Agricultural dinner meetings slated

The Agricultural Dinner Meeting Series, hosted by the Tygarts Valley Conservation District (TVCD) and the West Virginia University Extension Service, will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 16 at Camp Pioneer in Randolph County.

The speaker, Tim Sutphin of Dublin, Va., will discuss “Goals for a Sustainable Beef Production System.”

Sutphin, the recipient of the Virginia Outstanding Commercial Producer Award and the Virginia Farmer of the Year, was nominated for the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year.

He owns and operates Hillwinds Farm, approximately 1,800 owned and rented acres that support 600 commercial cows. The herd consists of primarily Angus-based cows with a percentage of Simmental and Gelbvieh genetics to capture the established advantages of crossbreeding.

Both fall and spring calving are practiced to make efficient use of resources and labor. Stocker cattle and 150 commercial ewes add diversification to the operation. Tim also feeds the bulls for the VA BCIA Southwest bull test.

Sutphin cites two keys to the success of Hillwinds Farm.

First is the production and proper utilization of high quality, cheap forage. That is accomplished through rotational grazing management practices and taking advantage of stockpiled forage to reduce dependence on harvested feedstuffs.

The second key is outstanding genetics. Since 1999, Sutphin has practiced whole-herd AI. Both mature cows and heifers are synchronized, and mated to proven Angus and Simmental AI sires.

Natural service bulls are acquired through the Virginia BCIA test station program. Sires are selected for a balance of superior growth, optimum calving ease, moderate mature size and milk production, coupled with superior carcass merit.

The advantages of these genetics are captured through retained ownership. Since 1996, Sutphin has retained ownership in 100% of his calf crop. Cattle are fed in western feedyards and sold on a carcass value grid basis, allowing him to reap the financial benefits of the superior growth and carcass merit.

A comprehensive computer record-keeping system is instrumental in helping Sutphin monitor the progress and performance of his herd. Both bulls and females are closely monitored for profitability – measured by net return of each calf produced to the operation through retained ownership. These extensive records also allow him to concentrate on the profit center of the operation – the cow.

Sutphin has served the industry as a board member for VCA, BCIA, MAMA, Beef Expo, and the family is involved in the Pulaski County 4H Livestock Club.

Reservations for the first dinner meeting are required by Monday, Jan.13, and can be made by calling the Tygart Valley Conservation District Office at 457- 3026. The dinner cost is $5 per person.

The meeting itself should begin at about 7: 15 p.m., and is free of charge to the farmers.