"Being able to raise a quality product to feed somebody else is what it's all about." - Erin Bender
Taking care of the cattle is a family affair for the Benders. Erin and Dustin Bender own a grass-fed herd of Angus and American-Aberdeen cattle in Lexington, Ohio with their kids Amelia, 12, and Mathias, 9. They purchased their first Angus cow-calf pair in the spring of 2007, and their farm has now grown to about 120 head of cattle.
While Dustin handles the custom hay baling, the whole family helps with the every-day tasks of bedding, feeding and moving the cattle. Each of the kids have their own herd, make their own genetic decisions and determine which will go through the feedlot to contribute to the family’s freezer beef business. Amelia and Mathias can choose to continue growing their herd or put the profit from that animal in their college fund.
Every weekend, the Bender’s can be found at local farmer’s markets where demand for their beef continues to grow. Because of this, their focus has shifted to figuring out how production can be increased while continuing to meet their own standards regarding quality. The Bender family enjoys the challenge of learning the best ways to meet consumer demand for their product without compromising the fundamental ideals of their operation.
Word of mouth and repeat customers contribute the most to the Bender’s success. As advocates for the importance of education and strong consumer relationships, the family willingly shares the practices of their farm and the data that supports their decisions day-to-day. Erin said, “Really, it’s about being there and having a conversation with people because they want to understand what they’re buying, and they want to understand where they’re buying from.”