Feeding for the Future

For Todd Wilkinson, co-owner of Redstone Feeders LLC in De Smet, South Dakota, the next generation is constantly on his mind. Whether it is water quality or a zero debt business, Wilkinson wants to leave his business and the environment in better shape for future generations to come. 

Wilkinson and his two brothers focus on growing corn and soybeans and feeding cattle in an environmentally friendly, zero-runoff operation. After doing a great deal of research, the brothers decided to put up their first monoslope barn on some unproductive land they owned for decades.

“The neighbor calls the land ‘poverty flats’ — it is not the best ground,” Wilkinson says. “We decided to locate the barn out there so it was away from any neighbors and make it a zero-runoff facility. All the manure is contained within the facility so nothing can run off into any creek.” The same is true of the outside pens — their entire feeding operation was designed with containment and sediment ponds in mind.

The cattle are now housed under two monoslope finishing barns, allowing them to stay out of the elements and gain better during extreme weather conditions. “We can do direct comparisons because we have 6,000 head under roof, and we have a couple thousand outside in pens. If you’re comparing with muddy conditions or high heat, you’re going to see three-tenths to four-tenths additional gain,” Wilkinson says.

All the decisions the three Wilkinson brothers make are with an eye toward their major metric of success: paying down debt. And higher returns help fulfill this goal. All three have children who would like to keep the operation going.  “Our goal is to have everything paid off for the next generation to come in and add to it,” Wilkinson says. “We hope we’ve put the groundwork there so as we transition out, our children can move in.”

His own father had a dream of a family operation where he would work with his brothers — that dream has been realized and now has Wilkinson similarly looking ahead. “It goes back to my dad’s idea,” Wilkinson says. “We came up with a model of feeding for the future.”

Click here to read more about Redstone Feeders.