Meet the Future Monday: Rankin Siblings of Lauderdale County, Tennessee

By TCA Intern, Melinda Perkins

Hailing from Henning, Tennessee, this week’s Meet the Future Monday is the brother-sister duo of JD (14) and Addie (12) Rankin. These two individuals are no strangers to the show ring but their real passion and success lies in bettering their cow herd and operation. The future is bright for these two, young cattle producers.

Q: Describe your operation.

Our family owns and operates 4R Herefords, a 170 acre, 80 head Registered HerefordRankin 4 operation in Henning, TN.  We select our best heifers to show and retain others as replacement heifers, selling any remaining heifers as registered stock or, along with steers, at our local market.  Bulls are sold to local commercial producers.

Q: What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?

JD: I have enjoyed learning how to work hard and to be responsible because most people my age lack either of these skills

Addie: I have enjoyed learning responsibility and teaching my friends about farm life.

Q: Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?

JD and Addie: Temple Grandin, Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and Autism advocate.

Q: What are you most passionate about in your business?

JD: Working harder than other cattle exhibitors so it pays off in the show ring.

Addie: Learning all I can from my parents and others I have met to be a better cattle producer.

Q: What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?

Rankin 1J.D. and Addie: Time. We have multiple after-school activities along with working on the farm.

Q: Where do you see yourself and your operation in 10 years?

JD: My parents plan to retire from their jobs to the family farm. I hope to have finished my education, or be in the process of continuing my education, while assisting my parents as much as possible on the farm.

Addie: I hope to become a veterinarian and will have been accepted in vet school. I hope that while becoming a vet I can help my family with the health issues of our cattle.

Q: How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?

JD and Addie: Our family is all about improving our genetics, so we want to improve our genetics even more, so we can produce better quality show animals.

Q: How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?

JD: Our family is all about improving our genetics. I hope that I can improve our genetics so much, that people from all around will be wanting a piece of our herd’s genetics.

Addie: I hope people will remember me as a hard worker who takes very good care of her animals.Rankin 5

Q: What could the existing farmers do most to help future farmers such as yourself?

JD: Farmers just need to tell future farmers that it’s going to be hard and show them how to work hard and persevere through the tough times.

Addie:  Take time to teach us what they already know.

Q: What is your favorite beef dish?

JD: Filet Mignon with a loaded baked potato on the side.

Addie: King Ribeye Steak with a baked potato on the side

Farm Feature Friday: Angela Wilson of Henry County, Tennessee

By TCA Intern, Melinda Perkins

This weeks’ Farm Feature Friday truly embodies the meaning behind “family farm” and what it means to build a cattle operation from the ground up. Angela WilsonWilson1 shares with us how her cattle operation began, overcoming her father’s death, and her devotion to giving back to the next generation of cattle-lovers. 

How long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.

I can remember having a herd of commercial cows back when I was in elementary school.  When I got old enough, I started showing steers in 4-H and then that evolved to showing heifers in high school.  Some family friends convinced my parents to start buying registered Angus heifers for me to show and our registered herd grew from there.  My mom and dad always supported my showing and interest in cattle, so much so that most of our “family outings” involved shows or sales.

Tell us about your farm today (breed of cattle, what are you proud of, etc.)

Currently my Mom and I raise both commercial and registered cattle.  We have about 40 head of commercial Angus based females that go back to some of the original Angus heifers that started our herd.  We also have 35 registered Angus cows and a “handful” of registered Shorthorn.  We are proud to be able to raise our own purebred bulls that weWilson5 breed to our commercial cows. We raised a Shorthorn bull that we have successfully crossed on our commercial cows the past several years, and the Angus bull that will take his place now that some of his daughters are being retained into our herd.  On the purebred side, we raise and sell registered bulls and females, marketing them off the farm and through breed consignment sales.

I make majority of the breeding and management decisions, but my mom is always there when it’s time to vaccinate, A.I., rake hay, or whatever needs to be done.  She & I are the main source of “manpower” on our farm, but we have good friends that we can count on when there is a big job to do.

