The Most Important Part of Feeding Cattle? The People.

This week, Bass Aja of Pinal Feeding Co. offers his perspective on cattle feeding. Read on to find out why feeding cattle is so much more than just the obvious.

I grew up in Buckeye, Arizona, working with my grandfather on his sheep operation and his two ranches. It was there that I learned that all men are created equal, but are segregated by their own work ethic. He ran feeder lambs in the winter and spent most of the summer on the ranch that bordered the Navajo reservation north of Joseph City. Through the time I spent with him, I realized that I wanted to work with cattle, but realized on the ranch we spent the majority of our day working, but not necessarily with the cattle. At the same time, I saw my cousins who grew up on their feedlot, who got to work cattle almost every day, and not only that, they had facilities only found in the dreams of most ranchers. It was at this time I started to focus my energy on learning everything I could about the cattle-feeding community. It was fascinating to me how every week there was someone receiving and shipping cattle; how on any given day a person had the opportunity to identify and treat sick animals; and, most importantly – every day someone got to feed cattle.

Bass with two of his three little ones on an adventure at the feed yard.

This love of the cattle feeding industry only grew as I got older and led me to work for a couple of Arizona’s cattle feeding families, which landed my family and me in Maricopa, Arizona. The best part of my job is seeing the hard work from a team come together over a long period of time to produce a product that feeds the world. Watching this team come to work every day and put in the effort required to care for these animals is impressive. They come every day regardless of the weather. As a matter of fact, we are more focused when we have adverse weather conditions because it requires more attention to care for our cattle. They come ready to work on every holiday because the cattle still need to be fed and receive care. Cattle don’t take holidays. Every day, no matter what, the people here at Pinal Feeding wake up and go to work because the cattle in our care deserve it, and that is the best part of my job.

Bass and Bassie, Bass’ oldest son, getting up close and personal with some of the cattle at the feed yard Bass manages. It’s important to note, these cattle all have plenty of space to move around. This photo only shows one perspective, which is the curiosity of the Holstein breed and how if anyone approaches the feed bunk, they are going to come over to investigate!

A program we use often in our work of caring for cattle is the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program. Here at Pinal Feeding, we already strive to care for our cattle to the best of our ability, and this program offers nationally-based standardized training in proper management techniques while offering a commitment to quality. A large part of the beef community’s job involves making sure that beef is safe and wholesome for consumers. As a producer, we help maintain the standard by ensuring all of our employees are BQA certified.

Bass and his crew at Pinal Feeding Co.

The most important part of feeding cattle is not the cattle, it is the people – those who I mentioned above, who sacrifice time with their family and friends to come and run pumps in the middle of the night because we had too much rain. Or when we stay late because a water pipe broke and we cannot go home until we make sure every animal has water. I got into this business because I loved working with cattle, I stay because I love working with people who care for cattle.

All photos were provided by Bass’ wife, Anna Aja. Thanks, Anna!

For more information about BQA, see Animal Welfare is a Top Priority for Ameria’s Beef Producers.

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