Phillips Cattle come and go like kids on a merry-go-round at the Phillips farm, Wapakoneta, Ohio. Difference is, this rotation makes the Phillips enough money to support four families, plus their employees. The Phillips brothers, Dennis, Scott, Todd, and their dad, Valgene, rank as seriously good producers. If a steer goes off their operation, it’s quality.
The Phillips raised colored cattle previously, but switched to Holsteins. “Holsteins just seem to make a lot more prot for us on this operation. They’re a lot higher maintenance, though, and you gotta treat ‘em like babies,” Todd says. The operation brings in 100 -150 head of steers every month, and markets about the same with the help of Livestock Program Manager Pat Lampert.
The Phillips rely on the constant marketing rotation to help them level cash market volatility. “You have a better chance of hitting the market when it’s higher, with your cattle back a little longer,” Todd adds. And they use Profit Plus risk management strategies for about 25 percent of their cattle sales. “These people are good sticks,” Lampert says. That’s Lampert/Ohio language for good people, and smart producers. They feed earlage as the base for their TMR, with some dry corn. And hay, dry hay the Phillips feed separate from the TMR, because some of their spotted guys like it more than others do.
But the dry hay improves weight gain and nishing. These methods improved their grading when the Phillips started this feeding technique several years ago. They raise about 1,300 head of cattle at two dierent farms, with about 650 per farm. The operators lie about a mile apart. Driving onto each place, visitors receive a greeting from dierent storybook two-sto-ry farmhouses. One home welcomes visitors with its gingerbread accents, the other with a broad front porch.
The operation purchases calves at 80 lbs. They divide them into pens and buildings by age and weight, raising them to about 1,450 lbs. “Our cattle grade a little better at 1,450, and it doesn’t seem to take long to get them up to that weight,” Todd adds. On the operation two of the brothers focus on the cattle, and the third concentrates on the grain operation. They row crop about 1,800 acres, 200 wheat, and corn and soybeans split the balance at about 800 acres apiece. They sell the beans and wheat, but feed the corn. Dennis likes to build, and leads construction projects, and is nishing a manure building. He also handles planting, and soil testing.
Scott works cattle all day long, checks them for health, and lends a hand in other areas. Todd dabbles and works hard across the operation, helping Scott with morning chores, Dennis with construction projects, and more. “Dad is 78, and still loves being out here full-time. We can’t keep him in the house. He normally likes taking care of the cattle, gives them hay in the morning, and cleans pens with tractor,” Todd says. “Any tractor work, he enjoys. And he helps work the ground.” Their mom, Janet, handles the secretary work for the business, and makes ever-important parts runs. Scott says farming’s in his blood, and his family’s.
“Everybody’s called to do something…It just seems natural,” Scott says. He likes being outside, and he likes the work’s variety. “The weather or the livestock or something always happens to make the days go faster.” Todd agrees. “We just like to do everything the best on this farm. Keeping up to date with technology.…We’re never shy of trying some-thing new. Hopefully, at the end it’s worth it,” Todd adds.“You always want to do better,” Scott says. “Just like in sports or anything else, you’re trying to do better….I think farmers from a stand-point of feeding the world, are always trying to get to the next peak.”
Marketing for Profit
“We’ve been working with Pat since I was little, so we’ve worked with him, since forever, I’d say,” Scott emphasizes. Pat enjoys keeping his customers up on what’s happening in the cattle industry. During a farm visit in early August, for example, he apprised them that sale barns in Iowa, Montana and Nebraska were tripling their intake during the height of drought-related herd liquidations.
The Phillips family operates in Ohio, but like cattlemen everywhere, they need to know what’s happening on the national and international scenes. Lampert’s wide geographic exposure to the cattle industry through his travel meeting producers for National Farmers helps the Phillips on their farm. “He gives you an idea of what he thinks is coming, which way he thinks the market’s going, and which way to market,” Scott says. “They give you good insight.”
“Since we’ve known Pat forever, we talk all the time…A lot of our cattle go cash, and we do contract, and use hedge and straight packer contracts,” Scott says. “National Farmers shows you the different programs. … They know what they’re doing. We’re busy as farmers, so it’s probably better to let them do it, rather than to do it on your own,” Scott emphasizes.
Anytime there’s an opportunity, Lampert tries to get you a better price, Scott says. “Without your knowing, he gets things done that if we had to do it, it probably wouldn’t get it done. …He sees things we wouldn’t. If he knows we need cattle sold before the market goes down, he handles it,” he adds. But the markets intrigue Scott. “I like to read the comments of what they say overnight, like what cattle and grain are coming...I like to see what I think’s going to happen.” The Phillips trust National Farmers with their cattle marketing. “Since they’re nonprofit, I think they’re looking out for the producer more,” Scott explains.
Nexus Marketing 877.207.1051
P.O. Box 1767
Ames, Iowa 50010-1767