We also like to help and encourage the next generation of cattle men & women.  This past year we got back into showing with my cousin’s daughter and son, and the daughter of a friend.  We provided heifers, and tried to provide knowledge and experience so that they could start their show careers.  We’ve had a lot of fun with them, and have been happy to see that their interest goes beyond the show ring into the production side as well.

What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm? 

I liked being able to be outside with plenty of space to roam.  I loved being around andWilson2 working with our cattle and other animals.  And being able to work with my family.

What have been some of the trials you or your family have had to overcome? 

The biggest trial we have faced was when my Dad passed away a few years ago.  We had a much larger herd of commercial cattle then and they were spread out over 3-4 different farms.  Also, we had always just left the bulls out year round, so we didn’t really have a calving season.  My mom and I had to make some changes that would make the cattle more manageable for us.  It started with downsizing and moving the herd to a more accessible location.  Then we knew we needed to establish a manageable calving season.  We spent a lot of time working through different groups and culling old cows and those with udder or feet and leg problems.  After that we ended up with two groups (Spring & Fall calvers), then worked the next couple of years tightening up the two calving seasons.  We are really happy with where we are now, especially being able to put some of our own heifers back into production.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?

That it’s a total lifestyle, not just a “job”.  That, in order to care for our livestock, it may mean late nights, early mornings, or super long days.  That, even though we may make plans outside of the farm or with friends, that the cattle always come first.  So a heiferWilson4 that decides to go in to labor probably means cancelling plans, and we’re ok with that.

What does it mean to you to be able to work with your family every day? 

No matter what we may say to each other while working cattle, we do enjoy being able to work together!  It’s great to get to work with my Mom everyday.  And, despite some disagreements, working with my Dad before he passed to make the farm what it is today, was truly a blessing.  We are fortunate to have some close friends that are always around to lend a hand that we certainly consider family as well.

Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?

Find a mentor.  Whether that’s a family member or just somebody you admire in theWilson3 cattle business and soak up as much knowledge as you can.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or try something new.

What’s your favorite beef dish?

You can’t beat a good steak! Or maybe some good, smoked brisket!  Or, some days, just a real good cheeseburger is my favorite!

Tennessee Beef Promotion Board to Meet

Barbecue Dry Aged Rib Eye SteakThe Tennessee Beef Promotion Board will meet April 20, 2018 at 1 p.m. CDT at the Tennessee Beef Industry Council office located at 530 Brandies Circle Suite A in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The agenda includes a review and approval of minutes, review of board finances, and a quarterly program update.

The meeting is open to the public. Individuals interested in addressing the board should plan to arrive early in order to be placed on the agenda.

The Tennessee Beef Promotion Board was created in 2012 by state law to oversee the collection and use of assessments paid by producers for the purpose of promoting beef and beef products in-state. The Board comprises representatives from the Tennessee Livestock Market Association, Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, Tennessee Dairy Association and Tennessee Beef Cattle Improvement Initiative.

For more information, contact the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at 615-837-5160.

Meet the Future Monday: Abagayle Morton of Coffee County, Tennessee

By TCA Intern, Justin Young

Abagayle Morton is the center of this week’s “Meet the Future Monday.” Morton is from the New Union community of Manchester, Tennessee. Abagayle is a junior Plant and Soil Science major and a Business Administration minor at Middle Tennessee State University. She works at Morton Farms as a ranch-hand when she is not at school. Additionally, Abagayle volunteers at the New Union Volunteer Fire department, and is aMorton1 member of New Union Church of Christ in her free time. She graduated from Motlow State Community College with an Associate of Science degree in 2017 before attending MTSU. Morton is another terrific example of the upcoming generation of farmers in Tennessee. Let this article be an encouragement to you at the beginning of your week! Get to know Abagayle below!

