Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association Board Member, father, cattle producer, TN Shorthorn Association Board Member, son, Priefert salesman, husband, and mentor… this week’s Farm Feature Friday wears many hats. Luke Teeple of Oakdale Farms in White County shares with us his experiences growing up on the farm and his appreciation for being in the cattle business.
Q: How long has your family been involved in raising cattle?
A: Oakdale Farm has been in the beef cattle business since 1985. My grandfather had been in the dairy business and due to health reasons, he closed the dairy down and got into beef cattle.
Q: Tell us about your farm today.
A: After closing the dairy, we started out with some commercial cattle. My personal herd got started with a purchase of a raffle ticket for a heifer donated to the Tennessee Shorthorn Association from Rocky Branch Shorthorns. Rocky Branch Collen was the heifer that I won. In the meantime, my grandparents were buying Shorthorns to start their herd. They bought some from Charles Curtis and Kent Brown. We ran Shorthorns up until 2000. My grandparents turned the farm over to my parents. That is when we started using Angus bulls and A.I. to keep the Shorthorn cow herd. Today, we have some purebred Angus and Simmental cattle along with the Shorthorns and Shorthorn crosses. In the past couple of years, we started buying some sexed heifer embryos and have had a good success rate in doing that. The embryo program is something that I am proud of. Until 2002, we didn’t have a controlled calving season. We made some sacrifices to make a controlled season. I am proud that we had gotten to a 45-day calving season. Growing up in 4-H and FFA, I enjoyed the junior livestock program and was fortunate to be very successful in showmanship. Since aging out of the junior program, we have made it a priority to still help juniors with the program.
Q: What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm?
A: Few things that I have enjoyed about being in the cattle business… First is the people that we have met. The people in the cattle business are some of the best people. We all have different ways to get the job done but the goal at the end of the day is to produce a quality product. Raising the product is something that I enjoy as well. From pairing the cow to the bull, and calving the cow, to seeing the calf grow, it is all a wonderful site. Seeing my kids being out on the farm is an enjoyable site and seeing them show calves is too. Plus, helping other young people get involved in showing cattle.
Q: What have been some of the trials you or your family have had to overcome?
A: The major problem that we have had on our farm is having to have a public job. Until my parents retired, it was real hard to get everything done. We would take time off our jobs to put hay up or sale calves, and feeding hay and checking cattle in the dark were not fun times. The next problem is finding and affording more land to be able to expand.
Q: What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?
A: Farming is not by the book. What works on our operation might not work on somebody else’s. At the end of the day, we all have the same goal and that is to produce a quality product. It doesn’t matter the size of the operation– we all care about the product that we are producing.
Q: What does it mean to you to be able to work with your family every day?
A: It means a lot to be able to work with my family on the farm. It’s a group effort in making decisions. Sure, we have different ideas at times but we get the job done.
Q: Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?
A: My advice to young farmers is don’t get in over your head. Secondly, don’t spread yourself too thin. That kind of goes along with not getting in over your head. Third, is don’t be afraid to ask for advice– either professional organizations or just a neighbor.
Q: What’s your favorite beef dish?
A: My favorite beef dish is hard to nail down. I like a rib-eye the most, but I can enjoy a good ole hamburger if that’s what we are having.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
A: Enjoy what you do. Raise a quality product. Pass along to the next generation.