There’s a quote from Mark Twain that comes to mind as you walk around the farm and talk with Kaleb and Joe Smith. The quote goes, “Synergy – the bonus that is achieved when things work together harmoniously.” Kaleb, who is 19, and Joe form a father-son team that showcases a great amount of synergy, whether it be in feeding their cattle or showing them. Joe’s family has lived in Decatur, Ark., since long before he was born, and you get the overwhelming sense of tradition and hard work that has been instilled in him through the family bloodlines.
Today Joe and his son Kaleb are working hard through embryo transfer and AI work to build similarly solid family bloodlines in their Limousin cattle. Their farm is located just outside of Decatur, where they have a total of 40 acres and rent 20 more on which to run their commercial Angus mix cattle.
When asked why it was important to pass on the love of cattle and specifically showing to his son, Joe said, “It’s a passion, it’s a whole other family that you have. My father showed, I showed, Kaleb is third generation. I showed steers at the county fair, and I always wanted to go other places beside the county fair. I decided when I had my boys that when they got old enough we would go, and once you go you’re hooked.”
Kaleb has done a remarkable job following in his father’s footsteps, and taking things to a whole new level. In addition to being a certified technician for Heartland Honda, which he went to school for in Phoenix, Ariz., Kaleb and Joe tag team taking care of the cattle. Kaleb, who attended Gravette schools, has been active in4-H his whole life, and was state FFA president his senior year.
Kaleb has won Grand Reserve at the Arkansas/Oklahoma state fair, and placed second in his class at Nationals. Kaleb is specifically proud of the AI and embryo transfer work they do on with their Limousin show cattle. He and Joe are members of the Limousin Association. Kaleb started out showing lambs, then moved to hogs, but found his true calling when he started showing Limousin.
Kaleb and Joe currently have 15 registered Limousin that they AI. They usually select two of the top Limousin bulls a year, based on EPD, and use them on all the cows. Currently, they are using two embryos a year on their two recip cows. They have plans to start flushing their own eggs next year. The Smiths believe when you use AI, you get one good calf, but when you flush you get eight to 12 eggs and if those stick, you get 12 great calves.
Kaleb’s first embryo bull, shown by a neighboring family, was reserve grand champion last year at the Arkansas State Fair.
Kaleb said being a team is the only way he and his dad could handle all their responsibilities.
Looking toward the future Kaleb sees more embryo work being done, potentially having 10 to 11 show calves a year to sell, advertising more, expanding their acreage and carrying on the tradition. Kaleb said, “When I have kids, I hope they too will have a passion for showing and the Limousin breed.” Those future kids certainly have a good example to follow in the synergy of Joe and Kaleb.