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Send in your good tips and ideas

Saskatchewan beef producer Albert Woelk would like to see more useful producer tips in Cattleman’s Corner. What a good idea, I should have thought of that!

Actually, Albert called the other day to say it is all well and good to have regular columns on a bunch of stuff, but what about good everyday production tips and stories about what producers are doing that work for them?

Albert runs a small beef herd north of Herbert, Sask. in the Gouldtown area (I remember being up that way one winter and took the stupid ice road across Lake Diefenbaker on my way to Outlook. It cut off a lot of miles, but let’s just say it was a tense drive). Albert made a good point. He’s not particularly interested in information on growing canola and peas, but he would like to see more articles on farm inventions and any tips on how to save time and money.

That sounds like a lot of work to me, but as any good editor I will delegate this job in part, to 30,000-some potential writers I have across Western Canada — you the reader.

I am asking you to send in any and all good ideas you have that help make raising livestock easier, more efficient, more profitable, more fun or whatever. This could be anything from a better gate latch, to gopher control, to grazing efficiency, to calving ease, to fencing tips, to better handling facilities, beef-breeding tips, or making a quick and satisfying lunch, whatever… Whether it is a big or little idea that works for you, I’d like to hear about it. And this is no time to get all shy and humble and think “nobody wants to hear about my idea.” This isn’t about you. This is about rest of the readers who may find your idea helpful in saving a few dollars or a few minutes in their day.

My contact information is posted on this page. So you can either write, or email or even call to let me know. Jot down a couple paragraphs explaining your idea, send a diagram or a photo to go with it, if applicable, and include your phone number or email address in case I have any questions.

That’s your assignment. And don’t do it for me. Do it for guys like Albert Woelk who feeds cattle at night during winter, and gets up every day at 5 a.m. in his March/April calving season and walks a 40-acre winter feeding and calving pasture before he heads to work. Anything tips that help shorten the day would be appreciated.

Manitoba moment

Bob and Frank, two Manitoba beef producers had put in a long day of meetings and headed to the Fort Garry Hotel for a drink.

Bob pointed to two old farts sitting across the bar from them and said:

“Frank, that’s us in 10 years.”

Frank stared at him for a second and said:

“That’s a mirror, dough head! Have another beer.”

Look after horses

Les Burwash has a question for all horse owners: are you ready for the winter? The manager of horse programs for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development suggests owners should be prepared by now. He refers to adequate feed and water supplies, body conditioning and shelter.

“In general, horses are going to require somewhere in the vicinity of two to two-and-a-half per cent of their body weight in good-quality forage or hay to maintain their body condition. If we assume that we are probably going to need to feed for approximately five months that means that buying your feed supply now would require about two tons for the average mature horse of 1,100 pounds.”

Burwash says an economical way to maintain horses during the winter is through grazing. Owners need to be cognizant of what’s happening in the field. He suggests there should be at least four to six inches of forage covering the field and as the winter progresses to be sure the snow doesn’t get too deep. For anyone living in areas where there may be occasional thaws, when it freezes again the crust may be too hard for the horses to paw down to the feed supply.

Ideally, points out Burwash, horses should have body condition scores of five or six on the nine-point scale going into winter.

“The question always arises: do horses require water? The answer to that is yes. In general terms, horses require about three pounds of water for every pound of dry feed. Therefore, the average horse is going to need six to seven gallons of water a day. It is physically impossible for the horse to meet its needs by eating snow. For the health and welfare of the horse it is preferable to have access to water with a temperature warmed to four to five degrees.”

Shelter is important. Burwash says that unless horses are being used, they will be healthier when they’re maintained outside. “Horses can stand the cold quite well if they can get out of the wind. I suggest shelter can be provided in three ways. This could be naturally if there are trees to protect the animals, build a three-sided shelter or construct a wind break fence.”

He urges horse owners to always be aware and monitor their animals regularly, making adjustments when necessary.

ABP executive

The Alberta Beef Producers have elected a new executive for 2011-12 with Doug Sawyer (Pine Lake) elected Chair, Dave Solverson (Camrose) moved to Vice Chair and Greg Bowie (Ponoka) elected as Finance Chair.

ABP also welcomes the newly elected 2011-12 board of directors: Brent Carey (Stavely), Greg Bowie (Ponoka), Brian Chomlak (Beauvallon), Rick McKnight (Jarvie), Howard Bekkering (Vauxhall), Bob Lowe (Nanton), Brian Edge (Cochrane), Judy Fenton(Irma), Charlie Christie (Trochu), Adam Moseson (Ferintosh), John Buckley (Cochrane), Larry Delver (Calgary), Mark Francis (Taber) and Roland Cailliau (Valleyview).

Enviro winners

Former Cattleman’s Corner columnist and Peace River-region beef producer Christoph Weder and his wife Erika have been named winners of the 2012 Environmental Stewardship Award (ESA) presented by Alberta Beef Producers.

In 2003, the Weders relocated north from the Camrose area up to Rycroft in the Peace Country. The young ranching family already thinks to the next generation and minimizing impacts to the land so they can leave it in better shape than when they began ranching.

“They focus on the big picture, not only growing more grass but encouraging biodiversity to thrive and carrying that through to the cattle they raise and the beef they produce,” says Greg Bowie, ESA Chair.

Over 100 wetlands have been restored throughout their Spirit View Ranch with the help of Ducks Unlimited that are great brood habitat for ducks and geese, and retain moisture that increases forage production. The Weders also have over 1,200 acres of forest and grassland protected under conservation easements. A recent wildlife inventory showed that they have 150 bird species, 45 mammals, seven amphibians and one reptile species inhabit the ranch.

“The earth is not just habitat for wildlife and birds. It’s our habitat too and we have to look after what we have in front of our doorstep. We want to make sure we keep it, we preserve it, we look after it and that’s what we do,” says Erika.

“I really believe that livestock production and grazing management systems like we encompass with beef production is one of the most sustainable long-term agriculture production systems… It doesn’t take a lot of resources going into it and allows for biodiversity, and soil and water conservation and habitat. It’s something to be proud of as a rancher to be able to sustain all of that for the next generation,” says Christoph.

Think global but act local and communicate those values to other people to make a difference. These are words used as guidance for every decision made at Spirit View Ranch.

“It isn’t a one-step process for Christoph and Erika. Their message of environmental stewardship is carried through their practice from start to finish,” says Bowie.

That silly Doug

I know I will never be accused of being “too” organized. I had asked last year for people to send me some wacky or weird photos of livestock and Hazel Paton of Oxbow, Saskatchewan did just that.

Trouble is, Hazel sent the photo in April and I didn’t find the envelope and open it until December 1. My desk isn’t that bad, but somehow this letter got mixed in with a file that I keep in a cabinet and look at only occasionally. I’d blame the kids but they haven’t lived here in years.

Anyway, I did find the photo and it is a good one. As Hazel explains: “Here is a picture of a registered polled Hereford bull, Doug, that we had when we were raising beef cattle. He’d been given his grain in this old washer tub for quite some time and had no problem. “However, even though he had no horns to hook on, he managed to get stuck! “He seemed quite resigned to this fate. Even when the tub was removed he didn’t get upset or turn furious as one might have expected him to do.”

Thanks for the photo Hazel, and my apologies for the delay. (Hazel and her husband are both in their 90s and no longer raising beef, but pictures like that of Doug the Bull, keep memories fresh). The picture was returned by mail.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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