Alexis Eudy is fourth generation beef cattle farmer who did more than just grow up in the cattle industry — she’s working to make it better. Alexis explains the history of the farm she calls home today: Her great grandfather Robert Rhyne started the farm, Rhyneland Farms in Harrisburg, NC, then her grandfather Robert Rhyne Jr. took over. Alexis credits her grandfather for developing the operation to what it is today.
“My mom Kim and I are the herd managers now,” said Alexis, adding that she and her sister Courtney have been showing cattle since they were young. Alexis was active in the National Junior Hereford program and was president at state level three times. She also served as North Carolina Hereford queen, which she says provided a great opportunity to promote the breed.
The farm includes about 450 acres, some of which is used for hay production. Grass hay is cut and wrapped for baleage. This year, the Eudy’s were able to get three cuttings. As is the case in most beef herds, most cows calve in fall with the remainder calving in spring. Fall calving begins in September and continues through December. “We have a lot of shows in fall,” said Alexis, “so we try to plan around Keystone International Livestock Expo (KILE) and Louisville so we aren’t all away during calving.”
The herd includes 150 brood cows, and despite the herd size, Alexis says that there are quite a few animals that are show-worthy. “We breed to sell to commercial cattlemen,” said Alexis. “We take our better cows and A.I. them, and we’ve also started to do a lot of flushing and embryo work.”
When it comes to selecting sires, Alexis looks for several traits. “We look at birth weight a lot,” she said. “If the calf doesn’t turn out to be a show animal, we want to be able to sell it to someone for breeding. We pay a lot of attention to performance numbers such as weaning weights, yearling weights and milking ability. We want to be sure the animal can go to the pasture and be a productive cow.”
Alexis says that an important advancement for the breed is the American Hereford Association’s (AHA) genomic-enhanced EPDs. The breed is the first to develop and market its own genomic predictors. Hereford breeders now have access to a 50K panel to obtain genomic information that will allow them to gain more accuracy on EPDs in the breed. The genomic information is combined with conventional EPDs to produce genomic-enhanced EPDs (GE-EPDs), which are available for all traits reported by the breed association. Producers can search for animals that have GE-EPDs on the association’s website (Hereford.org). For the genomic project, the Hereford Association collaborated with the USDA Meat Animal Research Center, the National Beef Cattle Education Consortium (NBCEC) and other Hereford associations around the world.
“I find it really interesting because you can look at two animals that are full siblings, and one has a higher birth weight than the other,” said Alexis. “With the genomic aspect, you can really see what the animal is going to do. It’s a good opportunity for everyone, whether you’re looking at the purebred or commercial aspect.”
Cows are bred with both herd sires and A.I., and cattle are pregnancy checked through blood tests. “We usually wait (to test) for about a month or month and a half after we take the bull out,” said Alexis, adding that the test requires animals to be at least 30 days post-breeding. “That way we get a good read on all of them.” Alexis added that the embryo work will help accelerate exceptional genetics from the top cows in the herd. Some cattle are sold as breeding stock, mostly through private treaty. “Occasionally, we sell some through the state Hereford consignment sale,” said Alexis.
When Alexis was in college majoring in animal science with a minor in ag business, she had many opportunities to correct misconceptions about the beef industry. “I did that a lot when I was in college at North Carolina State University in Raleigh where there were a lot of city people,” said Alexis. “I always tried to point out that what is shown in movies isn’t always the truth. People hear something and run with it — they don’t even know what they’re asking. And some people think that cattle shows are abusive, but they don’t realize that those cattle have had a bath more frequently than some people.”
At Keystone International Livestock Expo in Harrisburg, PA, Rhyneland Farms was well-represented with some class winners. The following week, the family did well with the cattle they showed at the North Carolina State Fair. “We had grand and reserve in the junior show,” said Alexis. “Then we had grand and reserve heifer and grand and reserve bull in the open show.”
Alexis says that although there aren’t a lot of youth in the area who are interested in cattle, one high school age girl at the county fair asked a lot of questions. “Since then, she’s been coming over to the farm at night and helping me,” said Alexis. “She has really taken an interest. That’s exciting because a lot of kids don’t want to do anything. I’ve taken her under my wing, and she helps feed and she’s learning how to check cows. She’s willing to learn.”
Alexis’ sister Courtney Eudy is a junior at North Carolina State University, also majoring in animal science. While Courtney is concentrating on reproduction, Alexis is interested in marketing and sales. “I know most of these animals like the back of my hand,” she said, “and I really enjoy marketing them to people and getting my product out there.”
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