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Farmers focus on improving Ayrshire dairy cattle genetics

Quebec: Dairy herd just part of a diversified third generation farming operation

young family from Quebec

Continuing to improve the genetics as well as facilities within their dairy and hog operations tops the priority list for Quebec farmers Bruno Soucy and his wife Helene St. Pierre, as they look at where their farm is headed over the next few years.

Further improvements to barns used for a 1,500 head hog finishing operation, continuing to improve the genetics of the purebred Ayrshire dairy herd, and enlarging and remodeling one of the existing dry cow barns, are all key to ensuring the continued success of this third generation Ferme du Murier.

Soucy and St. Pierre farm at Saint-Édouard-de-Lotbinière, a community on the south side of the St. Lawrence River, west of Quebec City. The couple was earlier this year named the 2014 Outstanding Young Farmer nominees for Quebec. They will compete in the national awards competition in Quebec City later this month.

Soucy, who was born and raised on the family farm, has had a lifelong passion for farming. Even at the age of 12 he was involved in breed selection and genetics for the dairy herd. Later in life he attended college, La Pocatiere where he obtained a degree (Diplôme d’études collégiales or DEC) in animal science. He worked off farm for a few years before returning home to farm full time with his father. Although Helene, who has a non-farming background, helps out as much as possible, she is also busy raising their two children, and has a full time career as an officer with Quebec Provincial Police.

The farm, started by Bruno’s grandfather in 1947, has always been a mixed dairy, hog and cropping operation. Today Soucy, milks a 130 head herd of purebred Aryshire cattle, has facilities for finishing about 1,500 hogs and also crops about 470 acres. He produces alfalfa and silage corn, primarily as feed for the dairy herd, as well as soybean and grain corn cash crops.

While Soucy is involved in all aspects of the farm, his expertise is with the dairy herd. His approach to breeding management, use of embryo transplants and genetics and keen eye have helped him improve the quality of the family herd. Their herd genetics are sought after by breeders in various European countries. In 2014, they were honoured with the Ayrshire Master Breeder in Canada title.

Since Soucy and St. Pierre returned to the farm 12 years ago, Bruno has focused on improving all aspects of the dairy operation. Herd genetics is one aspect, but he also recently installed a robotic TMR mixer, which automatically feeds the herd, ultimately improving milk production.

Looking ahead he plans to remodel and enlarge housing for dry cows, to develop a free-stall housing system.

Improvements to barns for the finishing hog operation are also ongoing, with more renovations planned.

And as opportunities arise, Soucy also plans to buy more land to expand the cropping side of the farm as well.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

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



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