Farm Feature Friday: Mill Creek Land & Cattle

tmiddletonTCA intern, Samantha Reese, interviewed Traci Middleton of Mill Creek Land & Cattle, located in Northwest Tennessee. It is a family owned, registered Brangus operation that has worked diligently to produce cattle that have the genetics to excel in the pasture and the phenotype to prevail in the show ring.


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

My parents had commercial cattle before I was born, and I bought my first herd in 1993 at nine years old. It evolved from those original commercial cows to a registered herd. I began to show cattle through 4-H and FFA and it continued to grow after that. I had the opportunity to serve as President of the International Junior Brangus Breeders Association and later on as President of the International Brangus Breeders Association.

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

Our operation consists of my parents (Rick and Teresa), Chris and me. We raise registered Brangus and Ultrablack cattle. We sell show heifers to youth exhibitors, bulls to commercial cattlemen, and market semen and embryos around the world. I most proud for the opportunity to market genetics globally. That is a huge challenge for a small operation. We are pretty proud to have raised and shown the 2016 International Grand Champion Bull at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. We also were recently awarded the 2016-17 International Brangus Breeders Association Show Sire of the Year.

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

Now as an adult, I am most thankful for the opportunity to have learned how to work hard. On a farm, there is always work to be done and at our house laziness was not tolerated. No handouts. No freebies. Everyone had to hustle, but I’ll be the first to tell you that hustling pays off!

CC17-9-9741What have been some of the trials you or your family has had to overcome?

As we transitioned from a 4-H and FFA project to a seedstock producer, I had to develop a market for commercial Brangus bulls in Tennessee. Commercial cattlemen in our area needed cleaner made bulls for our market with the ability to add heterosis and pounds at weaning time. We had the right kind of bulls. We just needed to get people to try them. Establishing a bull market was a challenge at first, but now we sell out each spring and fall.

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

It’s pretty simple – we care. We care about our livestock. We care about the safety of the product that we produce. We care about the responsibility and importance of our family feeding yours. Anyone that ever doubts how much we care needs a reality check!

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

I am sure that the appropriate answer is that we are close knit family and that we appreciate the opportunity to work alongside each other every day. Realistically, it means that some days we just don’t get everything done that was on the agenda! We have another family business as well and sometimes I wish my parents had given me a few siblings to share the workload with!

2016 international grand champion bullDo you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?

Find a good mentor and don’t chase fads. I grew up learning the ropes of the beef business under the guidance of one of the best cattlemen I have ever known, Joe Reznicek of Cow Creek Ranch. Of all that I was able to absorb from him, the most important was to never subscribe to the bull of the month club and fads leave as quickly as they come. I have seen it happen many times, especially to young cattlemen. It takes an enormous amount of time and money to correct that type of mistake. Develop a breeding program with purpose and an end goal in mind. A solid, efficient, and profitable cow herd is always “in style”.

What’s your favorite beef dish?

If I have to pick just one, it would be a ribeye!

Is there anything else you can share with us?

Our cattle operation is a family thing for us. It’s pretty cool to look back at where we started and where we are now. My driveway is directly across from parents’ with fields full of good cows in between. It doesn’t get much better than that!

UT AgResearch Center Opens August with Annual Field Day

Cattle Grazing webThe first day of August is the date for this year’s annual Steak and Potatoes Field Day sponsored by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. The event will once again showcase the research and outreach activities at UT’s Plateau AgResearch and Education Center.

The free event will be of interest to beef producers and those interested in large- and small-scale fruit and vegetable production. Three talks will also be presented for landowners interested in forest management.

The event begins with registration and a trade show at 8 a.m. CDT on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at the Center’s main unit just west of Crossville. Tours and seminars begin at 8:30 and conclude at 11:30. A sponsored lunch will be provided following the program.

The beef production presentations will address diverse topics including fescue-based management, summer annuals and cost share, drill and seeding recommendations as well as applying fertilizers to pastures using GPS. Stocking densities, herd management through artificial insemination (AI) and health protocols will also be discussed.

Four fruit and vegetable sessions will address variety selection; irrigation, beds and mulching; sprayer calibration; and disease diagnostics. Landowner talks will address firewise management and the choices required for managing for food, beauty or money. A talk on nuisance wildlife will also be presented.

