Start Date: September 28, 2021
End Date: September 30, 2021
Kentucky Exposition Center
937 Phillips Ln
Louisville, KY 4020
October 28, 2016 |
Tornado-tough Hyundai Wheel Loaders Prove Value for Nebraska Feedlot Owner After Devastating Storm
June 16, 2014, will be a day forever remembered in the small, northeastern Nebraska town of Pilger. On that day, two EF4 tornados roared through the area, including one that traced a path of devastation directly through the center of Pilger, destroying homes, businesses and schools. As the huge tornado spun out of Pilger into the neighboring countryside with sustained wind speeds of up to 250 mph, it raced toward its next target – the 1,500-acre Alexander Cattle & Farms property a mile southwest of town.
Josh Alexander and his family took shelter in the basement of the brick home from which four generations of Alexanders managed and grew their finishing feedlot and farm since the 1940s. When Josh and his dad, J.D., emerged from safety along with Josh’s wife and young child, they found themselves in the ruins of their family’s long-time home. But as soon as they determined it was safe to be outdoors, their attention turned immediately to securing their property – including 5,000 head of cattle.
“There wasn’t much left standing,” Josh recalled, “but we had a lot of work to do – clearing debris, fixing fences and getting the cattle back on the lot and eating again.
“We weren’t sure if any of our equipment would be operable, but dad and I jumped on our two Hyundai wheel loaders (HL740XTD-9A and HL757XTD-9A models), and, despite some minor damage, they were fine. We started moving trees and debris from the house and other wind-driven materials. Those loaders got us through the first couple weeks after the tornado and we were back to normal a lot faster than we expected to be.”
Rounding up more than 600 head of escaped cattle following the tornado became a community project, with neighbors and even passersby stopping to help contain the strays.
“When you go through a tragedy like that tornado,” Josh reflected, “you find so much evidence of the goodness of your neighbors and even strangers. Everybody pitches in, and whatever needs to get done, gets done.”
Once things were reasonably settled on the Alexander property, Josh, his dad and their crew spent days operating their wheel loaders and excavator in town, helping restore order and clean up after the storm. Additionally, the local Hyundai dealership, Rueter’s, provided construction equipment and operators to help the people of Pilger get back on their feet.
Surviving a direct hit from an EF4 (Enhanced Fujita Category 4) tornado is one thing. Keeping up with the non-stop, 365-days-a-year demands of a 5,000-head finishing feedlot is quite another. It takes more than toughness – it takes dependability and productivity.
“We move 100 tons of feed per day,” Josh Alexander explained. “And we move close to that amount of manure and dirt every day. The two Hyundai wheel loaders are the heart and soul of the feedlot operation – loading and mixing feed, cleaning pens, moving manure and dirt.”
Alexander primarily uses the 3-yd3 HL740XTD-9A for loading the hopper of the feed mixer and for loading manure-spreading equipment. The 156-hp loader is equipped with extended-reach arms, providing an additional 16 in. of lifting height to increase its productivity in loading the high-sided hopper and manure spreaders.
“You really need the high-lift loaders on a feedlot,” Josh said. “That was one of the features on Hyundai loaders that initially sold us on the brand. It’s become a must-have in this business.”
The larger, 3.7-yd3 Hyundai HL757XTD-9A wheel loader, powered by a 197-hp Cummins engine, sees most of its duty in the cattle pens, cleaning up manure and moving dirt wherever needed.
Alexander also uses an older model Hyundai R210LC-9 hydraulic excavator for cleaning settling ponds and excavating clean dirt for spreading in the cattle pens. The 49,390-lb excavator is powered by a 145-hp Cummins QSB6.7 engine.
“We started buying Hyundai wheel loaders 15 years ago,” Josh noted. “We’ve always been pleased with their quality and reliability. The machines work 365 days a year, and we’ve had very few mechanical and maintenance issues. It’s also great having a strong relationship with your equipment dealer like we have with Rueter’s. Their service is phenomenal, and we enjoy working with them very much.”
Farm and feedlot form integrated operation
As its name suggests, Alexander Cattle & Farms is an integrated operation in which the corn grown on the family farm is used to feed the cattle.
“We have 1,200 acres of high-moisture corn that goes directly into the feeding operation here,” Josh said. “It’s mixed with dry corn and alfalfa hay, along with a finishing pellet that we add to the mix to provide additional vitamins and minerals. During the final 30 days of feeding, we add a commercial supplement, Optaflexx, to promote lean muscle growth.”
Describing the feedlot operation, Josh said, “The property is permitted to hold the waste of up to 5,000 head of cattle. That’s what determines our capacity – the property’s ability to contain and control rain water, and catch solid wastes in our settling basins to prevent waste migration from the property. Compliance with environmental permitting requires a lot of land to disperse the wastes that an operation of this size generates.”
The Alexander operation is known as a finishing feedlot. “We bring in steers at 810 to 900 pounds and finish them out,” Josh explained. “Slaughter weight is 1,400 pounds. On average, they eat 40 pounds of feed per day and gain about 3-1/2 pounds. They’re here for about 145 days. There are five packers within 100 miles that we ship to – the major ones are in Omaha and Sioux City.”
He added, “We take a lot of pride in the way we treat our cattle. It’s a humane and non-stressful environment for them, which encourages rapid growth while they’re with us. We are proud of the role we play in bringing healthy food to the tables of millions of American families.”
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