Rockin H Ranch teaches others about the production and marketing of their unique operation

You may see their products in your local grocery store. Real Farm Foods is the marketing company for products raised and grown at Rockin H Ranch owned by Cody and Dawnnell Holmes.
Located in Wright County, near Norwood, Mo., the 1,000-acre ranch is home to 300 beef cows/calves, meat goats, sheep, hogs, broiler chickens and turkeys. There are also dairy cows, dairy goats and 400 to 500 laying hens.
The Method: Rockin H Ranch is operated holistically. Cody explained, “A holistic farm is one that realizes that to be sustainable and continue for generation after generation, it must put something back into the environment, the land, the people who work on the land, and the people who live from the land, meaning all the people who have a connection, including the customer.”
They don’t use any chemical fertilizers. They don’t use de-wormers on their livestock that are chemically induced. Cody explained, “One definition of holistic is that we’re not going to deteriorate the soil or the water, or do anything that is going to prevent us from continuing indefinitely.”
Very little grain is fed on Cody’s ranch. He stated, “Our broilers are supplemented with an organic grain. They’re out on grass and getting about 40 percent of their diet on forages and the rest is on grain. All of our animals are pasture raised. Nothing is confined.”
Their 150 hogs are another exception. They get 60 to 70 percent of their diet from forage. Whey is the product left over after making cheese. To satisfy the hogs, they are fed whey. If whey isn’t available, they are fed organic grain.    
Work Divided: With all that’s grown and raised at Rockin H Ranch, help is needed. Summer interns stay at the farm for six weeks at a time. Cody stated, “We’ll have four to six interns each summer. They’ll do a lot of gardening work.”
Cody also has apprentice programs. Young adults usually go through this program. “They live and work on the farm, and get experience in practically every aspect of the farm for a full year,” he stated.
In addition, Cody said, “We have what we call farm families, which is an area we have been growing in over the last few years.
“We have a total of three families, counting ours, that live on the farm and do different things,” he said.
Cody explained, “The families live here permanently, for the most part, and we assign them an enterprise that they are most interested in.” If a farm family wants to be a produce grower, they are assigned part, or all, of a section of the garden. Their income is based on what they produce in that part of the garden. It is common for a family to have more than one enterprise on the farm.
The farm family’s entire sustenance comes from this farm. We have modest housing and we grow all the food anybody could every use,” Cody said.
Grade A Dairies and Grade A Cheese Plant: Although they only have 20 Jersey cows, Cody said, “We sell a lot of milk. Even with a small number of cows, it’s a major part of what we’re doing.”
When it comes to making money, he stated, “The raw milk from cows is the most profitable. There’s nothing that can even approach the dairy cow.” His wife is in “complete charge of the cow dairy.” One of the farm families takes care of the 150 dairy goats and the cheese plant.
Meat Animals: “We have capacity for 1,000 meat goats and that’s the direction we’re going,” Cody explained.
Of the grazing animals, he said, “The sheep are the most profitable by far. The least profitable is the beef cow.” They have 400 to 500 sheep.
Cody said, “There are challenges with every species. The goats are the most difficult to confine. Raising the broiler chickens out on pasture is the most work.” He added, “The animals that are the most work, create the most profit.”
They do not process their meat. It is done by a USDA processor. Cody explained, “We’ll do several thousand broiler chickens, and we can’t do those by hand anymore. We are selling more chicken all the time.”
The turkeys are becoming more non-seasonal because of a demand for ground turkey.
He sells meat goats, but does not sell goat meat because of the cost of butchering. Cody said the highest demand is for pork.
Customer Base: “We sell at Farmer’s Market of the Ozarks in Springfield, Mo., grocery stores, health food stores, and through CSA’s,” Cody said. He added, “Our primary business is our home delivery.”
Real Farm Foods is “all about sustainability and health. That’s our priority,” Cody concluded.


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