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Teens build their herds: Area teens tap into loan program to buy bred heifers

Spring calving is always important to Abbi Steeke and Hunter Duckwitz. It's an even bigger deal this year. The two southwest North Dakota teens have each purchased five bred heifers through a special loan program created by Dakota Community Bank ...

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Submitted Photo Hunter Duckwitz stands with several of the bred heifers that the Belfield teen purchased with the help of a special bank loan.

Spring calving is always important to Abbi Steeke and Hunter Duckwitz.

 

It’s an even bigger deal this year.

 

The two southwest North Dakota teens have each purchased five bred heifers through a special loan program created by Dakota Community Bank & Trust. The 10 heifers will give birth for the first time this spring, and Steeke and Duckwitz have an economic stake in healthy calves and mothers.

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"Yeah, I’ll be keeping an eye on them," Duckwitz said, stressing he would have been involved in calving anyway.

 

Steeke also would be active in spring calving if she hadn’t bought the heifers. Even so, she’s excited about having them.

 

Both she and Duckwitz are 14 years old and in eighth grade, and both come from ranching families.

 

Steeke is from Rhame and Duckwitz from Belfield.

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Dakota Community Bank & Trust, which has 11 branches in western North Dakota, created its Female Foundation Program in 2013. It provides five-year, interest-free loans to two people, in seventh or eighth grade and at least 13 years of age, who live in North Dakota’s Stark, Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger or Slope, or South Dakota’s Harding County. Recipients will have finished, or be finishing, high school when their five-year loan is finished.

 

"We’re looking to get youth in southwest North Dakota more involved in agricultural business, to get a herd started and learn the financial part of it," said Katie Dukart, a Dickinson-based banker with Dakota Community Bank & Trust.

 

Cattle prices have soared in the past year, making it more difficult to buy cattle, Dukart said.

 

Duckwitz said he paid $20,000 for his heifers.

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Steeke, who bought her heifers during a temporary dip in cattle prices, paid about $8,500. If she’d bought them even a little later, she’d have paid much more.

 

"I think I got a pretty good price," Steeke said.

 

Both Duckwitz and Steeke had advice from friends and family members when they bought their heifers.

 

"You know these are going to be good cows," she said.

 

But while the prices they paid for the heifers are high, so are the prices they should receive for calves, at least the ones born this year.

 

Cattle industry officials are optimistic that prices will stay strong for at least several years.

 

Duckwitz and Steeke, who don’t know each other, each said they’re providing labor to their family’s herds in exchange for feed and other costs involved with their heifers.

 

Dukart said her bank is hopeful the program will grow and increase the number of award recipients.

 

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