Pesticide recertification points will be awarded to participants in need of continuing education to maintain their certification.

Contact the Center for more details about the event or to request an accommodation for accessibility by calling 931-484-0034.

The Plateau AgResearch Center is located off on Highway 70N at 320 Experiment Station Road in Crossville. A map to the facility and complete directions are available online at The Plateau AgResearch and Education Center is one of 10 outdoor laboratories located throughout the state as part of the UT AgResearch system.

Farm Feature Friday: Muddy Water Farms

By Samantha Reese

19191125_839978852818905_1319322736_nTCA intern, Samantha Reese, interviewed Aaron Lay of Muddy Water Farms in Madisonville, Tennessee. The Lay’s are very involved with showing cattle in Tennessee and have a long family history in agriculture.

How long has your family been involved in raising cattle?

Farming and cattle are things that have always been in my family.  Since back in my great granddad’s day, we’ve had dairy and beef cattle. When 4-H became a part of my life, we were introduced into the registered Shorthorn breed. My family and I have proudly been raising and showing registered Shorthorn cattle since 2008.

Tell us about your farm today.

Today, we operate an organic dairy and have a small herd of registered Shorthorn cattle, consisting of 20 mama cows from which we market show heifers and seed stock.

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

I have always been a stickler for the outdoors. Being raised on a farm has allowed me countless hours of activities to do outside, such as riding four-wheelers. Farming may be a hard task at sometimes, but the countless hours of family bounding makes it all worthwhile.

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

In order to be successful in the show ring, you have to grasp the concept of working hard at home to earn ribbons and awards on show day.  Also, time budgeting became super hard for me when I first started my herd. Sometimes you have to say no and sacrifice things in order to say yes to the things that are the most important.

19244262_839972716152852_537589266_nDo you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?

GET INVOLVED! I encourage you to strive to be active in your county and state cattlemen’s association along with being involved in your breed’s state and national breed association.

Is there anything else you can share with us?

With showing cattle and the 4-H organization, I have been places that I never would’ve gone to and met people I would’ve never met.  It is the memories, friendships, and many life lessons that I will cherish forever.

Follow the Muddy Water Farms’ Facebook page for more information: click here.

U.S., China Finalize Details to Send U.S. Beef to China

Suzhou Commercial Area(Washington, D.C., June 12, 2017) – As part of the U.S.-China 100-Day Action plan announced on May 11, 2017 by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, the Trump Administration today has taken important steps toward commercial shipment of U.S. beef and beef products to China for the first time since 2003.  These shipments are results of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue co-chaired by Secretary Ross and Secretary Mnuchin for the United States and Vice Premier Wang Yang for China.  Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reached agreement with Chinese officials on final details of a protocol to allow the U.S. to begin the beef exports to China.  Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the posting of technical documents related to the beginning of shipments.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement:

“Today is a great day for the United States and in particular for our cattle producers, who will be regaining access to an enormous market with an ever-expanding middle class.  Since he was elected, President Trump has brought momentum, optimism, and results to American agriculture families that we haven’t seen in years and this agreement is a great example.  I commend the hard work of Secretary Ross, Secretary Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and our USDA representatives.  Without their dedication and persistence, this would have not been possible.  I have no doubt that as soon as the Chinese people get a taste of American beef they’ll want more of it.”

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross issued the following statement:

“President Trump is doing more to improve the U.S.-China relationship than any president in decades, and this final beef protocol agreement represents even more concrete progress. As we clear away long-standing issues like this one, focusing on near-term, verifiable deliverables, we are building a sound foundation for further discussions.  I look forward to engaging with our Chinese counterparts as we address more complex issues to the benefit of both our nations.”

Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin issued the following statement:

“The ‎reopening of China’s market to American beef is an example of the results-oriented approach this Administration has taken in our engagement with China. We will continue to work toward a more fair and balanced economic relationship with China by expanding opportunities for U.S. workers and businesses.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer issued the following statement:

“I welcome China taking this important step to start allowing U.S. beef imports after shutting them out over 13 years ago.  The President’s firm commitment to fair trade that benefits the United States has made this new U.S. beef export opportunity possible.  I encourage China and all countries to base their requirements on international standards and science.  America’s ranchers are the best producers of beef in the global economy, and they can compete and succeed wherever there is a level playing field.”


