When Dr. Mark Carlson moved to his farm on the north edge of Cherokee in 1984, he began raising cattle. Starting with crossbred cows, the veterinarian/farmer switched over to purebreds over a period of time,and now has approximately 160 head of purebreds - mostly Angus and a few Polled Herefords.
Britt received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2006 and returned to Cherokee, joining her father in the "Large Animal" half of the Valley Veterinary Center practice. She said she returned to her hometown because "it's home," and she wanted to get back to working with the cow herd.
She joined the Valley Vet practice because "this practice has an excellent history of mentorship, and is very dedicated to high-quality veterinary medicine." Her dad now considers her a partner on the farm, as well as in the veterinary practice.
The Carlsons plan to build the size of their herd, and to that end, have implemented some pretty modern techniques to improve the quality of their animals and the beef that they produce.
One of the programs they have instituted is artificial insemination, where semen is brought in from top producing herds, and the Carlsons' cows are bred with that. Each cow is inseminated at least once, and the good ones get a second dose if they don't "stick" on the first breeding.y receive a second insemination as well.
In the Embryo Transfer program, the "best" cows in the herd are given hormones, to make them super-ovulate, so that they produce a lot of eggs. These "super-ovulated" cows are then bred, and when their eggs are 8 days old, they are flushed out and inserted into other cows or frozen for later use.
Another modern technique used by the Carlsons is ultrasound, which they use on their herd to evaluate "carcass merit."
The object, said Britt, is to use the "best cows from our herd and the best bulls in the nation and make the herd better faster."
The Carlsons sell a few of their heifers each year, usually to local area farmers, and keep a few for themselves. They hired their first 'hired man,' Tony Lukins, last spring, and Britt said he "really helped out with the calving." Michael Carlson, 19, is now a student at Iowa State, and he helps out with the herd when he's home, too. Wife/mother Jan, Assistant Nurse Manager for the Hospice Home Choice Public Health Office, also serves as "head fitter" (groomer) for the show cattle, and provides "an extra hand when we need it," said Britt.
As if young Miss Carlson isn't busy enough on the farm and at the practice, she also returned to 4-H involvement this year, starting and serving as the leader of a new club, the Stockmen. This club, which currently has about 30 boys and girls as members, will specialize in livestock such as beef, swine, dairy, sheep, goats and rabbits. Club members have been putting on some clinics, where members learn about picking animals for their projects and judging. Soon they will be working on grooming their animals.
As I stated earlier, the Carlsons hope to expand their operation through the
upcoming years. One such step will take place when Britt marries her fiance,
Nate Patterson, who also has a herd of cattle on his farm. Patterson just
returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq with the Army. He is
now in the Inactive Reserve, and getting used to being back in this setting,
but when they're ready, the Patterson and Carlson stock will be combined.