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Beaty brothers adapt management for Tennessee challenges, opportunities

Sherry Bunting for Progressive Dairyman Published on 15 January 2016
Beatyview Farm

Tennessee weather can be unforgiving in its ability to deliver extremes, from the heat of the deep South to the winter cold of the North.

But it is also a region that delivers plenty of good grazing, as well as naturally abundant water supplies and close proximity to top Class I milk markets, a strong agricultural community and networks of highway infrastructure for moving supplies and agricultural goods.

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For the three generations of the Beaty family, today farming 550 acres and milking 225 registered Holsteins at their Bradley County Century Farm, the business continues to adapt and improve to minimize the stress of the east Tennessee heat while maximizing the marketing opportunities in the region.

While Beatyview Farm does not boast a website for their high pedigreed Holsteins, the hallmark of their breeding program is to use high-type proven bulls, which has yielded top type cattle, with the Beatyview prefix showing up in top placings of shows all over the East and Midwest.

That’s what one would expect from a herd that has produced dozens of VG88 to EX92 females, with four on the farm currently at EX94. Milk quality and marketing also benefit from the seasonal aspects of the breeding program.

While the herd is milked year-round, twin brothers Brent and Brian manage the breeding program to concentrate the majority of their calvings in late summer and early fall. In fact, they freshened more than 16 heifers during the first week of September.

This seasonal tendency accomplishes two goals. First, the peak milk production coincides with the ramp-up of Southeast fluid milk demand when schools are in session, and secondly, it brings the cows through the pre- and post-calving transition after the peak heat of summer has passed.

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open holding area

Knowing that heat stress can affect nutritional intake, milk production, cow health and reproduction, Brent and Brian manage the breeding program to minimize this stress by clustering calvings to occur at a rate of three to five cows per week as the summer heat diminishes from August through October. Late summer and early fall freshenings also give Beatyview its peak milk production at the time when the market demand is highest.

The Beaty brothers are both “cow guys,” and their father, Julius, who started the dairy on his father’s farm, today manages the crop side of the business as sons Brian and Brent have taken over the dairy operation. Brent’s son Justin is also quite involved with the crops and mechanics.

Brent’s main responsibilities are the breeding and calf care, while Brian mainly covers the feeding and mixing.

“We like that either of us can do each other’s jobs here,” Brent relates, noting the value of their interchangeability in giving some flexibility for time off. Two hired milkers report mainly to Brent.

During a July 2015 visit to the McDonald, Tennessee, farm, cows were comfortable in freestalls with waterbeds and cooled with overhead fans and misters, but most of their herd was still dry in pasture or transitioning in open auxiliary barns with exercise lots. The family was also preparing for new construction to replace an old closed-in barn that had sustained some roof damage with a more open facility, which will also provide some flexibility to potentially expand and optimize the double-12 herringbone parlor built a few years ago.

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Grooved rubber matting is used to improve cow comfort where cows stand to eat as well as in cross alleys and holding areas.

The top show cattle have open-box stalls with large overhead fans.

The cattle housing is not fancy here at Beatyview Farm, but it is practical and open to capture as much natural ventilation as possible. The main thing is, says Brent, “We concentrate on the details of grooming and bedding stalls, and keeping walkways, open lots and holding areas clean and dry.”

Beaty family

The third generation, made up of four children between the two brothers, is already involved in the day-to-day operation of the dairy. Brent’s son Justin loves working with the crops. He and Brian’s daughter Morgan love showing the top breeding stock, including Morgan’s EX-92 Drift Line Advent Anna-RED.

Together, the family shows at the county and state levels, and at venues like the Southeast Regional show in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) in Louisville, Kentucky. They have also been competitive at the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and in some years, sent cattle to the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

In 2013, their 3-year-old EX92 Beatyiew Cat Tabby won the junior show at NAILE and was Junior All-American.

Calves are all raised here, and the sales of dairy breeding stock as well as steers for beef help diversify the income streams on the farm.

The Beaty family has experimented with their forage and grain cropping patterns, planting some fields to sorghum in the past couple of years to successfully hedge their drought risk in the region.  PD

Sherry Bunting is a freelance writer based in East Earl, Pennsylvania.

PHOTO 1: Beatyview Holsteins features a registered Holstein herd with some high pedigrees, and their prefix is found in herds and show rings throughout the country.

PHOTO 2: The open holding area behind the double-12 herringbone parlor at Beatyview Farm.

PHOTO 3: Three generations of the Beaty family are involved with the dairy and crops at Beatyview Farm in McDonald, Tennessee. Photos by Sherry Bunting.

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