More than 300 beef cows and just over 6,000 acres is a lot for any one person to manage, let alone take care of by himself. Fortunately, Trent Selte, who lives near Paradise Valley, Alberta, has a few things that work together to his benefit. First of all, less than a third of the land he rents and owns is devoted to crops. The rest is in hay and pasture for the predominantly Angus-cross cows and calves. Crops, meanwhile, consist of about 1,300 acres of canola, 260 acres of hard spring wheat and around 400 acres of corn. Of the latter, only around 100 to 150 acres is chopped as silage for backgrounding the calves over the winter. The rest is left standing in the field for winter feed as part of a unique rotational grazing program. Last, but not least, Selte relies on the productivity and reliability of a Fendt 714 tractor and 785 loader to get more done in a day.
“I’m kind of a one-man operation,” Selte says, admitting that he does get some help from his wife, Kim. “And on top of everything else, we have three kids that play hockey during the winter.” Fortunately, the workload isn’t as demanding in the winter, since the cows are in the cornfield and the only animals that require silage or hay are the calves that were weaned shortly after Christmas. And even that job goes a little faster, thanks to the responsive Vario transmission in the Fendt.
“I love that transmission,” he says. “It’s unbelievable how easily it shuttles between forward and reverse. However, I’m also amazed at the technology, as a whole, on Fendt tractors, such as the way the engine and transmission communicate to provide just the right amount of power and torque whether I’m using the loader or baling hay and hit a heavy windrow.” On the other hand, Selte says his relationship with his dealer, Ireland Farm Supply, in Vermilion, Alberta, is the real reason he is now on his third Fendt tractor since 2011. “The guys at Ireland kept telling me I should get a Fendt,” he says. “Well, once I bought the first one around 2000 or 2001, I’ve never owned anything but a Fendt for a loader tractor since.” In addition to using it for feeding silage and handling round bales, Selte says the 714 is used for cutting hay, operating the baler and powering a rock picker.
When it comes to feeding the extra 250 to 300 acres of corn through the winter, though, a little manpower is all that’s required. To make it work, Selte plants a short-season variety that requires as little as 2,200 heat units. By the time the ears reach the dough stage, winter starts to arrive and the plants freeze, preserving them at the current stage. Around late November, Selte will turn the herd out onto a strip of corn that has been fenced off. As the animals finish grazing one strip, which takes about a week, he will move the fence to provide access to a fresh paddock. “The system works beautifully,” he relates, adding that it’s something he’s done for a few years now. “In effect, the cows never spend any time in the lot. They go from pasture right to the corn and directly back to the pasture in the spring. And that just leaves more time to finish everything else.”