By TCA Intern, Justin Young
Sergeant Wade Dunaway and Dunaway family farms are the center of this weeks Farm Feature Friday. Wade and his wife McKenzie have three children, Lily, Jackson, and Henry. Wade is a veteran of the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently serves as an Army reserve. Wade, his father Ricky and cousin John Dunaway all farm together. The Dunaway’s farm just under 400 acres of land in DeKalb and Rutherford counties. Wade serves as the Chapter President of Alpha Gamma Rho at Middle Tennessee State University and also serves as the Block and Bridle Club Marshal. Additionally, Wade participates in the Dairy Challenge Team at MTSU. While finishing school, tending to his farm and family, Wade also works at Lascassas farm supply. Take a minute to get to know a respected veteran and local cattle farmer, Wade Dunaway!
Q: How long have you and your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.
A: Our family farming operations goes back so far that we cannot put a date on it. My grandfather said that we have always been a family farm. There are pre-civil war gravesites on our farm here in Lascassas. Before transitioning to beef, we were always a dairy farm, raising Brown Swiss.
Q: Who influenced you most in pursing a career in agriculture/farming?
A: My father and grandfather both were instrumental in developing my passion for farming. I had my first two animals when I was 14. When I left for Iraq, I obviously got out of what little bit of farming I was doing. When I came home, my dad helped me get back into the industry with a few head, and I have continued from there.
Q: Tell us about your farm today (breed of cattle, type of operation, what are you proud of, etc.)
A: Today we raise a few steers, as well as having a cow-calf operation. The herd is based on Santa Gertrudis and Limousin genetics. We have recently transitioned to using registered black Angus bulls on our herd to market our cattle better.
Q: What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm?
A: Being surrounded by my family and working with them is my favorite part. The closeness that is created by family farming is unbeatable. I love being with and around my family. I can recall me and my cousins running around the milk barn while everyone was milking when we were little. We always had family out to enjoy the farm and we would have family dinners after milking. Now we have our families out enjoying our beef herd and our kids are running around like me and my cousins did.
Q: What have been some of the trials you or your family has had to overcome?
A: Back when we phased out of dairy due to heavy regulations, out learning curve was great. We were used to farming calm Brown Swiss cows. We purchased some Limousin cows and they were crazy at first. We had to learn the beef industry while still trying to be profitable. Just like everyone else, we have had to change with the times. When my grandfather passed away, it was tough for a while because he held everything and everyone together.
Q: What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?
A: I wished people knew how much we care about our animals and what we do as farmers. I wished the “no antibiotic” crowd would understand that if we do not give antibiotics to an animal in some scenarios, that the animal will suffer and possibly die. Misinformation is really damaging to agriculture, so combatting that is important to me.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of farming?
A: I really enjoy being around the community of people that tend to come with farming and agriculture. When I am working at the feed store, I can talk to and learn from the farmers that I meet. I enjoy the relationships and network of people that I have been blessed with, and I attribute much of that to agriculture.
Q: What are you most passionate about in the beef industry?
A: I am most passionate about combatting misinformation and advocating for agriculture and its producers. I feel that it is very important to the success of the industry that we advocate and protect farmers from misinformation and constant attacks. We can do this by inviting people out to our farms and show them that we really do care for our animals well. Sometimes all it takes is to explain a process to a person; that may reduce their apprehensiveness and doubts about the industry.
Q: Do you have any advice for Tennessee cattle producers about the business?
A: I would strongly recommend that anyone wanting to raise beef cattle invest in quality animals on the front end rather than later. Quality animals pay for themselves quickly so don’t be cheap as can be when purchasing animals.
Q: What’s your favorite beef dish?
A: Top Sirloin cooked medium rare.