Long, cold winters make for hard work in Kentucky

Kentucky beef producers share their story with international visitors


Beef Cattle
Kentucky cattle producers Rod White (second from left) and his father Tim White (fourth from left) with Toby Doak from Alltech Lienert, Alex Muirhead, Ortawehan, Winnaleah, and Glen Whitton, Riverina Stockfeeds.

Kentucky cattle producers Rod White (second from left) and his father Tim White (fourth from left) with Toby Doak from Alltech Lienert, Alex Muirhead, Ortawehan, Winnaleah, and Glen Whitton, Riverina Stockfeeds.

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The White family's idyllic looking farm in the heart of Kentucky's famed blue grass country is not without its challenges.

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AT first glance cattle producers might think they had died and gone to heaven. Picturesque rolling green meadows, dotted with massive old oak trees and pretty yellow flowers reinforce the image of pastoral bliss.

But the White family's idyllic looking farm in the heart of Kentucky's famed blue grass country is not without its challenges. While luxuriant pasture growth is guaranteed every spring and kept in constant flush by a 1100mm average annual rainfall, harsh winters complete with at times deep snow and 20 celsius below temperatures mean long hours and hard work for the White Farm 4 operation.

All livestock are fed every day across the enterprise's 13 farms with hay made during the spring and summer. That means virtually all of the short winter daylight hours are spent on tractors delivering fodder.

During the warm, humid months there is also plenty to keep the team of four busy. Trace and macro minerals are also in high demand from the cattle, including Sel-Plex an organic selenium, calcium, salt and phosphorus and magnesium based dry lick during the summer.

Successful Kentucky alliance

An accumulation program for weaner cattle is paying dividends for the White family, which operates an innovative stud and commercial cattle operation just outside Lexington, Kentucky.

Tim White said the program was developed as a way of directly supporting the producers who used White Farm 4 genetics.

"Most of our bulls are sold within 20 miles (32km) of here, so this is a very practical way we can support the producers who support us," Mr White said.

"We're able to offer feedyards lots of cattle that have all been weaned, vaccinated and fed the same way as well as having the same genetics."

The calves are marketed at about nine to 10 months, with steers weighing about 295kg and heifers around the 260-270kg mark.

Kentucky winter.

Kentucky winter.

The White family opened up their White Farm 4 operation (the four signifies Tim and his wife Amy and their children Rod and Addie) as part of the Alltech Ideas Conference being held in Lexington this week.

The operation has some 120 stud cows and 370 commercial breeders as well as buying in feeder steers to grow out on pasture in the spring and summer months. Both Angus and SimAngus bulls are produced.

In addition, the Whites offer an embryo transfer breeding service for selected clients using recipient cows.

"We could have any number of cows, but the large amount of work involved is very challenging," Amy White said.

The family runs its cattle business across 1000 hectares on mainly leased country spread over 13 separate properties, a reflection of Kentucky's eye watering US$37,000/hectare land values.

Tim White is also the president of the Kentucky Cattlemen's Association, representing the state's 38,000 cattle producers, who collectively run about 1.1 million cattle.

"Our number one concern is to have a kill plant located in Kentucky," Mr White said.

"Then it would be efficient to send less than a semi load. Secondly, all the jobs and money spent on processing would stay here."

  • Mark Phelps traveled to Kentucky as a guest of Alltech.
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