Some children remember their first day of school, others remember graduating, while others can’t forget that magic number of 21. But it was 11 for Madison County Farm Bureau member Tracy Neidig — that’s the age she joined 4-H and started keeping livestock record books. As close as she can remember, a bred heifer named “Twiggy” was given to her by her father to start a herd with her brother. In February 2000, she placed her very first bid (leading to purchasing the animal she was bidding on), at a production sale — it was the first purchase she and her brother made for their own herd.
Tracy grew up on a farm north of Madison where her family raised corn, soybeans and alfalfa and ran a purebred Simmental cattle operation. She attended Northeast Community College in Norfolk for two years where she was on the livestock judging team, and in 2008, she graduated from South Dakota State University with a degree in Animal Science and Ag Business. Tracy currently works at Ward Laboratories where she does feed testing, testing for manures and slurries, fertilizers, plants and potatoes.
Tracy says being on the farm and working with livestock is a passion. Being involved with management decisions at a young age, Tracy says when people said she“couldn’t” she proved to them that she “could”. One day she hopes to build her cow herd and move it closer to her to focus more on continually improving the genetics she has been building from a young age; however, she lives in town and says it’s hard to find rental ground or a place to winter cattle. “Everyone is looking for pasture.”
Tracy says her cattle are very docile. They’ve bred that into the herd so it’s less manual labor and the cows come to them when she checks them rather than become frightened when people go near them. She also says low-stress animal handling is important on their farm both for themselves and for consumers who are buying their end product.