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Industry loses well-known cattleman

A funeral service was held in early December for one of the larger-than-life characters of the Canadian beef industry, Neil Jahnke, who died at his ranch near Gouldtown, Sask., November 26. He was 70.

Active in the family ranch, and the Canadian beef industry most of his life, highlights of his life and career were captured in the obituary written by his family:

“Neil was born on August 15, 1942, in Swift Current, Sask. to Elmer and Mary Jahnke, the eldest of five children. He grew up on the ranch north of Glen Kerr, attending school in Log Valley and in Herbert.

“He met the love of his life, Marilyn Gall, at the Little Lake while wearing swimming trunks, boots and a cowboy hat… us kids come by our sense of style honestly. They were married on November 1, 1966, in Morse. They lived at the ranch by Glen Kerr until moving to the Big Coulee northeast of Gouldtown in 1973, where they raised two children, lived and ranched until Neil’s death.

“He was always very active in cowboy politics and served as the president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, vice-chairman of the International Livestock Congress, a member of Canadian Agri-food Marketing Council, Chairman of the Horned Cattle trust fund, chairman of the Saskatchewan Cattle Marketing Deductions Act, president and founding member of Canada Beef Export Federation, founding chairman of the Western Beef Development Centre, chairman of the Beef Information Center, president of the Saskatchewan Livestock Association, vice-president of Canadian Western Agribition, and chairman of the Commercial Cattle Committee, president of the Saskatchewan Stockgrowers Association and director of the Herbert Stampede Committee.

“He was also involved in 4-H, the local school board, the Elks and the Lions. He was named cattleman of the year by SSGA in 1993, received an honourary life membership in the Agricultural Institute of Canada in 1994, received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2001, an honourary life membership with the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists in 2004, was inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the Honour Scroll from the Saskatchewan Livestock Association in 2010. The Record Stockman named Dad Canadian Livestock Industry Leader of the year 2006. These boards and the people he met through them were very important to him as was the ranch and his family, especially his grandchildren.

“Neil was rough, gruff and opinionated, but had an incredibly soft heart and worried about everyone. He loved to argue and it was great if you agreed with him. But, even if you disagreed, if you could back up your beliefs he would accept your right to your own opinion. Convincing him to change his mind was another matter altogether. Neil is survived by his wife, Marilyn; daughter, JJ; grandson, Wyatt; son, Shane (Natasha) — granddaughter, Savannah, grandson Colt; the daughter of his heart, Jill Shapland, her boys, Joshua and Logan; his parents, Elmer & Mary Jahnke” as well as his siblings and several other relatives.

Online research

Through a partnership with, the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) has launched a new online learning resource called Beef Research School for the benefit of Canadian beef cattle producers.

The school, a series of approximately 30 videos, will encourage producers to utilize research-supported knowledge and technologies, which can positively impact their herds, land and bottom lines, and support the competitiveness and sustainability of the industry.

Videos will feature interviews with researchers, veterinarians and other industry experts from across Canada on the latest research knowledge and technology, as well as progressive producers and feedlots that put it into practical use on their operations. Each segment will run approximately six to 10 minutes.

“Producers have demonstrated they are keen to learn and will quickly adopt new research-supported ideas when it makes sense for their operation,” says Matt Bowman, chair of the BCRC and a producer from Thornloe, Ontario. “Given the range of research topics of interest to producers, it can be difficult for them to stay caught up on publications or attend numerous seminars and field days, so the videos will be an engaging, convenient way to learn about the latest innovations.”

Topics presented by the videos will include research related to animal health and welfare, feeds, food safety, beef quality, genetics and environmental stewardship. The series will also discuss the importance and value of research in the Canadian beef cattle industry, showcase a research centre and highlight extension resources available across the country. Videos in the School will continue to be filmed and distributed through to Summer 2013.

Preston heads TB eradication program

The former chief veterinarian for Manitoba has been named the co-ordinator of the province’s TB eradication program.

Dr. Allan Preston will take charge of the long-running program aimed at eliminating bovine tuberculosis from the Riding Mountain Eradication Area (RMEA) of northwestern Manitoba.

Bovine TB is a reportable disease in Canada and its prevalence in livestock remains extremely low. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency runs a surveillance system in federally inspected abattoirs across the country. The most recent detected case in Canada was in a herd in British Columbia in 2011.

