Feedlot Provides Real-World Persepective For Two Nebraska VeterinariansFeedlot Provides Real-World Persepective For Two Nebraska Veterinarians
Ryan and June Loseke, DVMs, gain practical experience from their Nebraska feedlot and practice what they practice at their veterinarian "day job."
August 28, 2014
If you’re ambitious enough to sign on for four more years of intensive schooling and related debts, you probably have a plan.
That’s where Ryan and June Loseke, DVMs, found themselves in 1993. They were about to be married, just before entering their junior year of veterinary school at Kansas State University.
Their postgraduate plans included living in a rural area and working in large animal medicine.
As owners and practitioners at Loseke Veterinary Services P.C., north of Columbus, NE, the couple made good on those plans. But what they did in the 15 years leading up to their incorporation deviated from the original script.
As she was altering bridesmaids’ dresses, she got a phone call from her soon-to-be husband.
“He said, ‘Do you want to buy a feedyard?’ I remember thinking the bridesmaid’s dress was going to last a few hours,” she recalls, “but the feedyard? That’s a big deal. It really put it in perspective.”
They did buy the feedyard, which will grow to 3,000 head when current expansion is complete. Just down the road from where Ryan grew up, it serves as the base for the family operation that includes crops and trucking services.
It also provides real world perspective when the couple is serving cow-calf producers and farmer-feeders in their northeast Nebraska practice.
“I do everything from scrub water tanks to drive the feedtruck to haul manure to working with [our nutritionist] on rations,” Dr. Ryan Loseke says. “It’s one thing to talk about delivering feed evenly through the bunk but I’ve put in hundreds of hours in the feed truck.
Photo Gallery: Nebraska Veterinarians Practice What They Preach At Family Feedlot
Learn how Ryan and June Loseke, DVMs, gain practical experience from their feedlot in this short photo gallery.
“It helps keep me practical in my recommendations,” he says.
Scott Schmid farms and raises cattle near the Loseke family.
“When I talk to Dr. Ryan Loseke, he knows exactly what I’m talking about. He’s probably going through the same thing, too,” Schmid says. “The reason I like him and we get along good is that he’s in the same business I’m in, plus he’s a vet. He can relate to everything I tell him.”
Dr. Ryan Loseke shares personal experience on what vaccines seem to be working best on the pathogens of the season.
Integrated Businesses, Family
The Losekes don’t view the feedyard as a side business, or simply a place to market their home-raised grain. It’s a main focus.
In September, Loseke Feedyard was named Feedlot Partner of the Year at the Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB) brand annual conference in Marco Island, FL, for their dedication to producing high quality beef.
“Angus cattle were in our wedding vows,” Dr. Ryan Loseke jokes.
Maybe it wasn’t that blatant, but Dr. June Loseke’s family always fed and raised the breed on their ranches near Verdigre, NE. When they moved back with their veterinary degrees in spring 1995 and found the pens filled with “striped, sheepish” cattle, she said, “Not again. No.”
Today most of the calves come from ranch-direct purchases out of Montana.
“The predictability is good,” Dr. Ryan Loseke says. “You know what you’re going to get from a health and performance standpoint.”
Their mortality rate is low, at .75 percent or less, compared to some industry wide estimates of twice that.
But health isn’t just about treating cattle.
“You find the longer you’re in practice, the answers are very rarely in the bottle,” Dr. Ryan Loseke says. “It’s holistic and there are many factors that influence the end product.”
Most cattle are preconditioned for four to six weeks before arrival, where they get a 24-hour rest before processing.
“We’ve never really had a wreck, but we don’t buy high-risk cattle, either,” Dr. Ryan Loseke says.
So far this year, the feedyard posted a 38 percent CAB acceptance rate, which is 18 points above the national average and more than triple what it was a decade ago.
Although they purchase all the cattle, they share quality and performance information with their suppliers.
“Some feeders are hesitant to send carcass data back, but it gives them a chance to see how they’re doing,” Dr. Ryan Loseke says. “If the industry wants to make improvements, it needs to go all the way back to the seedstock guys to really see a change.”
Shawn Christiansen of Hot Springs, MT, markets feeder calves to the Losekes and uses the feedback to improve genetics and management.
“Because of that, you know what bulls are working under my environment and his environment,” Christiansen says. “He’s been really helpful in getting information to help keep the consumer demand up.”
Indeed, their joint focus is on raising higher quality cattle.
“I want something that’s 1,400 pounds at 14 months of age, but I understand they have to have cows that work on the ranch, too,” Dr. Ryan Loseke says.
The veterinary business benefits from that industry-wide perspective, as much as the feedyard draws on that animal health background.
In all areas, the Losekes split tasks. They ride pens together each morning, but “she has the knack for finding sick critters,” Dr. Ryan Loseke says. They treat any pulls and then he delivers feed while she typically drives to the clinic to begin veterinary work.
Their small office is mainly set up for large animal work, though as Dr. June Loseke says, “Cattle and horses usually come with dogs and cats.” She serves those small animal clients, and they do swine consulting and have a few sheep producers.
“We can cover a broad amount of species, just because of the difference in our size and abilities,” Dr. June Loseke says, noting they make a good team—and an efficient one at that.
Their only employee is nephew Jake Bartos, but they draw support from Dr. Ryan Loseke’s dad, Wayne, and their children, Elisabeth (18), Erika (15), Carsten (12) and Cort (10).
“They’re our main secretaries,” Dr. June Loseke says of the latter. “All of them have been out on horses since they were infants, out here with us. I think they learned to count and number recognition because of reading ear tags.”
Their “typical” office hours are anything but standard, and include a lot of evenings and Saturday appointments (unless it’s harvest season or they’re receiving cattle at the feedyard).
“Our clients know that it’s pretty much whenever they can catch us, and they’re good with that,” Dr. June Loseke says.
Bookwork is completed in the evenings and, thanks to smartphones, in spare moments waiting for children at sports camp or a 4-H event.
“Post-it notes go through our house pretty fast,” Dr. June Loseke says. They also rely on synched Outlook calendars, Quickbooks and Excel spreadsheets.
The schedule is demanding, but also a blessing that allows working together and raising their family around them.
It’s responsibility they don’t take lightly. Dr. June Loseke says, “We are thankful He created Angus cattle and allowed us to be stewards of some of His land and livestock.”
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