For Weber Feed Yards LLC owner and Saline County Farm Bureau member Joel Weber, doing it all and doing it the right way is job one. A 4th generation farmer/feeder from Dorchester, Joel went off to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated in 1995 with an agribusiness degree, then went right back to the farm.
His father is semi-retired which leaves Joel to manage the 4,500 head of cattle and farm ground on his own. Ninety percent of the crops they raise go to feed the cattle.
He does have employees on the farm, and says all of them are Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) trained.
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Part of this commitment to cattle comfort and care includes using sprinklers during the heat of the summer and for those pens not in reach of sprinklers and/or without shade, they bring the fire truck to the yard and spray them down. In the winter, they spend time bedding their pens, making sure the cattle have a dry place to lay down. “It’s in the best interest of the cattle. We do everything we can to make sure they’re comfortable and have a good life while they’re on our farm,” Joel says.
The niche market Joel has found is with age and source verified cattle. The farm has stringent record-keeping rules because most of the beef he raises is for export to Japan. All the cattle have papers with their date of birth and ranch of origin. In the early 2000s, the Weber feed yard started dabbling in age and source verification until they learned more about the needs and wants of the end-user in Japan. They fully adapted to that protocol by 2004.
Joel’s wife, Amy, teaches Math at Meridian Schools and the couple has three children: Christian – 8; Jacob – 6; and Sophia – 3.
Continue to check back to the blog each Thursday to get to know more farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska as they share their everyday stories. And to read past farmer and rancher profiles, click here.