By Debra Davis
The Alabama Farmers Federation Beef Tour to South Dakota gave attendees a look at cattle ranching on a big scale as farmers crisscrossed the state by bus June 6-11.
Most ranches on the tour had several thousand head of cattle compared to their home state, where a herd of 300 is considered large.
“We learned a lot from visiting operations that are much larger than we have in Alabama,” said Blount County’s Tim Whitley, chairman of the Federation’s State Beef Committee. “Just watching the way those size operations handle cattle with ease and speed was amazing.”
Whitley is a Federation state board member who raises Red Angus cattle on his farm in Snead. He said cattlemen can learn a lot on tours, which helps makes them better producers.
“This was my first Federation Beef Tour,” Whitley said. “I would highly recommend it to anyone in the beef business.”
It was the third Federation Beef Tour for Walt and Peggy Prevatt; their second to South Dakota. The Wilcox County couple said they learned helpful tips on the tour and appreciate the fellowship and friendships made along the way.
“This tour had good diversity that included cow-calf, stockers, feed lots, purebred and seed stock operations,” Walt said. “We found ourselves taking photos of things like gates, water troughs and feeding systems to try to find things that we can use to improve our farm. It’s also interesting to see the economy of scale on bigger farms. We have got to find a way to ensure farming is profitable for young people. That’s the key to getting them to choose farming as a career.”
For Peggy, the highlight was the people she met — all connected by their love of the cattle industry and farming.
“The people on the tour with us and the people on the farms we toured are about the friendliest people you’ll ever meet,” she said.
Walt added the tour provides a social aspect he and Peggy enjoy.
“It’s nice to talk and get to know other cattlemen from our own state and spend time with them,” he said. “We’ve made some new friends and contacts through this trip. We are very appreciative to the Farmers Federation for organizing and hosting this tour. We need more of these kinds of opportunities. A lot of education takes place outside of a classroom, which is very practical. Most people can identify with something they see and can adopt on their farm.”
For photos of the Beef Tour, visit the Federation’s Facebook or Flickr pages.