Beginning Livestock Workshop: Recap and Resources

Beginning Livestock Workshop: Recap and Resources

On October 4, NCAT Southeast Regional Director Margo Hale and Livestock Specialist Linda Coffey traveled to Judsonia, Arkansas, to lead a workshop for beginning livestock producers. They share highlights from the day-long event below.

We thoroughly enjoyed this workshop, for many reasons. It was a pleasure to work with Ryan Pace, who hosted the group. Ryan attended our Armed to Farm veterans’ training in Arkansas several years ago and owns Wholly Cow Farms, LLC. He raises certified organic, grassfed beef, and is working with other farmers to sell hogs and poultry. It was great to learn about the collaborative relationships Ryan has forged with other farmers and with local businesses. He is making a difference in his community!

Tours and Talks

Ryan kicked off the day with an overview of his farm’s production and marketing. Then we headed down the road to tour a neighboring operation, 3D Farms of Judsonia. Farmer Matt Duncan raises pastured hogs. He shared great information about his experiences as a beginning farmer, including how he manages, feeds, and markets his hogs. Participants also asked Matt questions about fencing, watering, handling, feeding, processing, marketing, and more. It was great to hear how Ryan and Matt are working together.

After touring 3D Farms, we returned to Ryan’s place and learned about pollinators and beekeeping from Michael Sparks. Ryan wants to encourage pollinators on his farm to help with his legume stands and improve pasture health. We saw the hives he has on the farm. Margo then led an interactive discussion about business planning and recordkeeping, farm goals, resources, and more. In addition, Representatives from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) talked about the USDA programs available to help beginning farmers.

Following lunch, Ryan led the group on a tour of the farm. NRCS District Conservationist Reginald Cunningham and Soil Conservationist Nathan Wood spoke more about NRCS programs and conservation practices during the farm tour. We covered lots of topics in just a short amount of time! Our discussion included rotational grazing, fencing, tire tanks and other watering options, seeding pastures, silvopasture, and much more.

Beginning Livestock Resources

Farmer Ryan and Margo enjoying Wholly Cow beef for lunch.

We gave the group an amazing stack of resources, including a binder full of ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture publications on livestock production, soils, grazing planning, and processing. We also gave out the following books: Building a Sustainable Business; How to Use Social Media for Your Farm Business; Fearless Farm Finances; The New Livestock Farmer; The Art and Science of Grazing; and the Arkansas Grazing Lands Coalition’s Grazing Records pocket-size book.

The 23 participants were very engaged. We met new farmers from Arkansas and Louisiana, and saw some familiar faces. It was a treat to see Nate Hancock, another Armed to Farm alum, who came from North Carolina! We all enjoyed the beautiful venue on the farm and the delicious lunch from Burrito Day, a local restaurant that serves Wholly Cow grass-finished beef! Overall, it was a fantastic event.

This workshop was funded by a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Grant program in partnership with the University of Arkansas. Support for this project comes from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2017-70017-26836.

Additional Information

If you have questions about grassfed beef, pastured pork, or other livestock enterprises, our ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture specialists are here to help! Call 1-800-346-9140 or email askanag@ncat.org. Follow us on social media or subscribe to the Weekly Harvest newsletter to stay up-to-date on new educational resources and training opportunities!

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