This past weekend the Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association hosted their annual summer tour. As part of the evening program, they presented a few of their 2021 awards including the Environmental Stewardship Award. Jerry Huth and Josh Scharf, partners in Huth Polled Herefords of Oakfield, Wisconsin were presented with the honor, and after the program, I was able to catch up with them to hear about what environmental stewardship looks like for them and what it means to their operation.
Huth and Scharf operate a two part cow/calf operation in eastern Wisconsin, having a purebred Hereford herd as well as a newly expanded commercial Hereford, Angus crossbred herd. About four years ago, they began a relationship with the Wisconsin DNR to utilize some of their public land for a rotational grazing project. There was a lot of initial work fencing, laying water lines and clipping some of the major overgrown brush, but after it was ready to go they brought cattle on the land and have seen drastic results and improvements on the land. Working together, Scharf says that a lot can be accomplished to improve the cow herd and the environment as well. Grazing the cattle can help prevent the need to do controlled burns, use chemical herbicides or really even use equipment to manage the area.
Huth believes that it is our responsibility to care for the land and be good stewards, and grazing cattle responsibly can help do just that. He said there are 30 million beef cows and their offspring across the country out eating grass right now. Those animals help to clip the grass, control it and optimize it’s ability to photosynthesize and sequester carbon. They then leave behind a high quality fertilizer, in the form of manure to provide nutrients back to the ground. Finally they take what they have eaten and convert it into a high quality protein, full of zinc, vitamin B12 as well as many other nutrients. Besides that, they have continually seen an improving environment for wildlife and pollinators as well.
Congratulations to Jerry Huth and Josh Scharf on receiving the 2021 Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association Environmental Stewardship Award!