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Owens follow fair till cows come home

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by Abby Beggerly

SBJ Staff

For most kids summer vacations are filled with hot days lazily spent in the cool, blue waters of a swimming pool. However, for Owen Brothers Cattle Company, summers are for showing their cattle at county fairs and working on 4-H projects.

Adam, 15, Matt, 13, and Casey, 7, the cattle company's joint owners, are the sons of Aaron Owen, buyer and project manager for the Paul Mueller Company.

Right now, Adam, Matt and Casey are winding down a summer streak of 12 county fairs and are attending the Missouri State Fair this week. The three boys are set to travel to show their cattle at the Tulsa State Fair, the Mid-South State Fair and the American Royal this fall.

The Owens' operation now comprises 40 head of registered Simmental cows, down from its one-time high of 70.

The farm used to focus more on embryo transfer work, said Owen.

Owen said the farm hasn't been doing embryo transfer procedures for the past three years, but has been concentrating more on the purebred business.

"We are making more money just raising breeding stock," explained Owen. "It was a supply and demand issue."

The Owen Brothers Cattle Company does use artificial insemination with 90 percent of its cows. He added that the use of artificial insemination helps to diversify the herd genetically with bloodlines they could not otherwise have.

"We pretty much focus on red and black in color," said Owen. "There's a demand for it right now."

The three boys are responsible for the day-to-day care of the farm, including all chores linked to feeding and health of the animals. They are also responsible for detecting the heat cycles of the cows for the artificial insemination program.

Aaron and his wife Jennifer, have not always been in the beef cattle industry. Both grew up on dairy farms with registered Guernsey herds.

"The Guernseys are what led me to come to Paul Mueller because they built the milk tanks," said Owen.

"When I came to Paul Mueller's I had gotten married," said Owen. "Being married and milking cows didn't really work well with the hours I put in here, so we sold the dairy cattle and bought the Simmental cattle."

Some of the attributes Owen said the Simmental breed exhibits include strong maternal traits, and high daily gains, weaning weights and yearling weights.

Owen said his sons' operation caters to commercial cross-breeding operations.

"You have to have purebred operations to supply the demand for cross-breeding programs," said Owen.

Owen's responsibilities as buyer and project manager for Paul Mueller included overseeing the construction, from demolition to completion, of the Springfield Brewing Company. Besides his job with Paul Mueller and the cattle operation, Owen still finds time to donate to various organizations and events.

Adam and Matt are members of the Missouri Junior Simmental Association and serve on the board of directors. Adam is also vice president of the organization, a Republic FFA member and is currently working on his family's farm and part time with other local purebred producers.

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