Third-generation farmer receives county honor

Carol Rolf Contributing Writer Published July 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf / Contributing Photographer

The Dale Davis family of Pleasant Grove has been named the 2013 Stone County Farm Family of the Year. Family members include Dale Davis, left, and his wife, Cheryl, holding their grandchildren, Jonah Magness, 3, and Allison Magness, 18 months, and their sons, Michael Dale Davis, 16, second from the left, and Mark Allen Davis, 21. Not shown is the Davises’ daughter, Megan Michelle Davis Magness, of San Angelo, Texas.

— Dale Davis of Pleasant Grove said he “never dreamed” his family would be chosen as Farm Family of the Year.

Davis is a third-generation farmer, raising cows and poultry on land first farmed by his grandfather and then his father. His two sons represent the fourth generation of Davises to work the land.

The Davis family has been named the 2013 Stone County Farm Family of the Year. The family includes Dale, 50, and his wife, Cheryl, 49, and their three children — Michael Dale Davis, 16; Mark Allen Davis, 21; and Megan Michelle Davis Magness, 26.

“It’s an honor to be named Farm Family of the Year,” Dale said. “I was shocked. I never dreamed we would be asked to do it.”

Cheryl said she thinks it’s “wonderful” that her husband is being recognized for his efforts. “He’s always working,” she said. “He never comes in before 8 or 9 p.m.”

The Davises have been farming for 21 years. They operate four poultry houses, raising 387,000 broilers a year for Peco Foods Inc. They also have a 140-cow/calf operation and raise hay on approximately 400 of the 730 acres they farm, producing 1,500 round bales annually.

“While market dates sometimes fluctuate, the broilers are usually marketed at 8 pounds,” Dale said.

Dale said he sells his calves through local livestock auctions when they reach 500 to 600 pounds. “Approximately 10 percent of the heifers are retained to be put back into production,” he said. “Older cows and poor-performing cows are also marketed. Some cows/heifers are bought to help introduce new bloodlines and enhance genetic potential.”

A son of Jerry and Barbara Davis of Pleasant Grove, Dale said his grandparents, the late Mark and Elsie Davis, started the farm with a few cows. He and Cheryl started out with five heifers and two poultry houses.

Dale and Cheryl, who is a daughter of Juanita Johnson of Southside and the late Jewel Johnson, are both graduates of Desha High School. They have been married for 31 years.

Dale said his goals include “perhaps” expanding their poultry operation “in the right situation” and to be able to selectively grow the cow herd to 200 head over the next few years.

“The current operation is nearing maximum potential,” Dale said. “However, some timberland can be cleared to accommodate [for] more pasture land for an increased cow herd.”

Dale said the two biggest problems are drought and market fluctuations. “Although droughts and markets present problems year to year, the diversified farming operation of both cattle and broilers has provided options to help endure various problems.

“Being the third-generation farmer, I have had the chance to see the farm in the worst of times and best of times.”

The Davises’ sons help with the chickens and keep up with the lawn and overall farm. “They also help with the feeding and with hay when other jobs permit them to be at home,” Dale said.

Michael is a 10th-grader at Mountain View High School and also works at a local restaurant. He plans to attend the University of Central Arkansas with hopes of entering the medical field.

Mark works in the concrete business and has a lawn mowing business. He is a volunteer fireman for the Pleasant Grove Fire Department.

Megan lives with her husband, Jordan, in San Angelo, Texas, where he is stationed with the Air Force. They are the parents of the Davises’ two grandchildren, Jonah, 3, and Allison, 18 months.

Dale and Cheryl both have non-farm-related jobs. Dale recently retired from 25 years as a general concrete contractor. He continues to operate a dozer and backhoe “when times are slow.” A retired beautician, Cheryl now does independent selling from their home.

The Davises attend Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

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