Hometown: Clyde, NC
Size of Operation: 2,220 head and 1,400 acres of forage, tobacco and produce
Years in Business: 18
Years Working with Farm Credit: 18
There are few people who understand the truth of the old adage that a picture is worth a thousands words better than Adrian Presnell, who has been using moving pictures—in the form of video—as a key component of his business model for more than ten years.
Adrian grows 30 acres of tobacco, sold through contract, and three acres of seasonal vegetables he sells through a local produce stand, but by far the largest segment of his diversified business is his thriving cattle operation. Adrian buys cows every week, between five and 100 head of 400 – 600 pound animals. How many he buys depends primarily on the price, which will have a direct impact on his profit when it comes time to sell. To further improve his profit margin, Adrian also capitalizes on the lower prices – sometimes ten cents a pound – for cattle that need some attention once he gets them home, such as dehorning or castrating. This may not seem like much of a price difference, but it adds up over each weekly truckload of 600 pound animals. “I buy the cattle that are good quality, and these are a little cheaper to us,” he says. “But maybe there’ll be a bull and we want a steer. We’re set up to do all that, right off the truck.”
Once Adrian has his cattle, he feeds them up to 1,000 pounds, using a combination of feed and grass depending on feed costs. To ensure that he fully maximizes his profits, he actively watches the commodity markets to plan his feeding strategy. If feed is expensive, he pastures the cattle. He also follows the market closely for beef prices to decide the most profitable time to sell his cattle. “Seeing what’s coming helps me stay competitive,” he says.
Three to four months after he takes them home, the cows are ready to be sold, and this is when the animals become the stars of their own movies: 95% of Adrian’s herd is sold using videos produced by a livestock yard. These videos are compiled into catalogues that buyers review before making offers. “This is an easier way to market cattle,” Adrian says. “We can truck them directly to the new owner instead of the auction first,” which reduces stress on the animals as well as saving on fuel and time.
Taking advantage of technology to improve profitability is a prime example of the entrepreneurial focus that has helped Adrian build his successful operation, which he hopes to pass on to his children, Josie, age 12, and Michael, age 4, who already help out on the farm. He’s also built a reputation as a knowledgeable cattle rancher, which helps significantly when selling through video.
A 3rd generation farmer, Adrian has been running his own operation for the past 18 years. Carolina Farm Credit has been there from the beginning. “I can always count on them,” he says. “I don’t even have to think about it, they are just always there.”
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