Chris Jenkins says his family’s agriculture roots have helped him stay in the cattle business
Tradition, integrity and innovation are the words that come to mind after meeting Chris Jenkins, local farmer and vice president of Jenkins Buildings, LLC. Chris, 32, is the fourth generation of Jenkins to live on and work the Jenkins farm.
Chris graduated from the Hermitage High School and attended the Dallas County Technical Center in Louisburg, Mo.
Unlike his brother and sister, Chris stayed on the farm and works in the family business.
“I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to farm,” Chris said. “With the cost of land, fencing, buildings and equipment, I would never have been able to do what I love without being part of this family.”
The farm consists of 222 acres spanning the Polk and Hickory County line on Highway D. Chris’ great-grandfather, James Jenkins, purchased the land for $9.91 per acre in 1932 and moved his family to Missouri to escape the ravages of the dust bowl in Oklahoma. Over the years the farm has raised chickens, hogs, and both dairy and beef cattle.
“My grandfather, Ernest, always had other businesses in addition farming. In 1937 he purchased one of the first tractors in Hickory County from Knights Hardware in Weaubleau, Mo. The Farmall F12, with steel wheels, plow and disc cost him $400 cash and two draft mules. Grandpa plowed other farmers’ fields as well as our own. He added a generator that powered an electric chain saw to cut trees and lumber. We still have that tractor, and it still runs,” Chris said.
Chris has a herd of purebred Hereford cattle.
“I like the Hereford breed for a lot of reasons,” Chris said. “My family is English and the breed is part of our history. Herefords are a proven breed. They are hardy, have few calving problems and are able to raise twins without any difficulty for the cow. In addition, both the bulls and cows are very easy to work with.”
“My wife, Laura, was not a farm girl when we dated in high school,” Chris continued. “The first time I brought her to the farm, I called the cattle so she could see them. When the herd came running toward me, she stood her ground but was frightened. Now she helps me with the cattle because they are so docile.”
“I look for the dark red, traditional color for my Herefords and have both horned and polled animals. My experience with the dark red animals has always been positive, and I just feel they are healthier, more docile and better mothers. One of my cows has had two sets of twins and accepted both calves each time. She had plenty of milk for both and never lost weight herself. There was no difference among the twins and single calves at weaning.”
“I raise my cow/calf pairs on improved pasture and only use grain when I want to work them,” Chris continued. “I have 80 acres of land that I fertilize and manage for both grazing and hay. Most of the land is in fescue, but I also have red and white clover. I bale 1,200-pound round bales and usually bring in a trailer load of alfalfa for the winter. My herd thrives on this combination of hay, and I sell whatever I don’t use for my animals.”
Chris uses registered animals for his cow/calf operation but does not bother registering the calves. He sells his animals at local auction facilities if he only has a few calves ready. If he has a trailer load of calves, it is worth his time to take the load to Fort Scott, Kan., where they bring higher prices. The auctioneers are always impressed with the size and condition of his animals and have a hard time believing they have not been on grain.
“I can handle up to 50 cow/calf pairs, but right now my job at Jenkins Buildings, LLC takes up so much of my time that I don’t run that many.”
“My grandfather and his brother, Bennie, started Jenkins Building Materials, Inc. here on the farm in Polk (Mo.) in 1964 after a neighbor saw a metal building they had constructed and asked them to build him the same type of structure. My father, Garland, was always involved with both the farm and business. In 2010, he formed Jenkins Buildings, LLC and took over the company. Today we operate in 29 states and have two crews that travel to put pre-engineered buildings together onsite. We keep our overhead low, partner with the top building and material manufacturers in the USA, and have a full range of buildings and materials available to individuals and contractors,” Chris said. “My goals are to keep producing good cattle and work with my father and brother-in-law, Nick Fusco, to keep Jenkins Buildings providing value to the community.”