REMUS – Many farms across the state of Michigan produce meat, and a family farm in Remus has been focused on providing quality products to meat lovers since 2006.

D & J Cattle Farms, at 5286 10 Mile Road in Remus, has been raising cattle since 1978. Originally a family farm started by John and Deb Niedzielski, their children carry on their tradition after returning to the farm after graduating university. .

Today, the farm’s main operations are run by their adult children, Brooke Steiner and Heather Geer.

Brooke Steiner, who works on the farm and handles day-to-day operations including accounting, planning, processing and selling beef, said the farm has a long history.


“The farm started in 1978 with my parents when they moved from Lansing and started this farm where we are right now,” Steiner said. “At first it was a farrow-to-finish operation, then in 1984 the pork market sank and we ended up switching to dairy cows. We milked the dairy cows from 1984 to 2000, and when we sold the dairy cows, we both ended up going to college.

“We thought we wanted to go in a different direction, then in 2006 we decided to come home when Heather and I started having kids,” she added. “We relaunched the operation by selling hay, then we decided to start selling beef, and that’s where we are now.

Today, the farm raises approximately 200 head of all-natural, grain-fed dairy beef and grows approximately 400 acres of corn, oats, wheat and hay.

Geer works on the farm designing the rations for the animals, doing field work and monitoring the health and care of their animals.

“We breed Holstein steers from about 650 to finish,” Geer said. “We get 20 and 20 a month. So basically we’ll get 20 in, and we’ll spin the paddocks, and then we’ll have 20 heads popping out. We supply meat to Ebels, they will sell quarters and halves. These are cattle they get from us, and some of them come from other farmers in Michigan as well. We also have freezers here on the farm, we take the Ebels and we have that cut to bring back and sell in individual cuts. We also sell quarters, halves and whole Ebels of our beef. So we sort of do a bit of everything on the meat side.

Both Geer and Steiner agreed that one of the main benefits of working on the farm is being able to be their own boss and spending the majority of their time without having to deal with regular face-to-face interactions.

“WE ARE HERE EVERY DAY”

Geer said the winter weather poses challenges to normal farm processes.

“We’re here every day feeding them rain, sunshine, snowstorms, whatever,” Geer said. “We have to feed them every day, so we go out on tractors or break the water ice or break the frozen manure. Winter adds a lot more challenges, tractors don’t start when the water freezes, so there are a lot of different challenges in winter to keep our animals warm and dry.

“The cold and trying to keep the tractors from starting and not breaking, the frozen ice that in the summer you don’t have those challenges,” she added, “(the equipment) starts and spreaders don’t freeze when you’re trying to spread manure.

“Ice is another big challenge; you can knock animals on the ice and split their hips and break their legs. This is why we are so keen on keeping our barns clean, because they freeze, slip and fall. We had a leg break once, and it’s not something we like to see. We don’t like our animals to suffer like this at all.

Despite the challenges winter brings, Geer and Steiner are able to adapt to maintain their farm and consistently produce quality meats for Ebels and other businesses in the area.

According to the farm’s website, Holstein steers can’t handle cold, wet weather like other breeds, so Geer and Steiner opted to purchase their steers from another farm at around 650 pounds on average and trade them. raise in the two barns of the farm which have nine paddocks in total. .

There are 21 steers in each pen and the cattle are fed a daily total mixed ration of corn silage, high moisture corn, distillers and a mineral pack. Each barn is thoroughly cleaned every two weeks and fresh sawdust is put back in.

Steiner said the feedback they’ve received from customers over the years has been positive, which helps them stay positive about the quality of their products.

“People love our meat,” Steiner said. “They say they’ve never had beef so tender and juicy, and you can cut your steaks with a fork, the roasts fall apart. Our burgers are juicy, and when they cook a pound of burger, they still a pound left when it’s done. Lots of tenderness and juiciness from the steaks and whatever people have bought from us.

“To see us take something from scratch and turn it into a beautiful, beautiful product that people can enjoy on their table is great,” she added, “It gives us great satisfaction to hear the feedback people who enjoy our meat and all of our hard work that goes into it.

‘OUR MAIN PRIORITY’

Geer said the main focus of the farm is to keep the animals safe and healthy, while being as health conscious as possible.

“Animal health and welfare is our top priority,” Geer said. “Making sure our animals are safe and healthy. We don’t use hormones on them, all of our food we raise internally, and all the corn they receive is raised internally by us. We try to use as few chemicals as possible in our fields. We’re also trying to get away from a lot of these GMOs, we’re trying to keep as much conventional corn as possible. Going forward, our highest priority is simply to try to improve our breeding. »

Steiner said they were looking forward to the warm weather and fewer challenges.

“I can’t wait to get back to the fields,” Steiner said. “Turning the earth, watching our corn grow, watching it appear in rows. As I like to say, like the old Tim McGraw song, it’s just watching life come back. We’re looking forward to warmer weather and to go back to the fields, to keep our product there, to distribute it to more customers, to spread the word and to keep our meat tasty and juicy.

Geer and Steiner agreed that the best way to support the farm through the rest of the winter and into the summer is to purchase their products directly through them or find their products at Ebels general stores.

“We have little pork available,” Steiner said. “It’s quite limited, so we encourage people to buy meat from our vendors, or contact us directly.”