Small livestock farm expands with help from UGA

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Small livestock farm expands with help from UGA

08 September 2021

Faces of the University of Georgia

What Joseph Egloff started as a “little hobby” in 2011 is now a full-time cattle ranch with a meatpacking plant serving customers from Florida to North Carolina.

“I had eight head of cattle and a day’s job to pay for my cowhide,” Egloff said of Cattle Ranch Rocking Chair in Forsyth, Georgia. “Then it exploded on us. What started as a small hobby turned into a real job and after about three years we were up to about 58 head of cattle a year.

As the business continued to grow, Egloff turned to the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center to help.

SBDC consultant Peter Williams developed financial projections and a work plan for Egloff’s first grant application, which was accepted, and assisted him with some marketing strategies.

The extension also gives a helping hand

Egloff also received support from Extension UGA. Every year, he sends them soil samples from his ranch for quality analysis to help inform the decisions he makes for his pastures.

“They’re great people there and for a farm that doesn’t have the experience of others, they have some welcome knowledge,” Egloff said. “Even though they call me a cattle rancher, I am nothing more than a grass farmer. You take care of the soil, the soil takes care of the grass, the grass takes care of the livestock. The foundation is good healthy soil.

Since 2017, Rocking Chair Ranch sales have increased by 20%. But Egloff could do better, cutting the time and cost of getting cattle to the nearest processing plant.

“Joseph would take the cattle to the nearest processing plant, about an hour and a half away in Tifton, once a week,” Williams said. “It was causing a bottleneck in their production and he wanted an alternative. So we started discussing the possibility of him starting his own factory.

SBDC helps expand operations

With help from the UGA SBDC, Egloff successfully secured a Small Business Administration loan of nearly $1 million to build his own processor.

Construction began in 2019 with MidSouth Packers open for business in August 2020.

Egloff hoped to process up to 43,000 pounds of meat each month. But the figures far exceeded his hopes: 59,000 books processed in February 2021, 68,000 in March and 74,000 in April.

MidSouth Packers serves farmers on more than 70 small farms throughout the Southeast, pulling cattle from as far north as Franklin, North Carolina, and as far south as Lake City, Florida.

He hopes to expand into lamb and goat processing in 2022.

“With the packing facility, I can help other small livestock producers and it makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile,” Egloff said. “But I didn’t build this thing by myself. I knew in my mind that this thing could work, but I didn’t know how to make it work. We got a lot of help and I’m very grateful to Peter and the others for that.

TheCattleSite News Desk




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