LINESVILLE, Pa. — The third generation has come back to love farm life on the Pyma Love Farm.
The Love family hosted a twilight tour Oct. 27 at their farm, which straddles the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line. There, Garret and Natalie Love, in partnership with his parents, George and Geula, run a black Angus beef operation.
More than 80 attended the farm tour on a wet and cold evening to learn the techniques and equipment now being used. The event was sponsored by Ashtabula County Extension.
Garret and Natalie Love moved home to the farm three years ago after serving full-time in the Ohio Air National Guard for eight and 11 years, respectively.
Natalie, originally from Columbus, Ohio, specialized in finance and Garret in sheet metal during their time of service. They still return to Mansfield, Ohio, one weekend a month and two weeks a year as part of their continued service, but the bulk of their time is now spent managing a herd of 70 beef cattle.
The herd is partially registered, and they keep the herd separated into two groups, the older cows with the older bull and the heifers and younger cows with a younger bull. The farm’s calving typically occurs March through early May.
The farm, established by Garret’s grandparents in 1953, has seen multiple species; first, dairy cattle, then hogs, and now they have been raising beef for more than 20 years.
Recent additions to the farm include a 40-by-144 foot roofed heavy use area, built in 2014. The structure was built by JM Warren, Schlabach Construction and Signature Earthworks with cost-share financial assistance from NRCS.
The heavy use facility has a 2-foot outside wall, and they bed all the way up the wall and it lasts for two months during the winter, rebedding every two to three days.
To spread straw in the building, they use a manure spreader, which chops the straw and spreads it evenly, Garret said.
“When the building was built, the engineers designed off of paper, not how a cow actually acts,” Garret said. “We’ve had to make some changes to make it work for us.”
One such addition came in 2015 when they added a 12-foot feed alley with an overhang. It has cut their feed usage in half due to the reduction in hay waste. The Loves use a double strand of cable covered in conduit for the neck rail in the feed alley.
They can fit 65 pregnant cows in the feed alley if needed, said Garret.
Rainwater runoff from the barn drains underground and recharges the pond out front.
Another addition is a 40-by-104 foot waste storage facility. It has 5 foot walls and gives them six months of storage. The drains from the manure building go the opposite way from the pond. Though the manure building fits six months’ worth, Garret said they spread over the pastures all winter with a small manure spreader when the conditions are right.
These buildings were designed with NRCS in Meadville, Pennsylvania. The Loves received Environmental Quality Incentives Program money for the new structure and manure storage.
They also applied for Pennsylvania’s Resource Enhancement and Protection tax credit program, which offers transferable state tax credits to Pennsylvania farmers who implement eligible conservation projects and to businesses that sponsor these projects.
A highlight of the night was the bale processor demonstration.
“The main benefits of the bale processor is allowing all the cows to eat at the same time, with little fighting,” said Garret. “It has also reduced the amount of hay we need to feed, less trampling and a more even distribution. We were having issues with some getting too fat.”
The Hustler Chainless 2000 bale feeder Garret demonstrated is priced just under $10,000. Others on the market that allow you to take up to three bales out to the pasture at a time are around $18,000.
Also in the herd’s daily diet is mineral mix. For their mineral supplement, they buy all the products in bulk and mix it themselves.
“Mixing it ourselves let’s us know for sure what the cows are getting, how much and that there isn’t any unnecessary filler,” Garret said.
They do not worm cows unless needed. They use all non-medicated feed and Amaferm instead of Rumensin.
The Loves water off a trailer, taking 1,500 gallons at a time out to the field. The water tank sits on one side of the fence, and the trough sits on the other. Using the trailer allows the water to be moved anywhere in the field, so the grass doesn’t get run down.
They pull the water from the pond in the front of the property.
They rotate the water and the herd daily, moving across 15 grazing paddocks spread over 107 acres.
Quality pastures is another essential on the farm — they help keep their inputs low to widen the profit margin, said Garret. The Loves allow the pasture grass to go to seed in the spring, letting it naturally regenerate, saving money on seed.
“We clip a foot high,” he added. “I don’t want to disturb the good, healthy grass under there, just the weeds and dead stuff.”
The Loves handle the cows a lot, moving and sorting them. Each time they come into the handling area, the cattle are weighed to track rate of gain. The Loves also give them a health check five to six times a year. They use a cattle squeeze chute design with a neck extender to make neck injections a lot easier and safer. They must do all neck injections to maintain their Beef Quality Assurance certification.
They keep detailed records using CattleMax software. “We keep track of everything in CattleMax, from how much they weigh, when they last calved to what paddock they are on,” Garret said.
As for accounting, the Loves use Quickbooks to track all money in and out. Natalie takes care of this, and even with her background in finance, she admits it can be tricky, especially with part of the farm in Pennsylvania and part in Ohio, so they also hire the help of accountant.
“Tracking everything is the only way to know if we are ahead or behind and why,” Natalie said.
Staying flexible works in marketing their cattle as well. “We have some registered, some not, some grass fed; we try to diversify our market,” said Garret.
The Loves market their calves in four ways: raise them out on grain; raise them out on grass; sell as feeders; and raise bulls to sell through Penn State’s Bull Test program and other markets.
“Staying flexible is something we learned in the military that we apply on the farm,” Natalie said.
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