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Stories: Colorado Cowboys

Raph and Carlos

Story Location: Kersey, Colorado More stories in this location

Raph and Carlos are modern day cowboys at the Kuner ranch in Colorado. This modern day cattle farm is called a CAFO - Concentrated, Animal Feeding Operation. Not perhaps the traditional image of cowboys working on a ranch we might conjure up in our imaginations.

At full capacity, there are over 90 000 cattle at this ranch. They are engineered meat producers, fed up and fattened for the purpose of providing prime, tasty beef. Carlos and Raph describe what they look for in a prime beef steer when deciding its ready to go, nicely rounded, a perfect combination of lean and fat meat.

Raph and Carlos wait until the steer has put on at least three times its own body weight and weighs around 1300 pounds before letting it go. The cattle usually stay with them a minimum of 200 days.

Raph and Carlos have become so adept at guessing the size of these animals, they can tell within a pound or so how much an animal ways.  When the calves arrive, they are weighed, and their average daily gain is calculated. From the start of the steer’s life, to the finish, it is a mathematical and precision-engineered operation.

Shop PBS About the Presenter Yel Kwon