Always Room for Improvement
Timothy Honeycutt found out early in life dairy farming was not an easy lifestyle. In 1995, Timothy’s parents, Tim and Flora Honeycutt, started their dairy operation with Arkansas Dairy Cooperative Association.
Timothy was only 15 at the time but learned very fast the responsibilities of running a dairy herd and milking cows before and after school. A year later, Timothy bought his own cows with a small loan through the FFA program at Center Ridge High School. Timothy paid the $5,000 zero percent interest loan back in a few years, then bought more cattle with the help of Farm Credit in Morrilton. In 2006, Timothy sold his interest into the dairy operation and transitioned in the chicken business with Pilgrim’s Pride as a contract grower and began building his beef cattle herd. While out of the dairy business, Timothy’s farm adjoins his parents, and some of their farm operation overlap.
Fast forward to 2017, Timothy, his wife Minnie, and their four children – Preston (17), Tiffany (14), Wesley (13) and Nathan (5) – operate a 560-acre (78 acres owned, 482 rented) beef cattle and poultry operation in Clinton, Ark. The 200-plus cattle herd consists of Red Angus, Charlois, Hereford (all registered) and commercial crossbred cows. The Honeycutts have six large poultry houses which raise approximately 1,209,000 birds annually. Their dedication and perseverance has not gone unnoticed; they were recently selected as the 2017 Conway County Farm Family of the Year.
Being a contract poultry grower has not been without its challenges. Only two years after building the chicken houses, Pilgrim’s Pride announced they were closing the Clinton. Ark., facility. It totally blindsided the Honeycutts and presented a major cash flow problem. They had only grown seven batches of chickens after building brand new houses. Fortunately, the natural gas exploration industry was just starting in the area so the income from wells and royalties helped make the payments and Timothy returned to the dairy industry to help make ends meet.
“Pilgrim’s Pride shutting down was a big lick,” Timothy reflected. “We got lucky with the oil and gas business, and thankfully I could help my parents in the dairy. Our three newest houses sat empty for two years. We learned a hard lesson about poultry contracts. Tyson out of Morrilton finally came in 2008 and we went with a contract with them.”
With those rough patches behind them, Timothy and Minnie are moving forward and are continually looking for ways to improve their farm operation. One of their major improvements is making the chicken house more energy efficient. They have installed tube heat, LED lighting, better insulation and more efficient fans in three houses, and are also working with NRCS of Morrilton, Ark., on an energy audit to help finish the other three houses as well as spraying side walls with a foam barrier. An Ecodrum was installed this year to compost the mortality from the poultry houses. The poultry mortality is mixed with the shavings, the Ecodrum turns that into mulch, which is used in a variety of ways on the farm. The Honeycutts have an intensive hay programs, consisting of Bermuda and fall grazing tillage of rye and wheat.
Operating six chicken houses, raising cattle, and helping Timothy’s parents certainly keeps the Honeycutt family busy. Yet, they maintain an active lifestyle off the farm as well. The children have been involved with 4-H and shown animals at the Conway County Fair.
Preston, the oldest, graduated from Clinton High School in May and plans to attend University of Arkansas Community College in Morrilton and then on to Arkansas Tech. While Preston likes the farm life, he has his eyes set on a possible coaching career. He currently coaches the Center Ridge Little League team. It’s probably no coincidence his two brothers, Wesley and Nathan are on the team. They are also active in the Nemo youth basketball programs. Tiffany is a member of the school poultry judging team through the FFA.http://www.ozarksfn.com/2017/09/11/always-room-for-improvement/http://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Honeycutt-1024x683.jpghttp://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Honeycutt-150x150.jpgArkansas NeighborsNeighbors2017 Conway County Farm Family of the Year,Cattle,Dairy,farming,Honeycutt,Poultry,Timothy HoneycuttTimothy Honeycutt found out early in life dairy farming was not an easy lifestyle. In 1995, Timothy’s parents, Tim and Flora Honeycutt, started their dairy operation with Arkansas Dairy Cooperative Association. Timothy was only 15 at the time but learned very fast the responsibilities of running a dairy herd...Larry BurchfieldLarry Burchfieldlburchfield57@gmail.comAuthorOzarks Farm & Neighbor Newspaper