By Emily Fehrman
Social Media Editor
A lot of students at Hutchinson Community College are either athletes, city kids or yeehaw buckaroos.
That being said, most of the student body and faculty have little idea what the agriculture programs have to offer. Pat Arkfeld, HutchCC Assistant Livestock Judging Coach and Cowherd Manager, is here to help clarify what it is they do for those who are still unaware.
HutchCC has about 450 acres of farmable land available for its ag students to learn from. When Arkfeld first arrived in Hutch two years ago, the program had 50 purebred angus cows. Of the 50, seven were designated as the donors. From there, they super ovulate, and breed them. So, instead of one embryo, they’ll get on average 10 to 12. Then they inseminate the remainder of the cows.
“Just like in humans, you can have a recipient, so some of the ‘poor end’ cows we can utilize as good moms,” Arkfeld said.
Since Arkfeld’s arrival, they’ve started to do more of the Simmental breed, and have begun having two breeds just to reach and branch out to more people and buyers.
They have an online heifer sale, Live Stock Sales, that Ben Williams teaches and is in charge of. The sale is usually in November, but this year it went great, grossing just more than $20,000. The class sell bulls, right now they’re working on potentially having their own bull sale. In the past years they usually sold bulls with a local producer.
The remainder of the calves they will feed out or sell at weaning, with a handful of them at the feedyard currently being, well, fed. Come May, they will hopefully harvest those and sell the meat.
Arkfeld is also hoping to generate some sales among some of the HutchCC staff.
“Not a whole lot of people know we have a bunch of cows out here,” Arkfeld said. “I believe us and Colby are the only schools in Kansas that have anything sort of like farm and cow heard. It’s rare, especially in Kansas, there’s a handful of colleges that do it, and it’s rare that any community colleges do it.”
The other half of his job is to help with the livestock judging team. They find it lucky to have so much student interaction to the point that the cows are tame.
“We kind of train the next generation of cattle men, the next generation of agriculturists, how to take care of cattle, how to sell cattle, breed, manage, and kind of try to use this as hands on tool for a lot of our ag classes,” Arkfeld said.
The sales class students do everything from breaking them to halters, haircuts, feeding, selling and talking to buyers. It’s a hands on learning opportunity, not many colleges can say they teach this stuff to their students.