You would be hard pressed to find anyone more driven and passionate about bettering the beef industry than Abigayle and Ella Pollock. These sisters work hard and rely on each other to grow their family’s operation in Taft, Tennessee. Get to know the Pollock sisters in this week’s Meet the Future Monday!
Describe your operation
Our family owns and operates a Shorthorn and Shorthorn Plus cow/calf operation in Taft, Tennessee. We have been involved in the show cattle industry for 11 years, and often sell show prospects to young exhibitors.
What have you enjoyed most about growing up on the farm?
Ella: I have enjoyed seeing my hard work pay off on the farm throughout the years. I have also enjoyed seeing the herd expand and seeing changes in the ways we raise our cattle.
Abigayle: Now that I am older, I have realized that growing up on the farm has taught me so many lessons that a classroom could never teach. The concepts of hard work and
perseverance were instilled in me at an early age. Being able to watch your hard work payoff is no doubt my favorite thing about growing up on a farm. While life on the farm is not always easy, I will forever be grateful for the lessons I have learned.
Who has been your biggest role model in pursuing your farming aspirations?
Ella: My sister, she is very passionate about agriculture. She was also very successful in her 4-H and FFA competitions and projects.
Abigayle: My dad. He makes juggling a full-time job, running our cattle operation, and making sure Ella and I have everything we need look easy. He taught me that without hard work, success is nearly impossible.
What are you most passionate about in your business?
Ella: I am most passionate about the show cattle in my business. They represent the best in the herd and over the years I have learned how to select the cattle to represent our farm.
Abigayle: I am most passionate about maintaining cattle that excel both phenotypically and genotypically. I believe that keeping both of these aspects in mind is essential in any successful operation.
What are some of the greatest challenges that you face as a young farmer?
Ella: One challenge that I definitely face is not always being at the farm round the clock and balancing extracurricular activities with working on the farm.
Abigayle: For me, the biggest challenge is finding the right balance. Because I am a full-time college student at UT Knoxville, it has become increasingly harder for me to stay involved with farm tasks due to both my distance from the farm and a busy school schedule. Even when I am finished with college, I feel that finding the correct balance between my work, farm responsibilities, and other obligations is key to success.
Where do you see yourself and your operation in 10 years?
Ella: In 10 years, I hope to be finished with college, and still helping my parents with the farm.
Abigayle: Currently, I am pursuing my animal science degree at UT Knoxville and hope to eventually attain both my master’s and PhD in either reproductive physiology or nutrition. When I finally get out of school, I hope to be able to run my own operation with my family while also balancing a job within the beef industry. I hope to still be involved with the show cattle industry and be able to have an impact on livestock youth programs.
How will you continue to improve and grow your operation?
Ella: I plan to expand my herd by keeping the select heifers for brood cows. I also would like to purchase quality replacement heifers.
Abigayle: I also plan to expand my herd by purchasing more replacement heifers. I would like to add either Simmental or Maine Anjou influence into my Shorthorn Plus herd as well. In addition, I hope to be able to fully own and manage my operation when I eventually get out of college and start a family.
How do you intend to leave your footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee?
Ella: I intend to leave my footprint on the beef industry in Tennessee by educating the consumer about this industry. I have not chosen a career path yet, so a lot is left to be determined.
Abigayle: I hope to have an impact on the beef industry by one day serving as a leader in the industry. I hope to obtain my PhD and specialize in beef cattle. In the future, the beef industry will be facing the immense challenge of feeding more people with less land, water, and resources. I hope to do my part to help the industry meet that challenge whether that is through research or working directly within the industry.
What could the existing farmers do most to help future farmers such as yourself?
Ella: I feel like the existing farmers need to encourage the future farmers by supporting the 4-H and FFA programs in their community. Farming is hard work and a lot of people are choosing other careers.
Abigayle: Keep supporting the programs that engage youth in the beef industry. If it weren’t for 4-H and FFA, I wouldn’t have had the experiences or knowledge base that I have today. These organizations have such an impact on youth across the nation and are a great way to invest in the future of our industry.
What is your favorite beef dish?
Ella: Flat Iron Steak. I had the opportunity to grill these steaks several times for the 4-H Outdoor Meat Cookery Contest and really enjoy the tenderness and juiciness of the cut.
Abigayle: While I do love a nice steak, my all-time favorite is a pot roast cooked in a crockpot. With potatoes and carrots, it’s a delicious southern classic.