A ranching family from the B.C. Cariboo Region and a longtime beef researcher at the Agriculture Canada Lethbridge Research Centre (LRC) were honoured with awards during the annual Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC), which this year ran online August 11-13.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association 2020 TESA environmental stewardship award went to the Seelhof family, who own Woodjam Ranch near Horsefly B.C., about 3-1/2 hours north of Kamloops. They were recognized for their efforts of protecting and enhancing several environmental aspects of their ranch, along with running a profitable Black Angus cow-calf operation.
Woodjam Ranch, named after Woodjam Creek, is owned and operated by Ricky and Chad Seelhof and their children Riata, Cooper and Renee. The younger Seelhofs bought the ranch from Chad’s parents Louis and Ellie Seelhof in 2003.
Along with a 500-head black Angus cow-calf herd, the Seelhofs farm 2,120 acres of their own cultivated and native rangeland and also have a grazing licence over about 80,000 acres of Crown-owned grazing land.
“Judging a recipient for this year’s TESA proved, as it always does, to be difficult due to the very impressive slate of nominees,” Duane Thompson, chair of CCA’s Environment Committee, said in announcing the winner.
“What stood out with the Seelhof family and their Woodjam Ranch was the extraordinary work they’ve done on enhancing and improving the many riparian areas on their operation. In addition, they have shared their stewardship experiences and encouraged other producers to do likewise, that’s very impressive and good for our industry.”
Woodjam Ranch is in the heart of the province’s Cariboo region and lies adjacent to the Horsefly River, which has 16 tributary creeks running through it. Ensuring these waterways maintain their health is paramount.
The Seelhofs focus on planting a lot of willow, and work on riverbank restoration to prevent the significant spring flooding the ranch is subject to due to riverbank erosion. Working in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Seelhof Family has installed eight large off-river watering systems and added in-ground piping. They also continue to develop pasture in higher areas to keep cattle off the flood-prone riparian areas.
The Seelhofs were among four regional nominees from across Canada who were winners of provincial environmental awards given out by beef producer organizations in their respective provinces. The Seelhofs previously won the 2020 BCCA Ranch Sustainability Award.
Enhancing nutritional efficiency
Dr. Karen Beauchemin, a ruminant nutritionist and researcher at the LRC, was presented with the Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation.
The award created in 2015 by the Beef Cattle Research Council recognized Beauchemin’s work on developing nutritional knowledge and technologies for the beef and dairy industries, helping to improve their efficiency of production and reduce their environmental impact.
“Dr. Beauchemin has assisted producers, researchers, veterinarians, nutritionists, and policy-makers across Canada with numerous research projects on ruminant nutrition, such as feed additives and diet formulations, and industry-relevant issues, such as the environmental sustainability of beef cattle production while improving animal performance,” says A BCRC release.
“Dr. Beauchemin is recognized as an international authority in the area of methane research and ruminant nutrition.”