By MICHELE F. MIHALJEVICH
HOLGATE, Ohio — What started as a side interest 30 years ago has become a serious business for Tim and Peggy Brinkman, who raise Simmental cattle in Henry County near Holgate.
The Ohio couple bought their first Simmental heifer six months after they were married, and now have a herd of 72.
“It started out as a hobby,” Tim remembered. “We were not going to have very many. But by the early 1990s, we had (a herd of) about 15. Over the years, it just kept growing. We kept getting more and more.”
The Brinkmans chose Simmentals because they wanted something different and because the animals are considered to be docile with good growth and milk expectations, Peggy explained. The couple have worked to improve the performance of their animals, such as in ease of calving and growth.
They use genetics to match bulls and cows, Tim said. Genetics help them pick proven bulls with ideal characteristics, such as good carcass values.
“The cattle have changed over the years,” Peggy said. “They used to be tall like racehorses, with a lot of leg. Weaning weights have increased from 450 to 500 pounds, to 680, and it takes less amount of time for them to reach their full weight.”
Tim grew up across the road from the current farm and Peggy, about five miles away. Before they began raising Simmentals, they had a few steers and breeding sheep.
Tim is the fifth generation to live on the farm, which has been in his family since the mid-1800s. His great-grandmother moved to the farm with her family when she was a little girl and remembered hiding from American Indians who lived in the area.
“At that time, the farm was pretty much all woods,” he said. “Of its 120 acres, only three acres were cleared then. We’re at the southwest end of the Black Swamp, so we have decent farmland.”
In addition to the cattle, the Brinkmans farm about 600 acres on which they grow corn, soybeans, wheat and hay, and sorghum and rye to bale. They also have off-farm jobs – Tim owns a construction company and Peggy is a bookkeeper for a local bank.
The Brinkmans have two children who will probably end up doing something agricultural or farm-related, they said. Their daughter, Emily, 22, loves the livestock industry. Their son, Kyle, 19, is more interested in grains, but wouldn’t mind raising a few cows.
The farm’s name, Missing Rail Simmentals, comes from an old railroad that used to run behind their current home and on the dairy farm where Peggy grew up. By the time they were married, only the railroad bed remained, though that too has disappeared over the years.
Tim’s and Peggy’s operation was recently named Seedstock Producer of the Year by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Assoc. (OCA). The award (sponsored by Farm World) is presented to seedstock producers who do an exemplary job of keeping records, including performance data, said Elizabeth Harsh, OCA executive director.
“The Brinkmans and their farm are true representatives of the Simmental breed,” she noted. “They produce high-quality Simmental animals, doing so using all the tools available to document their practices.”
Seedstock producers raise breeding cattle used by commercial producers within the beef industry. Nominees are chosen by those who think highly of their program, such as members of a breed association, Harsh said.
The award was one of two presented during the OCA banquet Jan. 26 in Columbus. The OCA also presented a Commercial Producer of the Year award to Christian Hoffman of Hoffman Farms in Stoutsville, in Fairfield County.
Tim said he couldn’t believe what he was hearing when Harsh called to tell him the news. “I was shelling corn and she called to ask if I had a minute to talk,” he said. “She asked if I was sitting down and I told her I was in the combine. I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked.
“We’re kind of out of cow country here, and I always thought a producer would need to have well over 100 cows to win that kind of award.”
When he called Peggy and told her they won the award, Tim said she responded with, “We did?”
“We were flabbergasted,” she explained. “It’s such an honor. We’ve been involved with OCA almost the entire time we’ve raised cattle.”
The Brinkmans said they try to keep track of the animals they sell. They have sold cattle to producers in several states, including Indiana, Illinois, New York and Florida. They’re the second-largest cattle producer in the county and the largest purebred producer, Tim said.
As a part of their recordkeeping, they keep information on birth and weaning weights, bull yearling weights, vaccinations, breeding, color and the animal’s level of docility. Much of the information is submitted to the American Simmental Assoc. The organization posts the data on its website at www.simmental.org where interested producers and others may look for a Simmental with specific characteristics.
For more information on the Brinkman farm, visit http://missingrailcattle.wordpress.com