Name: Nolan Stone
Ranch/Business Name: JBS Five Rivers Kuner Feedlot
Location: Kersey, CO
Describe your operation: 90,000 head state of the art cattle feeding operation.
How long has your operation been in business (and if applicable, how many generations have been, or are, involved): The Kuner Feedlot was completed in 1974 as a 100,000 head feedyard. Kuner is located on Highway 34, a few miles east of Kersey, Colorado. Kersey, a town with a population of 1,500, is located near Greeley, Colorado, home of the JBS USA headquarters. JBS Five Rivers Kuner Feedlot is a proud member of the Kersey and Weld County community.
Located on the Great Plains of Northern Colorado, the Kuner Feedlot was the third 100,000 head feedyard built and owned by the Monfort family of Greeley. The original Monfort family feedlot, located north of Greeley, was voluntarily phased-out for environmental reasons upon completion of Kuner. In 1966, Monfort pioneered the practice of cooking, rolling and feeding grain warm to cattle. Today, most feedyards process their own corn flakes and other grains to enhance digestibility, palatability and the more efficient use of grain fed to cattle.
In 2011, after three years of construction and $18 million dollars of investment, the JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding Kuner Feedlot was transformed into the most state-of-the-art cattle feedyard in the industry. Located near the JBS USA corporate headquarters, the Kuner Feedlot stands as a signature showpiece of the modern cattle feeding industry for customers and industry visitors. From state-of-the-art environmental practices to enhancing cattle comfort, the new and improved Kuner Feedlot is designed to last well in to the future. In addition, Kuner has engaged in a pilot-scale gasifier unit that is designed to efficiently convert manure into power that in turn can operate the steam chests in the flaker mill.
Kuner was built by Monfort of Colorado and has carried the names of ConAgra Cattle Feeding Company, MF Cattle Feeding Company and Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding. In 2008, Kuner joined the JBS USA family.
Describe a typical day: A typical day would start with the Mill employees firing up the feedmill, and beginning to steam flake corn. The feed truck drivers arrive at around 5:30 AM when they begin feeding the first of 3 meals fed to the cattle on a daily basis. At daylight, the cowboys saddle their horses and start riding through the cattle. They are checking on the health of the cattle and ensuring that their pen is in good shape. Throughout the day, cattle are being unloaded from ranches, given their proper vaccinations, fed, checked, and having their pens cleaned. It is a giant under-taking every day of the year, but our team of dedicated employees constantly provides care and nutrition to the cattle no matter what the weather has in store. Once the cattle have all been fed their three meals, been checked, and the maintenance for the day is over, everyone (except the night watchmen) head home and come back tomorrow to do it all over again.
Has your ranch received any special honors: In 2013, the Kuner feedlot one the award for Progressive Feedlot of the Year from Certified Angus Beef.
What is your favorite part about being in the cattle business: The people that make up this industry are my favorite part of the cattle business. Being a 5th generation Coloradoan in the cattle business is something I am very proud of and I take very seriously. It is a privilege to be in this business, and I remind myself of this daily. Hopefully I can have a positive impact on the industry and allow my children the opportunity to continue in this business if they so desire. Most people in the cattle business share these same values, which make it a very fulfilling endeavor.
What challenges do you face in the cattle industry: Regulatory issues, Lack of labor force.
What message would you like consumers to hear: The people who raise and feed cattle are people who hold cattle dear to their heart. It is not a business that you get into for the money or the glamour, but rather because of a love for the business. As a consumer too, I feel very comfortable knowing that the beef I eat is raised by people who are focused on values, principles and the longevity of the industry. Food Safety and Animal Welfare are two things that cattlemen will never sacrifice.