Katie and her husband Ted live on a small beef farm outside of Mazeppa, Minnesota where they raise Charolais and Angus cows and calves. The Brenny farm is a cow-calf operation, which means they breed the cows and raises the calves until they are old enough to be sold to a feedyard. The Brenny’s cows are grass-fed from May until September. In the winter, their cows feed on free choice hay and a diet of cracked corn, distiller grains and gluten to keep their energy up. “They [the cows] are on grass in the summertime with protein lick tubs,” Katie explained, “The protein lick tubs are kind of like a popsicle, they’ll lick on it and get that extra added protein the grass can’t provide.” After the mother cows have given birth, the Brennys feed them a high-energy pellet to keep the mother cow’s energy up. The Brennys use corn stalk bales for bedding, and for the calves, they use straw so they stay warm and comfortable. “We give them the best care we can,” said Katie. “They get extra bedding, they get food, they get fans when it’s summertime, in the winter they get heat, they get their proper shots; we do everything to ensure their health.”
“Somedays when chores aren’t fun, you gotta remember why you love it.”
“The most enjoyable thing about raising my cows and my calves is when it’s May and the grass is green and the snow is gone, we can load the cows and calves into our trailers and take them to our pastures and watch them do what they were meant to do, which is to eat grass and produce beef and milk.” Katie also enjoys watching the calves interact with their moms and each other.
The most common question Katie gets from consumers on how beef is raised on their operation is “how can you take those baby calves away from their moms?” She responds; “Well, your kids go to kindergarten, and at a certain point, they grow up and that’s what we do when we wean them from their moms.” When the calves get to a certain age, they are weaned from their moms and sent to the next farmer.
Katie Brenny is currently serving as a Regional Vice President for the Federation of State Beef Councils and is the National Beef Checkoff board member for U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. Additionally, Katie serves as a Board Member for the Minnesota Beef Council. Katie explained in this position she enjoys giving back and providing opportunities to the youth who will become future leaders. Katie also finds enjoyment in helping explain the beef industry story to consumers. What I wish consumers knew is that beef is a safe, healthy product. If you are buying it directly from the farmer or getting it off the shelf at a grocery store, it is safe.