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Trusting in a family tradition

By Staff | Dec 2, 2011

Walter Wilkinson, left, and his son, Caleb Wilkinson, stand next to a cattle pen with Angus bulls on Nov. 25. The Wilkinson family, of rural Marshalltown, has been producing Angus cattle for more than 100 years and was recently honored by the American Angus Association.

By ANDREW POTTER

For Farm News

MARSHALLTOWN?- Walter Wilkinson is sticking with what has worked for his family for more than a century -producing Angus cattle.

Wilkinson, who lives in rural Marshalltown with is wife Jan, is a fourth-generation Angus producer. His family was recently honored with the Century Award by the American Angus Association.

“We try not to vary with trends and fads and gimmicks,” Wilkinson said. “I think we all have some picture of what we want to raise and stay there.”

The Angus tradition started in 1900 when the farm was held by Walter Wilkinson’s great-grandfather, Richard Wilkinson.

Later in 1909, he also imported Angus cattle from England.

It was a breed the family stuck with, even through the Depression when there was pressure to sell the herd.

The herd eventually was taken over by Richard’s son, Walter, then it was passed down to his son, Robert, and now Robert’s son, also named Walter.

The farmstead’s location west of Marshalltown has been in the family since 1936.

The current herd, which is a part of Evergreen Stock Farm, consists of 180 cows and eight to 10 bulls.

Their primary customers are commercial and purebred herds in Iowa, with some sold as meat. The family also grows corn and hay strictly to feed the herd.

Walter Wilkinson said the Angus brand is in high demand now due to its flavor. The family’s experience also makes them competitive in the market.

“The breeding we’ve done in the herd for more than 100 years is hard to match,” he said.

Walter’s office is full of historic items highlighting the family operation. He has sale books from 1917, sale posters from the mid-1900s and several other historic items.

The family received the Century Award earlier this month in Louisville, Ky., at the American Angus Association annual banquet. They were among the first four winners of this new award.

“It was pretty neat,” Wilkinson said of receiving the honor.

The tradition will continue as Walter’s 18-year-old son, Caleb, is set to take over as the fifth generation Angus producer in the family.

“It’s all I’ve ever known and I enjoy the work,” Caleb Wilkinson said.

Walter Wilkinson thinks he’ll be leaving the farm in good hands for the future.

“He’s always been interested and I think he’ll be good at it,” Wilkinson said of his son.

Contact Andrew Potter at apotter@timesrepublican.com.

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