The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posted the requirements for its Export Verification program for U.S. establishments shipping to China, which will enable packers to apply for approval to export to China.  The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has also updated its online Export Library specifying China’s requirements for certifying U.S. beef being shipped there.

China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016. However, the United States has been banned from China’s market since 2003. The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion in 2016.  Until the ban took effect, the U.S. was China’s largest supplier of imported beef, providing 70 percent of their total intake.


Farm Feature Friday: Woolfolk Farms – Jackson, TN

By Samantha Reese, TCA Intern

WF2Woolfolk Farms is a three generation family farming operation located in Madison County Tennessee. It was recognized in 1976 as one of Tennessee’s original Century Farm designees for over 100 years of continuous ownership and agricultural production by the same family. Here, I interview Matt Woolfolk, who writes about their family’s cattle, traditions, and passion.

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

My father’s ancestors settled in Madison County in 1865. A lot of the land that is a part of the current farm traces back to the very beginning. Cattle have always been a part of the farm. The registered Hereford operation started in 1963 when Dad got involved in 4-H, and they have been a part of Woolfolk Farms ever since.

Tell us about your farm today.

Registered Hereford cattle are still the focal point of the operation. My dad (John) and older brother Scott run the operation, with the rest of the family pitching in when we can. There are two herds: a herd of registered Hereford cows, and a commercial herd that we utilize as recipients for our embryo transfer program. The focus of the WF program is selling bulls to commercial cattlemen. Every February, we sell 40-50 bulls at our bull sale in Columbia, and every other May we hold a female sale on the farm in Jackson. We use the show ring to promote our program. Since my brother started showing in 1981, there has been a member of the Woolfolk family showing Herefords every year. We have raised two American Hereford Association Southeast Show Heifers of the Year, as well as several other state and regional champions.

What I’m most proud of is how well Dad and Scott have developed their market to sell bulls. Selling Hereford bulls hasn’t always been easy in Tennessee, but they have been able to grow their customer base while continuing to improve the quality of the bull offering every year. The idea of selling 50 good Hereford bulls seemed far-fetched 10 years ago. Now it’s an annual goal for the operation.

WFWhat was your favorite part of growing up on the farm?

There’s always something to do when you grow up on the farm. Between cattle work, the hay field, and all the other chores that have to be done on a daily basis, you never get bored.

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

We have to deal with the same challenges every other Tennessee cattleman has to deal with, such as weather and market fluctuations. But one of our biggest challenges is how hard it is to find good help. It’s a 100% family operation, but that makes it hard on everyone at home during the busy times of the year. The operation has grown, but the labor force is still the same.

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

Nobody cares more about their livestock than the people who work with them every day on the farm. We all get an undeserved bad reputation from those that don’t understand how much effort and sacrifice goes into taking the best care we can of our cattle.

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

Unfortunately, my job has taken me from the farm, but I miss it every day. There are always challenges when working so closely with family, but my summers in college when I was able to be home on the farm every day were the most enjoyable.

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

Find the people that you admire what they’re doing in their operation, and learn as much as you can from them. I learned a lot working alongside my dad and brother, but being around others who don’t do things exactly the same as you do at home is just as valuable. For example, I took a trip to Florida with Justin Williams (TCA Director from Savannah) to a bull sale. When you’re locked in a truck with someone for 3 days, you can discuss a lot of ideas and learn from what others do differently that you can use to improve your own herd. I’ve been lucky to be able to have such discussions with great cattlemen across Tennessee and the rest of the country.  Also, when it comes to starting your cow herd, invest as much as you can afford to in the best cattle you can find. Starting with a good foundation will make building a strong herd easier.

What is your favorite beef dish?

