In 1983, Perry Kirkland and his wife, Melanie, purchased neighboring land to expand his farm. The existing starter yard was an added bonus he never intended to use. However, a close friend asked for help feeding out some cattle. The empty pens were soon filled, and Kirkland Feedyard was born. For many years, the cattle were fed by hand using five-gallon buckets. The feedyard evolved, and today, Kirkland Feedyard is a refined cattle feeding operation serving a variety of customers. Surrounded by wind farms and cropland, the 20,000-head feedlot is a family business that is proud to serve the cattle industry.
Early days of Kirkland Feedyard
Perry Kirkland and his family spent many years working long days feeding cattle before Kirkland Feedyard grew into the operation it is today. Perry’s son, Robby, left home for Texas Tech University to study agricultural economics and judge livestock. He hoped to further his knowledge in business and animal husbandry to improve the family operation. While in college, he met a farmer’s daughter, Amy, and today the couple has three children: Calleigh, Carson, and Cydney. They and their cousins are the third generations to work at Kirkland Feedyard, a legacy the family hopes to see flourish.
Located near the town of Vega, Texas, Kirkland Feedyard provides a variety of services including custom cattle feeding, financing, and risk management assistance. When working with the Kirkland beef operation, customers receive a unique experience tailored to specific cattle and marketing needs is provided. Kirkland has become a trusted name and resource for cattlemen who want up-to-date information, control over beef marketing, and good health and care at the feedlot stage.
Big changes in advocacy
The Kirklands began their beef advocating journey after realizing their own children and much of their generation lacked some knowledge of what they did for a living.
“Truthfully, I knew immediately that we hadn’t done a good job of educating our children about the beef industry,” Amy said.
Amy admitted even her own farming background did not fully educate her about the cattle business and wondered how she and the kids could be good advocates for beef if they did not know more about their own feedyard.
“It had to start with our kids, family, and community before we could make an impact outside our circle,” Amy said. “With the help of some amazing people and resources, sharing our beef story began.”
Amy and Robby quickly took action on spreading the good word of the beef cattle industry, and so began #KirklandBeef. The Kirklands are using this hashtag on all social media platforms to help them stand out from other feeding operations.
As a mom, Amy knows the importance of making sure her busy kids have nutritious meals. As a feedyard wife, she knows her husband works hard to provide a safe, healthy beef product for consumers.
“This became an avenue for me to connect with other moms,” she said.
Amy took it upon herself to revamp Kirkland Feedyard’s marketing strategy. She turned to various media platforms such as social networking, television commercials, and magazine publications.
“We created a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter page to connect us with others in the agriculture industry,” Amy said.
Through these accounts, Amy hopes she will be able to share a small piece of who the Kirklands are and why they love raising beef.
We try to give our followers an inside look of what goes on at the farm and feedyard, interesting information about cattle, and the beef industry.
Amy also uses social media as a platform to share great beef recipes and a peek into their family’s daily lives.
“With social media being a big part of our kids’ lives, it was natural for them to become involved in this aspect of telling our story,” she said.
Social networking led to attention in other media arenas, which put their family in the local spotlight. While it is small, Robby and Amy appreciate their kids’ involvement and are constantly looking for new ways to include them in the growing business.
“We always welcome visitors to our feedyard,” Robby said.
The feedyard has hosted various student groups and has given hands-on tours to show what is involved in producing high-quality beef. The Kirklands believe students of impressionable age are the perfect audience to educate.
“It is an awesome experience to walk through all the parts of the feedyard to see what goes into raising beef,” Amy said.
Most students are amazed at the processes they never thought about when biting into a juicy hamburger.
“While we may be small, our desire is to leave a positive impact regarding raising beef, farming, and nutritious beef meals,” said Robby.
Thriving in the present
Kirkland Feedyard is home to a combination of customer and company-owned cattle. Each year, 35,000 head of cattle from all over the country are marketed through the yard.
“Our business is managed with the realization that we are producing food to help feed other families,” Robby said.
This vision keeps them grounded in their overall mission.
“As a team made up of about 20 employees, we manage cattle health, feed and financing with a focus on customer expectations, end-use consumers and environmental sustainability,” Robby said.
Amy said the attention to detail and diversification are what makes their feedyard one of a kind. Keeping the customer in mind has always been Kirkland Feedyard’s No. 1 priority, and feeding out their own stock proves and ensures individual care can be shown to each customer.
The feedyard offers much more than excellent feeding services. Cattle marketing is another major service Kirkland Feedyard provides to its loyal customers. Whether it is company-owned cattle or a customer’s pen that needs marketing, Kirkland always works hard to acquire the best price for the marketed beef.
“We try to stay a step or two ahead of what’s currently on the futures board and what fed steers or heifers might bring from the packer.”
Robby said his family is proud to be a part of the beef industry.
“Just like your family, we strive to put nutritious, healthy and affordable food on the table.”