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Amanda Jeffs serves as first female on EastGen’s board of directors

Alice Guthrie for Progressive Dairyman Published on 16 October 2018
Amanda Jeffs and Luke Skinkle and their children

Amanda Jeffs is the third generation of her family on the farm her grandfather established near Stirling, Ontario. She farms with her parents, Fred and Taleana, and brother, Andrew, at Jeffred and Jeffson Farms.

She is a 2007 graduate of the University of Guelph’s animal biology program.

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The Jeffses’ operation is moderately sized – they work 600 acres, growing most of their own feed. They grow hay, corn, mixed grain and wheat. Their herd of registered Holsteins numbers 62 milking cows plus youngstock. They milk in a tiestall barn.

The Jeffses maintain a closed herd. They raise all of their replacements, choosing to not purchase outside stock to maintain the good health status they have worked to achieve. “We strive for healthy cows with high production that look great. We have been continuously increasing our production and are happy with where our herd is right now,” Amanda Jeffs states.

Amanda and the others share the workload. “We are all capable of doing every job required on the farm. I love being in the barn but recognize the importance of great feed quality, so I also spend a lot of time in a tractor in the fields,” she says.

A passion for volunteering has led Jeffs to 4-H leadership, involvement as director and president of her local agricultural society, and more recently to the board of directors of EastGen, a farmer-owned genetics company and one of the three owners of Semex.

It is located in Ontario and provides reproductive solutions to its customers. The board consists of 12 people, 11 from Ontario and one from the Atlantic area. The company is member-owned and directed, so all directors are dairy farmers.

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Board members are elected from the membership in each zone and serve a three-year term with a maximum of four terms. Jeffs is the first woman director of the company and is currently serving the second year of her first term.

Jeffs’ interest in boards was augmented by a Future Leaders Development program. This reaffirmed her interest and helped her learn how boards are run and what a director’s role should be. EastGen commanded her interest, as the family has been a longtime loyal customer.

“EastGen has been an amazing fit for me. The company is run extremely well with amazing employees, and the board of directors work very well together,” Jeffs says. Board meetings take place several times per year.

Jeffs is married to Luke Skinkle; the couple have two children, Natalie, 6; and Brent, 2. They have their own 100-acre farm, where heifers from the herd are housed and they grow some crops. Skinkle does not farm with the Jeffs family as he has his own business doing custom manure spreading, although he does pitch in as time permits.

Skinkle watches the children on committee meeting nights when possible, but his own business often requires long hours, so the couple depends on their mothers and Jeffs’ sister for childcare at those times. Jeffs also points out her mom, dad and brother pick up extra farm chores on those occasions.

“Managing being a mom, farming and being on a board can be tough, but I strive to do the best I can; without having people we trust to adequately care for our children, being on a board would be a lot more difficult, if not impossible,” Jeffs says.

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Jeffs has a busy life but finds it satisfying. “I really enjoy farming and working with dairy cows. I love the fact I am able to spend so much time with my family,” she says. Jeffs has little opportunity for outside interests but does enjoy gardening and spending time taking her children to their activities.

As for the future? “I hope to continue improving on our current operation. Raise my kids to respect animals and hard work, and continue to serve my community and help wherever I am needed,” she says. end mark

PHOTO: Amanda Jeffs and Luke Skinkle are raising their children, Natalie and Brent, on the farm while also showing them how to balance community service activities. Photo provided by Amanda Jeffs.

Alice Guthrie is a freelance writer from Hagersville, Ontario.

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