Every year at the Woolfolk family Christmas, Dad grills steaks for the whole family and they are awesome!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Our family has all been active in leadership in the American Hereford Association. Dad and all 3 kids (Scott, Amy, and myself) were all TJHA President during our junior career. Dad was an AHA Board Member from 2007-2011 and was President in 2011. Scott has served on the Tennessee Hereford Association board and is still active as a TJHA advisor.  Amy was a National Junior Polled Hereford Director from 1995-1997 and was National Polled Hereford Queen in 1997. She’s now on the Mississippi Hereford Association board.  I was a National Junior Hereford Association Director from 2010-2013 and was Chairman in 2011-12. I don’t think there’s been another family that had the father as AHA President and children who were National Queen and NJHA Chairman.

Please visit Woolfolk Farm’s website for more information or “like” their Facebook page for updates.

Samantha Reese Begins Summer Internship with TN Cattlemen’s

Samantha Reese Head ShotMy name is Samantha Reese and I am the 19-year-old daughter of John and Marty Reese.  Along with my 15-year-old brother, Tanner, we live in Petersburg, TN on a small family farm.  My family, and extended family, are involved in many aspects of agriculture including dairy and beef cattle, row crops of corn, beans, wheat and tobacco.

I got started exhibiting beef cattle by helping my cousin with his show heifers and knew I would follow in his steps someday.  As I began 4-H in the fourth grade, I was able to exhibit my own cattle.  At first, I picked from our family herd of registered Angus cattle, but soon branched out to other breeds.  I got a loan to begin my own herd purchasing two heifers; one Angus and one Shorthorn heifer.  I worked to pay my loan back with show premiums and offspring I could sell.  As I paid one loan off, I got another to continue growing my herd of registered purebred and crossbred cattle.

My brother and I have been blessed to be able to travel to many states showing at the local, state, and national levels.  I also showed pigs and lambs and began raising chickens and selling eggs during high school.   I was active in 4-H and FFA events through high school participating in livestock judging, meat judging, public speaking, and job interview.  I was named State FFA Proficiency winner for Beef Entrepreneurship and Diversified Livestock.  I am also a member of several breed organizations, serving on the state junior boards for Simmental and Shorthorn Associations.

As I graduated high school, I received a scholarship for livestock judging at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas.   I just finished my two years there where I served as Ag Club President and was selected Homecoming Queen for 2016.  I will transfer to Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas in August where I will finish my degree in Animal Science.

The beef industry is something I am passionate about and have always enjoyed being active in it.  I enjoy volunteer work and have continued to be active in youth events while in college teaching and showing others what I have learned.  I truly look forward to and appreciate the chance to intern at The Tennessee Cattleman’s Association this summer.





USDA Encourages the Use of Food Thermometers to be Food Safe this Summer

closeup meat thermometer on stainless steel, utensil in the kitchenSummer is a time for family vacations, backyard barbecues and plenty of outdoor activities with food as the centerpiece. But before those steaks and burgers go on the grill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wants to remind consumers to keep their family and themselves safe from foodborne illness by using a food thermometer to ensure meat and poultry is cooked to the correct internal temperature.

“The best and only way to make sure bacteria have been killed and the food is safe to eat is by cooking it to the correct internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer,” said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. “It is a simple step that can stop your family and guests from getting a foodborne illness.”

Recent research by USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that only 34 percent of the public use a food thermometer when cooking hamburgers. If you don’t verify your burger’s internal temperature, pathogens may still be present. When eaten, those hamburgers can make your guests and your family sick.

In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

So how do you avoid becoming a part of those statistics? Follow USDA’s four easy steps to food safety this summer.

Clean: Make sure to always wash your hands and surfaces with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before cooking and after handling raw meat or poultry. If cooking outside or away from a kitchen, pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.

Separate: When taking food off of the grill, use clean utensils and platters. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.

Cook: Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat and poultry. Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food.

  • Hamburgers, sausages and other ground meats should reach 160°F.
  • All poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165°F.
  • Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal, and of beef should be cooked to 145°F as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, and allowed to rest for three minutes before eating. A “rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens.
  • Fish should be cooked to 145°F.
  • Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside, and by using a food thermometer you can be sure items have reached a safe minimum internal temperature needed to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present.

Chill: Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate or freeze immediately. Discard food that has been sitting out longer than two hours.

