Education and Innovation

5/4/2013 7:00 AM
By Maegan Crandall Central N.Y. Correspondent

Central New York Farm Part of Beef Month Tour



TRUXTON, N.Y. — New Penn Farm — one of the beef farms featured on the upcoming farm-to-fork tour for May beef month — is a 70-head Angus seedstock farm situated on more than 400 acres in an idyllic country setting complete with rolling pastures, shade trees and a meandering river.

The farm’s spacious white barn is also impressive. The barn was built four years ago and was carefully designed by owner Carl Hinkle with an innovative design that Hinkle believes makes farm life a little bit easier.

“We changed the design and then changed it again. We designed it so one person could move all the cows that are in there at one time just by using the gates,” he said. “It’s the convenience of it more than anything else. I don’t need the labor and there is no hustle and bustle. That part we are very happy with.”

Indeed, with a press of a button Hinkle demonstrates how a gate remotely advances forward allowing the cattle handler to efficiently — and humanely — herd the animals toward the chute without being in the same area.

“You used to have to stand there with a stick and prod them to get them to go in and push gates open — all while having 1,400 or more pounds possibly leaning against you,” Hinkle said. “Now you can move them where you want with no fussing. It saves a lot of manpower.”

Hinkle started New Penn Farm in 1988 with little farming background except for a family farm next door, and he chose to work with the Angus breed.

“I’m going to just tell it how it is and be honest,” he said. “The Angus association has one of the best marketing programs. You don’t go to the grocery store and see that they have certified Charolais. You recognize the Angus name. Also, the Angus breed gives you a higher percentage of meat from the animal than the other breeds, which means there is less bone.”

According to Hinkle, Angus has a reputation of being rather wild and unruly.

“We turned that around in a heartbeat,” he said.

One of the reasons why the cattle on Hinkle’s farm are so docile is they get special treatment that includes a lot of handling as a part of another important role played by the farm — youth education.

Jeanetta Laudermilk — who is in charge of the youth program and additional farm duties at New Penn Farm — points out that the farm takes pride in working with local kids and their families by exploring farming and caring for the animals.

Several kids are matched with the appropriate animal based on personality traits and then allowed to raise and care for the animal until it’s ready for show in July.

“Having that hands-on activity where you get to work and work and then show it off at the fair, that’s something you don’t bring home to every kid these days,” she said. “Most kids are very interested in instant satisfaction with things like video games. This is something that they are going to gain more from and have that for the rest of their lives. They can put in their time and energy.”

A large section of the new barn is dedicated to youth education and Hinkle points out that they are working on converting part of it into an actual show ring and small grandstand so the kids have a place to perform a mock show for their family and friends before the actual event.

The farm also hosted an event recently for several culinary students who had the opportunity to visit and see first-hand how the animals are raised and how to butcher cattle.

“We have to keeping the education going. If we don’t have anyone raising animals for meat, we won’t have any food on our tables unless we import it. I think some of the kids will be knocking at his door in 10 years,” Laudermilk said.

Hinkle agrees.

“It’s good to contribute something. Even if you manage to educate 2 percent of the youth it’s something. It’s better than zero,” Hinkle said. “It’s a great experience for them and it not only helps them but it ultimately helps us.”

The education will continue on May 22, when the beef tour visits New Penn Farm where attendees will be able to see first-hand how the farm operates, network with other local farmers, listen to several discussions by agricultural experts, and enjoy strip steaks on the grill.

Other tour stops include Walbridge Farms, a cow-calf operation in Millbrook, N.Y., on May 21; Kinderhook Farm, a pasture-finished operation, and Trowbridge Farms, a cow-calf and seedstock operation, both in Ghent, N.Y., on May 23; and SK Herefords in Medina, N.Y., on May 24.

For more information on the upcoming beef tour, visit www.nybeef.org/mayisbeefmonth2013.aspx.


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