Calving on the Finch Farm, a Family Affair

May 01, 2021


By Sara Clausen, Director of Communications, Sara.Clausen@keycoop.com

For many Iowans, this May likely feels quite different from last May. Though 2020 had many challenges for families all over the world, there are some comforts that always remain—those-tried-and-true events and celebrations that return to our calendars every year. For those in agriculture, Beef Month is a perfect example!

The concept of an annual event like Beef Month is nothing new to the Finch family of Ames. In fact, Heath and Rebecca must extensively plan out each year. After all, raising purebred Simmental cattle requires a strong business plan, dedication to animal health and a lot of love from the entire family (including three young veterinarians eager to help with the family operation).

Calving season for the Finch family’s 130 production head begins in the spring, but this was an especially interesting year.

“We had to rebuild one of our calving buildings following the 2020 derecho, and if there wasn’t also a pandemic going on, we may have built a completely different structure,” said Heath Finch. “Construction materials were very expensive, but we also had a certain window of time we had to rebuild in, to prepare for calving season.”

The process of calving is not for the faint of heart, but all the Finches are active in the day-to-day running of this fourth-generation family farming operation. That includes Heath and Rebecca’s three daughters—Ann (7), Emily (6) and Charlotte (4)—and their grandfather, Bob. Modern technology and innovative solutions also help the Finches with calving each year.

“We’ve installed cameras in our barns so we can keep a close monitor on the cows as they’re about to calf, even through the night,” said Heath. “We can move the cows quickly if needed, but we can still go about our daily activities while monitoring them from our phones.”

Their herd is registered purebred, and Rebecca’s role is to ensure proper tracking and documentation of the animals for their records with the American Simmental Association. “We must track the animals’ health and record who buys them,” said Rebecca. “Recordkeeping is a job all by itself, but I enjoy that this is my part of the operation.”

Another part of the operation Heath, Rebecca and Grandpa Bob enjoy seeing is their three girls actively engaging in all things on their farm. “Among the kids in school with our girls, raising livestock is rare,” said Rebecca. “Anything we can do to get them outside gives them life lessons—how to care for something and work hard, and even about life and death.”

And at the end of the day, the Finches’ shop would be quite familiar to many farm families: buzzing equipment being prepped for spring planting, a Kubota side-by-side parked by the front door, plenty of bicycles, roller skates and pedal tractors scattered around. “This is where we spend time as a multi-generational family,” said Rebecca. “The girls recognize there are busy seasons, so when we can all be together at the farm … we do it!”

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