Rancher(s): Rodney and Sadie Derstein
Location: Kismet, Kansas
Ages: Rodney, 31 – Sadie, 26
Operation Name: Cimarron River Cattle Company
Facts About Beef (FAB): Tell us a little bit about your operation and what you do at Cimarron River Cattle Company.
Sadie Derstein (SD): We are a custom backgrounding operation, which means we source calves from cow-calf farmers and ranchers and give them the specialized attention and care that they need to continue to grow. One of the most important things that we can do to boost the animal’s immune system is to make sure that they have a well-balanced diet, so we work closely with our cattle nutritionist who formulates our cattle’s diets with the best mixture of protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins the cattle need to thrive and grow.
FAB: How is your operation unique? What are some of the challenges?
Rodney Derstein (RD): You could say being a young, married couple who work together every single day makes us unique. When we first bought our ranch it was just us two doing it all. We work well together and have found ways to divide responsibilities on ranch.
SD: We are also unique in that Rodney, in addition to helping run our ranch, works full-time for a feed company where he sources unusable by-products, such as wet and dry distillers grains—the unfermented grain byproducts that contain protein, fiber, and fat—that are used as part of the scientifically-balanced diet for cattle.
FAB: How do you use technologies such as growth promotants and antibiotics on your ranch?
RD: All of our cattle are owned by other farmers and ranchers—we’re their caretakers—so we follow the direction of our customers to determine which technologies we can or can’t use on certain animals. Often times, this depends on which marketing program the animal will be entered into once it becomes beef—for example, if the animal will go into a “naturally raised” or “certified organic” marketing program, it cannot and will not be given a growth promotant. When it comes to our antibiotics usage, we work hand in hand with our consulting veterinarian, Dr. Nels, on a weekly basis in order to determine the right amount of antibiotics, use them for the right amount of time and in order to treat the right illness, and we’ve worked out a written treatment protocol which we follow closely.
FAB: How do you play a role in raising high-quality beef?
SD: We believe that high-quality beef starts with high-quality care, so we follow the BQA (Beef Quality Assurance) standards when handling cattle, making sure that we move animals quietly and in low-stress ways—and we also educate our employees on proper cattle handling. In addition, cleaning water tanks at least once per week, providing any shelter that we can and making sure the pens are cleaned regularly are always at the top of our list. We want the cattle in our yard to be as comfortable as possible.
FAB: What would you say to critics who call you a “factory farm?”
SD: Well, we would have to invite them to come and spend the day with us. Come and spend the day on horseback and see what actually goes on and how the animals are treated. This is our little paradise; we work side-by-side every day and put everything we have into raising beef. The cattle here are comfortable and their needs are put ahead of ours, every single time. We are proud of being able to play a small part in the beef community. Early mornings and long days are worth it when you know that you are helping feed others.
FAB: How do you prepare your favorite cut of beef?
RD: I like my steak medium rare with a dash of salt.
FAB: If readers want to follow your ranch activities on social media, where can they find you?
Instagram: @rderstein and @sderstein
Facebook: Cimarron River Cattle Co.