Farm Feature Friday: Higgins Farms

HigginsTCA intern, Samantha Reese, interviewed the Higgins family of Watertown about their farm. Contributors were John and Marna Higgins, and their children: Andy, Alison, and Amelia.

How long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.

Our family has been raising cattle for centuries. My immediate family formerly raised commercial cattle. My parents started our Chiangus herd in 1986 with 10 replacement heifers.

Tell us about your farm today.

We currently raise and show Chiangus cattle. This year was our 15th consecutive Junior National Show. I am so proud of how far we have come with our show cattle and cowherd. When my brother was about 10 years old, he started showing cattle. I remember being so excited to win classes at Tennessee Beef Expo. Then it was the excitement of winning classes at Junior Nationals and then divisions at Junior Nationals. I never dreamed we would win banners at the North American International Livestock Exposition or Junior Nationals for several consecutive years. Looking back, I am so proud of how our herd and show string have evolved since those 10 replacement heifers, and I am even more proud to know that my family did this together.

What was your favorite part of growing up on the farm?

My favorite part of growing up on the farm was all the time spent with my siblings. Now that we’ve all grown up and will all be moved out of our parents’ house by the end of the year, I sometimes reflect on all the time we’ve spent together at the barn growing up. This is my last year showing cattle, and reality has somewhat struck that we won’t all be together at the barn every day more

Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice! No one wants to see you fail so most cattlemen will be more than happy to lend a hand or share some advice.

UT Bull Test Station Going to One Test

2013-10-BullTestwebThe University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Bull Test Station will only offer one performance test for the 2017-2018 year. The single, 84-day test will be for bulls born between September 1, 2016, and December 20, 2016. The deadline for nominations is August 1, 2017. Complete rules and regulations for the bull test can be found online at

The Bull Test Station is located at the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center at Spring Hill, Tennessee.

The bull test is open to any registered bull of any breed that has a performance record keeping program. Due to the latest technology in genomics, all bulls consigned to the program must be DNA tested. This technology provides a better estimate of the true genetic value of these bulls’ performance traits that are economically important in beef operations. The Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP) will offer an additional $400 cost share to buyers of bulls with Genomic Enhanced Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs).

Eligible bulls must be delivered to the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center on August 22, 2017. The 84-day test will begin on September 5, 2017. A bull sale will be held following the completion of the test. The date of the sale will be announced in the future.

The purpose of the Bull Testing Station is to provide a standard, impartial post-weaning gain test that will furnish records that will be useful in breeding programs.  The Station also provides a market for completely performance-tested bulls and serves as an educational tool for beef cattle improvement.

Farm Feature Friday: Duck River Farms



Especially now that they live in four different states, the Rowlett’s favorite place to gather is back on the farm they all call home in Hurricane Mills.

Buddy and Kelley Rowlett own and operate Duck River Farms, a small Angus seedstock operation in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Buddy and Kelley met through their involvement in youth livestock programs and have passed on their love for agriculture and raising cattle to their four children, who are the fourth generation to raise Registered Angus cattle on the family farm.


In addition to their commitment to their herd, Buddy and Kelley also work off the farm. Buddy travels throughout Tennessee and Kentucky as a Territory Manager for Stay-Tuff Fence Manufacturing, Kelley has built a career as an educator and school administrator, and the couple also own and operate a small local insurance company. Their children have also chosen career paths that keep them connected to their roots. Hannah, 26, and her husband, Adam McCall, live in Springfield, Missouri where their own operation, AM Livestock, is located and they raise and sell nationally competitive Charolais cattle. JanLee, 26, resides in Iowa and works for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association as the Government and Regulatory Affairs Manager and remains active in her family’s operation remotely by helping manage records and marketing. Lawson, 20, works for McCurry Angus Ranch in Burrton, Kansas and plans to carry on the family tradition with his own Angus herd within the next few years. Beau, 18, is at home to help with many of the day-to-day chores and is building a career in construction.



Lawson and Duck River Royal Lady 410 at the 2015 North American International Livestock Exhibition. This female is a daughter of one of Lawson’s first show heifers and is proving herself as quite the replacement for her legendary mother.

Duck River Farms’ history in the Angus breed began in 1934 when Kelley’s grandparents, Bob and Gould Woods, purchased their first Angus cows. Since then, black cows have continued to graze the banks of the Duck River. Today, we have about 50 head and focus on producing sound, moderate, low maintenance cattle. We market bulls, replacement heifers, and are beginning to sell show heifer prospects as our children’s days in the show ring are coming to a close.


We’ve always believed that there is no better place to raise a family than on a farm. Our favorite part of our family’s operation is the opportunity it gives us to work together doing something that we all love and celebrate the accomplishments, big and small, together.  We are extremely proud to have produced cattle that have been successful in the show ring and gone on to be productive females in our herd.  A couple of highlights for us have been raising females like Duck River Blackcap 714 who was selected as the National Western Stock Show Reserve Division Champion, Western National Angus Futurity Reserve Champion Female and National Junior Angus Show Reserve Division Champion, among other successes.  Additionally, Duck River Royal Lady 007 was named Eastern Regional Junior Angus Show Reserve Champion Bred and Owned Female and National Junior Angus Show Division Champion.



In her last two years as a junior member, JanLee served on the National Junior Angus Association Board of Directors and was Chairman of the Board in the second year of her term.

Though we have been fortunate to celebrate these successes and others as a family, everyone in production agriculture knows that there are difficult days that make those wins so sweet. We enjoy dreaming, planning, and working together as a family toward our common goals and would not trade our memories of life on the farm and showing cattle across the country through the last 20 years for anything in the world.