Eaves Simmental Farm has embraced technology with a new generation of cattlemen
GENTRY, ARK. – Eaves Simmental Farm in Gentry, Ark., has changed over many times.
What was a dairy farm 86 years ago is now a Simmental-influenced cow/calf operation. Terry and Lesa Eaves own ESF and oversee the overall operation of the farm. With their sons-in-law – Justin Holloway and Davy Smith – they raise roughly 40 Simmental cows on 90-plus acres. Like two sides of the same coin, Justin and Davy’s background come together to push ESF to more technological advancements. By using the genetic technology and land management practices available today, ESF will continue to flourish for many years to come.
Genetics can be a complex process, which demands consistency and patience. It takes practice and training, but it’s an investment many cattle producers pursue. Justin’s AI certification opens ESF to more advanced breeding practices like ET and AI.
“We’ll send tissue samples into the American Simmental Association that use NEOGEN labs for parentage and defect testing while putting the calf’s DNA on file for future testing,” Justin explained of their ET and AI program.
These DNA reports tell ESF key traits in the calf’s DNA and the donors it came from. This is a safety measure for cattle producers, especially when using selection pressure. It’s all about the right genes passing on the right traits.
“You’re just trying to play on that and see what works with the genetics we have currently and what we could have in the future,” said Davy.
ESF recognizes their strengths and implement them into their breeding program.
“We focus on the maternal cow families. Some people just look at the bull. Yeah, he can give you a calf, but the maternal side is where is comes from for us. We try to drive the maternal power in the cows we have,” said Justin.
By focusing on the maternal traits in their cattle, ESF shoot for 70- to 85- pound birth weights. These weights breed stronger calves, which are beneficial right after birth.
“They jump right up and start nursing the cow for us; they get that colostrum. They get up and have vigor,” said Justin. “We also find they grow better than those 50-pound [calves].”
By having heavier calves, they’ll have the strength to nurse as quick as possible to ensure they start a healthy and productive life.
All these advancements have taken ESF to new levels. Along with genetics, they use land management practices – like rotational grazing and soil testing – to maximize the quality and growth potential of their land.
“We have to have quality forage to graze or they don’t grow to the potential genetics hold,” said Davy.
Justin said it all comes down to this: “The better calves that we can put on the ground, the more profitable we’ll be.”
While all these advancements benefit the farm. To Terry, his real assets are the people he surrounds himself with and the interest they share. All the workers at ESF agree that – while technology is important – the epitome of a successful farm is “the interest of future generations.” And Terry sees a bright future ahead of them.
“We’re starting to get to the process where they take over,” Terry said.
Even Terry’s grandchildren, Ryker Holloway (9) and Rhett Holloway (6), shoulder responsibilities like haying and feeding the cattle. The boys even have registered cattle of their own. Justin has another child with his wife Lesa, Preslee Holloway (2) who helps “Papa” drive the tractor. And Davy has a newborn son, Barrett Smith, with his wife, Ashley.
“These boys, I see them following up the interest and taking it over,” Terry said. “Because interest is there. That’s the thing about family farms. ‘Is there an interest for the future?’ Well, we have got a good interest for this farm’s future.”