Livestock herds in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain eradication area (RMEA), however, are considered to be at higher risk because of the presence of the disease in wild deer and elk in the area. Wild elk are believed to be the reservoir for the disease in the park.

The RMEA and the rest of Manitoba have been able to maintain a “bovine TB-free” status since 2006, with CFIA’s ongoing surveillance. The disease has not been detected in Manitoba livestock since May 2008, and since 2003 before that case.

During the 2011-12 surveillance season, a total of 7,523 head of RMEA livestock were tested for TB across 79 herds. While progress has been made in managing bovine TB in the RMEA in recent years, but the disease continues to be endemic in wild deer and elk, posing “significant challenges” for livestock producers in the area. Many producers in the RMEA are required to have their herds tested for TB periodically, in order to protect animal health and maintain market access.

While CFIA pays the cost for the TB tests, producers are responsible for presenting their animals for testing, and the testing and mitigation efforts “inflict considerable costs on producers,” says the Manitoba Beef Producers.

“MBP has long called for the appointment of a TB co-ordinator and we are pleased that governments have made our request a priority,” said Ray Armbruster, MBP president. “Dr. Preston brings a tremendous amount of industry knowledge and expertise to this position and we look forward to working with him.” Preston resides near Riding Mountain National Park, where he operates a grain and beef cattle farm in Hamiota.

McCartney honoured

The Canadian Forage & Grassland Association (CFGA) has named Duane McCartney as the recipient of the first- ever CFGA Leadership Award. “McCartney’s leadership qualities that have truly made a difference for the forage and grassland sector on a national and international level,” says CFGA chair Doug Wray. 

McCartney worked in the agriculture industry for over 35 years, and as an employee of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Melfort Research Station in Saskatchewan he was instrumental in developing the first “Pasture to Plate” forage beef research system in Canada. However, to the producer he is most recognized as the “face of extended grazing.” McCartney’s timely efforts before and during the aftermath of the 2003 BSE crisis gave alternatives to help save the cow-calf sector of the Canadian beef industry. The extended grazing winter feeding/management systems McCartney researched and extended out into the hands of producers saves close to 50 per cent of the cost/day to winter a beef cow. That has been estimated to be anywhere from $70-$165 million in savings to cow-calf producers in Alberta alone. These new systems addressed economics where it mattered most, since feed and management in winter are 60-65 per cent of the total production cost of cow-calf producers.

As a result of McCartney’s work and leadership, extended grazing systems have now become a common practice in use by most cow-calf producers in Canada. He extended his research findings at provincial livestock conferences, producer meetings all across Canada, international conferences, and in the farm press. The “300-plus days grazing” phrase he coined is now used in publications throughout North America. 

Diamond Jubilee Awards

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) has announced that 38 Canadians will receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for their significant contributions to the beef industry, their community and their country.

CCA President Martin Unrau said it is a special honour to be able to recognize the professional contributions of so many respected individuals in the industry that have worked hard to make a difference.

Recipients include:  

From British Columbia: Morrie Thomas, and Rudy Johnson.

From Alberta: Anne Dunford, Arno Doerksen, Ben Thorlakson, Bob Prestage, Brian Nilsson, Chris Mills, Cor Van Raay, Darcy Davis, Dave Plett, David Andrews, Dennis Laycraft, Eugene Janzen, Garnet Altwasser, Hugh Lynch-Staunton, John Stewart-Smith, Julie Stitt, Len Vogelaar, Steve Morgan-Jones, Mabel Hamilton, and Tim McAllister.

From Saskatchewan: Brad Wildeman, Gary L. Jones, John McKinnon, and Neil Jahnke, (posthumously).

From Manitoba: Marlin Beever.

From Ontario, Carolyn McDonell, Charlie Gracey, Graeme Hedley,Jock Buchanan-Smith, Margaret Jean Hutton, Stan Eby, and W. Ronald Usborne.

From the Maritimes: Henry Knight, and Robert Acton, N.B.; Charlie MacKenzie, N.S. and Darlene Sanford, P.E.I.

Also receiving the award and nominated by other organizations for their significant contributions to Canada’s beef cattle industry are Martin Unrau (Man.); John Newman (Ont.); Harvey Dann (Man.); Shirley McClellan (Alta.); and Red Williams (Sask.).



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