Need more food safety information? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (1-888-674-6854) Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, or email or chat at

Make the Most of Your Tobacco, Beef Operation

IMG_0956Presentations at Tobacco, Beef and More Field Day Provide Value for Producers

Whether you’re a beef cattle producer or a tobacco producer, you can learn useful strategies to make your operation more productive at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Tobacco, Beef and More Field Day.  It takes place on Thursday, June 22, at the Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center in Springfield. Admission is free.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. CDT at the field day assembly area off Oakland Road. Field tours begin at 8:45. Arrive early so you can tour the trade show and educational displays. The complete program is available online at

Tobacco Tours will introduce visitors to a new dark fire variety, guide them in selecting the right liming material, and cover best practices for managing foliar diseases like angular leaf spot. Visitors can also learn about the practice of chemically topping burley tobacco, including appropriate rates, optimal timings, and the varieties that respond best to this method.

Beef Tour presentations will include information on pasture management and weed control in pastures and hay fields. Other presentations will cover drought management and proper location of water in pastures.

Additionally, visitors can choose to take an overview tour of the Highland Rim AgResearch Center.  Learn about the Center’s history, current research programs, and its important role in Tennessee agriculture.

The tours will conclude at approximately 12:30 p.m. when visitors will be treated to a delicious lunch (steak sandwich, chips, cold drinks).

More details are available at and on the Highland Rim AgResearch Center Facebook page. For additional information, or to request an accommodation for accessibility, please contact the Highland Rim office at 615-382-3130.

Pesticide re-certification points will be available for Categories 1, 4, 10 and 12.  Attendees can earn three points per category.

Cattlemen Applaud Gov. Terry Branstad’s Confirmation As Ambassador to China

Beijing downtown

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, released the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to be the U.S. Ambassador to China:

“As the six-term governor of a state with more than $10 billion in annual agricultural exports, Terry Branstad is an ideal person to help facilitate the U.S. beef industry’s return to the Chinese market for the first time in 13-plus years. Ambassador Branstad has said that he intends to serve American-produced beef at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, and America’s cattle producers look forward to working with him to make that a reality as soon as possible.”

In addition, Mike Cline, president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, said:

“Ambassador Branstad has been a great friend to Iowa cattlemen and the agriculture industry as Governor of Iowa. He has shown a great commitment to the growth of beef and other agricultural exports, and we look forward to the work he will do on behalf of all Americans in his new capacity as Ambassador to China.”

Fall Calving Season May Yield Higher Returns for Southeastern Beef Producers

edited IMG_8859The vast majority of cow-calf producers in Tennessee and the Southeast using a defined calving season have long favored spring calving; however, researchers at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture have evaluated the risk and returns for a fall calving season, proving once again that timing is everything.

Selecting an optimal calving season involves a complex set of factors including nutritional demands of brood cows, forage availability, calf weaning weights, calving rates, seasonality in cattle, feed prices and labor availability.

Until now, information regarding profitability and risk associated with spring and fall calving seasons in the southeastern United States has been limited. Addressing this limitation, researchers assessed the potential trade-offs in risk and return of using a fall calving season rather than a spring calving season, while considering the seasonality of cattle and feed prices for least-cost feed rations.

Using simulation models based on 19 years of data, UTIA researchers determined that the fall calving season, calving between mid-September and mid-November, was most profitable and had the smallest amount of variation in profits, meaning fall calving was less risky.

This may seem counterintuitive, as spring calving produces heavier calves at weaning and feed costs are lower. The increased profitability of fall-season calving is due to the higher prices the calves can bring at weaning and an increase in calves weaned per cow.

Information from this research can help cow-calf producers in Tennessee and other southeastern states as they navigate the complex decision of choosing a calving season. Additional information can be found in the associated UT Extension publication Fall Versus Spring Calving: Considerations and Profitability Comparison.

“While this research indicates possible advantages for fall calving, it is also important to consider the additional costs associated with switching seasons and labor availability in the fall when crops are harvested,” says Chris Boyer, assistant professor for UT’s Agricultural and Resource Economics Department.

County Extension agents are available to help producers evaluate if fall calving is beneficial for their herds.

Fall Versus Spring Calving: Considerations and Profitability Comparison is available at no charge online at the UT Extension publications Simply search for the publication by title.