What do Stocker Cattle and Blueberries Have in Common?
They both need to get plump?
Actually, the correct answer is Clay Ranch, LLC in Florahome (Putnam County, Florida). Diversification is an essential element to succeed in the agribusiness world today. Chance Clay is a young generation farmer who has approximately 2,800 acres of pristine cattle land in the Florida Rural & Family Land Conservation Grant. In 2009, Chance diversified his cattle operation by cultivating 20 acres of southern highbush blueberries to improve profit margins on his agricultural land. UF/IFAS assisted with the establishment of the crop and cultivar selection. His current cultivar of choice is Emerald, but he is planning on a 40-acre expansion which will focus on cultivars that are conducive to mechanical harvesting. The cultivars he has in mind for the expansion include Meadowlark, Kestrel, Farthing and Presto. Characteristics that are favorable for mechanical harvesting are an erect, single trunk and berries that are bred for resistance to bruising. Chance has had a positive financial impact from the addition of blueberries, and he has sold a portion of his crop to the Alachua County School System for their farm-to-school program. He has also agreed to provide berries to the recently funded Putnam County farm-to-school program.
Chance is currently rebuilding his cow/calf operation with 20 head of replacement heifers and a single Wagyu bull. The Wagyu bull and the Brangus heifers will results in a high carcass quality animal that will yield a specialty product known as Kobe beef. Kobe beef is a Japanese delicacy that is valued for its flavor, tenderness, and well-marbled texture. Chance is also very progressive when it comes to high-quality forages and he works closely with Dr. Ann Blount http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/faculty/dr-ann-blount/#d.en.205750 who is a UF/IFAS forage expert for beef cattle based in Quincy, Florida. He currently has 35 acres planted in a mixture of triticale (100 lbs/A) and ryegrass (25 lbs/A) and another 25 acres planted in a crabgrass/ryegrass mixture. Thanks to Dr. Blount, he is currently experimenting with smaller plots of crimson clover, red clover and white clover. He uses his land as a stocker operation for nearby cattlemen that would like to “beef up” their cattle before them send them to market. Chance generally takes in herds of at least 50 cattle (per customer) and typical weight gain is 2 lbs/day while they feast on his luscious pastures.
His progressive farming opportunities have stemmed from extensive cooperation with UF research projects including the cool season forage trials and cull potato silage trials. Chance is willing to step out and try new things as a young generation farmer, and he has recognized the importance of diversifying his investments. Chance has been formally recognized for his Best Management Practices and was the recipient the CARES Award given by the Florida Farm Bureau and the County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship (CARES) Program. Chance has exhibited extraordinary leadership as the Chairman of Research and Education for the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, on the Board of Directors for the Florida Farm Bureau, and as the Chairman of Food Innovation Steering Committee that is organizing the State Farmers Market.