It’s true what they say that you learn something new every day. That really is the case for me every time I leave the office and head out to visit a producer in the Ozarks. No two farms operate exactly the same way and what works for one farm may not work for another. As you may know with my job farm visits are normal and I truly enjoy it each and every time.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit five local agricultural facilities during the 2013 Agricultural Tour hosted by Congressman Billy Long. Staying true to form I learned something from each stop.
A huge thank you to Ozarks Legend Whitetail, Tyson Monett Hatchery, Jerry and Barbara White’s Wagyu Farm, Schallert Seed and Thunder Ridge Dairy for allowing us to visit and for letting us have a behind the scenes look at your daily lives.
Each stop on the tour was fascinating but I was especially interested in the management practices at Ozarks Legend Whitetail, in Billings, Mo. Just like cattle, the owners Mike Gold and Matt Vesci are focused on bloodlines. They have truly created a business built on superior genetics, which is evident when you see the pens of bucks.
Our second stop on the tour was the Tyson Monett Hatchery. This was my first time in a commercial hatchery. They hatch 1.3 million chicks a week at the Monett facility. The Monett facility is self-sufficient meaning they do not rely on other facilities to meet the demand for chicks resulting in the establishment of their own breeder department.
I was more in my comfort zone on our third stop to the White’s Wagyu Farm in Purdy, Mo. Although Wagyu is a Japanese beef cattle breed they are quickly gaining popularity in the U.S. The Whites have established an ET program using their Angus cattle as recipients. The Whites will market their unique breed to high-end restaurants. A special thank you to Jerry and Barbara for serving the tour group Wagyu burgers for lunch.
Diversification and growth was apparent in our fourth stop to Schallert Seed in Purdy, Mo. Since 1978 the Schallert family has expanded their business into a multi-faceted agribusiness by growing, harvesting and processing KY-31 Fescue seed. They also grow beans, corn, wheat, barley and background cattle. This family is a wonderful example of the hard work that Ozarks farms were built on.
Our final stop for the day was Thunder Ridge Dairy in Mt. Vernon, Mo. The Calvin family runs 150 dairy cows and 180 replacement heifers. They also raise corn silage, rye and alfaflfa hay and grass hay. But what makes this dairy so successful is the installation of a 140-acre intensive grazing system. The grazing system reduces labor and feed costs while allowing Thunder Ridge Dairy to compete with dairies in other parts of the country.
The tour led us to five diverse stops in one day. I am thankful to have been part of the group and can’t wait to see what next year’s tour brings.
Best wishes,


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