This blog post was written by NCAT Intern Asha Tillman
Five days before spring, a combination of aspiring farmers and established farmers participated in a livestock workshop held on Reyer Farms of Lena, MS. NCAT Gulf States Regional Director Rock Woods and farm owner Jody Reyer led the workshop in partnership with Alcorn State University’s extension office and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, with the support of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
NCAT collaborated with the local farm to provide participants with information on “Grazing and Marketing for Profitability” for beef. Subject areas presented were: record keeping, soil management, conserving natural resources, beef yields, and maximizing value added products. Mr. Reyer also shared his experiences in another area of agriculture in which he and his wife were very successful: growing, harvesting, and selling strawberries.
After a morning spent discussing business planning and financial and risk management, delicious and flavorful beef burgers fresh off the farm were prepared for lunch by founder and chief food concierge Andy Chapman at Eat Y’all.
After lunch, participants were excited to tour the farm and hear of Mr. Reyer’s operations with the help of his three-year-old son Gus Reyer and four-legged companion Nacho. Mr. Reyer expounded on the importance of proper fencing, maintaining a healthy herd, and catering to breed standards. He is well-known in his community and central Mississippi for his naturally raised beef and he takes pride in the quality of his products. His preference in breed, Pineywoods cattle, are well-suited to thrive on Mississippi native ranges and climate. Mr. Reyer also went into detail with the weaning process of his calves and his method of obtaining maximum carcass weight.
One participant mentioned his practice using chemicals but was looking to become more sustainable and using little to no chemicals and more natural management practices. Two participants were new farmers and just looking to learn how to farm cattle sustainably. All participants were able to witness a part of the process in preserving cow hide for leather and other products made from cow hide.
Even in unpredictable Mississippi weather participants were intrigued and inquisitive during the farm tour. No rain could stop this show! ATTRA publications as well as Mr. Reyer’s and Mr. Chapman’s business cards were provided to allow further learning and partnership among participants and our hosts.
For more information, visit the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture website’s Livestock & Pasture page. You’ll find great resources there on livestock production including cattle, small ruminants, hogs, poultry, grazing management, and much more.
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