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Brian and Elizabeth Walker
Lucky 13 Farm
Products Raised or Grown: Broiler chickens and cattle
Size of Operation: 10 houses, 100 head, 480 acres
Years in Business: 8
Farm Credit Partner: Farm Credit of Western Arkansas
Years Working with Farm Credit: 8
Eight years ago, Brian and Elizabeth Walker began their farming career with 13 head of cattle and two broiler houses on 166 acres, with the long-term goal of becoming full-time farmers. Today, the Walkers’ operation includes 10 broiler houses and 480 owned acres with a 100-head cow-calf and feeder cattle operation – run full-time by the couple. How they’ve achieved this dream is a testament to hard work, good business planning and patience.
The Walkers began their marriage and their farming adventure simultaneously, by combining the few cattle each owned into a small herd and purchasing 166 acres of land utilizing a Farm Credit program for Young, Beginning and Small (YBS) farmers. Both worked off-farm jobs, but knew they wanted a lifestyle that allowed for ample family time with Elizabeth able to stay home with the children they planned.
Soon after they purchased their land, Brian suggested that they move into poultry farming, which would give them greater cash flow than their cattle operation. After building their first two broiler houses in 2003, the couple added land and two additional broiler houses in 2004, and houses five and six in 2006. “Once we decided to build broiler houses,” Brian reflects, “it was an easy jump to decide to build more of them.” Along the way, the couple also added to their family, with daughter Reese, now 5, and son Rhett, age 3.
In 2008, a broiler field representative asked Brian if he’d consider building additional broiler houses, paving the way for the couple’s 10-house contract. This contract generates the cash flow that enabled Elizabeth to finally transition to full-time mom and self-proclaimed farmhand in 2009.
Although they made sacrifices along the way, the Walker’s eight-year journey has paid off. They’ve built a successful farming operation. They earned the 2010 Arkansas Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award, which celebrates farm and farm management success among young and beginning farmers across the state. And perhaps their greatest success, as they would see it, is creating the family life they dreamed of. “Not long ago I was asking the kids what they liked best about our farm,” Elizabeth explained. “They both said it’s the picnics we have when we take lunch to Brian,” something the family shares regularly.