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Duck Farm 2006 Virginia Commercial Producer of the Year

Livestock Update, April 2006

Dr. Scott Greiner, Ph.D. Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech

Virginia BCIA is proud to present the 2006 Virginia Outstanding Commercial Producer Award to Duck Farm. Duck Farm, Inc. is located in Madison, Virginia and is owned by Samuel and Nadine Wohlstadter. The cattle operation is managed by Kevin Powell of Somerset, Virginia, and Charlie Thornton of Radiant, Virginia serves as consulting general manager for the operation. Mr. and Mrs. Wohlstadter started the operation in 1991. Currently the farm consists of 3,400 acres with 2,000 acres of open land with over 1,600 acres in pasture and hay. The cattle operations consist of 660 commercial Angus cows with approximately 230 calving in a 70 day calving season from February to April, and 430 calving in a 70 day calving season from August to October.

Since the operation started in 1991, Duck Farm has focused on producing calves that are consistently similar in growth, size, type, and have superior carcass traits. In 1994 they started using AI to improve genetics of the cattle. All cows and heifers are synchronized and bred AI for one service then clean up bulls are run in the herds for a 70 day calving season. Sire selection for both AI and herd bulls emphasize carcass traits without sacrificing growth and maternal traits. Computer records are kept on every calf and cow and are used extensively in making breeding and culling decisions. This winter, electronic tags were incorporated into all the cattle to be used to assist with production records, marketing, and to comply with possible future animal health regulations.

Genetic improvement and herd expansion have been objectives of Duck Farm from the beginning. The top 70% of the heifers are kept for replacements, with selection based on growth, structural soundness, genetics, and carcass ultrasound data collected from the heifers. Surplus breeding stock is sold private treaty. The bottom 30% of the heifers are preconditioned and sold as feeder heifers by teleauction through Central Virginia Cattlemen Association (CVCA) sponsored sales.

All steer calves are preconditioned and sold by teleauction in CVCA sales. Fall-born calves are preconditioned on the farm using millet pastures and a grain supplement for at least 45 days before the sale. Spring born claves are preconditioned for about 90 days and sold in the winter. Currently all calves sold are source and age verified though the Southeastern Livestock Network PVP program. Duck Farm also tries to work with purchasers of the feeder cattle to obtain individual carcass data back on the calves.

Duck Farm has incorporated considerable conservation projects throughout the farm such as fencing out water ways and developing water sources from springs and wells. The complete farm is maintained is a grass sod with only millet being planted in the late spring for preconditioning fall calves and rye planted in the fall for grazing spring calving heifers.

Kevin Powell, cattle manager for Duck farm, has served key leadership roles for the beef industry in Virginia. Kevin was a founding board member and is past president of CVCA. He also severs on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Cattlemen Association and Virginia Cattle Industry Board.

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