My name is Camden Franklin and I am a nineteen-year-old first-generation beef cattle farmer. I grew up on 330-acre farm located in Delaplane, VA. My grandfather, Vernoy Franklin, purchased the farm in 1987 as a place to move his successful charter bus company. He built a shop for the busses on it but, being none of my family were farmers, leased the land to a huge beef operation called Virginia Beef Corporation. After my grandpas passing in 2002, my father, Mark Franklin, inherited the farm. He continued to lease out the land to Virginia Beef. My favorite thing to do, during my childhood, was to watch them run cattle and make hay on our land. At age ten, I asked my father if I could begin raising cattle and put the money toward my future college fund. He was ecstatic at the idea and absolutely agreed. The next week my father bought me three Holstein bottle calves, thus the beginning of Franklin Farm.
Every day before and after elementary school, I would mix the milk and feed the calves. After putting them on pasture and raising them to approximately 800 pounds, I sold them at our local livestock exchange. My father let me keep all the money, not taking out his costs. With the money, I did the same thing but with 6 Holstein bottle calves. Upon selling these calves, I purchased 6 angus steer calves around 300lbs each. At this point, I was around twelve years old. After growing the calves to an average of 1,000 pounds each, I sold them. It was then that I began to see the value in beef cattle. By age fifteen, I had continued to reinvest and built up a herd of eighteen angus steers. In addition to the steers, I purchased my first bred angus cow. Cow/calf operations had always been something I wanted to do, since seeing Virginia Beef do it when I was a child. After a successful calving from my first cow, I began to scale back from raising steers and turn toward cow/calf operations. I sold some more steers that were at market weight, and purchased five more bred cows.
With my cattle numbers increasing from calving more cows and keeping replacement heifers, I also began to make my own hay. My father had a John Deere 6310 and Ford 3910 tractors that his father had bought him before his passing. When my grandfather purchased the farm, it had also come with some old hay equipment; this included a hand crank, manual tie round baler. With this equipment, I slowly was able to make my own hay. Around age sixteen, with my operation continuing to grow, I began to update my hay equipment. I sold most of the old equipment and purchased a disc mower, tedder, and a net wrap round baler. Although, they all needed work. With my father owning a heavy-equipment mechanics company, this was no problem as I would get them at a good price and he would help me fix them. With this newer equipment, I was able to make hay easier and continue to grow my operation.
" At age ten, I asked my father if I could begin raising cattle and put the money toward my future college fund. He was ecstatic at the idea and absolutely agreed. The next week my father bought me three Holstein bottle calves, thus the beginning of Franklin Farm. "– Camden Franklin
Today, I rotational graze approximately forty-five head of Angus cow/calf pairs and make fifteen acres of hay on ¼ of our farm. The other ¾ of our farm we still lease to Virginia Beef. Aside from farming, I’m also a college student studying Agribusiness at Virginia Tech. Every other weekend, during the academic year, I make the six-hour round trip home to take care of the cattle; when I am at school, my father looks after the cattle for me. In addition to going to school and running my cattle operation, I am in the process of building five miles of additional fencing along with a new cattle watering system for a conservation easement through state and federal government agencies. Once completed, I plan to take over the rest of the farm from Virginia Beef and fully stock it with 100 cow/calf pairs. It is my goal to have this done by the time I graduate from college so I can come home and be a full-time cattle producer.