Farm Feature Friday: Walker Hereford Farms of Warren County, Tennessee
Q&A by TCA Spring Intern, Abagayle Morton
This week’s Farm Feature Friday highlights Walker Hereford Farms of Morrison, Tennessee. Eric Walker and his family have become well-known for their mark on the Registered Hereford industry. Eric shares the history of his farm and his knowledge in the Q & A below.
How long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.
Growing up I, always helped my father with his commercial cattle, but truly in my heart I had a passion for the registered polled Hereford all along. In 1981 I decided I would start my own herd. We are now a family owned operation (Walker Hereford Farms) in Morrison, TN consisting of myself (Eric), my wife (Rhonda), step-son (Casey), son (Cody), his wife (Trisha), and their son (Hayden).
Tell us about your farm today (breed of cattle, what are you proud of, etc.)
Today we run around 200 head of brood cows. We have an extensive AI and ET program. Several ET calves are raised by cooperator herds in Kentucky and Tennessee. All yearlings are ultra-sounded for carcass data and DNA is collected to verify parentage and obtain genomic enhanced EPD’s. We have hosted 20 production sales at the farm and have sold to 38 states, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. I served on the American Hereford Association board from 2011-2015 and was the president and chairman of the board in 2015.
What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm?
We all enjoy being outside, spending time together and being around the cattle. We love to watch as a mother brings a new calf into the world, watch Hayden work with his show heifers and being able to tend to the land and cattle that God blessed us with. Being raised on a cattle farm teaches you many life lessons and responsibility that you are not always able to learn elsewhere.
What have been some of the trials you or your family has had to overcome?
Raising cattle can be very challenging in many different areas. The market is one of the most common challenges, with the way it can fluctuate up and down. Another area we battle through the winter months, is making sure all of our livestock stays healthy. This winter has been especially tough, with all the rain we have had, you have to constantly watch for the young calves getting stuck in the mud.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?
If there is one thing, we could teach the general public about the farm life, it is that we are better care takers then they see. The general public is so out of touch with farmers and ranchers in today’s world. Many times, the public doesn’t understand that our cattle are often taken better care of than the farmer takes care of themselves. The media is our biggest opponent, they demonize us over simple everyday things.
What does it mean to you to be able to work with your family every day?
It is a great honor and privilege to be able to work along side my son and his family. I have been able to teach my son over the years what it takes to raise great cattle and to share my knowledge of the show ring. Now my son, Cody, is getting to take this knowledge and pass it on to my
grandson, Hayden. It has truly been a blessing watching his family work together.
Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?
My advice to the young cattle producers is to know that everyday is going to be different and there will be many days you will want to give it all up but in the end it is worth it. Also, use every chance you get to educate the general public about life on the farm.
What's your favorite beef dish?
I would have to go with a couple different dishes, for a easy go to dinner would be beef stroganoff but it is hard to beat a thick, juicy ribeye hot off the grill.