Newspaper Page Text
82-Unc«stef Firming, Saturday, May 28, 1994
LOU ANN GOOD
Lancaster Farming Staff
STRASBURG (Lancaster Co.)
When Luann married Don Bru
baker, a poultry and pig fanner,
she quit her office job with the
intention of having her own farm
She considered several options.
The thought of raising pigs
brought a nose wrinkle. Chickens
were OK when it came to helping
her husband, but it wasn’t whatshe
had in mind for a project she could
call her own.
Luann, who grew up on a Blair
County dairy farm, had a special
affinity for calves so when she
heard about a carefully monitored
program that results in producing
lender, lean beef, she quickly
became enthusiastic. She is now
one of Lancaster County’s pion
eers in a new breed of cattle raising
to fulfill consumer demands for
Luann raises about 350 head of
Holstein bull calves annually for
Tend-R-Lecn Beef. The simple
grain and pellet feeding program
has no-roughage and results in
beef that is lower in calories but
has the same tenderness and eating
quality of ordinary beef.
Luann said, “The concept is to
have a genetic beef breed that is
consistent in taste and appearance
with no fat and lots of flavor.”
This type of program was used
in the midwest as early as the
19305, but only recently has been
introduced by Pcnnfield Feeds in
this county. The Brubakers
researched the pros and cons for
about six months before deciding
to invest in the project.
“1 love doing this. The calves
are just like children. All have their
own personalities, some are easy
to handle, others stubborn and dif
ficult, but they are so personable
and want attention,” she said.
The calves chew on her clothes,
nuzzle her, and follow her around.
“They think I’m their mother,”
Luann said as one of the calves
attempted to crawl into her lap.
Calves are botilcfed at 6 a.m.
and again in late afternoon.
Weaned calves are fed a com and
pellet diet, which is made from the
com Brubaker raises and mixes
with the purchased pellets. Luann
uses a golf cart to transport the
milk and the feed to the hutches
and the feeding lot.
When things go smoothly, it
takes two to three hours for morn
ing feedings and about VA for
afternoon feeding. There is always
the unexpected. A calf with scours.
Does this say anything about technology? Don said that
after nine major renovations of two of the chicken houses,
the last house he built has round feeders, dirt floor, and cur*
tain sides Just like the previous ones had when he was
growing up on the farm. Don now has 90,000 broilers on his
Pioneers Raising Beef For ' 9os Market
blizzard-like conditions, respirat
ory problems, or a calf that refuses
to be weaned. Nonetheless, it has
been Luann’s experience that bull
calves are much easier M 6 wean
than heifers. And the calves have
good appetites with an average
daily weight gain of 2.9 percent.
The Certified Tend-R-Leen is a
U.S. Patented Program and
requires that all animals sold as
Tend-R-Leen must follow strin
Calves must receive four quarts
of colostrum within 12 hours of
Calves must wear an ear tag and
a health feeding card is kept to
enter in a computer tracking prog
ram that follows through to
Bulls must be castrated,
dehorned, and vaccinated before
four weeks of age. Luann holds the
calves and her husband does the
cutting and the shot giving.
The Brubakers have a contract
with Robert Rohrer, who operates
a 700-head dairy in Washington
Boro, to purchase all bull calves,
crossbreeds, and twin offspring.
The program, which is closely
monitored, requires that only
Holstein bulls can be used. There
fore, the cross breeds and twin
heifers are sold elsewhere when
they reach 200 pounds.
“I can’t ask for belter people to
work with than the Rohrers,” Bru
baker said. "They always coop
erate with the colostrum feedings
and we pick up from three to IS
Luann raises the bulls to they
reach about 3SO pounds or at four
months, when they are sold to a
Ml Joy farmer for finishing.
Although the calves are
Louann’s project, Brubaker lends
a helping hand and was instrumen
tal in preparing the operation.
He built two rows of hutches so
that the newborn calves can be
raised separately until they are
weaned. Weaning averages 35 to
Then, they are transferred to a
super hutch, which Brubaker also
built. It holds 16 head. Later, the
animals are moved to a feedloL
Ideally the pens should not need
to be cleaned out but are designed
to dry out. However, the pens are
often refilled within the day, which
requires Brubaker to clean out the
The operation has about 4 per
cent fatalities at this point, but that
was due to the extremely cold
Don and Luann Brubaker stand in front of one of the super hutches where calves
are transferred after weaning. Luann oversees the largest county operation of calves
being raised to market under the Tend-R-Leen label, which uses Holstein bull calves
that are strictly monitored and fed to produce lean and consistent top quality beef.
Although the Brubaker farm has
only 28 acres with 90,000 chickens
that produce 700 ton of manure
annually, it was easy to receive
township approval for the calf
expansion to 450 head. Manure
from the chickens is sold to a local
mushroom processing plant that
hauls it out about six times a year.
At this point, (he Brubakers
have the largest starting operation
in the county for the Tend-R-Leen
program. They have a buyer for
every calf that they raise and
another buyer waiting in the wings
if the first one should renege.'
“Raising the calves is not physi
cally hard work, but it takes pati
ence and not everyone wants to do
it,” Luann said.
Some dairy men who raise their
own replacements are experiment
ing with putting their bull calves
on the Tend-R-Leen plan, as it
offers an opportunity to make
another one or two hundred dollars
per head. But most farmers prefer
to sell the bull calves rather than
take the time required to closely
monitor them and to followed the
restrictive feeding program.
Although Brubaker refers to the
calves as “Luann’s project” he
grudgingly concedes that he has
fallen in love with the calves as
much as his wife has
This was a surprise to him,
because Brubaker’s mindset was
whole hog on raising pigs, which
he did for many years.
Although he grew up on a chick
en farm and enjoyed it, when he
graduated as the top ag student
from Lampeter-Strasburg High
School, there wasn’t room on the
family farm for him. He started
working in Pcnnfield’s hog bam
and later became assistant mana
ger of the hog operation for Keener
When his father died in 1989,
Brubaker returned to help his
mother Miriam with the poultry
“It was a really tough decision to
give up working with pigs, but one
that 1 don’t regret,” he said.
After updating the existing three
chicken houses and adding a fourth
one to raise 90,000 broilers, Bru
baker purchased the farm from his
“I’m really thankful for my
mother and for my brothers and
sisters who were willing to let me
buy the farm cheaper (than market
price) so that I could farm,” Bru-'
(Turn to Pago B 3)
“These coats saved many a calf,” Luann said of the coats
she had made to protect calves from cold weather.
*22 eas,ly transport the milk and the feed for morn-
a «® r "oon feeding of the calves being raised to
market under the Tend-R-Leen label.