Hess' family-owned business, Bow Creek Farm & Cattle Co., is located less than two miles north of the tourist destination of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Hess and his wife, Amy, pride themselves on producing superior cattle with a focus on improving the genetics of their registered Red Angus herd.
What Hess didn't realize through his work in advancing his herd's genetics, is he was ultimately creating restaurant-quality beef which would soon become featured on menus in the popular tourist town.
"Getting in to the beef industry wasn't my initial intention when I started focusing on genetics three years ago," says Hess. "I was doing more embryo and AI work to improve the overall EPDs of my herd. Red Angus isn't as popular as other breeds here in the Northeast, and my intention was to focus on developing high-quality seedstock animals and grow the business based on supplying the region with our top notch Red Angus cattle."
However, the results of the genetic tests told a different story. What Hess discovered was his cattle ranked highest in both docility and tenderness traits – creating a perfect genetic combination to grow a successful herd based on strong breeding and carcass traits. He then had the data to prove his meat was not only age and source verified, but also genetically verified.
Hess didn't have to look far when it came time to secure a buyer for his beef.
"This area is known for connecting farmers to consumers," Hess explains. "I took samples of my beef to a resort destination a couple miles from my farm and they loved it. We've been partners ever since."
Hess attributes part of his success to the quality and dependable products he utilizes on the farm daily. He says he relies on a Gallagher scale for all of his weighing needs.
"I've been utilizing a Gallagher weigh scale for almost six years and use the scale for the birth, weaning and live weights on every animal on the farm," says Hess. "I've never had an issue with the scale, which is why I use and trust the exceptional quality of all Gallagher products."
Hess explains that keeping detailed and accurate herd data is incredibly important to his overall operation and business practice.
We track and compare the live and hanging weight for each animal that we harvest, and based on those percentages, we are able to make selection decisions for the future, says Hess. We do the same process with yield grade as well – we compile the data for yield grade, and also use that information to make farm management decisions based on the results we collect.
"Being off on our weights can create management issues that may be difficult to fix," says Hess. "Many farm decisions are based on the animal's weight and being off on our data can potentially result in money out of our pocket. The decisions we make based on the weights have a significant impact on the future of our herd and ultimately the success of our business."
Gallagher Sales Representative Greg Miller agrees.
"Accuracy is paramount when it comes to tracking and analyzing livestock weights," says Miller. "Our weigh scales provide rapid, automatic and accurate weight capture – suitable in any farm or ranch setting and regardless of the animal's movement."
Gallagher weigh scales were designed with the producer in mind, explains Miller. "All of our scales are ranch and farm ready, built tough and durable, feature easy-to-use components, and suited for all weather conditions."
Hess explains his animals are performance tested from pasture to the plate. "I have no room for error when making decisions that will impact the makeup of my registered herd or my business," he says.
"I have never been disappointed in a product that I've purchased from Gallagher, or had a Gallagher product fail on me," says Hess. "If Gallagher sells it, I want to buy it because they are known for their quality, durability and the company stands by the products they sell."
While Hess admits that it may not have been his intention to develop a high-quality beef product from the beginning, he is glad he solved one dilemma. "Now I can truly enjoy restaurant-style steaks at home and down the road at my favorite restaurant," he says.