Raising beef cattle is a family affair for some Georgia producers
According to Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, every year consumers spend more than half of their meat budgets on beef – making beef the “meat of choice” for consumers. As of 2016, beef cattle are raised in all 159 counties of Georgia, illustrating the state’s significant role in supporting consumer demand. But down on the farm, these animals influence more than just market prices. They indefinitely shape the lives of the families that care for them.
BOGGY CREEK FARMS
For Kristy Griffis Arnold, farming has always been in her blood. She grew up on a 465-acre farm in Wayne County that her grandfather, Julian Griffis, first purchased in 1941. Additionally, she was a member of 4-H and FFA clubs, and she showed cows for 13 years. So it came as no surprise when in 2006, she worked with her father to transition as owner and operator of Boggy Creek Farms.
Ten years later, she’s responsible for the well-being of their 350-head commercial Angus and crossbred herd, not counting the calves, and running their contract embryo calf operation. It’s more than a full-time job, she admits, and thankfully she doesn’t have to do it alone.
“My husband and children help whenever they’re home, doing chores around the farm. Under my dad’s wing I learned everything I know about operations, so I try to take my kids out with me and teach them,” she says.
Already, 11-year-old Kayle and 8-year-old Karson really enjoy showing livestock and being out on the farm. Like their mother, they show a deep-rooted passion working and caring for live animals. In her experience, Arnold has found that working on a farm teaches children to appreciate and value hard work, learn good morals and the value of family – principles that last for a lifetime.
“I see a lot of growth in our future, especially as more and more young folks get involved. I hope to see that continue to grow over the next decade,” she says.
GAZDA CATTLE COMPANY
Carolyn Gazda knows firsthand the positive influence derived out of farm life from raising two daughters, Katie and Taylor, to know the ins and outs of the cattle business.
“When the girls still lived on the farm, they were active in the everyday aspects of running the farm. About 90 percent of the heifers they showed while growing up were raised on the farm – many of them bred by the girls,” she says.
Now an adult, Katie has an ag communications degree from the University of Georgia and is executive director of the Georgia Farm Bureau Foundation. Taylor, also now an adult, has an ag communications degree from Oklahoma State University and is currently doing freelance livestock marketing and photography. However, both women still own cattle on the farm in Athens, and Gazda anticipates they’ll live on a farm again in the near future.
“Taylor had a heifer this year that a young lady in South Georgia showed and won ‘Reserve Champion Low Percentage Simmental’ at the Georgia Junior National Stock Show. The juniors are the future of the cattle industry, and that is very important to us,” Carolyn Gazda says.
Over the years, whether busy natural calving 22 Angus cows in a season or serving on the board of directors for the Georgia Angus Association, Gazda is proud to have kept the farm a family-run operation. She even has help from her 85-year-old father-in-law, who can still be found building fences, bush hogging and feeding livestock.
“Involvement in the cattle industry is full of ups and downs,” she says. “One day you can be on top of the world, the next struggling to keep a calf alive. It’s a way of life that gets in your blood. I can’t think of a better way to raise a family.”