canada africa partner reservation John Peck receives the Jefferson County Cattleman of Year Award

John Peck receives the Jefferson County Cattleman of Year Award

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FAIRFIELD – The Jefferson County Cattlemen have awarded John Peck the honor of Cattleman of the Year.

The award came as a surprise to Peck, who was barbecuing in his shop one day in December when several members of the herding association showed up. They were there to present him with the award for his four decades with the Jefferson County Cattlemen’s Association and his commitment to the beef industry, which has lasted nearly his entire life from the time he started milking cows by hand as a six-year-old . boy.

EARLY LIFE

Peck was born and raised on a farm outside the small town of Momence, Illinois, 50 miles south of Chicago.

“Dad had calf surgery,” Peck said. “I was very busy with chores. When I was in high school I drove a lot of tractors, fed cattle and started row crops.”

When Peck was 14, Peck’s father bought a farm south of Fairfield.

“There was no family around. He was just looking for land,” Peck recalled.

Peck said there was never any doubt about what he would do for a career.

“I decided to work in agriculture when I was five years old,” he says. “I expected to become a farmer.”

Peck started renting land in high school, then worked for his father with row crops and livestock on the side.

Peck and his wife Charlotte are celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary this year. They have three children: Shawn, Lisa and Christina, all of whom live in the community, and all ten of Peck’s grandchildren also live nearby. Peck said he enjoys seeing his grandchildren regularly, and they range in age from 4 to 25. His daughter Christina is married to Dan Delaney, and they are members of the Jefferson County Cattlemen.

CHANGES IN THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY

In his decades of experience in the beef industry, Peck has seen quite a few changes. He said a lot of research has gone into animal feed, so it’s more complex today than when he started. Back then it was a simple mixture of corn, egg white and hay, but today it consists of six to eight products mixed together.

“All feed is currently tested for its value. It goes into a computer and tells us what percentage of each product to feed,” he said.

As automatic steering takes over in the fields, Peck says caring for livestock is actually more labor-intensive than it used to be.

“We used to put corn or a large round bale in a self-feeder and it would last for a week,” he says. “Now everything is measured, so we know how much each animal eats per day. You should look at those cages to see if they are cleaned up, and to adjust the feeding the next day. We keep track of how much each animal wins from the day of purchase through the day of sale. When I started, we weren’t keeping track of profits.”

STAY ACTIVE

Peck gradually turns over the operation of his farm to his son-in-law Dan. He has a cow-calf operation that he raises from birth to finish, and the family also purchases cattle for feeding. Peck said he travels out of town two or three times a week for livestock sales, visiting sale barns in Bloomfield, Keosauqua and Kirksville, Missouri.

At 71, Peck said he has no plans to retire.

“I feed cattle every day,” he said. “I like to get up and get going. It’s not work if you enjoy what you do.”

John Peck receives the Cattleman of the Year Award from the Jefferson County Cattlemen's Association.  Pictured, from left to right, are Hannah Peck, Charlotte Peck, John Peck, Adam Ledger, Zoe Moritz, Dan Delaney, Sara Syfert, Jake Louth, Cole Reighard and Brittany Glandon.  (Photo courtesy of Zoe Moritz)

John Peck receives the Cattleman of the Year Award from the Jefferson County Cattlemen’s Association. Pictured, from left to right, are Hannah Peck, Charlotte Peck, John Peck, Adam Ledger, Zoe Moritz, Dan Delaney, Sara Syfert, Jake Louth, Cole Reighard and Brittany Glandon. (Photo courtesy of Zoe Moritz)

Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at [email protected]

John Peck is 71 years old and has no plans to retire.  (Andy Hallman/The Union)

John Peck is 71 years old and has no plans to retire. (Andy Hallman/The Union)