STOUTSVILLE, Ohio — He’s been raising beef cattle on a commercial scale for only about three years, but Christian Hoffman of Fairfield County is among the top.
The 26-year-old was named Ohio’s Commercial Cattleman of the Year in January, and his 400-head of beef cattle have gained him some notable industry attention.Hoffman farms in partnership with his father, Bob, and the two manage about 1,300 acres of crops — more than enough to supply their basic feed needs.
Christian Hoffman handles the cattle, while his father is in charge of the crops. But it takes both ventures for the farm to support both men.
What sets Christian apart, aside from his large group of feeder cattle, is his attention to rations and experimenting with new, more affordable feeds. The family grows the typical mix of corn and soybeans, but also is a big supporter of double cropping — planting two crops per year in the same field.Double cropping allows the family to sell grain, while keeping enough on hand for feed.
The Hoffmans also grow barley, wheat and sorghum, and they feed some distilllers grain from the local ethanol plant.
“He immerses himself in every aspect of the industry, especially the business of doing it right to make a profit,” said Stan Smith, a program assistant with Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County. “He does everything that the big feedlots out West do, but he does it on this scale.”
The Hoffmans get most of their cattle from The Union Stockyards Co. in Hillsboro and sell on contract to places like JBS in Pennsylvania, and Tyson. The cattle — mostly all heifers — are started on silage in the winter and finished on grain by fall of the following year.
Bob Hoffman and his parents bought the farm in 1976 and Bob has operated a crop farm with his wife, Valarie, ever since.But after Christian graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in animal science, the two needed to expand if the farm was going to support both their families.
Christian is married to Brynn Hoffman, a school teacher for Amanda-Clearcreek schools. The two are expecting their first child in June.Valarie, is the farm’s bookkeeper. She also is a nurse and uses her medical skills to help with vaccinations. She said it’s impressive how the cattle project has grown, from just a 4-H project several years ago, to several hundred head today.
“He’s a real go-getter,” she said of her son, adding that he stays active in his local Farm Bureau and his church.
The feedlot consists of about 85 percent black-hided cattle, with 15 percent Charolais. Bob Hoffman does most of the cattle buying.Around the clock. The Hoffmans are a hard-working family and it’s not uncommon for Christian and his father to be working in the fields all day.
But aside from feeding and the occasional need to move them to another pen, the cattle take care of themselves.
The facility is well-built and includes a safe and efficient system of chutes that Christian designed himself. A major barn fire in August of 2010 set the family back, but also provided a new beginning.“
At the time, it was the worst day of my life and it was the best day, too,” he said.
A new and improved barn was built, and the cattle are kept on concrete. Christian is thinking about expanding again, and isn’t ruling out doubling his capacity.Smith said Christian is very committed to the industry and coming up with new ideas that meet the farm’s needs.
“Everything is with a purpose, everything is based on what the workload is,” Smith said. “He (Christian) is an absolute thinker. It’s so incredible for a person that young to have that much knowledge.”