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Tucker Family Farms Named Virginia Outstanding Commercial Producer of the Year

Livestock Update, March 2000

Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, Virginia Tech

Tucker Family Farms, Bill and Claudia Tucker and family, is a seventh generation family farming operation located in the heart of Virginia in Amherst County in the foothills of the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Evolving from a general farming operation encompassing fruit, tobacco, grains, timber, and most domestic livestock the Tucker's have focused primarily on their cattle operation since the 1970's. Bill took over the direct management of the 100 cow herd of primarily Polled Hereford cattle in 1976 when he convinced his father to cross the straightbred cowherd to Angus sires. Gelbvieh sires were added in 1983. A.I. became a cornerstone of the operation in 1984, mass heifer mating in 1986, backgrounding calves began in 1989, retained ownership through slaughter in 1992, and sale of breeding stock to an expanded customer base in 1993. Today the Tucker's concentrate much effort on the marketing and development of their trademark "Target 2000" replacement line of 3/4Angus, 1/4Gelbvieh females. These females have have been in high demand at statewide commercial female sales, with a high percentage selling to repeat customers.

Since 1994 the Tucker's have developed a series of profit enhancing service opportunities for their customers. Their ongoing calf buy back program pays premiums on steers and heifers over the top market in the area if the calves come from Tucker Genetics. Their expanded contract grower operation now enlists about 500 cows throughout Virginia. The Tuckers are the founders of "Target Feeders", an evolving backgrounding, cattle feeding, and carcass data collection system for their customers as well as others. With an eye on pooling resources to command premiums in a value based market- at 1000 cattle fed in their first year, the Tucker's are well on their way to their goal of 10,000 cattle by 2005. Other new projects include the development of a Red line to compliment their "Target 2000" black females. These cattle will be 3/4 Red Angus and 1/4 Gelbvieh and have resulted in the addition of a line of registered Red Angus cattle.

The Tucker's currently operate on about 2500 acres primarily in Amherst County and run about 350 cows in both fall and spring herds. They develop heifers both from their own herds and those of their growers which gives them a genetic base of about 800 cows.

Grazing management of the primarily fescue forage base is a focus at Tucker Farms. Controlled grazing and selection of cattle that fit and perform in the forage program are key. The Tucker's were the first recipients of the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Farm award. Bill is a past president of the VA Forage and Grasslands Council and is a current director for the American Forage and Grasslands Council. He is also a past president of Virginia BCIA and currently is a VA Beef Expo board member.

Bill and Claudia Tucker have three daughters- Ruth, Taylor, and Avery.

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