Magnum Feedyard earns prestigious national award |

Magnum Feedyard earns prestigious national award

Steve Gabel, owner of Magnum feedyard, rides past the grain silos at the yard in Wiggins, Colo. Magnum feedyard won the 2017 Beef Quality Assurance award.
Joshua Polson/ | The Greeley Tribune

Magnum Feedyard looks like an ordinary feedlot when people pass by on Morgan County Road 1 in Wiggins, Colo.

Cattle roam the pasture and young calves can be seen playing around the cattle.

These are the things onlookers can see, but there are a lot of things they can’t see that makes Magnum Feedyard a quality feedlot operation.

Steve Gabel, who owns Magnum Feedyard, is on a mission to make sure things are done right.

“The things we do on a day-to-day basis are in the best interest of the cattle.”

About five years ago, management decided to take a closer look at what they were doing and to improve upon their standard operating procedures.

Like recording the temperature of the cooler where medicine is stored or recording the dates when pens are sprayed and when manure is hauled out.

It was a lot of additional paperwork and responsibility.

Those key elements are small, but make a big difference when it comes to the quality and excellence the company strives to achieve. These efforts may not be seen by passersby but the efforts were rewarded when the company earned the 2017 Feedyard Award by Beef Quality Assurance, a national award given to only one feedyard a year.

An award Steve Gabel, owner of Magnum Feedyard, said is one that means a lot — arguably one of the most prestigious awards they’ve earned.


“The things we do on a day-to-day basis are in the best interest of the cattle,” Gabel said.

The tricky part us proving that to consumers, he said. Today, it’s not just about the type of food you produce but the story behind it.

“We’ve got a great story to tell,” Gabel said.

To prove that the company is transparent about their operations they offer tours for anyone who wants to learn more about the operation, according to Libby Bigler, the beef quality coordinator for Colorado State University.

Bigler was the one who nominated the feedyard for the award, as she saw the big and small things the company does to go above and beyond the average feedyard.

“They make animal health a big priority,” Bigler said.


Gabel took over Magnum in 1994. He worked there for a year before that, knowing there could be ownership opportunities.

He started with about 5,500 head of cattle, and now the operation works with about 22,000 head. Networking plays a large role in that, with cattle coming in from as far away as Louisiana.

And, as the number of cattle in the feedyard increases, so does the need for technology — an aspect Gabel said has been the biggest change he’s seen.

The company has found different ways to utilize the technology available to them.

With bovine respiratory disease, for example, the feedyard uses electronic stethoscopes to evaluate the respiratory systems of the cattle. This allows for more accurate diagnosis, Bigler said, and helps narrow the possibility of a misdiagnoses.


Back five years ago when the company started to look into ways of improving their operation, it started with a management team meeting.

It would have been easy for things to slip through the cracks if the employees thought the smaller, more time-consuming tasks were a waste.

But that wasn’t the case.

The employees at all levels saw how important it was to implement the new procedures, even if it meant more work. Gabel said the employees knew and understood the new tasks were important.

Even those who drive the trucks to pick up or drop off cattle. Gabel said they provide sticks so hot shots aren’t needed to move the livestock.

But that’s only one small thing they do.

“We didn’t get an ABQ award because of one thing,” Gabel said.

Part of what makes the company unique, according to Bigler, is that Gabel wasn’t raised on this feedyard. His family didn’t own it before hand. Him buying the company was a risk.

But the award comes from him building and growing the company his way. And now his family is part of the feedyard, too.

Gabel’s wife, Audrey, does accounting and human resources for Magnum. She was also the one Gabel credits for helping with organizing and enhancing the operating procedure changes the company started to implement five years ago.

Their son and daughter work with the company too. Their daughter, Christie, helps with the veterinary side of the business and their son, Case, is in charge of cattle procurement.

“It’s very rewarding for us personally (having the family work together),” Gabel said. ❖

— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at (970) 392-4410, or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.

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