Livestock Legacy – NEMOnews Media Group
By Jason Jenkins
This article was originally produced and published by MFA Oil Company in Momentum magazine. This story is reproduced with permission.
Growing up in Sullivan County, Missouri, a few miles from Green City, Trevor Shafer always felt he belonged on the family farm. After all, the Shafers’ roots run deep in this soil. Trevor’s great-grandfather, Charlie, started the operation in 1935. His grandfather, Leon, and father, Roger, both followed in his footsteps. Young Trevor planned to do the same.
By the time Trevor was 12, the Shafers’ farming efforts included row crop operations, a herd of beef cattle calving in the spring, and several finishing barns where they raised contract market hogs. After graduating from high school, Trevor enrolled at North Central Missouri College in Trenton. Although he wasn’t particularly keen on graduate school, he saw it as a brief detour to a career in agriculture.
The tragedy, however, would hasten Trevor’s full-time return to family ownership. In June 2009, Roger Shafer lost his life due to injuries sustained in a van accident. He was only 49 years old.
“It was tough when my dad died,” said Trevor, who was just 19 at the time. “I had to start learning a lot of things quickly, and most of the time I learned the hard way. I had to grow fast.
LIFE LESSONS BY TRIAL AND ERROR
Following their father’s death, the three Shafer siblings – Trevor, along with his older brother, Logan, and older sister, Gentrie – helped their mother, Tammy, maintain the family farm. Trevor did not return to college in the fall. Logan suspended his own construction company, while Gentrie suspended the university for the remainder of the year.
Initially, the brothers worked together on all aspects of the family farm. However, Trevor said that from the start he knew his agricultural interests leaned towards the livestock side of the operation and not row crops.
“There’s just too much uncertainty for me in corn and beans,” he said. “People will say that when you grow online, you only work a few months in the spring and a few months in the fall. But for me, it felt like it never stopped.
Trevor finally got rid of his row crop responsibilities. While running a custom apps business for a few years, he focused on managing his mother’s cattle herd and finishing piggeries. Although he occasionally raised feeder cattle for market, raising cows and calves was and continues to be the primary focus.
“After a few years of caring for my mother’s spring calving cows, my brother and I decided to purchase fall calving cows,” Trevor explained. “Then I added my own spring calves and continued to grow from there.”
Today, the Shafers manage over 1,500 acres of pasture and hay land to support their cattle operation. Trevor prefers to cross his Angus cows with Hereford bulls, producing “black bald”.
“Red or black, I don’t care,” he added. “I’m also going to run Red Angus and Simmental. Just a bit of everything. You won’t see perfect cows in our pastures, but we keep mothers who are good milkers and take good care of their calves.
The young cattle rancher also continued to oversee the pig farm for his mother. In 2020, he invests in his own nursery. The 80-by-400-foot facility provides enough space to house approximately 9,000 weaned piglets.
“In mum’s barns we raise fat pigs to go to market, but in mine we take these little piggies and raise them up to 50-60 pounds,” said Trevor, who is a steward for MFA Oil. “We will form a group approximately every seven weeks. Then we’ll wash everything down, disinfect the barn and bring in the next group.
Although he acknowledges that his love of ranching probably stems from it being the only vocation he has ever known, Trevor added that tending to livestock gives it a very specific meaning.
“With pigs, you bring them in like toddlers, and how you take care of them determines their success and yours,” he said. “When you provide them with the best feeding and living conditions, you produce healthy and productive pigs.
“With cattle, you make sure these moms have everything they need to raise healthy calves,” Trevor continued. “When it’s time to calve, you watch them, make sure everything is going according to plan and help them with any problems. When you work those calves and kick them on some good grass, that’s when it’s really fun.
The construction of the nursery hasn’t been the only big event for Trevor recently. In October, he married Jalynn Gilworth. The couple also have another nursery project underway as they are expecting their first child in mid-August.
“The farmhouse that joins the family estate was put up for sale recently, so we bought it and now we’re renovating the house,” Trevor said. “We really hope the contractors finish before the baby arrives.”
The extra acreage provided with the new farm has the 32-year-old considering expanding his cow and calf operation as well as the potential addition of a herd of sheep or goats. “We have a bunch of small pitches with an electric fence already installed, so we’re thinking of trying it out,” he said. “Nothing crazy at first. Just a few to see how they work with cattle and pigs.
Although 13 years have passed since the death of Roger Shafer, Trevor continues to honor his father’s memory and his family’s farming legacy, following the lessons he learned as a young boy.
“Every day we work hard to make the farm better, not just for our animals or for ourselves, but for the future and for future generations,” the father-to-be said. “There’s a lot of pride in knowing you’re building something that will last beyond yourself.”