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Alpine Farms Named Virginia BCIA 2002 Outstanding Commercial Producer of the Year

Livestock Update, May 2002

Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech

Virginia BCIA is proud to present the 2002 Virginia Outstanding Commercial Producer Award to Alpine Farms of Natural Bridge, VA. Walter Nelson and his family operate the beautiful 600-acre farm located along the James River in both Botetourt and Rockbridge Counties. Walter has been involved with Alpine Farm since 1983, shortly after graduation from Virginia Tech. The farm currently sustains 210 cow-calf pairs in addition to replacement heifers.

Alpine Farms utilizes an Angus-based cowherd, of which approximately one-third of the females are registered and the other two-thirds Angus cross. Simmental bulls are periodically used as terminal sires on the lower producing cows to produce fast growing feeder calves. Artificial insemination and embryo transfer have been practiced to enhance the genetic influence of superior cows in the herd. Additionally, a portion of the cowherd functions as recipient females for cooperator seedstock herds. Sire selection is based on a balanced-trait approach, with emphasis on bulls generated from herds that share a similar, low-input management philosophy to Alpine Farms. Females that fail to produce above herd average for two consecutive years are culled. Feeder calves are marketed through state graded sales, weekly auctions, off the farm, or on board sales. Bulls are marketed off the farm and are periodically consigned to the BCIA central test program.

Alpine Farms has adopted a holistic resource management philosophy -- placing their emphasis on managing and monitoring the whole operation, as well as the overall profitability of an individual animal. The short-term goals of Alpine Farms are to improve the methods they currently use to market their feeder calves, while long-term increasing the profitability of the farm through consistent improvement of genetics and the land. Alpine Farm's pasture is primarily fescue-based and set up on a rotational basis. Management techniques practiced are performed with preservation and sustainability of resources for future generations.

Although beef cattle constitute a large portion of the livestock at Alpine Farms, a flock of nearly 300 spring lambing ewes as well as a feeder cattle backgrounding enterprise contribute to the diversity of the operation. This diversity adds to the forage utilization and overall productivity of Alpine Farms.

Walter has served on the Virginia Forage and Grasslands Council and the Mt. Castle Soil and Water Conservation District Board. In 1989 he received the Outstanding Forage Producer Award in the 15 county Valley Blue Ridge District. Additionally, Nelson is a member of Virginia BCIA, Virginia Cattleman's Association, Virginia Angus Association, American Angus Association, NCBA and the Botetourt County Cattlemen's Association.

Walter and his wife Barb have been active in the Cloverdale Church of the Brethren, and are strong supporters of 4-H. Their children, Clara and Isaac, are very active 4-H members having participated in numerous youth livestock activities involving beef, sheep, and swine at the local and state level.

The Virginia Beef Cattle Improvement Association is pleased to present the 2002 Virginia Commercial Producer of the Year Award to Walter Nelson of Alpine Farms.

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