Where’s the beef...right here in Wood County PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Farm Editor   
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 09:26
Chuck Bostdorff calls to a bull in his herd of Charolais cattle September 3 at the family farm north of Bowling Green. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The beef industry in Wood County includes a very diverse group of producers and cattle operations.
There are both small and large operations providing different services involving beef cattle.
"Once you get cattle in your blood, it's hard to get out," said Richard Strow of rural Custar.
"I've been in cattle all my life, I don't know any better," his brother, Robert Strow agreed. "Once you have cattle you always have cattle."
Most longtime county residents will immediately think of two prominent "meat" families. The Belleville family and the Frobose family each have their own production farms as well as the facilities for processing and retail sales outlets.
Beyond those family herds and retail outlets, numerous other operators have productive farms involving beef and dairy beef cattle. Today's special "Salute to Beef" features three of the families involved in beef production, Chuck Bostdorff and his daughter, Elizabeth of Bowling Green; the Eckel brothers, Nolan, Nathan and Nick, whose operation is based in rural Perrysburg; and the brothers Strow. Custar.
Among those three families there are actually five different beef operations, as the Bostdorffs have both a feedlot and a cow-calf Charolais operation; Richard Strow focuses on Shorthorn breeding stock; while his brother focuses on Angus, operating primarily as a feedlot. The Eckels have one of the larger operations in the county as they are a feedlot operation for Holstein dairy beef feeders. (Additional stories and photos appear throughout this edition.)
Chuck Bostdorff said, "I love what I'm doing. I'm old enough to retire, but I'm not going to."
One consistent factor among the three families is that all come from strong cattle backgrounds.
Taking care of cattle in Ohio is different than the cattle ranchers out west.
Richard Strow said, "Our cows are much more pampered than feedlots out west. They don't have barns out west."
The National Agricultural Statistics Service shows that the numbers of beef cattle in Wood County has stayed relatively steady over the last three years, ranging from 6,100 to 6,300 head. Wood County is ranked 67th in cattle among the 88 Ohio counties.
According to several people, in the 1940s and '50s, Wood County was among the leading beef producing areas east of the Mississippi.
"Wood County used to be a cattle-rich county," Bob Strow said adding in those days, "Wood County probably had more cattle - both beef and dairy than anywhere in the country."
Dan Frobose said this county and Lenawee County in Michigan were the two leading producers in that era. At that time there were plenty of feed lots for the "stalkers" - beef cattle which were fed in the fall and winter on corn stalks.
For a variety of reasons, including changes in large feedlots out west and other factors, the number and size of beef operations dwindled over the years.
There are more than 800 breeds of cattle recognized worldwide, some of which adapted to the local climate, others which were bred by humans for specialized uses.
The three main English breeds of cattle are Hereford, Angus and Shorthorn; while the Charolais breed has its roots in France.
At the Wood County Fair's open beef show, the classes shown are Angus, Crossbred, Charolais, Chianina, Hereford, Maine and Shorthorn.
The dairy cattle classes at the fair are Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Holstein and Jersey.
Beef cattle are cattle raised for meat production (as distinguished from dairy cattle, used for milk production). The meat of adult cattle is known as beef. There are three main stages in beef production: cow-calf operations, backgrounding, and feedlot operations. When raised in a feedlot, cattle are known as feeder cattle. Many such feeder cattle are born in cow-calf operations specifically designed to produce beef calves. While the principal use of beef cattle is meat production, other uses include leather, and products used in shampoo and cosmetics.
A steer is a castrated male; while a bull is not. Both beef feeders and dairy beef feeders are animals specifically raised to be slaughtered, primarily for meat. The distinction is the breed of the animal.
Calves are newborn, male or female; while a heifer is an unbred female, age 2 or under. A cow is a full-grown female, generally who has given birth.
Unlike dairy cattle where the calves are taken from their mothers almost immediately in a beef operation, the mothers nurse their calves.
"The cows control what their calves eat," said Richard Strow.

More Beef Salute Articles:
Charolais cattle have distinctive look at Bostdorff farm
The Strow brothers are active in beef production
Eckels develop strong beef feeding farm
Farms take different approach on use of artificial insemination
Beef winners from the Wood County Fair
Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 09:56

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