Dr. Dan Kniffen -- Producer Leader and Beef Extension Specialist
Dr. Dan Kniffen and his wife, Dr. Ann Swinker, operate Windy Butte Ranch-Kniffen Livestock in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. The 35 head cow-calf and seedstock operation is primarily Hereford and black baldy cattle.
Originally from New Jersey, Kniffen began farming from various locations, including Colorado and West Virginia, before settling in Pennsylvania. “I have been in the cattle industry all my life; I enjoy it and the lifestyle,” said Kniffen.
At Windy Butte, the cows are high on the priority list. “We see the cows two times, everyday. They are inspected daily to ensure that they are healthy and productive,” remarked Kniffen. In addition to checking on the cows daily, Kniffen follows a strict mineral and vaccination program. Windy Butte Ranch also works closely with National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) to implement a manure management and wildlife habitat program. They are a rotational grazing operation that tests their feed for balanced nutrients.
Kniffen believes that there will be great challenges, as well as opportunities, in the cattle industry. “If breeders utilize high quality genetics to provide a better product to consumers, this industry will succeed,” Kniffen explained. “We need to focus on marketing to the consumer and pushing the nutritional value of beef in the diet.” He also believes that the decrease in the United States cow herd is going to provide a major challenge. “Profitability will eventually become very difficult and that will prevent young people from becoming involved in the industry,” said Kniffen.
Off the farm, Kniffen works as an Assistant Professor of Dairy and Animal Sciences at Penn State, serving as the Beef Specialist. His wife, Ann, is the Extension Horse Specialist at Penn State and an Assistant Professor of Equine Science. Kniffen also serves on the Pennsylvania Beef Council Board of Directors, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association. He is County Farm Bureau President and is the newly elected chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Producer Education Committee.