Q: How long has your family been farming? (Give a bit of History if you can/want)

A: In 1958, my great-grandfather, Omar Morton moved to Manchester, Tennessee from Indiana. He purchased our farm and began as a 100 head dairy cattle farm. My grandfather, Sam Morton, took over the farm as the next generation and persisted in the dairy business. We slowly transitioned to a row crop and beef operation and eventually sold out of the dairy and milking business. My father, Sammy Morton, now owns and operates our family farm. I will be the 4th generation to continue our farming tradition at Morton3Morton Farms. I am also the 3rd generation of my family to attend Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) to study agriculture. Our family has always strived to be in pursuit of cattle with quality genetics and maintain sustainable agriculture practices. We have now been in the commercial cattle business for approximately 15 years.


Q: What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?

A: The experiences it has given me. The knowledge you gain from growing up on a farm is incomparable to anything you can gain from a book or classroom. The memories I have made with my family on our farm are those that I will carry with me for a lifetime. I really enjoyed our dairy cattle operation we had when I was younger. It gave me a considerable amount of hands-on experience with cattle that has gotten me to where I am today.

Q: Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?

A: My grandfather, Sam, and my father, Sammy, have played the most influential role in my farming aspirations. My grandfather shared with me his love for agriculture, when I was at a young age. I have carried that with me and it helped me make the decision to continue our farming heritage. He always worked hard and showed me what a true, dedicated farmer was. My father has provided me with an incomparable amount of knowledge and advice that has helped me to reach my goals and begin a career in agriculture.

Q: Describe your operation…(Breed(s), type of operation, acres etc.)

A: We currently have approximately 80 brood cows in our commercial cow/calf operation (primarily Angus) at Morton Farms. We have about 500 acres of hay ground that we cut and sell hay from in the summer. In addition to hay, we typically manage about 950 acres of row crops (corn, soybeans, and wheat) throughout the crop season. We also have 125 acres of pastureland that is utilized for cattle grazing. I begun my ownMorton2 herd of Registered Black Angus Cattle under a new name, Spitfire Angus Cattle, in 2016. I had to finance through Farm Credit Mid-America to acquire my initial registered herd which originated from Oak Angus Farms in Manchester, Tennessee. Along with my Registered Angus cattle, I have a Mustang horse named Fury and a Texas Heeler named Turbo.

Q: What are you most passionate about in your operation?

A: I am most passionate about properly maintaining our farm and land so it can still be in production for future generations of my family. Agriculture and our farm has made us who we are, and I want that to continue.

Q: What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?

A: A young farmer, one of the greatest challenges is capital. Farming requires huge inputs, with sometimes very little return. Keeping your head above water and staying out of substantial debt is key for a young farmer to keep the farming tradition alive.

Q: Where do you see yourself and your operation in 10 years?

A: I hope that we can reach 100 brood cows in our Morton Farms commercial herd and 60-70 registered cattle with Spitfire Angus Cattle. I hope for Morton Farms to have roughly 1200-1300 acres in row crop production. I would like for my father to be able to retire from his full-time job and the two of us take one Morton Farms and Spitfire Angus Cattle together full-time.

Q: How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?

A: I want to continue to expand our operation. I want to continue to improve the genetics of our cattle herds, maximize our crop yields, replenish our soils, and continue to add more acres into Morton Farms production. Second, I hope to work hard and see Spitfire Angus Cattle develop into a thriving Registered Angus business that I can pass on to my children, supplementary to Morton Farms.

Q: How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?

A: I plan to improve the genetics of Tennessee’s commercial cattle producers’ herds by providing them with quality, superior bulls and maternal females with respectedMorton4 longevity.

Q: What could the existing farmers do most to help young farmers such as yourself?

A: Share their knowledge. This industry requires a vast amount of knowledge and experience for a business to thrive. If existing farmers offer their advice to young farmers, it would be a valuable tool for them to begin their farm.

Q: What is your favorite beef dish?

A: My favorite beef dish is a thick, juicy steak cooked medium rare from one of our own beef cows raised on our farm.

Learn more about Abagayle and her operation by visiting their Facebook page, Spitfire Angus Cattle!