Empowering Partnership

Dec 07, 2019

For almost four decades, the Duncan farming and ranching operation has been passed down from generation to generation. Through droughts, floods, and highs and lows of the agricultural economy, the Duncan operation strives to remain in front of the changing times. 

Nestled in the Flint Hills near Westmoreland, Kansas, Kenny Duncan and his father, Tom, have continuously diversified and expanded their farm and ranch since they partnered in the 1980s. They currently manage a 225-head black Angus and Simmental Cross cow-calf herd, along with a haying and agronomy operation. In 1993, Kenny and Tom hired Steve Havenstein to help manage the cow-calf herd. With the addition of Steve’s help, the Duncan operation put an emphasis on improving the profitability of their herd. They sought expertise from a number of sources to improve their feed ration, including various feed companies and experts. Still, they were unable to create a ration that worked until working with MKC. 

“In the past, we were never happy with the condition of our cattle heading into winter and we knew we had to fix that,” Kenny says. “One day we decided to reach out to the feed department at MKC and discuss the possibility of creating a ration with them.” 

Through MKC, Duncan Farms was introduced to the Purina protein program. Kenny and Steve worked with MKC feed specialist, Gary Schmidt, to formulate a ration specific to his herd’s requirements and were amazed by the results from feeding the new recommendation. 

“When we started using the Purina protein program through MKC, the ration put 100 more pounds per head on in the first year,” Havenstein says. “Since starting with Purina and MKC, we’ve calved out 72% of our cows to be on the ground in the first 30 days, just by having our cows in prime body condition when heading into the breeding season. We have to take our hats off to MKC and the Purina team for creating the phenomenal feed ration that has made our operation more profitable by shortening our calving windows.”

More than a Bag of Feed
The Duncans have been pivotal in the success of MKC’s Animal Nutrition Field Day. For the past three years, Kenny and his family have hosted the event and welcomed producers from across the state to their operation to learn about a variety of Purina products and their impact. 

“We couldn’t ask for a better person to host this event,” Schmidt says. “Kenny is extremely knowledgeable in the industry and is always happy to answer questions. Kenny is the straightest shooter I know and will always be honest with the products being displayed.”

Kenny is a true testament to utilizing the Purina brand to the fullest potential. Along with the Purina protein program, he uses supplemental nutrition such as Purina Rain and Wind Mineral to wean calves, and fly control products.

“Kenny is one of the few that follows the Purina programs by the book, and you can truly see the results by doing so,” Schmidt says. “His cows and calves are always in prime body condition by keeping them on this regimen.”

Agronomy Advancements
The Duncan’s success with MKC extends to more than just feed. Kenny is a firm believer on implementing new technology in his agronomy operation and has turned to the experts at MKC for assistance. 

“Everyone can say ‘this is how Grandpa always did it’, but that just doesn’t work anymore,” Kenny says. “There are so many better ways, and MKC makes it easier to make decisions by having a person
readily available.” 

The Duncan operation has been a loyal cooperative member in the Manhattan area for 25 years and has worked with MKC since the merger of Farmers Cooperative Association in June 2014. Since then, the Duncans have implemented as much technology, including variable rate anhydrous and yield monitoring systems, as they can economically justify. 

“It has been a guessing game for so long and it’s incredibly nice to have data specific to your operation in your hands,” Kenny says. “You always knew you had that one bad spot in that field, you just didn’t know where. Now you have the data to tell you exactly where it is. We’ve been taking baby steps towards technology, but we’re finally to the point where we can evaluate our data. It’s starting to make sense and the technology is starting to truly pay itself off.” 

Kenny says the first year they used row shutoff technology, they had numerous bags of seed left over after they finished planting fields. 

“It was truly astounding how precision technology can impact your bottom line,” Kenny says. “At the end of the year, the difference that technology made was eye opening. Instead of having to go back to the co-op and buy a few more bags of seed, that was the first year in our farm’s history we sent bags back. That is all thanks to the precision technology team. I thought to myself, wow, we should have been doing this years ago,” Kenny says.

Even with the difference precision technology and the feed department has made to the Duncan operation, that is not the main reason Kenny keeps coming back. 

“MKC’s customer service is unmatchable,” Kenny says. “Customer service is just as important to MKC as it is to the farmers and ranchers, no matter if you farm two acres or 2,000 acres.”

Kenny believes MKC keeps on top of customer experience interactions by hiring progressive, service-minded and knowledgeable professionals. 

“MKC preaches they hire the best of the best and I believe they truly do,” Kenny says. “As a producer, they challenge our thought process and push us out of the rut we have been in for decades.” 

Written by: Brityne Rucker, MKC communications intern

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