"Our families take great pride in knowing that we are providing our neighbors with high-quality protein in the most sustainable way possible."
In a unique series of partnerships, Huth Polled Herefords and S&H Livestock Enterprises raise the bar for sustainably raising cattle in Wisconsin.
Jerry Huth and his family moved onto this farm near Oakfield, Wisconsin in 1965 when Jerry was 14 years old. Jerry immediately started raising Herefords for a 4-H project. This was the beginning of a lifelong passion he would have not only for the breed but also for the land on which he lived and worked. In the 1980s, Jerry converted portions of the farm from cropland to pastureland. It was at this time that he became a pioneer and advocate for intense rotational grazing which is practiced with Jerry’s herd of 100 registered Herefords to this day.
Throughout his career, Jerry has been a staunch supporter of youth in the beef industry. Jerry assisted youth judging teams, hosted workshops, chaired Junior National Hereford shows, and strongly supported countless county livestock auctions; however, his largest contribution may be his employment of youth in the community. Through this avenue, Jerry shares his knowledge of the beef industry and shows young people how practices that are good for the environment can also be beneficial for the producer.
In 2004, a 16-year-old boy named Joshua Scharf was one of the young people that Jerry took under his wing. Josh was a contemporary of Jerry’s two sons, Michael and Karl. Together, the boys worked on the farm, showed cattle, and learned Jerry’s philosophies on being environmentally minded while running a business. Being raised an avid outdoorsman and descending from a long line of farmers, Josh quickly gained an appreciation for Jerry’s method of environmentally responsible farming. Josh continued to be a part of the farm family through his college years, and he officially became an employee once again in 2016.
In 2018, Jerry and Josh were given the chance to graze 130 acres of state-managed public land that borders their farm. Grazing public lands in Wisconsin was a relatively new concept, but Jerry and Josh’s management practices made the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confident that they could responsibly manage the resources the property offers. The additional grazing land also allowed Jerry and Josh to form another jointly owned entity, S&H Livestock Enterprises, LLC. This commercial cow/calf operation currently has about 50 cows, and with proper management of resources, it will continue to grow.
When Jerry and Josh first turned cattle out on the public land in 2018, the vegetation was woody, overgrown, and not very desirable for cattle or wildlife. Reed canary grass and weeds were rampant. Willow was taking over this land which the Wisconsin DNR had hoped to be prairie. Four years later, the contrast in the quality of vegetation and the overall soil health was amazing. Grazing and outwintering cattle completely transformed the property. Each year, there is continued improvement. Intensive rotational grazing was an opportunity for the DNR to make room for cool and warm-season grasses and legumes without using chemicals or burns. In turn, it was an opportunity for Jerry and Josh to provide their cattle with affordable feed.
Wildlife on the farm has also enjoyed the benefits of Jerry and Josh’s management tactics. Several areas on the farm and on the public land are designated as wildlife- only zones. Jerry, Josh, and their families are sportsmen and feel it is their responsibility to maintain the habitat for wildlife and to keep the water clean. In fact, more than 50 acres on the 400- acre farm are dedicated to wildlife. Of the 130-acre public land parcel, approximately eight acres are set aside. This includes a cattail area, several ponds, and a creek for waterfowl. It also incorporates food plots and bedding areas for deer and turkeys. Songbirds, coyotes, and countless other critters prosper from these designated areas while enjoying clean water and the food sources offered in the pastures and cropland. Until a few years ago, the Bobolink, a small songbird, was rarely seen on the public land bordering the farm. Since grazing the property, this songbird’s presence is commonplace. Deer, turkeys, ducks, geese, sandhill cranes, and many other species are seen daily on the farm and the public land. There is a healthy animal harvest during hunting seasons. Hunting on the farm has become more about managing the deer and turkey numbers than hoping for a shot at game.
Jerry Huth and Josh Scharf desire the best for their families, their farm, and the animals that live on it. They treat their cattle with respect, they have implemented strategies to protect wildlife, and they strive each day to create a better world for the next generation. Huth Polled
Herefords and S&H Livestock Enterprises, LLC are prime examples of how small, family-run operations (like more than 90 percent of cattle producers in the U.S.) can implement environmentally sustainable practices while running a profitable business. Jerry and Josh strive to pass these ideals on to the next generation, and if you visit their farm, chances are you will find someone reaping the benefits. You may discover Jerry sitting in a deer stand with his grandkids watching deer munch on clover. You might find Josh’s daughters working on their steers for the county fair, and if you are lucky, you just might be invited inside for a steak and an Old-Fashioned.