Darin Mann might not seem like a typical third-generation Idaho farmer, with his degree in Chinese from BYU and his background of international travel. But he was happy and grateful to join his father, Kent, working and improving their heifer-replacement operations, and to raise his family on the land his grandfather first farmed in 1947.
The farm was cut out of the surrounding sagebrush, then diversified with production of beef cattle. Kent Mann started raising dairy heifers in the early 1970s.
Today, the Manns receive six month old, 400 lb. heifers from dairy operations that can’t keep non-producing cows onsite. They feed and care for the young animals until they reach 12 to 13 months of age and about 800 lbs, then breed them and send them back to the dairy fully mature, carrying a calf, and ready to become productive dairy cows.
M & M Feedlots manage about 11,000 heifers, all separated by size and age, in a cycle of growth and productivity. The Manns have achieved a reputation for excellence because of their careful attention to the well-being of their charges, providing the clean and comfortable environment that makes a healthier animal.
In fact, the entire feedlot belies the standard perceptions about cattle operations. It smells nice.
That’s because the Manns have instituted an exceptional manure-handling method that practically eliminates both the odors and insects associated with livestock operations and have found a market for this byproduct of their business.
Consistent, frequent collection and processing of manure keeps the lot sweet and has allowed the Manns to develope a desirable compost product that can be used to increase the productivity of crop farming. The majority of the compost is sold to area farmers. "It’s really just a continual cycle of the farmer raising corn for us, we feed the cattle, cattle produce manure and we turn it into compost," Darin says. "The final step is spreading the compost back onto the land in a more usable form."
"Today we have the capacity to compost almost 100 percent of the manure produced in the feedlot."
This portion of the business was intended to meet good land stewardship practices rather than to generate revenue. However, the popularity of the product has allowed the Manns to see a small margin, enough to cover future expansion needs.
Kent Mann says, "I believe in doing business the old-fashioned way, with integrity, flexibility and attention to detail. I don’t try to cut corners, I put in the work that it takes to get it done right."
"That’s why I do my banking at ICB. They know their business, and they work hard to get things done right. I appreciate a straightforward relationship with a bank I can trust to be working for my community -- and my family -- everyday."