Brothers Wilfred, 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, 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 has 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 bought his first project heifer, Basil Commando Gertrude, Very Good-85, who became a herd matriarch with 20 direct maternal generations and more than 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 more than 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 Owenses have marketed their elite genetics throughout the United States with about 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. The Owens Farms Inc. herd consists of 721 cows on test with a December 2018 actual rolling herd average of 18,970 pounds of milk, 947 pounds of fat and 732 pounds of protein.