"Rockin' Your Heart Weekend" Pasture To Plate Ranch Tour Held June 5

This past weekend was all about beef, cattle, ranchers, education and fun. The "Rockin' Your Heart Weekend" took place June 4-5 and was sponsored by the MonDak Stockgrowers Association.

A team roping event kick started the festivities on Friday at Richland County Fair and Rodeo. Participants were able to demonstrate their roping skills.

With a chance to watch roping skills, live music, food and concession stands and the beer gardens, attendees from young to old had something they could enjoy. Alyson Shriver performed at the event.

"She's got a beautiful voice. People really enjoy listening to her," said Kristin Larson, TITLE with the Montana Beef Council.

Saturday's celebration started with the 5K/10K beef run called "Run For The Brand." Larson said the run/walk brought in a good crowd with 30 participants. The medals handed out were made from cow tags and water bottles were donated by MT Bare Cave.

This year marks the 9th anniversary of the Cattlemen's Ball. With February being Heart Healthy Month, these events have traditionally been held then. Larson explained they wanted to add more events and came up with the Pasture To Plate Ranch Tour.

The tour gave people the chance to see firsthand and learn about a working ranch, its history, the cattle, their operation and many other aspects. Tour participants met at Sidney Livestock Saturday morning and took a bus out to Bar JV Angus Ranch owned by Dale and Jill Vitt.

The family owned and operated ranch got its start between 1931-1932 when Dale's great grandfather started it, making Dale a fourth-generation rancher. Having started with only a few cattle and sheep, the ranch has come a long way with now having hundreds of cattle.

With so many misconceptions surrounding cattle and beef, Larson said that was the motivation and incentive to add the ranch tour.

"People think that cattle spend all their time in feed lots, and that's not the case," said Larson.

There is a lot more to cattle operations than people think. Sustainability was one of the main topics discussed on the tour. In an effort to help educate people on the topic they explained why grazing, rotating pastures, the feed, minerals, water and even their genetics play such a big part in the quality of the beef.

"So many people don't know where their beef comes from. They think it just comes from the store," Larson said.

What a lot of people don't know is that farmers and ranchers run extensive tests and put in a lot of effort to have the best genetically sound cattle. Weight, frame, build, feet, legs, milk, fat and marbling are just a few factors that are looked at when dealing with the genetics of cattle.

Consumers want the best beef possible, and ranchers strive to provide that. Cattle become like family to the ranchers. Their cattle are cared for and treated much like a human child is treated by its mother. They are given things such as minerals for nutrients and standard, preventative vaccines to keep them healthy. They even go so far as to use insect repellants for the cattle's comfort. The only other time they receive medication is when they're sick and it's necessary, so the beef is all-natural.

"You can ask Dale about any cow, and he can tell you everything about it," Larson said.

By rotating pastures for cattle, it not only changes up their diet with different plants, grass and feed for them to graze but it's also good for the land. While people talk about maintaining fields, it was pointed out that mother nature does that for the ranchers all on its own.

Cattles hooves till the land, their manure fertilizes it and the rain and snow water it, all playing a role in the maintenance of the pastures.

It has also recently been a subject of study and found that there are multiple health benefits in beef/red meat. The Montana Beef Council, founded in 1954, has done extensive studies and research on the benefits of beef.

It's full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, improves muscle mass, is an antioxidant, prevents iron deficiency and so much more. Beef provides 10 essential nutrients and is also low in calories. The Montana Beef Council provides information on their website http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com, about the nutritional benefits, different recipes and so much more.


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