MOOOOOOOvin’ on up!

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One of my grandfather’s calves grazing in the pasture.

This week I decided to talk about Alabama’s beef industry, which is the second largest animal industry in the state just behind poultry.

The beef industry accounts for thousands of jobs and represents $2.5 billion. There are roughly 1.2 million head of beef cattle across Alabama. There is nearly 90 million nationally. Each of Alabama’s 67 counties is involved, in some way, in cattle farming or processing.

A large number of people may think beef is not healthy. According to Facts About Beef, beef is actually a very healthy food, in moderation of course as in nearly every other food. There are many diets that are healthy, which include beef. The DASH diet includes about 1.4 ounces of red meat a day. It is estimated Americans eat about 2.5 pounces of beef daily.

One of my grandfathers, Floyd Glenn Hicks, raises about 60 head of cattle. He has been a part of the industry for nearly 80 years, and he is still going strong at the impressive age of ninety. He said that one of the best parts of his day is waking up and going to check on all of his cows. He enjoys being able to get out of the house and ride in one of his three red “pick-ups,” as he refers to them. The cows know the sound of his truck, so they will come right up to it. They know when the truck is there, it is feeding time!

Caring for cows is not exactly an easy task. During the summer, you must grow hay so the cows will have something to eat during winter as the grass dies away. They also have to be sprayed for lice and other parasites.

I have really enjoyed growing up around the cows, and being able to watch and learn the different processes of life. Small family-owned farms are great places for students, researchers or anyone that wants to learn a thing or two about agriculture.

For more Alabama Beef facts and information, please visit Alabama Cattlemen’s Association’s website.

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Cheep, Hop, POP!

Balloons, baby chickens and an Easter egg hunt are great ways for children from the Ramer/Grady community to learn about Jesus Christ, and what it takes to be a poultry farmer.

Students listen and learn from "The Balloon Man" at Brown Farms.

Students listen and learn from “The Balloon Man” at Brown Farms.

On April 2, nearly seventy elementary students, from South Montgomery County Academy, ventured to Brown Farms on an all-day field trip. Brown Farms is located in Ramer, Alabama, which is also my hometown. The farm is owned and operated, by Jeremy and Lindsey Brown along with their two children, Ansley (6) and Lydia Grace (3). I am extremely proud to claim them as part of my family. Together, they have six chicken houses and trucking company that transports chicken litter to area farmers and land owners.

The day started off with a welcome from Lindsey and her friend, Carlos the Puppet. The Easter Bunny also had enough time to make an appearance. After the introduction, Greg Taunton, also known as “The Balloon Man,” gave an inspirational balloon show about Jesus Christ and how He saved us all from sin while using his balloon to tell the story. He pumped a giant balloon full of air, worked his way inside and then knelt down making the balloon pop, displaying how Jesus can take our sins away. Once his show was over he fulfilled the request of every child that was in attendance by making them all a “one of a kind” balloon of their choice.

Greg Taunton shown here climbing into a giant balloon.

Greg Taunton shown here climbing into a giant balloon.

 

Later that day, students received a tour of the chicken houses, given by Jeremy. They were not only amazed at how large the houses were, but also the amount of chickens each house contains, which is around 28,000. They were also able to see a few tractors and trucks, here and there.

Brown Farms owner, Jeremy Brown, speaking to a group of students about poultry farming.

Brown Farms owner, Jeremy Brown, speaking to a group of students about poultry farming.

Then it was time for the egg hunt. Many of the students scrambled to find as many eggs as they could get their hands on. I feel quite sure that there was not a single egg left in the yard.

All of the kids received bags filled with gifts from the Alabama Farmers Federation, which included a coloring book, crayons made from soybeans and interesting AG facts on bookmarks. It was a truly great day for this event. The weather was perfect, and as many would say, “You could not have paid for a better day.”

Until next time…