Off-Farm Income


Today's episode features one of the most unique and interesting, and possibly most dangerous, supervised agricultural experiences we have ever profiled on the Off-Farm Income Podcast.

Andrew Mehus is the former chapter president of the Cochrane-Fountain City FFA Chapter.  He is now studying wildlife ecology at the University Of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.  He is also the 2020 National Proficiency Winner in specialty animal production.  All of this stems from his SAE.

Andrew works at Neitzel's Village Elk Farm near him home in Fountain City, Wisconsin.  He started working there early in high school and has steadily gained more and more responsibility over time.  On the farm they raise elk for the harvesting of antlers.  I learned something very interesting in my interview with Andrew.  Elk do not have nerve endings in their antlers.  Andrew stated that sometimes when they are sawing them off the bull will just stand there as if nothing is happening.

They will leave the antlers on a few of their most impressive bulls to demonstrate the quality of their genetics to other people.  And, a few cull bulls and cows will be harvested for meat.  But, by in large, the elk herd represents a sustainable and renewable source of a rich mineral.

Andrew has not learned just about the husbandry of elk.  He also has learned more about the business side of elk production.  The antlers are used for the production of medicines and supplements all around the world, and it is a very niche market.  Because of the unique shape of elk horns the owner of the farm developed special machinery to help catch and secure the elk when they do have to remove horns or do other work with them.

This experience has really shaped Andrew and has motivated in the college major that he chose.  The State Of Wisconsin has reintroduced elk in the northern part of the state, and Andrew is shooting for a future in which he works for the state department of wildlife managing that herd.