Nebraska’s largest feedlot proposal gets green light from county officials

A Canadian veterinarian who’s helping pioneer Nebraska’s largest feedlot project says it could transform the state’s economy and beef supply chain.

Eric Behlke, a partner with Blackshirt Feeders, says the 150,000 head feedlot will enhance cattle health and improve the environment through innovative technology. “This feedlot will be built on roller compacted concrete and will have an anaerobic digester associated with it.  We’ll harvest the fresh manure right out of the pens, put into the digester and that will result in renewable natural gas production.”  

The feedlot will be near the Colorado/Nebraska border in Dundy County and Behlke tells Brownfield the location is equidistant from several processing facilities. “With the addition of the hook space with the addition of producer-owned plants that you talk to, it does sound like there might be an excess of hook space in that particular region.  This will do a good job of filling that potential void that we see coming down the pipe.”

He says his company will retire several pivots to provide a water supply for the project and shouldn’t reduce water levels in the Ogallala Aquifer. Behlke says he’ll be purchasing about 15 million bushels of corn each year.

Steve Martin with the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska says the operation will feed cattle in different stages including backgrounding and finishing with a some focus on dairy animals. “Within the dairy industry, there’s a lot of interest in taking the lower end producing cows and crossing those with a beef breed to get a better carcass animal.”

And, he tells Brownfield, nearly 200 people will be employed. “From really a local standpoint, it’s going to put a lot of money in Dundy County for the tax base,” he says. “It’s going to be a great benefit for the school district and overall it will improve demand for feed for local farmers, too.”

Earlier this month, the Dundy County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the project and Blackshirt Feeders is waiting on state permits.

Behlke is a native of Benkelman, NE.

Eric Behlke, Blackshirt Feeders:

Steve Martin, AFAN:

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