I was a rank amateur in ranching, and learned a lot by trial and error, plus the tremendously valuable courses and literature from Alberta Ag, Olds College, and University of Guelph. The recurring theme I learned was “Nutrition is everything”. That means a balanced ration – not over-feeding!
A good vaccination program, a complete mineral formula, clean bedding, and parasite control will take care of the rest of animal health concerns. Society would do well to look after the human race as well as we look after cattle.
I also believed that the THE (Total Herd Evaluation) program sponsored by the Canadian Hereford Association would lead to considerable herd improvement – which it did. Every animal in our herd has been enrolled, with actual measured birth and weaning weights submitted. We did not high-grade our EPDs by leaving out the culls.
Most of our customers today still have no idea what EPDs do for them, but I believe it helps produce sound, middle-of-the-road animals for local customers. Since I stress maternal traits, EPDs are essential in choosing herd sires and “keeper” cows.
My deteriorating eyesight forced me to stop driving, so it was hard to get to sales, shows, and social events. It also meant that I could not recognize faces easily. It makes “face-to-face” marketing, so necessary in the purebred business, really difficult!
Ranch construction was pretty well finished in 1983. These facilities have also served well over the years. They were designed by me for one-man operation as much as possible. It’s always more efficient with a two-person crew, but three are seldom needed.
We calve in January and February and, until 1991, did not have a heated barn. This made for a few cold nights, frozen ears, and slow starters.
A lot of time was spent improving pasture, clearing lease land under the Range Improvement Program, and cross-fencing in anticipation of intensive grazing.
We added a heifer group from Stauffer and Ulrich, but these were low-end, low-priced critters and did not live up to our expectations. Out of twenty head, only one stayed in the herd for more than three years, based entirely on their calves growth rates.
We worked at a conception-to-consumer marketing plan, selling to a local restaurant, a hotel near Drumheller, and to a private trade, using a local butcher for the cut and wrap. With a small herd, it was difficult to have a fat animal ready at all times, but we kept it up for several years.
I made more profit on the beef sales than live cattle by quite a margin. It was a good education in the beef industry and helped me understand the feedlot, packer, and retail side of the business.
We used 93J by AI as part of our program and did cleanup with 130P. Because of the distance between us and the AI tech, we were not very successful and never tried AI again.
became active in the Central Alberta Hereford Club as a Member
and later as a Director. I initiated the CAHC Newsletter, and
by personally inviting all Hereford breeders to re-join the Club,
I raised the membership from less than 20 to more than 60 in four
years. The Club is still very strong and has sponsored excellent
field days and ranch tours throughout Central Alberta.
A dozen of his daughters are still in the herd (2001) and many were sold to local ranchers and other breeders. N194 daughters are still coveted by knowledgeable breeders.
I helped arrange the 1987 CAHC Tour through the West Country. We received many compliments on our facilities and cattle.
Heifers were added to the herd from a “brand name” dispersal. Three out of four did not breed after five months with the bull. We had 100% conception on our home-raised heifers. Name brand cattle are no better than those from small breeders, especially if the breeder’s emphasis is on the Calgary Bull Sale instead of herd fertility.
N194 continued as our senior bull. We acquired Tom Irwin’s heifer crop prior to his dispersal. After several years of long calving seasons, I gave up and culled all late comers - a heart-breaking but necessary step.
major sale outlet for breeding stock was the West Country Hereford
Sale held in Caroline. We and four other West Country breeders
set up this sale to showcase both polled and horned Herefords.
We participated until 1993, when the sale disbanded due to retirement
of two of the main contributors. Managing and planning joint sales
are a mix of diplomacy and compromise, traits not common to independent
Our joint efforts put a lot of good females into commercial herds.
A photo of our herd taken by Marty Ross in the spring of 1989 appeared on the cover of the March 1990 Hereford Digest. We received more phone calls on this event than from all other ads combined.
The heifer I received from Art Link as a signing bonus for the bull sharing deal turned out to be one of the top five cows in our herd.
Many of our sales are direct off the ranch. Select animals have sold at the AHA Test Center and the CAHC Supremacy Sale. Some cows, heifers, and cow/calf pairs sell at Cole’s Auction in Rocky Mountain House.
HH Advance N194 died in service in 1992 from heart failure. GH Britisher 3X was obtained in 1993 from the Hansen Dispersal as a replacement. We called him “Lightning” because of his mellow temperament and quick attention to his ladies. Lightning stayed with us until he died of old age in 1998.
We also picked a Coulee Crest bull, 41Z, as our junior bull.
Our cow herd was very stable during this period, with many N194 daughters performing extremely well.
The West Country Hereford Breeders sponsored the CAHC Tour for 1993. While I was on vacation, two of the West Country breeder’s decided that no Field Day events would be held – much to the distress of the CAHC. The rationale for this decision was never explained satisfactorily. CAHC did arrange a separate Field Day at Coulee Crest and Rocking “Are” sponsored the music, to help make amends for the stupidity of the WCHB decision. I may sound a bit bitter here but I was terribly distressed by the WCHB decision and lost a lot of credibility at CAHC meetings.
41Z and all junior bulls were retired in favour of the superior EPDs of Royal Red and Lightning. We were also ruthless in culling low efficiency critters, as always.
Our intensive grazing program also paid off, as our weaning weights continued to improve. Grass is our most important asset, and grass management is crucial to economic success.
Rocking “Are” had the high gaining horned bull at the AHA Test Center. He was starved by his new owners and failed to breed. The vet report showed his October weight to be less than his April weight – what a waste!
With the help of my herdsman, Kent Maxwell, we made it to a few sales and picked up a few of Edith Santee’s cows at her dispersal.
To mark the beginning of a new era at Rocking “Are”, I picked a new logo for the ads and Kurt Gilmore gave us a new “modern look”. Did anyone notice?
Our bull leasing program, begun in 1989, continued to be very popular. It also gives us some well proven bulls to carry forward as two year olds.
year we set up a toll free phone number and an email address to
make it easier to reach us. As far as I can determine, only one
rancher has ever availed themselves of these free services.
Combined with Royal Red, we again had two of the industry’s top maternal trait leaders. With the 3X and N194 maternal strength in the cow herd we are sitting on the “best kept secret” in Alberta Herefords – superior maternal values with reasonable birth weights, unequaled udders, and perfect feet.
After 20 years of culling more than 280 cows and 500 heifers, it’s nice to see the consistent results we have been looking for. It sure takes a while!
We lost Royal Red 83A to old age during the summer of 2001 and have replaced him with one of his best sons, AOWI Red Millennium 3J. FA Silver Canadian 37D continued in service until 2003, when his age became a problem.
We also picked up the high selling bull at LRD's 2001 fall sale, AGF Sterling 78L, to service our heifer crop. Unfortunately, he wasn't much interested in girls, so after 2 years of trying, we gave him away for hamburger.
part time herdsman, Kent Maxwell, was killed in a logging accident
in early 2002. Although his involvement in our herd had decreased
over the last few years, we lost a good friend and keen Hereford
2004 – 2006
I received my Canadian Hereford Association 25-Year pin at the
annual summer field day.. Later that year, the heart of our herd was
sold to the Bohnet family of High River and the younger bred cows
were dispersed through Innisfail Auction. The bred heifers,
yearling bulls, and 2-year old bulls were sold in 2006.
put a lot of time and effort into our Herefords, not to mention
love and affection for the cows, their calves, and our great
bull power. We miss their peaceful
nature and truly mourn the loss of our “family” of