Skip Tinney finds a new passion for agriculture in his retirement

For more than 30 years, Skip Tinney’s life evolved around his family and a demanding job with a major retailer.

“My whole identity was work,” Skip Tinney explained.

While Skip climbed the corporate ladder, the Tinneys relocated 15 times. The Tinney’s last job move landed them in Springfield, Mo., which was not far from the couple’s hometown of Joplin, Mo.

When the time for Skip to retire drew near, his wife, Connie, developed a tinge of concern.

“Connie started to worry about what my self-identity was going to be like because I was so involved with work,” Skip said. “So we started looking for property.”

They found land in Fair Grove, Mo., constructed a home, and spent the next five years building their farm and Dexter herd.

Unsure where or how to start in the livestock business, Skip and Connie attended Ozarks Fall Farmfest to seek input and answers.

“We started going to Farmfest and I started talking to farmers about different breeds. A lot of the Dexter people were new to cattle just like me. So, I thought I would have a support group there,” Skip explained.

Skip tackled farming with the same determination that propelled him in the corporate world. He researched, studied, attended seminars and gleaned information from his new found friends in the agriculture industry.

“It is a completely different world and I am amazed with the knowledge farmers have,” Skip said with admiration in his voice.

The Tinneys began their venture into livestock slowly.

“We started off with two steers because I didn’t know anything about cattle. And after we processed the first one I thought, ‘Yeah, this is for me,’” Skip chuckled.

When the Tinneys were ready for their next step in the cattle business, they purchased four Dexter heifers. The heifers came from top breeders in the Dexter cattle industry. Skip wanted to start his registered herd with excellent genetics.

In the past couple of years, Skip has built a small herd of top-quality red Dexter cattle. He focuses on conformation, polled and A2 genetics.

“The A2 is a milk protein that some people really look for. So I thought if I am going to do it I might as well go big or go home,” Skip said.

Skip searched for a year for Dexter heifers that were homozygous polled and had A2/A2 genetics. It was difficult for Skip to find cattle with the specific genetic combination he had in mind. The Tinney’s drove to Minnesota, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas to acquire the Dexter heifers and bulls they wanted for their herd.

“We have cattle from all around and we don’t have that many cows,” Skip laughed.

The Tinneys run around 20 head of cattle on their 23-acre farm called Tinney’s Red Dexters. In the beginning, Skip AI’d his cattle but decided, due to semen costs and veterinary expenses, he was better off buying a herd bull.

In fact, his devotion to the best genetics possible has spurred him to own two herd bulls.

“Even though it is a small herd, I am going to try to maintain two bulls to where I can build my herd without line breeding and not have to go outside the herd for a while,” Skip explained.

Skip admits his venture into farming has thrown him a few curve balls.

“I didn’t realize you had to be a grass farmer first,” Skip lamented.

The Tinneys had their soil tested two years ago and followed up with an application of lime and fertilizer. They are pleased with the increased growth and enhanced nutritional content of their grass.

The Tinneys supplement their herds’ nutrition with Purina’s Stocker Grower, which contains a 14 percent vegetable-based protein and a variety of vitamins. Skip’s research into the total digestible nutrients (TDN) in his cattle’s food led him to the vegetable-based protein for his cattle.

He also makes sure his cattle receive plenty of nutrients from the onset of gestation.

“The science behind it is that a nutrition-starved calf during the first 30 to 120 days can have a different brain size, kidneys, and different vital organs,” Skip explained. “It also impacts the skeletal and muscular development of the fetus.”

Though new to the cattle industry, the Tinneys are already opening their farm to other breeders and people interested in starting their own herds. “It is enjoyable for me to talk about the breed and for people to see what I have done so far too,” Skip said.

A tour of Tinney’s Red Dexters farm also includes a peek at the Tinney’s turkeys, chickens, miniature donkeys, greenhouse and extensive raised bed garden.

Skip has found his new identity in retirement – and it’s one he will treasure forever.

“Our life now is filled with friends, cattle and farm life,” Skip concluded.


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