2001 Virginia Commercial Producer of the Year
Livestock Update, March 2001
Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, Virginia Tech
The town of Chatham in Southside Virginia's Pittsylvania County is home to Maxey Farms. Henry and Linda Maxey started Maxey Farms in the mid-1960's as a livestock and grain operation. The operation grew over the years adding vegetables and tobacco, but always maintaining a commercial cow-calf operation as part of the diversified farming operation. In 1990, Hank, the middle child and only son returned to the family farm with his wife Debbie. At this time they added more cattle, land, and tobacco and created the family partnership as it is today.
Maxey Farms consists of approximately 1250 owned and rented acres that support a tobacco and wheat rotation, and from 240 to 280 fall-calving commercial crossbred cows. The forage base is primarily fescue and clover, and all acres are divided into rotational blocks for optimum grazing management. Grazing of stockpiled forage limits dependence on harvested and purchased feedstuffs, and wheat and hairy vetch are rotated with tobacco for harvested hay.
The cowherd consists of primarily Angus-cross cows with about 40% of the cows being _ Gelbvieh. The calving season begins in mid-October lasting 75-80 days and coinciding with the end of tobacco season. Eighty-five percent of the 2000 calf crop was born in the first 30 days of the calving season. For the past 10 years, all heifers and cows have been synchronized and bred one service AI to highly proven Angus sires, and performance-tested bulls have been utilized for the past 30 years. Strict EPD specifications are employed for selection of both AI and natural service sires. A balance of superior growth, optimum calving ease, moderate mature size and milk production, along with superior carcass merit are the focus of sire selection criteria. Females with superior fertility and the ability to perform profitably in the limited feed resource environment of the operation are key. Comprehensive record-keeping is an instrumental tool in assisting the Maxey's attain their goals of maximizing percent calf crop weaned, weaning weights, and cow carrying capacity while being a low-cost producer.
Progressive feeder cattle marketing is a cornerstone of the Maxey program. Steer calves are marketed in early August through the Virginia Cattlemen's Association Tel-O-Auction sales under the VQA program. All cattle are sold with available information- including calving date, weights, health and management program, genetics, and past feedlot and carcass performance. The Maxey's also participate in the Virginia Retained Ownership Program and the bottom 20% of the heifers are sold through the Virginia Feeder Cattle Sales. In 1995, carcass data was received on the entire calf crop. Routine visits are made to feeder cattle buyers to assess the health and performance, as well as likes and dislikes of the cattle sold. Females not retained in the herd are sold as commercial replacements private treaty.
In addition to this full-time, highly progressive commercial cattle operation, Hank serves the Virginia Cattlemen's Association as a board member and is Past President of VCA. Henry is a retired Farm Management Agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service. They are members of the Pittsylvania and Buckingham County Cattlemen's Associations and the Virginia Angus Association.
The Virginia Beef Cattle Improvement Association is proud to present the 2001 Virginia Commercial Producer of the Year Award to Maxey Farms - Henry, Linda, Hank, and Debbie Maxey.