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Va. cattleman feels producers need marketing options
By JANE W. GRAHAM
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (Nov. 15, 2016) — Selling cattle takes more than one route for Bruce Stanger, a cattleman in Montgomery County, Va.
“My theory is that the producers need options as how to market their cattle,” Stanger said in a recent interview in the front yard of his home. He said he has used three marketing options this year: selling at the local market; selling through the V and G Buying Station at Fort Chiswell, Va., in Wythe County; and the newly created Virginia Quality Assurance sales recently developed in the New River Valley.
Stanger said he once took some of his cattle to a verified genetic sale at the Spring Lake Livestock Market in Bedford County, but did not find this to be a good option for him.
In addition to his own cattle, he feeds a few cattle owned by other people and hauls them to harvest as a service to their owners.
Stanger, the current president of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau and a veteran of 24 years on its board, runs a herd of 90 brood cows, farming about 500 acres in both Montgomery and neighboring Giles County.
He recalled that he bought his first beef heifers in 1982 and has been in the beef business and grown it since. He actually grew up where he now raises beef and where his parents operated a small dairy farm. He recalled it going from Grade C to Grade A.
After a short hiatus when his father quit dairying, Stanger returned to the farm. He now owns land in Montgomery County along one of the busiest two-lane roads in the area. Route 114 that runs in front of his house is the main road in a semi-rural neighborhood between Radford Army Ammunition and Route 460 at Christiansburg.
He said the biggest problem he has with this location is getting his cattle trailer in and out of the driveway safely because of the volume of traffic that continuously passes.
Stanger’s herd of Angus cows are bred to registered Angus bulls, he said.
He said his last bulls came from Maymont Farms at Timberville, Va.
Grass is the basic feed for Stanger’s cattle. He said he basically uses mixed grasses in his pastures. He reported using both conventional and rotational grazing methods for his herds.
This year, due to the dry weather, he drilled some rye and oats into his mixed grass for additional winter feed, but is not happy with the result. A lack of rain since sowing the grain has defeated his purpose so far.
He said he uses soil testing to determine the nutrients he puts on the land he farms. He said the owners of one of his leased farms have been working to be permitted for the use of bio-solids to enrich the soil.
Stanger said he does use some grain to feed weaning calves, raising heifers or encouraging the herd to come to pens. He said he had run enough wild cattle over the hilly farm and thinks there is an easier way.
Stanger and his sister have worked with the Soil and Water Conservation District to fence their cattle out of the streams on the land they own, he said. He uses water from a spring located at an old house on his place and has drilled a well with solar pumps and storage pumps to run water into watering troughs.