Meet Job Luque! Job is the general manager of Five Rivers Cattle Company Feed Yard in Wellton, Arizona. In this Q&A, Job shares his history in the cattle community and his role at the feed yard where he shares their focus and dedication to raising high-quality, sustainable beef.
Arizona Beef Council (ABC): Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and the feed yard:
Job Luque: My name is Job Luque and I grew up in a ranching family about an hour south of the US-Mexico border. Ranching and caring for cattle is in my blood so there was never a question in my mind what I would end up doing for my career: it would involve cattle. I earned a degree in animal science. At the end of my college career when I was close to graduation, a representative came down to my university from the Five Rivers Cattle Company, large cattle feeding company, to talk to our department about career opportunities. I interviewed with the company and the next thing I knew I graduated and received a job offer in the panhandle of Texas. I didn’t realize the amount of cattle there was in that area of the world until I was offered this job. My family and I spent eleven years in that area where I enjoyed learning about and working in the cattle feeding business. I was offered a chance to move to Arizona when the company purchased a feed yard in Wellton, Arizona. This was much closer to my hometown and easier to visit with family, so it was a logical move for us. At the time I was the assistant manager at the feed yard in Texas, and with my transfer to Arizona I was given the opportunity to step up in management. This was a big move for me. I worked under another colleague for a year and then I was promoted to general manager.
ABC: What are some of the daily tasks required at the feed yard?
Job: We believe having the right people in the right jobs is the beginning of raising and handling cattle correctly. The source of the animals means a lot because the beginning of their lifecycle is going to help set the tone for their health. We must know that the people who sell us our calves follow a strict vaccination protocol and are using low stress cattle handling techniques like we are.
The right housing and environment is another important part of the equation. The arid southwest makes an ideal place to raise cattle in a feed yard, because moisture is low meaning we don’t have to worry much about muddy pens. This climate does inherently have its challenges, such as heat and dust, so we run a water truck daily to help with both of those factors. We have always had shades up in our pens, but have recently begun the transition to a cloth shade which allows for flexibility with wind and other factors and also allows for more air circulation than the traditional metal shades. They are also easier for us to repair if they do come down, but so far they have been very sturdy. The shades run from north to south so there is always shade in the pen throughout the day as the sun moves, meaning the cattle always have a place to get out of the heat.
We have both a veterinarian and cattle nutritionist on staff, who ensure the health of our cattle. The veterinarian provides protocols, which are strictly followed and reviewed often, for our employees to follow if an animal does become sick. Our veterinarian also provides a vaccination program, implemented for the animal’s long-term wellness. The cattle nutritionist helps ensure the feed ration we give to our cattle provides for all their nutrient needs while also helping us to use the feed products we have close to us, when possible.
We also have a team of cowboys who ride all day, every day, through the pens of cattle to check the current health status of each animal. This is a huge undertaking at a feed yard our size, so these guys and gals are an integral part to our team. They are extremely talented and do their jobs well. It’s really something to watch because they can pick an animal out of the pen who maybe has a head dropped too low or a dull eye and know it’s not doing its best. On the rare occasion they do find a sick animal, they move it to our hospital pens where we use the veterinarian prescribed protocols to treat that animal. It’s only returned to its original pen when its again healthy and all withdrawal times on any medication have been met.
As you can see, the care of these cattle is a huge task and it takes many people and moving parts, but we are all committed to raising cattle the right way.
ABC: What is the most important thing that you do on your feed yard every day to make sure you are producing safe beef for consumers?
Job: We are dedicated to the safety, well-being and health of not just the cattle we raise but also the people who work with us and the consumer we ultimately sell the beef product too. Safety protocols are in place and updated often along with training and keeping current on the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program. BQA is a national program that strives to raise consumer confidence by offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef community. This program allows us to train all of our employees on how to handle, care for, and manage our cattle in the best way possible. It’s a program which is audited and updated often, using the latest research and technology, always working towards continuous improvement. Along with all of that, as previously mentioned, we work day in and day out with our veterinarian and nutritionist, strictly following their recommendations for proper care and feeding of the animals.
ABC: What is the most important piece of information that you would want people to know about you and the work you do on the feed yard every day?
Job: Our commitment to the beef community and the animals in our care is something we hold very close to our hearts. We believe no one loves the animals more than the people raising them and we know we are responsible for doing the right thing every day, no matter what. We are proud to feed the delicious beef we raise here to not just our families but to yours too.
ABC: How do you interact with your community?
Job: Wellton is a very small community which we are honored to be part of and do all we can to support. We often sponsor events at the local schools and are especially interested in the local 4-H and FFA programs. We do purchase animals at our local county fair to support youth in their efforts to raise livestock. These programs not only teach students about agriculture, but also offer countless skills used in the real world that we find great value in.
ABC: Lastly and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?
Job: I really enjoy a medium rare Rib Eye with salt, especially after a long day of work.
This blog post is made possible by the generous support of the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation.