University News

Nimrick Family Farm Wins National Honor

May 5, 2006

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL - - Ken Nimrick, Western Illinois University assistant agriculture professor, and his wife Sara (Stronghurst, IL) recently received the Beef Improvement Federation Commercial Producer of the Year Award at the 2006 BIF Research Symposium and Annual Meeting in Mississippi. This is the first time a commercial cow-calf farm in Illinois has received the award. The national award has been presented for the past 35 years to outstanding seedstock and commercial beef cattle herds in the United States and Canada.

Nimrick’s responsibilities at Western include teaching animal science courses, conducting research on beef management and grazing systems, managing Western’s cow herd and supervising the Bull Test Station. On top of his daily work, he organizes and hosts the Western Illinois Grazing Conference and speaks at several beef industry events throughout the year. He also serves as researcher and ex-officio board member for the Illinois Beef Association.

The Nimricks have run Pitchfork Farm, a 340-acre grain and commercial beef cattle operation in Henderson County, since 1971. The land has belonged to Sara’s family since the mid 1800s and is currently home to more than 475 cattle -- 220 cow-calf pairs and 35 replacement heifers.

Without a background in agriculture, few people may know that the cattle industry has a strong base in technological and genealogical development. For the past 12 years, the Nimricks’ have used a genetic program to breed their cattle using composite bulls that are 50-75 percent Angus or Red Angus and 25-50 percent Simmental or Gelbvieh. The crossbreeding system creates a unique genetic structure that produces healthier, stronger cattle and higher quality beef, Nimrick explained.

“We also attribute much of our success to the quality of our pastures. We work to ensure that our cattle live on the best pastures by using a performance enhancing -- and ecologically friendly -- system of rotational grazing,” he added.

To keep their pastures in first-rate condition, the Pitchfork Farm keeps detailed records of grazing days in each pasture and monitors the quality of feed available to the cattle.

We have also implemented erosion control where needed and are developing natural springs and extending water lines to eliminate the depletion of ponds and streams,” Nimrick said.

For more information on the Beef Improvement Federation visit

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing