|Rabun Family Ranch is an ongoing learning adventure that the Rabun family began in the summer of 2005. We purchased our small farm not as channel to get into the farming business but to simply enjoy a country lifestyle. Little did we know that with the purchase of our small farm, we would find a life changing passion.|
Our farm had not been an operating farm in a few decades. There were no working fences. The pastures had been abandoned and had grown wild with every weed you could think of. Growing tired of the seemingly never ending task of bush hogging, we decided to completely redo the fences and buy five pregnant commercial black angus cows to help manage the pastures. We absolutely loved these cows. Once the cows gave birth to their calves, the love only intensified. Caring and managing livestock especially resonated with my son, Cole Rabun. With Cole’s sparked interest, Rabun Family Ranch was born.
I am Hank Rabun, Cole’s father, and like Cole I also found a passion for agriculture, specifically raising natural grass fed beef. With the newly ignited passion for beef cows I bought our first herd bull. He was also a commercial black angus and we called him Big Boy. We knew very little about how to run a profitable ranch, but with a desire fueled by Cole we started our new adventure. Cole later attended Abraham Baldwin, a very fine agricultural college in South Georgia, seeking to acquire the knowledge he needed to help him pursue his dream of raising beef cattle as a primary means of providing a quality life for him and his future family. We began growing our herd, mostly composed of Black Angus and Hereford genetics and building out infrastructure (water, fencing, housing, etc.). As we grew we began to notice many areas where our cattle operation was going over budget, specifically feed costs. At this time, we were raising the cattle the conventional way. We fed grain and wanted big cattle. Cole learned about a nonconventional method of raising cattle. This method was strictly raising the cattle on grass. Like many others we turned to the books and writings of cattlemen who were already doing what we wanted to do. We emulated what they were doing as best we could, but our cows just could not hold up on our pastures. We were rotating our cattle using the intensive rotating models of the experts, but no matter what we tried our cattle would not perform up to the level Cole desired. One day Cole showed me a website saying, “dad, these are the cattle we need.” He continued to say the guys we have been trying to copy do not live in the Deep South like we do and their grasses are very different from what grows here. We live near Augusta, Georgia which is very hot and usually very dry during the summer. The grasses that do well down here are grasses like Bahia and common Bermuda, not the lush mixed pastures you see in Shenandoah Valley or the great Mid-West Plains. After much thought we began to investigate the cattle Cole thought would work well on our ranch. These cattle Cole discovered are South Poll cattle, “The Southern Mama Cow Breed.” South Polls were developed by Teddy Gentry, member of country legend band Alabama. Like us, Teddy lived in the deep south and experienced many of the same problems we were having. South Polls are a four way cross. They were developed to include the best traits of the British breeds plus the heat tolerance of two other breeds. South Polls were genetically developed by crossing Red Angus, Hereford, and two slick haired, heat tolerant breeds, the Senopol, and the Barzona. We were fortunate to contact Cliff and Kay White who were breeders of South Poll cattle in the panhandle of Florida. We intentionally selected them because they were raising their cattle on the same types of grasses that grow in our area. Cliff and Kay, who are partnered with Bruce Shanks in Missouri, advised us and helped us select the best stock to populate our ranch. We could not be happier with the results. South Polls have performed on our pastures and our herd continues to grow.
Cole is now married to our wonderful and energetic daughter-in-law, Kelly, and they now have their first child, Henry Cole Rabun, Jr. My Wife, Julie and I feel blessed by Henry’s arrival. We are looking forward to the arrival of our second grandson, Price Rabun Miller. He is going to be born this June to our lovely daughter, Courtney, and her husband Richard Miller.
We continue to learn and explore new ways we can produce great beef on pasture, but the key to our current success is our South Poll Cattle. Please feel free to come visit us to learn more about Rabun Family Ranch and our South Poll Cattle.