Ben Warfield has been raising cattle for quite a while, and like many other young cattlemen, he got his start in 4-H. “I started when I was 10,” he said, adding that his father JG is also involved with the Marriottsville, MD cattle operation. “I raised breeding heifers and market steers, and I also had breeding and market hogs and market lambs.”
Raising and exhibiting a variety of livestock paid off well for Ben, who landed a spot on the Maryland state livestock judging team. “Our team was in the top three at the national contest so we won a trip to Europe,” he said. “We went to England, France, Germany and Belgium. In Belgium, we stayed with host families for several days.” The host farm where Ben stayed raised Belgian Blue cattle, which he says are very heavy-muscled and very lean.
Midnight Farms includes about 80 acres, most of which is maintained in pasture. We also have acreage for hay,” said Ben. “We make all of our own hay.” The herd includes 25 cows; representing Shorthorn, Angus, Simmental and some crossbreds. The farm objective is to raise show cattle and breeding stock. Cows in the herd are bred for calving throughout the year so that resulting offspring are spread out among age groups. In addition to natural service with herd bulls, some cattle are bred via A.I.
After graduating from high school, Ben attended Butler Community College in El Dorado, KS on a judging scholarship. He enjoyed learning more about livestock judging while on the Butler judging team. After pursuing course work in general studies at Butler, Ben transferred to Texas A&M, where he majored in business. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so it was more diversified,” he said as he described his studies in the business track at Texas A&M. “I stayed involved in ag — I was on the judging team and took some classes in the ag school.”
Midnight Farms’ entries at KILE included a Shorthorn bull, CF Focus X, who had done well at other shows. “He was supreme at the Maryland State Fair,” said Ben. “He also won his division at Denver (National Western Stock Show) and at Louisville (North American International Livestock Expo/ NAILE).”
All of Midnight Farms’ Shorthorn cows are bred to CF Focus X. “He came into the show barn at the end of August,” said Ben. “He had been out in the field working.” Ben takes the bull to North American Breeders in Berryville, VA and sells semen from the farm and through a distributor.
Midnight Farms’ show cattle are housed in separate pens, each with ample space for exercise. “They each get a ration depending on what they need, what kind of condition they’re in,” said Ben. “They’re also walked on a regular basis. A show isn’t much different than their everyday life.”
In regard to public perception of how cattle are raised, Ben makes an effort to answer questions whenever he can. He firmly believes it’s important to handle cattle properly both on the farm and at shows. “People can get so wrapped up and emotional at shows,” he said.
In addition to maintaining the cattle herd, Ben is an insurance agent specializing in farm coverage. He says his ag background is definitely an asset when it comes to working with farm families.
Midnight Farms had a successful show at KILE. CF Focus X was named grand champion, and a younger Midnight Farms bull was named division champion. One of the farm’s heifer entries was named grand champion prospect heifer. Ben says he plans to travel to Louisville for the NAILE.
Future plans include developing a website for the farm and starting a Facebook page for the farm. “It’s important now that we’re selling cattle,” said Ben. “It’s a good way to get more exposure.”