Dakota Farmer

Slideshow: The Steichens showcase a confinement feeding system on their operation, and how it helps keep their herd comfortable.

Sarah McNaughton, Editor, Dakota Farmer

September 10, 2021

6 Slides

On Kirby Steitchen’s operation, the addition of a confinement cattle feeding system meant they were able to keep cattle comfort at the forefront of their work.

“The two main things I looked at was cattle comfort and savings on labor,” Steitchen says.

The operation’s new confinement feeding system features six bed-pack pens with electric waterers and exterior and interior feed alleys.

“We went with Central Confinement [Service], and I had a lot of options to pick from and was able to choose the size of the building all the way to the size of the eave,” he explains.

This ability to customize the new building allowed Steichen to create the ideal facility to keep cattle eating and comfortable no matter the weather. “Even in the heat of the day, the cattle are comfortable to come up and eat, and we have a full bunk line,” he says.

“One of the big benefits is when you start looking at $7 corn. You’re making your corn go a lot further. It’s going into making meat versus just body maintenance on these animals,” says David Skaggs, a sales representative for Central Confinement Service. “Keeping the cover on them in the summer helps to keep them in the shade, and that has a huge impact on these cattle being at the bunk all day long.”

Skaggs says when customers are looking to add a confinement system to their operation, the first step is often a tour of their existing facility.

“We drove out to South Dakota to look at a couple barns, and a couple weeks later their farm picked up 6 inches of rain in a 24-hour period followed by 100-degree weather,” he says. “Kirby was in an outdoor yard and his cattle just stood in the mud and wouldn’t spend any time at the feed box. The next day he called me up and said, ‘We need a barn,’ and he’s been happy with it ever since.”

“It’s always great to see beef producers diversifying into these systems and having a little bit more control over their feed sources, especially when pastures and forages are stressed,” says Amber Boeshans, executive director of the North Dakota Livestock Alliance.

NDLA works closely with producers to increase opportunities for livestock operations in North Dakota and assists in the permitting process with local townships and counties.

“Utilizing the feed opportunities you have nearby is a great way to keep costs down, and NDLA is also happy to serve as a networking resource for producers,” Boeshans says.

The barn is 62 feet wide and 448 feet long, and also features an additional 48-foot bay with a state-of-the-art hydraulic handling system.

“Kirby shared that he and his wife can work a load of cattle by themselves. With a remote-control system, no one has to get in with the cattle, and they just flow so smooth,” Skaggs says.

Check out the gallery for an inside look at this feeding operation.



About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton of Bismarck, N.D., has been editor of Dakota Farmer since 2021. Before working at Farm Progress, she was an NDSU 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D. Prior to that, she was a farm and ranch reporter at KFGO Radio in Fargo.

McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in ag communications and a master’s in Extension education and youth development.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, as a member of North Dakota Agri-Women, Agriculture Communicators Network Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

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