Washington County holds 51st annual Farm-City Day Banquet

Published: Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 08:26 PM.

The 2013 Washington County Cattleman of the Year award goes to the George Owens Family.  The Owens Family is comprised of George, his wife Pat and their daughter, Jane, and son, Thomas.  The George Owens family has been raising cattle in Washington County since 1971.  They have been advocates for agriculture and diligent supporters of extension programs and agricultural education here in Washington County for many years.

The Owens’ commercial cow/calf operation is based on the family ranch, just south of Chipley. For the last 33 years, the operation has had a rather distinct look. The Owens family has mastered the production technique known as silvopasture.  Silvopasture can be described as the simultaneous management of land for both pasture and timber production.  The key word in this phrase is management; the Owens family excels in their ability to manage their operation.

Timber is planted using a 4’x8’x40’ spacing system which research has shown as the most effective system for silvopasture operations.  From planting to harvest there is a plan in place -when calves can graze, when cows can graze, when to thin the timber – a plan that is based on research and trial and error.

The Owens family utilizes a rotational grazing system that allows the forage to be more effectively utilized.  The rotational grazing system allows the amount of forage removed at any one time to be managed.  During the growing season only about 50% of the forage is removed in each grazing rotation.  As the growing season winds down, the amount of forage removed is increased.  This serves two purposes:  1) allows summer grown forage to last longer into the fall and 2) allows for the germination and growth of the persisting Crimson Clover that is present in the pastures. The fact that clover has persisted in a grazed bahiagrass pasture by naturally reseeding for 30 years is a testament to the level of forage management that occurs on the Owens’ operation.

A 110 day breeding season that pairs with the availability of high quality forage as well as a rotational breeding system designed to maximize heterosis are in place. Sound management decisions are made throughout the production cycle. Bulls are tested before turn-out, a vaccination program is in place for both cows and calves, and pre-established culling criteria is in place for underperforming brood cows. The Owens family understands how and where the cattle they produce best fit into the market and they utilize a marketing plan that maximizes the value of their calves.

The George Owens Family operation is successful because of their hard work, attention to detail and their willingness to make and implement management decisions based on facts.

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