech University, with a degree in Animal Science, and will be attending Law School in the fall. I also work on my family’s Texico, NM ranch, Tim Foote Cattle Company, on breaks and weekends as a backgrounder (also known as a stocker).
FAB: What is a backgrounder?
Garrett: Backgrounders, also known as stockers, raise cattle from when they are weaned off of their mother’s milk and then send them to the feed yard when they reach a desired weight, usually between 750-800 pounds. Backgrounders and stockers are important in the beef lifecycle because we facilitate the transition from grass pasture to a grain diet. At a stocker or backgrounder ranch like ours, cattle typically graze on grass for a period of time, and a grain diet (called a “ration”) will be introduced to the feed bunk.
FAB: What does your grain ration consist of?
Garrett: Our grain ration consists of dried distillers grains, soybean hulls, cracked corn, whey, and supplements to keep the health and digestive system balanced. We also feed wheat, corn, or sorghum silage depending on what is available each season. Everything we feed depends on the season, how much was grown and harvested, and the location of where it was grown. We raise our own crops to feed, but sometimes have to buy from people in our region.
FAB: How long do cattle typically stay on your operation?
Garrett: The amount of time that cattle remain on our operation depends on how much they weigh when we receive them. We typically receive cattle that weigh between 400 and 700 pounds. We feed heifers (female cows) until they weigh approximately 750 pounds and steers (male cows) until they weigh 800 pounds. Cattle will stay on our operation anywhere from 30 to 150 days. Our operation is family owned and we typically feed between 35,000 to 40,000 cattle per year, but have 13,000 to 14,000 on our ranch at any given time.
FAB: What makes your operation unique (geographical, environmental, resources, type of cattle, etc.)?
Garrett: Our ranch is located 15 miles north of Texico, NM, which is on the eastern New Mexico border. This region’s dry, mild environment is ideal for raising cattle – the mild temperatures reduce stress and cattle are less likely to get sick in the dry climate.
We feed mainly black cattle and graze them on wheat from the winter months into spring; in the summer months they graze on grass. We do this because there are nutritional and
environmental benefits. Grass and wheat in our area is very nutrient dense; and it’s cheaper to use resources from our area instead of buying feed.
FAB: How are you different from cow/calf and feed yard operations? How are you similar?
Garrett: Cattle come to our operation right after cow/calf and just before the feed yard. Cattle need the extra step and transition time between being weaned off of milk, and moved to a grain diet. Our primary focus is to raise cattle to a certain weight before they are sent to the feed yard to be raised for another four to six months. We are similar because cow/calf operations, feed yards, and our operation, provide safe beef for consumers, and the health, care, and well-being of the animal is extremely important to us.
FAB: How do you play a role in raising safe beef?
Garrett: We work with our veterinarian and nutritionist to develop animal care programs to keep our cattle healthy and provide a good environment for raising safe beef. We raise a large part of the feed for our cattle and know where it comes from. This allows us to be sure that the feed was harvested and collected correctly and is safe for cattle to consume. Any time it rains, or new cattle come in, we clean all of the pens to keep the environment dry and clean.