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Serving: IN

Cattle and crops make Dove farm tick

Photos by Tom J. Bechman Rob and Karen Dove
BUILDING THE FARM: Karen and Rob Dove, Elnora, Ind., have built a successful farm and brought their son, Josh, into the operation, incorporating both cattle and grain production.
Indiana Master Farmers Rob and Karen Dove use niche marketing and careful management to make their cattle operation profitable.

The commitments to work hard and raise high-quality Black Angus cattle have been hallmarks of Rob Dove’s family going back generations. His grandfather and father raised Black Angus cattle, and Rob and his wife, Karen, continued the legacy. It carries on today, although their son, Josh, added color to the herd by bringing in Red Angus cattle.

“Farming is all I ever wanted to do,” says Rob, Elnora, Ind. “I loved farming with my pedal tractors as a kid, and I would sneak out and get on the John Deere 3010 when I could. This was our biggest tractor when I was a young boy.”

Related: Welcome Indiana’s new Master Farmers

Rob began farming with his father, Donald, raising crops plus hogs and cattle.

“The hogs left eventually, but the Black Angus cattle stayed,” Rob says. After he and Karen married, they continued to grow the farm gradually.

Related: What others say about Rob and Karen Dove

Their commitment to hard work and dedication to their community earns them recognition as Master Farmers this year. The award is co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue College of Agriculture.

Blending cattle and crops

For many years, Rob and his dad maintained a cow-calf herd, but also filled their feedlot with up to 100 head of feeder cattle, most of them purchased as feeder calves. Today, with a 100-cow herd, Rob and Josh produce nearly all the cattle they feed out.

Josh maintains detailed records on the breeding herd, striving to improve genetics over time.

About 70% of the steers and heifers are marketed through their butcher beef business.

“Josh does the biggest share of marketing and interacting with customers,” Rob says. “We work with two custom slaughtering operations to have enough capacity to butcher as many calves as we need. It’s become a good way to market a big share of the calves we raise.”

cows graze in a green pasture

Cows make use of rougher land on the Dove farm through grazing. The Doves feed out their calves in a feedlot, marketing most of them as freezer beef.

The Doves raise about 150 acres of hay and fill an upright silo with corn silage for feedlot calves. Their cropping program is typically heavy on corn, although they’re growing more soybeans this year. Their hay, pasture and cropland total nearly 1,000 acres.

Rob began working with Tom Nugent, a neighbor, sharing equipment and work on some key crop operations. Tom and his wife, Carol, also have been named Master Farmers this year.

“I own a self-propelled sprayer and do most of the spraying on both farms,” Rob explains. “Tom owns the corn planter, and he does most of the planting. It’s been a great arrangement which helps both of us.”

Serving community

With Rob growing crops and raising cattle and Karen working off the farm full time for the U.S. Postal Service, it might seem as if the couple wouldn’t have time for anything else. Gary Stuckey, the retired North Daviess FFA advisor who nominated them for the award, says they make time to help others.

“Rob and Karen have been outstanding examples in the community,” Stuckey says. “As former adviser for the North Daviess Young Farmers Chapter, I know personally that they were involved in dozens of projects over the more than 25-year span of the chapter.

“They used their leadership skills in several organizations, and probably many I am not aware of. They have passed on to their children the idea of helping others.”

Add helping others and serving the community to the legacy Rob and Karen nurture and will pass on to future generations.

Rob and Karen Dove at a glance

Age: 62 (Rob)
Location: Elnora, Daviess County, Ind.
Beginning: Rob fell in love with farming at a young age. In the early days, the Dove farm included hogs and cattle. They eventually eliminated the hogs, but Rob and his dad, Donald, maintained the Black Angus cow herd. It numbered about 40 head then, plus purchased feeders for the feedlot.
Farm today: Rob and Karen, along with their son, Josh, operate a 100-cow beef herd, finishing their calves in the feedlot. Cattle are still largely Black Angus-based, but Josh has introduced Red Angus. About 70% of their calves are marketed as butcher beef. They also raise corn, soybeans and hay, working with neighbors Tom and Thomas Nugent, sharing equipment and labor.
Children: Josh, Elnora; Jenny Dove-Farley and husband James, Elnora. Jenny is a physical therapist assistant. James works for Premier Ag Companies. Both Jenny and James help on the farm as much as possible. They have one child, Jagger Farley.
Full-time employees: None
Leadership activities: Rob has served on the North Daviess Community School Board for 16 years and is currently president. He’s also chief of the Elnora/Elmore Township Volunteer Fire Department, where he’s served for 30 years. Karen is coordinator of the flea market for the White River Valley Antique Show. Rob is past president of the Daviess County Fair Board. Both Rob and Karen support 4-H and FFA. They also supported the former North Daviess Young Farmer Chapter in numerous ways. Both are active in their church.
Nominator: Gary Stuckey, Odon, retired vocational-agriculture teacher, North Daviess High School
Notable: Rob assumed full management of the farm when his father was killed in a tractor rollover accident in 1998.
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