Duane Coatney shares his knowledge of cattle and preserving the land with his granddaughter, Kindra

The story of Duane Coatney is the story of cattle, land and family. Before moving to Eureka Springs, Ark., Duane worked in Bentonville, Ark., for Carroll Electric. Bella Vista was beginning, and Duane didn’t want to be part of the “rat race,” so he accepted a job with Bell Telephone in the small town of Eureka Springs, Ark. Ironically, three months later the Holiday Island project began changing the area forever into a tourist and cultural center.
Nonetheless, Duane stayed and has been raising cattle in Eureka Springs for 42 years gradually increasing his land holding to 500 acres under fence. Duane now has a commercial herd of 86 Brangus and Angus momma cows down from 122 because of the drought. He also has four bulls, three black Simmentals and one Angus. Depending upon the weather, Duane plans to either increase his herd again or further reduce it. Duane said, “In the beginning I really should have bought more land but was afraid of the financial burden. It took 32 years to make a profit because you have to spend money to make money.”
Part of the spending money is buying equipment as needed over the years and then taking good care of it. Duane has four tractors for different purposes, a round baler, a disk mower, a V rake, a 15′ brush hog and a hay wrapper that he used for the first time this year. This last summer he harvested a pasture of Johnsongrass that had grown too stocky and was not something the cattle would eat. He cut it, bailed it immediately without fluffing or drying and then seal wrapped it so the protein content would rise and the matter begin to ferment. He is looking forward to giving that to his cows during the winter because he believes they will really enjoy it.
While all of northwest Arkansas is mountainous, the land around Eureka Springs presents unique challenges. In addition to being heavily wooded, the soil is very thin and erodes easily. Duane said, “You have to improve the land because this land can’t take care of itself.”
Duane said many local people believe clearing the land is bad for the environment. He continued that clearing it and repairing it before seeding it for pasture prevents more soil erosion than leaving the land in trees. Duane has cleared substantial tracts of land and used heavy equipment to repair deep water erosion gouges on the side of the mountains. He then seeded the cleared land with Orchardgrass, Fescue, Johnsongrass and Bermuda. He fertilizes with chicken litter annually according to a farm plan and has created productive and beautiful pastureland.
One of the benefits of the land around Eureka Springs is that it contains many springs. Duane has maximized the water usage by placing spring side water boxes on six springs with one more spring to develop.
Duane works his own cattle. This includes castrating, vaccinating, doctoring, sorting, and loading out. He doesn’t call a veterinarian often, usually for a rare calving problem or prolapse issue and for pregnancy checks. He also protects his cows from flies. Duane said, “Over the years I’ve learned if you control flies, you seldom have a pink eye problem.”
Duane prefers to feed his cattle all hay and grass with range cubes and tubs available. He also strongly prefers loose minerals. Duane said, “I also use loose mineral because block mineral is hard on their teeth.”
Duane and his granddaughter, Kindra, pal around together all of the time. She had her first heifer when she was 2 years old.
Duane said, “The main reason for keeping everything going is Kindra. It’s almost impossible for a young person today to start their own farm and she is really interested. The land will go to my son and then to Kindra. We were both raised on farms, and she really loves the land and what it can produce.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here