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Crossroad Farms Raises Quality Cattle

The name Crossroad Farms is synonymous with quality Simmental livestock in Saskatchewan. Whether looking for replacements or breeding stock for a purebred or commercial herd, the name Crossroad Farms is often a referral.

Gerald and Laurie Woytiuk began farming in 1973. Their yard site was located in the corner of the home quarter close to an important country crossroad, hence the name Crossroad Farms.

The Woytiuks took great pride in producing good commercial cattle and in 1996, they decided to explore the purebred industry with Simmentals. From their years of experience as commercial producers, they knew that Simmental cows, with their superior maternal traits made the very best mothers and always brought home the biggest calves in the fall. The couple travelled to shows and sales, and toured many purebred herds researching and learning from established breeders. The knowledge, shared by these breeders, laid the stepping stones for what Crossroad has accomplished today. They selected some elite high-priced females from the top of these herds and through artificial insemination and embryo transplants, the dream of developing strong foundation females to build a herd and raise good bulls was coming true. Their business flourished and so did their enthusiasm.

It breathed life into us, says Laurie, and with the Simmental breed being so versatile with traditional, full fleck, red, black and polled, your options are endless.

In 1999, we exhibited at our first show, not knowing that one of our animals would be the first of many champions to come, says Laurie.

Our focus is to raise good bulls for commercial cattlemen. We understand our customers needs, she says, because we are commercial cattle producers too.

Gerald and Laurie continue to work as a team to develop the business they have today. They have two sons, Corey, who is handicapped and unable to work on the farm but keeps everyone grounded and appreciating good health. Their second son, Jody, and his wife Jackie have four young children and live on a second yard site, two miles from the main farmyard. They are a vital part of the farm and are involved in all aspects of the operation.

The 4-H program is part of the family s roots with Gerald, Laurie and Jody all being members/leaders in the past. The oldest granddaughter, Olivia, is really enjoying her first year in 4-H, and placed in her 4-H class with her calf.

The youth are so important for the future and 4-H is such a good foundation for life, says Laurie.

Crossroad Farms calves out close to 300 purebred females annually in January/February and approximately 100 commercial cows in March. Planning for each female starts months before Jody pulls a straw from the A.I. tank to breed, then the nine-month wait that will get you out of bed at 3 a.m. just to make sure everything is OK. A calf is only three days old and already family discussions are held about the calf s potential that continues on throughout the summer, fall and right up to Bull Sale day. Through phone calls and visits with the bull buyer, the family continues to track the quality of the bull s offspring.

It is a long-term investment of time, money and planning to get the genetics one wants in place, said Laurie, who manages the office part of the operation. Records are kept of what the customer requires and what they have purchased. This allows the Woytiuks to know and meet their customers needs better. Both Laurie and Jackie spend many computer hours entering data to the Canadian Simmental Association, identifying genetics on each calf born, weaning and yearling weights, transfers, female enrolment and disposals. They also picture sale animals and compile the catalogue so that customers have as much information as possible before sale day.

The family also combines 1,500 acres of grain, and another 1,500 acres for hay and silage. In the spring when grass is sufficient, cows are sorted separating bull calves from heifer calves and taken to their pastures. Pastures cover several hundred acres of seeded and native grass with some bush, all managed by rotational grazing for efficiency. Throughout the summer calves are continually being assessed by the family and by the purebred and commercial visitors. Bull calves are weaned in August with some reaching the 900-pound-plus mark; the heifers are weaned in September.

Crossroad Farms has gone from selling animals from pens at shows and out of the yard, to an on-farm bull sale. As their business reputation grew, and the quality of their stock became more in demand, the Woytiuks had to decide how to effectively and fairly market their bulls. Five years ago, the family decided to host their own bull sale so they built a barn complete with bleachers, pens, signage, office and washroom facilities.

An annual bull sale is held in February with an average of 80 bulls on offer. They also consign some registered elite bred and open females to The Source sale in Lloydminster in mid-December and some packages of heifers are offered by private treaty at the farm.

The Woytiuks have worked hard to build their business on reputation, integrity and customer service. Their greatest reward is knowing their customers are completely satisfied with the purchase and performance of the stock.

Words of advice on building a reputable cattle business: keep your mind open and learn from others; consistency is No. 1; and enjoy what you do.

You must keep your finger on the pulse of the industry, says Laurie. Remaining current, informed and educated with the industry are key factors to the success of any business.

The best thing about the cattle business is the people. We would not be who we are today if it was not for the people we met along the way, says Laurie. Life is exciting and I wouldn t change anything or where we have come from.

The Woytiuks appreciate the many respected breeders in the industry who have selected the Crossroad Farms genetics for their herd sires and foundation females, and encourage anyone to visit the farm any time to view their breeding program.

Crossroad Farms is located four miles south of Shell Lake on Highway No. 12 and two miles east. For more information call Gerald or Laurie at 306-427-4422 or Jody and Jackie at 306-427- 4944 or email [email protected]

VivianNemishwritesfromBlaineLake, Saskatchewan

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