Throughout Southwest Virginia, Huffard Dairy Farms is known as one of the country’s premier registered Jersey breeding facilities.
It is there that 360 registered Jerseys are milked twice a day and more than 360 head of young stock are housed and raised on Huffard Dairy Farms in Crockett, Va., which sits nestled among thick forests and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
After acquiring Registered Jerseys™ in 1929, James Schultz Huffard Sr. instilled his passion for cattle breeding and dairying into his son, the late James Schultz Huffard Jr., and grandsons, James Huffard III and John Huffard.
Today, James and John oversee the family farm, along with their mother, June, who manages the dairy’s bookkeeping.
Although the brothers are equal partners in the operation, their responsibilities vary. James manages the breeding, livestock and employees, while John oversees the farm’s machinery and 660 acres, which grow an abundance of forages, including corn for silage and grain, alfalfa for silage and hay, mixed grass hay and rye for silage.
Along with the farm’s nine full-time employees, James’ son, Trey, a senior at Virginia Tech, is involved with the operation and plans to return home after receiving a B.S. in dairy science.
While James questioned the idea of pursuing a veterinary degree during college, his love for dairying and the chance to work alongside family eventually drew him home after obtaining his dairy science degree from Virginia Tech in 1975.
“My dad once told me, ‘If you want to be a farmer, be a farmer. If you want to be a doctor, be a doctor. Just don’t try to be both.’ I guess his advice rang home, because here I am,” James says. “Deep down, I knew I could never be cooped up in an office. I enjoy being outside in nature. I also knew that returning home would give me the opportunity to one day run my own business.”
James was only 25 when his father brought him into the family partnership with the intention of allowing John, who is 10 years younger than James, to enter into the partnership after college. That same year, James followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and created the mating that resulted in Schultz Performing Legend, one of the top ranked Jersey bulls for both foot angle and statue in the late-1980s. Legend also was one of few bulls that appeared in the top half of active Jersey sires.
As James’ career was taking off, he also became sole owner of the family farm after the unexpected death of his father in June of 1984.
“It was a trying time for all of us,” June says. “John was away at college when my husband died, so James was here to manage everything himself. He did an excellent job of keeping the farm running until John returned home. Once John was back, it was like something just clicked. James could focus on the cows, while John put his agronomy degree to work.”
Like James, John says he never pictured himself inside. After growing up on the dairy, working alongside his brother suited him.
“Working with my brother is a joy,” John says. “I don’t think it could go any smoother. He has a lot of great qualities, and he’s a very smart businessman. We were either born with or developed our own interest, but they mesh well together. I can’t imagine working beside anyone else day in and day out.”