The COVID-19 virus has severely disrupted our communities and our interactions. How did the pandemic affect your family and your farm? Did it change the way you raise your livestock?
By: Jacob Bowen, 18 Years Old, Calvert County
It all began, April 2020, my Mom and I were processing 3 goats every other month as that is what the demand could sustain. We had no idea there would be a food shortage in the groceries across the US. The farmers’ market began having lines we had never seen before. Customers were happily waiting in line for an hour to get their pick of meats, eggs, etc…
We quickly realized that like all farmers’, we couldn’t have planned this shortage in the food chain and needed more young livestock (cattle and goats) to grow and raise. The unfortunate thing the processing plants couldn’t keep up, and you can’t grow cattle and goats in a month or two. We went from processing 3 goats every other month to 5 and that is all we could get processed. In addition, we are processing 3 steers every other month and really could process monthly but can’t get more done at the processor. The processors are still so backed up it is a serious problem for producers.
We don’t want to raise our animals like the commodity animals at feedlots by rushing them, therefore, in our farm newsletter we explained exactly what is going on because of COVID-19 and processing meat. We asked our customers to only buy what they needed for the week or at a minimum bi-weekly. They understood. We sell out of goat before we can process again, but there is nothing we can do about that.
We have 5 commercial freezers and don’t have room for any more. COVID-19 hasn’t changed the way we raise the livestock, but it has changed how we do business. We still want to give time, and attention to detail when raising the livestock so that we produce a product our customers want to continue to buy. But what COVID-19 did change is how we do business. We have added an online presence by adding a shopping cart to our website. In addition, we have contactless pickup and delivery. Our customers like the ease of shopping for our products online.
Therefore, in my mind some good and some not so good has come from COVID-19. I think as a meat and dairy farm we learned to shift quickly to support our customers and in the end it has benefitted our farm greatly.
I stay true to my focus of growing a top-quality set of steers and received Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion Market Steer at the fair. The judge said he appreciate the amount of work I put into raising my steers to grade so high.