H. V. Morrow of Becker has been named Purebred Producer of the Year by the Mississippi Cattleman's Association for turning out the top quality cattle in the state. Morrow was recognized for his accomplishments at the MCA Convention in Jackson recently.
"I am honored to say the least," Morrow said. "It's not every day you get an award of this nature for doing what you love. Cattle breeding is a very complex business that requires extensive planning and timely performance," his wife, Betty, said. "Thus our motto, 'Planned production equals quality results.' "
According to Morrow, the secret to breeding good cattle is in the genetics. "We breed primarily for the commercial breeder's benefit so that they can meet the high quality demands of the consumer."
One may think of cattle farming as easy. Just throw out a bucket of feed now and then and watch them grow, right? Wrong. The business has evolved from the stereotypical overalls wearing, weed chewing, tractor driving farmer of the past, to a complicated system requiring extensive planning with little room for trial and error.
At first glimpse, the Morrows seem like an everyday retired couple, content with kicking back and enjoying their time off. That could not be further from the truth.
"We are up before daylight every day," Morrow said. "I'm doing my thing and Betty is in the office number crunching from daylight to dark. She also helps out with the manual labor."
Morrow said, "A lot of hard work goes into this business and a person has got to be very disciplined to do it successfully because these cattle require constant attention."
Morrow has been in the cattle business since 1952. He has progressed from 20 head of cattle to 200, and from 60 acres of pasture to 750.
To further prove how demanding the business is, Morrow said it accounts for 100 percent of their income.
"We very carefully select the bulls that will sire our calves," said Morrow.
The Morrows practice seasonal calving in March, April and May, as well as in September, October and November. The cows are pregnancy checked and they are vaccinated with whatever the local veterinarian recommends.
The cattle are treated for the prevention of all internal and external diseases and conditions.
In order to be known, according to Morrow, marketing the product is key.
"We advertise year round in magazines, bulletins and livestock shows," Morrow said. "The business is big in the U.S. but is equally as big abroad. You can go to the show in Houston and see breeders from literally every country in the world."
Morrow practices rotational grazing in order to prevent over grazing in a particular pasture and to keep the cattle from "muddying" up the field.
The cattle feed primarily on ryegrass and clover during the summer while the winter feeding program consists of coastal bermuda hay with overseeded ryegrass and clover.
"We had 220 cows in the herd at breeding season. We had a weaning rate of 97 percent and our current 205 day weight of calves is 650 pounds for the bulls and 600 pounds for the heifers."
The Morrows have taken part in several workshops and activities including the Monroe County Cattle Vaccination workshop, Cool Seasons Forages workshop, the American Red Angus Convention in Sheridan, Wyoming, and the American Red Brangus Convention in Shreveport, La.
Morrow is a member of the Monroe County Cattleman's Association, the Mississippi Cattleman's Association, the National Cattleman's Beef Association and the American Red Angus and American Red Brangus Associations.
More importantly to Morrow is his involvement with the Monroe County Junior Livestock Association.
"I enjoy working with the kids," he said. "They seem to have their priorities in line and are all around good citizens."
Morrow feels that the agriculture business could play an important part in seasoning today's youth by teaching them a useful trade and giving them a feeling of accomplishment and self-confidence as they turn away from the corruption in today's society.
Morrow said that he would not have been able to get where he is today without the help of his wife.
"She is so important to the operation of this business. She has stood by me every step of the way and without her I'd be in a mess," Morrow said. "This award is not mine, it's ours."
Morrow also expressed his deep appreciation to his employees Mark Foreman and Larry "Dink" Walker. "They have been working with me for quite a while and I can always count on them to get the job done and do it right."
Monroe County Extension Agent Charlie Stokes said, "Mr. Morrow serves the area in many facets. He is on the Beef Cattle Advisory Board and provides input on all the programs we have."
"He also serves as president of the Junior Livestock Association which is what he seems to enjoy the most."
Stokes added that Mr. And Mrs. Morrow are the epitome of the word "team."
"Their desks are side by side in the office and they will tell you that neither could function without the other."
"They should be honored," Stokes said. "This is a huge achievement and they are very deserving."
"H.V. runs a clean business and is, along with his wife, a model producer and they are both outstanding people."
(Reprinted with permission from the December 2, 1998 Amory Advertiser.)