The Billy Joe and Courtney Wilkins family of Lamar (Johnson County) is the Northwest District Farm Family of the Year. They farm on 255 acres where they raise broilers, cows and Bermuda grass hay. The Wilkins began farming 14 years ago on 65 acres and have been farming on their present land for eight years.
Billy Joe and Courtney’s broiler operation is contracted through Tyson. They have six broiler houses where they produce approximately five million pounds per year. To conserve water and energy, they have updated the nipples on the water lines and employed tube heating and LED lighting in all six houses.
Alongside the broiler operation, Billy Joe and Courtney have 36 head of cows and produce 1,200 round bales of Bermuda grass hay per year. In their eight years on this property, they have converted 22 acres into higher quality pastureland and plan to continue improving more of the land by implementing a rotational grazing system. They plan to do this by fencing in an addition 25 acres and adding addition cross fencing and water sources to existing pastures. Not only will this improve the pastureland and hay, but it will allow them to increase their cattle herd.
Billy Joe is a member of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association and Johnson County Co-op while Courtney is the agricultural education instructor at Dover High School and is a member of the Arkansas CattleWomen’s Association. Both are members of Johnson County Farm Bureau. They have three daughters, Josie (8), Abby (4) and Mayci (2). Billy Joe and Courtney like to involve the three girls in the daily operations such as checking chickens, feeding the cattle and planting and working in the garden. Josie and Abby exhibit livestock in the county fair, too. Courtney said, “During the summer months, it’s nothing unusual to see them out in the yard walking goats in their swimsuits.”