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Producing Excellence

Cullen Kovac

Oak Grove, LA

Kovac Cattle Company

Type of Operation: Cow-calf and stocker cattle

Size of Operation: 5,200 acres and 2,600 head

In Business Since: 2007

Farm Credit Partner: Louisiana Land Bank

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2012

Third-generation cattleman Cullen Kovac has owned cattle literally all his life – following family tradition, his father gave him a heifer the day he was born, and Cullen has stayed with the industry ever since.

Midway through his college education, where he was earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science, Cullen interned at an Oklahoma feedlot, an experience that motivated him to purchase 175 cows. Three years after he graduated, Cullen and his father formed Kovac Cattle Company.

Today, the Kovacs produce cattle and hay on 5,200 acres of owned and leased land. They finish the feeders in a local feedlot and retain ownership or sell directly, depending on the market, and keep some of the heifers as replacements.

Cullen is quick to point out where they place their priorities: “We're not cowboys. We're grass farmers!” he says. “If you can't grow grass, then your cattle won't perform. Every year, we invest in capital improvements on our ranch.”

In 2012, they built a 60-by-100-foot commodity barn that enables them to buy feed in the summer when prices are lower and store it for winter feeding. They’ve also erected several hay barns, which store up to 2,700 large rolls of hay. Every year, the Kovacs precision-level a piece of land, then add irrigation and sprig grass on it to help them meet their winter forage needs.

For operating funds, Kovac Cattle Company relies on Louisiana Land Bank. “They're a genuine partner,” Cullen says. “I have always been a fan of the cooperative system.”

The cooperative returns the sentiment: in 2012, at age 29, Cullen became the youngest member of the board, first appointed and then elected by the cooperative’s membership.

“We were looking for someone who was educated, had plenty of drive, and was interested in helping us reach out to young farmers to extend the necessary financing they might be lacking,” explains Land Bank Board Chairman Dr. Ernest Girouard. “Cullen was aggressive in bettering his leadership skills and his knowledge of cattle farming.”

Cullen admits that at first he felt nervous being the youngest at the boardroom table, but says his fellow directors treated him with respect and his confidence soon grew. “If you care about the industry you're in, you should want to be where decisions are made that set the direction of your industry,” Cullen says. “The directors know what we need to do to get to the next level. We have plowed some long rows in my short time as a director, and I am honored to be a part of that.”

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