Willfred, Walter and Roger Owens of Owens Farms Inc., Frederic, Wis., received the Master Breeder Award given by the American Jersey Cattle Association in ceremonies June 29, 2019, during the association’s 151st Annual Meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The Master Breeder Award is presented to an AJCA member, family, partnership or corporation that has bred outstanding animals for many years and thereby made a notable contribution to the advancement of the Jersey breed in the United States.
Owens Farms Inc. was established in 1912 by the late Wilfred Owens (grandfather of award recipients) and in 1936 his son, the late Harold Owens (father of award recipients) introduced Jerseys to the farm. The rest of the family followed suit and have since dedicated their lives to the proliferation, promotion and advancement of the Jersey breed.
Wilfred, Walter and Roger have been involved with the daily duties of the operation from a young age. In 1959 Wilfred purchased his first project heifer, Basil Commando Gertrude, Very Good-85%, who became a herd matriarch with 20 direct maternal generations and over 3,500 registered females to date in herds across the country. The “Gertrude” line also has over 145 registered bulls with over 34,000 daughters.
Other notable individuals include O.F. Berretta Rebekah, Excellent-90%, dam of influential sires O.F. Barber Rocket and O.F. Mannix Rebel-ET who together have over 21,000 daughters in 15 countries; past All American Premier Performance Cow, 1999 Wisconsin Cow of the Year and 2015 Jersey Journal Great Cow Contest finalist, O.F. Lester Ladyslipper, Excellent-94%; and the herd sire O.F. Montana Saber-ET with over 8,500 daughters in 970 herds. The Owens have marketed their elite genetics throughout the United States with approximately 1,900 females sold over the past 35-plus years to 230 buyers representing 18 states.
The three Owens brothers are active in their communities and various agriculture organizations. Wilfred has served as a 4-H leader for 37 years and on the Polk County 4-H Leaders Federation Board for 26. Roger has served as a 4-H leader, on the Lorain Town Board and on the Frederic School Board. Walter was a 4-H dairy judging coach for over 37 years and served on the Board of Directors of the UW-River Falls Ag Alumni Association and on the Polk-Burnett County DHI Board, 10 years of which he was president. In addition, all three men have served on the Wisconsin Jersey Breeders Association board of directors, with Walter and Roger serving terms as president. Wilfred was on the AJCA Board of Directors for six years where he chaired the Registration Committee. Walter served as AJCA Director since 2012 and is the current AJCA Vice President. He also serves on the Finance and Development Committees.
The Owens Farms Inc. herd consists of 721 cows on test with a December 2018 actual rolling herd average of 18,970 lbs. milk, 947 lbs. fat and 732 lbs. protein.The American Jersey Cattle Association was organized in 1868 to improve and promote the Jersey breed. Since 1957, National All-Jersey Inc. has served Jersey owners by promoting the increased production and sale of Jersey milk and milk products. For more information on its programs and services, visit www.USJersey.com or call 614/861-3636.