Austin Tipton and Tipton Farms are the focus of this week’s “Meet the Future Monday.” Austin was born and raised in Lascassas, Tennessee, but after his marriage to his wife, Shelby-Mai, they bought a house in Auburntown, Tennessee. He and his wife both attended Middle Tennessee State University. Austin is wrapping up his degree in Agribusiness and minor in Management and will graduate in May. When he is not at the farm, Austin can be found at MTSU either in classes or working with the building maintenance crew around campus for his job. He and his wife are another great example of Tennessee’s up and coming young farmers who are already successful in their farming enterprises. Austin is actively engaged in Rutherford Young Farmers and Ranchers, MTSU Block and Bridle, as well as participating in 4-H growing up. Take a minute to get to know more about Austin Tipton and Tipton farms!
Q: How long has your family been farming? (Give a bit of history if you can/want)
A: My family has always been involved in agriculture in one way or another. My grandparents had a family farm in Lascassas where they raised beef cows, hogs, and other animals as well as an alfalfa hay crop. My parents have continued in agriculture by purchasing their own farm after they got married. On our farm we raise commercial angus cattle. We also have a commercial and registered boer goat herd as well as horses, chickens, and usually a few hogs each fall. I hope Shelby and I will to be blessed to start our own family farm in the future as well. Until that time we will continue farming alongside my parents as we continue to improve their operation.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?
A: One of the greatest gifts that I was blessed with as a kid was growing up on a farm. Some of the reasons I most enjoyed growing up on our farm were the close family bond that comes with the farm. Having a farm is hard work and takes the whole family pitching in to get all the needed tasks done each day. Some of my greatest memories is when all of us would head out to clean the fence rows. We would work and then at lunch mom would have a casserole prepared in the Dutch oven that we would cook in the brush pile we were burning. It was always lots of fun to sit around and joke and talk while we enjoyed the meal.
Q: Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?
A: I have been blessed to grow up in a family that is tied to agriculture. Because of this I have had many role models that I have been able to look up to to shape my love for farming. One of my biggest role models is my grandfather. From an early age, I knew we were very similar in the way we think and go about different tasks. We both are very mechanically minded which is where my love for equipment and working on equipment and parts comes from. Whenever something breaks or does not work properly I enjoy taking it apart and learning how to fix it. Any time I run into a problem, my grandfather is always there to help me through the different steps to get the equipment back to proper working order. Two of my other greatest role models that have aided in my love for agriculture are my parents. From my dad I have learned patience. He is always calm and thoughtful when a problem arises. From my mom I have learned determination. She has also taught me by example that faith comes first in life, and when that is true everything else will fall into place. I am truly grateful for these role models and would not be who I am today without them and many others.
Q: Describe your operation…(Breed(s), type of operation, acres etc.)
A: At Tipton farms we have a commercial angus cow-calf operation. We currently have close to thirty head but are continuing to grow our herd each year. Tipton farms also has a commercial and registered boer goat herd of about fifty head. In each of these we strive to improve our genetics and efficiency for our herds as well as for other herds as well. We also cut our own hay to feed our livestock but also sale the extra hay each year. We also dabble with other animals such as Tennessee walking horses, chickens, and hogs. All together we are not the biggest operation, but it is enough to keep us tied in to agriculture and to keep us busy.
Q: What are you most passionate about in your operation?
A: One of my favorite parts of our family operation is improving genetics. I love to see the effect that a different sire can have on an entire herd. I always enjoy looking at the different aspects of a bull and determining which will be the best fit to give optimum growth and efficiency to our operation. In the future, a goal that I have is to gain as much uniformity in a group of calves as possible. I believe this improves efficiency in an operation in many ways, and I just think a uniform group of calves looks neat when they are all together.
Q: What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?
A: One of the greatest challenges that I currently face as a young farmer is finding the time to accomplish my farming goals. With school, my job, and the current remodeling of the home that my wife and I purchased the available time seems to always run thin. Another challenge that seems to be a problem that many young farmers face today is the financial overhead that it takes to start and run a farm.
Q: How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?
A: Five years ago, I was given the best birthday present a farm kid could ask for, my very own cow. From that first year, I began planning my goals for my herd that I hoped would grow each year due to new calves being born. I planned to keep back my heifer calves to grow my herd and expected to hopefully have a decent start of a herd by now. However, as I waited in anticipation each year, it never failed that my cow has always had a bull calf until finally this year I had my first heifer calf! So now with this calf, I plan to grow my humble herd of two each year that I am blessed with calves by evaluating the needs of the herd and selecting sires that will complement them in the best way possible. I hope to one day reach a number that will provide a nice supplemental income for my family.
Q: How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?
A: In the future, I hope to be blessed to be able to continue to share my passion of agriculture with my family by starting our own family farm. I also hope to be able to share my passion for agriculture with anyone willing to listen. I hope to be able to show that the common perception of farms and animal welfare is not true and that we take great pride in what we do and how we raise our animals. I hope to be able to reach a point one day where I can mentor the next generation of farmers through the experiences that I have had with my farm.
Q: What is your favorite beef dish?
A: I honestly love beef just about any way that it can be prepared. I enjoy a good juicy hamburger, I love a nice tender cut of steak, but I’ll have to say my wife makes a mean pot roast that tops my leaderboard of my favorite beef dishes.