Jim Owens grew up in the family farm and continues that tradition today
HUNTSVILLE, ARK. – When someone says “born and raised cowboy,” that would touch on the description of Jim Owens.
In 1940 in Huntsville, Ark., Jim was born into a longtime ranching family. He still lives on the family farm on Berry Ranch Road. The farm started out at 190 acres in 1938 with 25 head of cattle. The operation now consists of around 300 acres and about 50 pairs in a cow/calf operation.
“We hayed with horses until I was 15 years old, then we bought our first tractor. It was a 8N Ford. We were livin’ up town,” Jim recalled.
Tragedy struck the Owens family, which also includes Jim’s siblings Sam, Ken and Linda, when Jim was in his early 20s. He lost his mother to cancer and his father died the following year in a car crash. Jim and Sam wanted to keep the farm, so they bought out their siblings. Today, Jim and Sam each run their own herds, lending each other a hand when needed.
Jim’s cow/calf herd is primarily Angus, but he has raised other breeds through the years. He utilized Hereford females bred by a Santa Gertrudis bull, which produced a good, red, motley-faced calf for a few years.“
A good steer calf would bring about 20 cents a pound and feed was going for $2.15 a bag,” Jim recalled.
Jim said cattle operations were not the norm in the area for many years, but the poultry boom help spur the industry.
“The commercial cow/calf market never really took off until 1970 around these parts when everyone started growing chickens commercially,” Jim recalled. “With the litter, we could grow more grass and introduced fescue into the area, and our land could hold more cattle. Before then, we creep fed and turned the cattle into the woods.”
Jim also jumped into the poultry business and built two pullet houses in 1970, but got out of the industry in about 1995. He did, however, stay in the cattle business.
Jim keeps his bulls with the herd year-round, and calves are typically sold as feeder calves at about 500 pounds. He does retain a few select replacement heifers. He prefers to run a registered, low birth weight bull with his herd.
Animal health protocols include annual vaccinations and deworming.
“We lepto everything and blackleg the calves,” Jim said, adding that proper disease prevention is critical for cattle producers. “You can’t afford to lose them.”
For those looking to enter the cattle business, the experienced cattleman offered a few words of wisdom.
“Keep expenses low and don’t buy more than you can pay for.”
Jim’s cattle operation may keep him busy, but he has time for other things. He’s a longtime member of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, former county treasurer (from 1999 to 2002) and former president of the Arkansas Team Roper Association. After 32 years, he retired as a mail carrier, and has been an auctioneer for many years.
Jim’s wife of more than 50 years Ann passed in 2014. They have three children, Deb, Brent and Brad.