Holiday Ranch
Breeder of South Poll Grass Cattle

Holiday Ranch Alternative Agriculture Award

The Washington County Youth Fair was held February 22nd through 26th 2011.  The fair concluded on Saturday evening with the presentation of awards and the sale of steers and hogs.

One of the awards given was the “Holiday Ranch Alternative Agriculture Award” sponsored by Kay and Cliff White.  The award was presented to Abigail Anderson for her winning essay entitled “South Poll Cattle and Organic Benefits”.

The White’s offered a $500.00 award to encourage Washington and Holmes County youth involved in showing livestock to think outside the box and to demonstrate their willingness to learn livestock may be produced in an organic and sustainable manner.  They requested interested students to select a topic regarding sustainable, alternative or organic production of livestock and submit an essay detailing the benefits to the animals, producers, consumers and the environment.  The finalists were also interviewed prior to selecting the winner.

The White’s operate their ranch in an organic fashion and do not use commercial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.  They have a herd of South Poll cattle at their Vernon, Florida ranch and a much larger herd located at their partner’s ranch, Dr. Bruce Shanks,  in central Missouri.  Their South Poll cattle are sold as breeding stock throughout the United States.  They market their grass-finished steers to buyers who sell grass-fed beef to grocery stores, restaurants and specialty markets.

Their South Poll cattle were developed by Teddy Gentry of Fort Payne, Alabama.  Many will remember Teddy as a member of the country group “Alabama”.  The efficient, moderately framed South Polls were developed to thrive and finish on grass alone, to tolerate heat and humidity, and produce a tender and tasty grass-fed beef product.

Award winner, Emily Anderson, washing her hog

Kay and Cliff thoroughly enjoyed reading Abigail’s essay and meeting her for a personal interview.  Abigail Anderson is the nine-year old daughter of Todd and Lorna Anderson of Chipley, FL.  She has two sisters, Emily and Eliannah Anderson, and one brother, Asa Anderson.  She is a 4th grade student at Holy Nativity Episcopal School in Panama City, FL.  When she grows up she wants to be a neurologist.  Abigail’s interests include reading, gymnastics, 4H, piano, science, and running.

Abigail is an avid reader.  She loves to read mysteries!  Her favorite mystery series is The Hardy Boys.  She also thoroughly enjoyed reading the Harry Potter series.

Abigail is a gymnast at Edgewater Gymnastics Academy in Southport, FL.  This year will complete her second year of competitive gymnastics.  She trains three days a week and works very hard while she is in the gym.  She truly enjoys the sport of gymnastics and loves being able to travel with her team to meets.  Her favorite event is floor and has won several 1st place medals this year in that event.

Abigail taking care of last minute grooming

Piano is another love of Abigail’s.  She is in her fifth year of lessons and is looking forward to her upcoming recital in May.

This year Abigail was able to join Girls on the Run which is an after school program that is sponsored by the Junior Service League of Bay County and Holy Nativity Episcopal School.  The program trains the girls to run a 5K race while teaching them what it means to be a good person and how to treat others with love and respect.  In April she will run her very first 5K and is very excited about it.

Abigail is also a member of the Washington County 4-H Livestock Club.  She chose to raise swine for her 4-H livestock project this year.  She has two pigs that she will be showing at the 2011 Washington County Youth Fair.  She has devoted a lot of time and effort to making sure that her project was successful.  Through her project she has learned that it takes a lot of hard work to raise pigs and has gained an appreciation for farmers.

Although Abigail keeps a very busy schedule she has still maintained to keep her focus on academics.  Her favorite subjects are math and science.  She is always excited to learn new things and is up for any challenge that may come her way.

The White’s are pleased to share the following excellent essay with everyone:

SOUTH POLL CATTLE AND ORGANIC BENEFITS

Yeehaw!  I’m cowgirl Abigail Anderson, age nine. Today I’m here and ready to talk to you partners about South Poll cattle. South Poll cattle were bred deep in the heart of Dixie.  They are a mix of Hereford, Red Angus, Barzona, and Senepol.  They are slick haired, moderate framed cows.  South Polls are highly adaptable to all climates and grasses, and will thrive and excel on grass alone without costly inputs.  Costly inputs are water, grain, and fossil fuels.  These great cows have many attributes such as good muscle definition, moderation of frame, good, strong legs, and depth of ribs that carries through the flank and width of back from shoulders through rear legs. The percent of muscle, fat, and bone should be between 1,000-1,300 pounds.  If muscle or bone is too heavy it may produce problems with having calves.

If you grass feed these animals there are many benefits to the animal, farmer, producer, and consumer.  First of all, meat from grass-fed animals is lower in total fat.  Also, if the meat is very lean it can have one-third as much fat as skinless chicken breast, deer, and elk.  Research shows that lean beef lowers your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Grass fed organic beef has no added hormones.  There are loads of environmental benefits such as a diet of grazed grass requires less fossil fuel than a feed lot of corn and soy.  Grazed pasture removes carbon dioxide from the environment more effectively than any other land use, helping to slow down global warming.  If you have grazing animals, they will eat plants that are undigestable by humans.  They do this because they have one stomach with four chambers.  Grazing animals save fossil fuel too.  Meat from grass-fed animals requires one calorie of fossil fuel producing two calories of food.  If you manage your pasture well, your pasture will absorb far more rain water than any other land.  More water helps the grass grow stronger.

You farmers who raise their cows on well-managed land get $579 net income compared to $451 per cow in the most profitable confinement dairies.  Also, keeping cows on pasture helps lower the cost of milk production.

There are also benefits for your animal.  Fresh pasture and dried grasses are the natural diet of all ruminant animals.  It is better for animals to eat grass.  Corn and soy are an unnatural diet for cattle.

Now you are probably wondering, “Are there any organic forms for livestock?”  Well, the answer is yes.  Livestock that are produced under organic management must have their total ration that is comprised of agricultural product including pasture, forage, and crops that are organic.  Dairy cattle under nine months of age are allowed 20% of their feed to come from nonorganic sources.

Organic cows have to have health too!  Organic livestock production practice requires the producer to establish preventive health care practices.  The health care practices include selecting the correct species of livestock, providing adequate feed, and even creating an appropriate environment that minimizes pain and stress.

Organic livestock farmers need to keep records.  Records are important for financial management of organic livestock enterprise.  Likewise, records are important for the verification of organic status of animals, production, harvesting, and handling.

Thank you for reading!  I’m sure you learned a lot about South Poll cattle and organic benefits to the consumer, producer, animal, and farmer.  I hope you enjoyed all of the interesting facts because one day it just might come in handy.

To learn more about the wonderful South Poll cattle, visit our website at www.holidayranchsouthpolls.com or www.sassafrasvalleyranch.com

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