By TCA Intern, Justin Young
Flat Creek Farms is located on the rolling hills of a 200-acre farm in the Flat Creek Community of Shelbyville, TN. It is owned and operated by Mike Hammers, a retired row crop farmer from the Mississippi Delta and Shawn Graham, a retired real estate broker. You can follow them on Facebook, Flat Creek Farms, and also on Instagram @flatcreekfarmsredangus. Take a minute to get to know Flat Creek Farms below!
Q: How long have you been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.
A: We got started in the cattle business 3 years ago when we purchased 84 Registered Red Angus bred heifers with the intention of slowing down our way of life. Calving bred heifers with or without experience will teach you right quick you are not on your way to slowing down. Our operation is led by faith, backed by integrity and committed to customer service. The Red Angus Association of America is a thriving and growing operation and we are dedicated to the continued success of the breed.
Q: Who or what influenced you most in pursuing a career in agriculture/farming?
A: Mike’s grandfather row cropped and had cattle. Mike spent many summers on the farm with Granddaddy Bunn and knew then he wanted to be a steward of the land at a very young age. He started row crop farming in the Mississippi Delta in 1980. Relocating to the farm here in TN he found the land would only lend itself to cattle, so cattle it would be.
Q: Tell us about your farm today (breed of cattle, type of operation, what are you proud of, etc.)
A: Built on a foundation of passion and commitment, our seedstock operation consists of just under 100 Registered Red Angus females. We are proud to produce high maternal Red Angus cattle with rapid growth, performance, unsurpassed carcass traits, structural soundness and eye appeal. Our goal is to consistently produce a uniform product that will fit our customer’s needs and offer genetics that are desired by other purebred programs by utilizing a strict AI/ET program using genetics of the leading AI sires. Our breeding program is overseen by reproductive specialist Dr. Christy Young, DVM. Last year Shawn became a certified AI tech hoping that with the help of Dr. Young they could improve their AI percentage. We are very proud to say that the 67 cows we just bred back we achieved 89% AI. Our commitment to a healthy herd is strictly monitored and overseen by Dr. Margie Carter DVM and her staff at Fayetteville Clinic. We pride ourselves with having an intense “hands on” herd management program. We utilize the ultramodern tools available for cattle DNA testing. Highly accurate genomic enhanced EPD’s assist seedstock selection and accelerate breed improvement.
Q: What was your favorite part about growing up on/being on the farm?
A: Mike enjoyed learning how to operate the equipment with his Granddaddy at a very young age but neither of us grew up on a farm. We enjoy the rewards that come from the challenging work we have put into our herd and our farm. We continue to improve our farm by clearing for more pasture, soil testing for applicable fertilization and planting and properly managing the 130-acre farm we cut hay on to insure excellent quality nutrition for our herd. It’s a way of life neither of us would trade being here on the farm and tending to what the god Lord blessed us with to care for.
Q: What have been some of the trials you or your farm has had to overcome?
A: Not sure where to start since we didn’t’ know how to use the head chute 3 years ago when our girls arrived. One of the biggest challenges we faced was getting those first calf heifers bred back. Of course, that is always a challenge with heifers, but we had no idea where to start with sire selection and planned mating. We reached out to The Bobbitt’s, and their daughter Rhonda Deist, who have over 50 years’ experience breeding Red Angus cattle and are a very well-respected family in the Red Angus Association. They stepped in and headed us in the right direction and for that we are so very grateful. Our breeding program now is relatively simple – use only the most proven AI sires but always, always keep in mind you want people to like at what they are looking at. We use bulls that will add performance and pounds without sacrificing calving ease and maternal traits. We believe that will always be the first ingredient in a successful cow/calf operation.
Q: What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?
A: We wish more people knew how much we care about our animals and what all is involved in caring for them. Throughout that first year, we checked our heifers throughout the night every 3 hours to make sure if they were having any difficulty calving we could be there to assist. We also wish that we could educate the “no antibiotics” crowd that quite frankly NOT administering antibiotics would be inhumane.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of farming?
A: Seeing a live, healthy calf get up and nurse it’s momma. If God had just put a teat on that brisket it would usually happen a lot faster!
Q: What are you most passionate about in the beef industry?
A: Producing the best quality cattle we can by utilizing the best genetics and the DNA tools available, strict herd health management and making sure we enhance our genetics with an excellent nutrition program.
Q: How do you intend on leaving your footprint on the beef industry?
A: We hope that our example of dedication and determination after taking on the responsibility of those bred heifers will encourage those with no experience in the cattle industry that anything is possible.
Q: Where do you see your operation in 5-10 years?
A: We got into this business at 55 years old, but our goal is to be the “go to” farm in the southeast for quality Registered Red Angus with outstanding customer service.
Q: What’s your favorite beef dish?
A: A nice filet on the grill.
Flat Creek Farms Phone: (931) 695-5575