DORSET, Ohio — Breaking with tradition and trying something outside the box is a theme for Ashtabula County farmers Rich and Barb Ewing.
They have a different way of doing things in life, but they have reasons for everything.
When the couple built their house, they didn’t build the home so it lined up with the road. Instead, they built it off-center.
They had reasons. Rich’s dad didn’t think that could be right, but it’s how the couple wanted it. They wanted to be able to look out their kitchen window and see the original farm where Rich’s dad lived.
Years later, the couple decided they wanted something different in a cattle herd they were developing and started out on a search.
Rich had grown up on a dairy farm and then his dad raised Hereford cattle after getting away from the milking industry. George Ewing thought Herefords were the way to go, but the younger Ewings felt otherwise.
Just the right breed
Today, the couple raises Pinzgauer cattle.
The Pinzgauer cattle is not a common breed in northeastern Ohio or even the Buckeye State. There are just a handful of breeders and farmers working to develop herds in the state.
However, the Ewings see a great future in it. Currently, they have 19 cattle, including one bull and 11 feeders.
“It’s a joint project for both of us,” said Barb.
Rich takes care of the farm chores. Barb takes care of the cattle. They farm 300 acres, and raise hay, corn, wheat, soybeans and oats, in addition to the cattle.
The duo spent months researching and searching on the Internet before they even considered purchasing one cow. “We didn’t know there were that many types of cattle out there,” Barb said.
Now, they are eager to tell people what positive characteristics the Pinzgauer cattle possess.
The Pinzgauer cattle are known for having a low cholesterol meat with a sweet, tender taste and good marbling. They also have an easy time calving and are considered to be very docile.
Mature bulls average 2,000 pounds and up, while mature females level out at approximately 1,000 to 1,600 pounds.
The first four head of Pinzgauer were imported into Canada in September 1972. Austrian fullbloods were first imported to the U.S. in 1976. Live animals, frozen embryos, and semen all have been imported to establish fullblood herds and to upgrade the purebred Pinzgauers, according to the American Pinzgauer Association.
Rich worked for Dorset Township before retiring and now he farms full-time.
Today, the couple is focusing its attention on the cattle herd and the pastures they are developing.
“I love what I do,” Rich said.
The heifers are given a diet of corn and oats during pregnancy. Both are grown on the farm, taken to a grain facility and mixed to their specifications with some vitamins and minerals as needed.
The Ewings are developing their pastures for rotational grazing in the hopes they can reduce the amount of hay the cattle need. So far, the project is working for the couple.
“Every year, it is getting better. We are able to not feed the cattle hay until late September,” Barb said.
The couple have replanted the pastures in the past couple of years and have converted them to Bariane, a tall fescue. Now, they can rotate the cattle from pasture to pasture every four to seven days. There are currently 65 acres in pasture on the farm. The rotational pattern depends on the grass type and size in the pasture when the cattle are moved.
The one obstacle the Ewings face is keeping water accessible to the cattle at all times.
“It’s been the biggest problem with switching to rotational grazing, but we’ve found solutions,” Barb said.
They have developed a system where water is available either by a large pond or troughs strategically located in the pastures.
The couple has sold cattle as far north as New York and imports new cattle into their herd from a breeder in Tennessee.
The couple finds no need for a sign advertising their beef to sell it.
“Word of mouth does the trick for us,” Rich said.
He added that many of the customers return year after year for beef orders. The farm also continues to build their breeding program every year by incorporating new stock and raising their own heifers.