Martin Morgan, Morgan Branch Red Angus
Commodity By-Product Mixer
Grant Award: $6,000
Martin is improving his Branch Red Angus operation with the purchase of a feed mixer to combine ingredients. His cattle currently have a choice of three different feeds, grass hay, spent beer grain, and apple pulp from cider-making. The vertical mixer, or TMR (Total Mixes Ration) Mixer, combines the various feedstuffs, and allows it to be moved out into feed bunks on a controlled basis.
Martin has created a recipe for a balanced portioned ration that can be fed to cattle twice daily. If they do not eat correctly, they put on excess fat instead of muscle.
The beer grain and apple pulp is high in carbohydrates, sugars and little else except filler. The hay has most of the protein and nutrients needed to grow cattle efficiently.
“The cattle currently get a free choice of each feedstuff—not an efficient way to feed cattle on a cost or balanced ration basis,” Martin said. “An example would be substituting the hay as spinach, the spent beer grain as French fries, and the apple pulp as a candy bar. Now put each ingredient on a free choice buffet, let a group of teenagers in to gather their meal and watch how they fill their plates.”
The project allows Martin to minimize feed waste, lower the cost per head per day, and reduce the total time it takes for an animal to attain harvest weight. He expects to decrease the amount of time between birth and harvest by one to two months. He sustains his steers at a lower cost per animal than if he were using traditional ingredients such as purchased grower feed.
Martin has created a unique market in whole animal ground beef. All the muscle, including the sirloin, chuck, rounds, steak cuts, and tenderloin, are combined into ground beef. The spent beer grains and apple pulp add to taste. He has sold to Asheville Brewing Company since 2011, and markets to at least four other restaurants as well as to individuals. He harvests three to four steers per month, selling 1600 to 2000 pounds of ground beef.
Martin is strengthening his family farm, which started in 1881 with tobacco farming, and expanded later to dairy and custom harvesting. When Martin took over the farm in 1995, he started one of the first Red Angus Beef herds in the region. All of his household income is from farming.