JBS spends $18 million to improve feedlot east of Kersey
KERSEY – The $18 million renovation of the JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding feedlot east of here is almost complete.
Mike Thoren, president and CEO of Five Rivers, said the process began about two years ago and will be complete by the end of this month. Thoren and other Five Rivers and JBS USA officials hosted an open house for about 300 guests at the Kuner Feedlot on Wednesday afternoon.
The feedlot was built by Monfort of Colorado and began operation in the early 1970s. Thoren said the renovation is basically creating a new feedlot. All the wooden fences at feeding pens were replaced with rail pipe. Also constructed was a new processing barn designed by Temple Grandin, a Colorado State University animal science specialist who is world renowned for the handling of livestock. A new automated sprinkling system for dust control was installed, shades and windbreaks were built in individual pens, and a new drainage system was put in place.
In addition, new retention ponds at both ends of the lot result in a holding capacity of 228 percent above state requirements.
The feedlot, Thoren told the crowd, represents a vision of the future for the cattle feeding operations in the region and “speaks to the level of commitment JBS has to this industry.” Five Rivers is part of JBS USA, which is owned by the Batista family of Brazil.
The feedlot, he said in an interview, is permitted to hold 100,000 head of cattle, but its operating capacity is 90,000 head. It markets about 180,000 head of cattle per year.
The remarkable thing about the renovation, he told the open house crowd, was that the two-year renovation was completed while it continued to feed 50,000-60,000 head of cattle.
“It will be here a minimum of 60 years,” Thoren said.
One of the special guests at the open house was John Matsushima, a retired CSU animal science professor who pioneered the use of steamed flaked corn in feeding rations of beef cattle.
Matsushima said he and Warren Monfort, who started feeding cattle north of Greeley in the 1930s, started talking about steaming and flaking corn in the 1950s, then he and Kenny Monfort, Warren’s son, perfected the method and started feeding it to cattle in the original Monfort Feedlot north of Greeley in 1961.
It is a method now used worldwide.
When asked what Kenny Monfort, who built the Kuner lot, would think of things now, Matsushima could only shake his head.
“He’d be amazed and would probably wonder why somebody would spend so much money,” he said with a laugh.