CARROLLTON, Ohio — The story of one family’s cattle farm started when two college sweethearts met through their love of agriculture.
Todd and Kim Davis first met at the American Royal, a national livestock show held in Kansas City, Kan., while both were in high school and then they reconnected while attending The Ohio State University.
In 1991, Todd graduated with a degree in agriculture education and economics and Kim earned a degree in animal science. They both found jobs in western Ohio and soon married.
Then, in 1993, the couple had the opportunity to move to Todd’s native Carroll County and start their dream of a cattle farm. In what some would consider a rare occurrence, both Kim and Todd were offered jobs at the same time in Carroll County — Todd was offered a job as organization director for the Carroll County Farm Bureau and Kim took a position at Agland Co-op.
They moved to a farm owned by Todd’s family and the work began.
The duo began renovating the farm and started a family soon after moving to Carrollton. Today, their family includes three children — Garett, 14, Kady, 11 and Allison, 8 — and the family’s farm, Cattlecreek Farm, encompasses 270 acres between their home farm and a feedlot in partnership with Todd’s father, John Davis.
It’s obvious from talking to the family, everyone has a part in the commercial beef operation. It may be the ease the children show around the cattle or how Kady will be the first to tell you when Reba is bred and when she is due to deliver — but there is no mistaking that the whole family is involved.
Todd still works off the farm today but now is the director of Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum in Carrollton. The position is year-round, so he depends on Kim to handle things on the farm but manages to blend it all together with her help.
“She is the manager and I’m the laborer,” he joked.
Kim Davis now spends her time running the family’s beef operation full-time and keeping up with the children. When she is not busy with that part of her life, Davis spends her time working on issues as a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau board and judging beef cattle shows.
“It’s definitely a labor of love,” Kim Davis said.
And you can tell that because the Davises spent their Mother’s Day doing something only cattle producers can appreciate.
There was no time for a sit-down dinner at home or a night out for Mom. Instead, the family implanted 15 CIDRs to cattle on their home farm.
“It was a dirty job. But we got it done,” Kim said.
There just isn’t enough time for trips out to dinner as a family, she admitted, and sometimes the work has to come first.
The family uses artificial insemination for its higher quality cattle at the home farm and uses a bull at its feedlot. The family currently has 49 Simmental purebreds and crossbreeds and five replacement heifers. About half the herd is kept at the feedlot and half at the home.
They market their cattle by selling club calves from cattle born at the home farm and the rest are sold to a dealer who finishes the cattle out before market.
The family is using intensive grazing in their operation and the herd receives no grain.
“We use hay in the winter and pasture. That’s it,” Todd Davis said. “We are trying to have low input into the operation so that we keep costs low.”
The family uses simple electric tensile fencing to keep cattle in pasture and moves the fence as needed to rotate the pastures.
Davis said the herd is able to graze longer each year so less hay is needed each winter.
“Our goal is not to make as much hay this year,” Davis added.
The farm has applied for funding from the federal environmental quality incentives program though the Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District. If the farm receives the cost-share money, water lines will be installed on the property from six existing springs on the home farm to areas where the cattle can get the water. That will enable the Davises to move cattle without so many hassles regarding the water supply.
“We are trying to make the operation more environmentally friendly and profitable,” Todd Davis said.
Davis added that the goal is to help stop erosion, increase production and help the environment.
Whether the children are busy preparing their cattle for the Carroll County Fair, the state fair or a beef show or helping to breed their individual cattle — there is always work to be done.
Garett and Kady both own their own cattle in the herd. The brother and sister participate in a program through the Farm Service Agency that allows youth who are at least 10 to purchase cattle with a low interest loan that has a fixed rate for five years.
The brother and sister are hoping to turn a profit once expenses are met and the money is paid back so that they can go ahead and purchase more cattle.
Both have garnered honors not only at the county fair, but at the state fair level as well, including individual honors as the overall outstanding marketing exhibitor at the state fair. The competition is a combination of showmanship, skill-a-thon and how the individual animal places.
The family hopes to grow their operation in the coming years as the next generation gets more involved.
“We definitely want to grow in the number of cattle we produce,” Kim said.
In addition, they would like to one day get to the point of having only purebred Simmental cattle in the future, and hope to perfect their intensive grazing operation and increase the profitability.
But the family has other goals as well.
Kim said they are hopeful their children will want to return to the area after college and remain involved in the business.
“If you make it profitable, the kids may be more likely to return,” she added.