Sustainable. Innovative. Efficient.
In 1969 Gary Owens purchased this farm from the family that homesteaded it in the 1800's. He ran cattle on it for a few years before he got into thoroughbred breeding. At its peak, in the 70's and 80's, Owens Farms was breeding 200+ mares a year. In the late 80's the farm transitioned back to cattle, and by the turn of the new millennium was a premier breeder and exhibitor of Piedmontese.
Gary got involved with Piedmontese in 1987 when he purchased some Captain semen and used it on his Simmental herd. To say the least, he was quite impressed with the resulting calves. So, he repeated that in '88,'89, and '90. In May of 1990 he implanted his first fullblood embryos, and by 2000 had raised over 200 embryo calves.
While Gary was growing the Piedmontese herd, he took multiple trips up to Canadian Farms. When he traced the pedigrees of the animals that he thought were exceptional they all led back to Banana and Renee 7R. Altogether he bought around 200 embryos out of Banana, Renee 7R, and their daughters, before eventually purchasing the pair. These two, in addition to their top daughters, formed the foundation for Owens Farms' flush cow herd.
For health reasons, during the latter part of 2000 Gary sold most of the fullblood cows, including the flush cow herd that went to John Snover of Memory Lane Farms. With the few he kept, he went into a partnership with Dave Hubbard on Naturalean. Eventually Gary got out of it completely when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2005. Keeping only the nitrogen tanks, it left Owens Farms with several thousand units of semen and several hundred embryos, two of which are Brindisi x Banana.
In 2001 Gary formed North American Piedmontese Association (NAPA) seeking to unite regional associations within the United States, as well as to establish a stable registry for breeders in both the USA and Canada. In "retirement" he is proud of the growth and success that the breed, and association have experienced. In 2014 Gary was made the first inductee into North American Piedmontese Association's Hall of Fame.
Current farm activities began in 2013 when Justin Owens became interested in implanting the embryos that Gary had collected on his select group of flush cows from the 1990's. While these embryos were older, they were also out of Grand Champion foundation cows. The recipient herd has grown from three cows to forty cows to over one hundred cows over the past few years. Building a herd completely from embryos is truly a labor of love.
Right now all of the bull calves that are born here are weaned at six months, and taken to Broken Bow, Nebraska. There, they are put on test at Lone Creek Cattle Company's Toro Ranch. The heifers remain here on the farm, and at 18 months are bred for their first calf. To ease them into motherhood and the birthing process they are AI bred to Angus, Gelbvieh, and Jersey sires.
Our plan for the top heifers born from those original nitrogen tank embryos is to breed them to the top bulls coming out the the test in Nebraska. We believe the combination of champion bloodlines crossed with the efficiency coming out of the bull test will result in an excellent cross.
All of our Fullblood Piedmontese and Naturalean calves are registered with North American Piedmontese Association. (NAPA) In addition, our farm is involved with the Piedmontese EPD project that NAPA has underway. Records from all of our new calves, and historical records from the late 1980s through the early 2000s have been added to the BIO database. (BIO)
The farm recently completed construction of a new facility in the fall of 2016 that includes five barns totaling approx. 26,000 sq ft. These barns accommodate hay storage, vet facilities, equipment storage, open bedded cow barns, and stalls for birthing. This will take the farm into 21st Century farming with innovative and modern facilities designed for efficiency, sustainability, and cow comfort.