Valdosta Daily Times

January 25, 2014

Ga. cattlemen take Fla. beef tour


The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Cattlemen from Brooks and Tift County Georgia recently took the opportunity to visit Florida and get a glimpse of its cattle operations. The educational experience was made possible by planning of Brooks County Extension agent Garvie Nichols, Brooks County Young Farmer Advisor Dave Bearden, Tift County Young Farmer Advisor Carl Nichols, and the Dean of Agriculture at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Dr. Tim Marshall along with sponsorship from ADM Alliance Nutrition.

The trip began with a stop at the University of Florida’s Santa Fe Research Station. The unit is composed of approximately 1600 acres and supports 300 head of Angus-Brangus cows used for teaching and research.

The Florida Cattlemens Association hosted the group at their headquarters in Kissimmee.  Dusty Holly welcomed everyone and lectured the group as they enjoyed steaks around the big cypress table. Attendees learned the average herd in Florida is 125 cows compared to Georgia’s 25 to 30. Cracker Cattle, which are able to thrive in woodland areas, played an important role in the development of Florida’s cattle industry. Horses and cur dogs are still used to handle cattle instead of a feed sack. The association is comprised of 4,500 families, many of whom have been raising cattle over one hundred years.

The next tour stop was with the Kempfer family. The group was met by Billy and his sons George and Henry. The Kempfer Cattle Company is a family run operation that began in 1898. They currently run approximately 2,500 cows. The commercial herd consists of seven different breeds with a Brahman influence so that they better withstand the area’s environmental conditions. Kempfer discussed their breeding program and gave a tour of the ranch and cattle.

The tour next visited the neighboring Deseret ranch. Deseret is the biggest cattle ranch in the U.S. with over 40,000 cows on the property. The ranch is associated with the Mormon Church which chose to invest in cattle so that if hard times occur they would have a product which they can provide food for their fellow man. The ranch is fully self-supportive. The ranch is comprised of about 290,000 acres or 450 square miles covering three counties. The ranch is broken down into 12 units with each unit overseeing 3,500 head of cows.  

The hospitality of the cattlemen, county agents, Florida Cattlemen Association, businesses and sponsorship from ADM Alliance Nutrition, was greatly appreciated.