Boy, does the summer go by fast! This last weekend, I finished my internship at Summit Farms in Alden, Iowa as one of their beef production interns. Reflecting on the three months I spent with the company, I learned many valuable skills to take with me in the future. I pursued this internship months ago because, as an agricultural communications student, I find it vital to gain as much knowledge of the industry as I can. Also, with my interests lying in cattle operations, I found this specific internship to be the best fit for me to learn as much as I can about the industry operated on a larger scale than what is more familiar to me.
In one of my previous posts about my Summit Internship, I expressed how the cattle side is a 10,000+ head operation. With being one of the few people that help take care of a large amount of cattle, I became more knowledgeable of how to feed, treat, and provide general wellness to steers in a market setting.
Within my cattle operation’s internship, one of the most important skills I acquired was learning more about treatment protocols for cattle. It is especially important to make sure the steers are happy and healthy while in the feedlots and confinement barns. I learned how to recognize different diseases and infections that cows obtain (one of the largest being foot rot) as well as treating them myself. After this internship, I have a better understanding of cattle handling techniques to provide a low-stress environment that is best for the steers and handlers alike. Despite trying to work cattle as safely and effectively as possible, I have had to dodge a few crazy ones every now and then that got worked up from getting nervous.
Near the end of my internship, I learned how to load and operate the feed trucks. Here, we generate rations needed for each pen on the farm that usually contains high moisture corn, roughages like hay and corn stalks, modified distillers, and syrup. The feed trucks mix the rations and are administered to each bunk with their specific ration weight. Our feed truck drivers operate throughout the day, feeding around 200,000 pounds of feed per day. Though I found it fun learning how to operate the feed trucks, I am not sure I could stand being in a feed truck all day for days on end!
Along with learning valuable skills, I also met a lot of great people throughout the summer. From dealing with general co-workers to my managers to the people in the other departments and the office. I was able to network with others that I plan to stay in contact with in the future. Summit provided an outstanding work environment with the people it employs. From general operations to the CEO, everyone played a role that contributed to the success of others. I also had the chance to work with a few guys that are from Mexico and work at Summit on a Visa. I learned a lot about their culture as well as a little Spanish!
Another perk of my internship was having access to a private pond to fish at throughout the summer. I had a lot of fun fishing with the other interns as well as a couple of workers from South Africa. I even had a few bags of fish to bring back to fry up!
The past three months have been a fruitful journey, and I do not regret the time that I spent. My internship gave me a further appreciation for agriculture and beef production. I encourage anyone who can get the chance to find out more about Summit Farms to do so and see for themselves what this company has to offer its community and agriculture.