Ohio Farmer

The Thornburgs have expanded their herd from 11 cows to 40.

Gail C. Keck, freelance writer

January 29, 2019

4 Min Read
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YOUNG CATTLEMEN: Brad and Mindy Thornburg from Belmont County, Ohio, were recognized as the Young Cattlemen of the Year. They are pictured with their daughters, Vaya (left) and Vonn; and their son, Voss (held by Mindy).

For Brad and Mindy Thornburg, breeding good beef cattle is more than a family occupation; it’s what brought them together. The couple, who were named 2019 Young Cattlemen of the Year by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, began farming together after they were married six years ago. Before that, Brad was raising a few cattle on his own, and the man who had been artificially inseminating his cows was no longer available. Brad mentioned that to a friend. “He told me, ‘Well, my sister does that,’” Brad recalled. That sister was Mindy, and the couple’s relationship grew after they first met to discuss breeding Brad’s cows. 

The Thornburgs went on to buy a farm together and began building their herd, starting with 11 cows. They’ve gradually expanded the herd to about 40 cows, saving good replacement heifers every year. They are working on improving the genetics of the herd using embryo transfers and artificial insemination. Mindy continues to manage the breeding for the herd. “I like the reproductive aspect of cattle production, so it’s just something I carry on,” she said. She also works off the farm for Zoetis Animal Health.

Although she didn’t grow up on a farm, Mindy was involved with livestock in 4-H, and she pursued her interest in agriculture by attending Ohio State University, majoring in animal science. Brad spent his early childhood on a farm but lived in town during his teenage years. He knew he eventually wanted to get back into farming, and he bought his first farm in his early 20s. In addition to farming, Brad works as a union bricklayer.

The Thornburgs sell most of their calves at about 550 pounds directly from the farm, and they work with buyers on preconditioning the cattle to meet the preferences of the buyers. “We try to accommodate everyone,” Brad explained.

Since they bought their farm, they’ve been working to get the grazing land back into shape and set up an environmentally friendly rotational grazing system. They’ve been working with their local soil and water conservation district, and they’ve participated in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to implement conservation practices to improve the farm, said Mindy. “We’re always focused on what we can do to make it better and make it last.”

Eventually, Brad and Mindy would like to expand their operation, buying more land and adding more cattle. However, Brad noted, oil and gas drilling in the area has inflated the price of farmland, making it difficult to find affordable land. In the meantime, the couple stay busy with their three young children, daughters Vonn, 4, and Vaya, 3; and their 1-year old son, Voss. They’re looking forward to getting their children involved in showing cattle. Already the girls are following in their parents’ footsteps and showing an interest in cattle production. “They already know what a cow in heat is,” Mindy said.

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INDUSTRY SERVICE: Tom Price (left) was recognized by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association for his service to the beef industry. Tom farms and operates a composting facility in Delaware County, Ohio. This past year, he led efforts to address concerns with water quality in the western Lake Erie watershed as chairman of the Ohio Soil & Water Conservation Commission. He is also active with the Ohio Expo Commission and the Ohio State Fair. Pictured presenting the award is Matt Reese, representing Ohio’s Country Journal, the award sponsor.

Water quality contributions recognized
In addition to honoring cattle producers for excellence in the industry, the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association presented an award for industry service to Tom Price during the association’s Jan. 12 annual meeting and awards banquet. The award, presented to an individual who contributes to the betterment of the cattle industry, recognizes Price for his efforts to address concerns with water quality in the western Lake Erie watershed as chairman of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission. He is also active with the Ohio Expo Commission and the Ohio State Fair.

Price, who farms and operates a composting business in Delaware County with his family, is credited with helping unite Ohio farmers in their efforts to improve water quality. Although issues surrounding nutrient management regulations have not yet been resolved, Price told farmers at the awards banquet that he’s optimistic about finding solutions. “We’re all pulling the same way — we’re all trying to do the right thing,” he said.

Keck writes from Raymond, Ohio.

 

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