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ALBERTA HEREFORD ASSOCIATION - AWARDS

• Hall of Fame 2016 – NCX Polled Herefords – Dennis & Andrea Babiuk

As Dennis was growing up, he always knew he wanted to farm. He would follow his dad out to the field and run after the tractor, until his dad felt sorry for him and let him ride. By the time he was eight years old he was operating the tractor and doing summer fallow by himself.

Dennis belonged to the Brosseau 4-H Beef Club and they hosted a yearly invitational talent night. He was the MC on the night he met Andrea Charron. She belonged to the St. Brides 4-H Beef Club and was a participant. After the performance, she choose to remain backstage with Dennis. Being raised on a dairy farm, Andrea always said she would never marry a farmer. But love prevailed and they were married December 22, 1970.

Dennis bought his first bred heifer in February of 1970 from Hinterland Polled Herefords and a new herd was started. Dennis set the bar high for his Purebred Polled Herefords as they ran with his dad’s Simmental herd. In 1974, Dennis and Andrea bought 3 quarters of land starting their own homestead and the beginning of NCX Polled Herefords.

Dennis and Andrea were involved in many community organizations. The most gratifying was working with youth through the 4-H program with both being leaders for 15 years; Dennis with the Brosseau Beef and Andrea with Lakeland Light Horse.

Slowly, the NCX herd was built up to 220 purebred cows with a land base of 11 quarters. After completing the 4-H program, Dennis and Andrea’s two children, Kevin and Jennifer, wanted to continue showing. They started slowly locally at summer fairs that blossomed to showing across Western Canada. This led to Canadian and European semen sales of live animals across Canada, United States, Russia and Kazakhstan. The most influential sale animal coming out of the herd was NCX Nellie 528N cow sired by NCX Jupiter 16J.

NCX first production sale was in 1998. When preparing for their sale in 2013, a family friend’s daughter asked if she could help. Dennis thought to himself. “What the heck does he need an 8-year-old around when he’s so busy”, but he ended up saying “sure”. That eight-year-old was like a dry sponge, absorbing and learning. After working and travelling together to many Hereford events Dennis regards Larissa Lupul of Barefoot Polled Herefords, as his adopted granddaughter.

The NCX crew grew with Kevin’s marriage to Anne. They have 3 children, Phoenix, Sephirah, and Cypher. It grew again with Jennifer’s marriage to Steven Cheremshynski and their 3 children, Nicholas, Gabrielle and Jeanathan. On the grandchildren’s first birthday Dennis gave each of them a heifer calf.

In spring of 2005, a cancer diagnosis for Dennis and an injury in the fall, lead to a decision to downsize the herd and the land base. NCX Polled Herefords now calves out around 30 cows with over half being the bred and owned by the next generation of NCX: Nicholas, Gabrielle and Jeanathan.

Dennis and Andrea very much enjoyed attending Bonanza in Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and now in Alberta with the very much involved Cheremshynski grandkids. They were ecstatic when Gabrielle won National Grand Champion Female with her bred and owned pair. Gabrielle brought home NCX first National Champion, something that still continues to elude her Gido.

Dennis and Andrea are very thankful to the Hereford industry for the experiences and comradeship that NCX has developed over the years and will continue, in the able hand of the younger crew and Dennis’s help. Keep your eyes out for the signature black and yellow unit on the highway for years to come.


• Purebred Breeder of the Year 2016 - Westgard Windimuir Herefords – Jim & Georgine Westgard

Situated in the middle of the short grass prairie in East Central Alberta, Jim and Georgine have been operating Westgard Windimuir Herefords for the past 40 years.  The ranch, which is located just north of Sibbald, includes land that was homesteaded by Georgine's grandfather, Lester Huston, in 1909. 

The Westgard's are the 3rd generation to raise Registered Horned Herefords in a unique part of Alberta.  The original herd was started by Georgine's grandfather F. W. Beynon in 1926 (Bonne Vue Herefords) with the purchase of 5 Exmoor heifers from Pym Bros of Mirror, AB. These heifers were sired by Eaton Perfect, out of daughters of Alberta Don 2.  Thanks to a wedding gift of heifers, plus the opportunity to lease some of the Bonne Vue herd, these bloodlines were continued on by Jean and Murray Huston, Windimuir Herefords.  The leased cows all traced back to 2 of the 5 original heifers and formed the nucleus of the Windimuir herd.  Even today, about half of the purebred cows trace back to the original Helma and Freda lines.

Herefords and ranching were always a part of Georgine's life.  However coming from a family that valued education highly, it was off to the University of Calgary for further studies and one of those studies was a young man named Jim Westgard.  A quirk of fate (Jean's illness) brought Jim and Georgine home to help one summer and the rest as they say is history.

Jim and Georgine were involved in a family farm for 25 years with Murray and Jean Huston and Clark and Byrne Huston.  During that time 23 Windimuir Herefords production sales were held, the last one in 2003.  Bulls were also sold at Calgary, Cereal, Hanna and Medicine Hat.  Several field days were held at the ranch as well.   Jim was an Alberta Hereford Association director and both Jim and Georgine have been part of the East Central Hereford Club for years.

Jim and Georgine have two children, son Clint and daughter Alix, who contributed to the overall operation during their growing up years and still help out in various ways.  They were also encouraged to further their education and so far no quirk of fate has brought them back to the ranch.  Both are presently employed at the University of Calgary.

The operation has changed considerably over the past 15 years, moving from a mixed farm to a cattle ranch.  Marginal land was seeded to grass, either for additional grazing or hay.  Available pasture in the area was also purchased allowing for an increase in cow numbers.  As well, 600 acres of oats and barley are annually seeded for feed. 

The cow herd has expanded to 70 purebred and 200 commercial Horned Hereford cows.  50 to 100 heifers are also bred each year, all exposed to Horned Hereford bulls.  The commercial herd is the proving ground for the genetics used in the purebred herd.  Bulls were sold at the Medicine Hat and East Central Bull Sales and females at the Supremacy Sale until recently, when lack of available help required difficult choices.  Yearling and two year old bulls are now sold off the farm or are retained for use in the commercial herd. 

The calves are kept over the winter, with the steers selling in February and the heifers in March at Balog Auction.  For many years, additional Hereford heifer calves are purchased at Balog's British Breeds sale, backgrounded and re-sold in March with good rewards most years.  Bringing in other calves certainly shows you how your own cattle are doing.  Open yearling heifers are also sold at Corbiell's Bull Sale as well as off the farm.  Many customers are looking for strait bred Herefords.

When asked recently why they are still raising purebred Herefords, the comments were “Seeing the progeny of an animal you sold to another herd do so well, is extremely rewarding; the continual quest to achieve that perfect mating is an ongoing challenge; following trends in the cattle market overall and in purebred sales continues to be so interesting; the wonderful friends in the Hereford fraternity make it all worth while.


• Commercial Cattleman of the Year – 2016 Robert & Leroy Hayes - Hayes Ranch – Hanna, AB


In 1917, Robert & Leroy Hayes father homesteaded just south of Hanna starting out with 1 Hereford cow. This was the start of the Hayes Ranch back then and it slowly increased in cow numbers and land capacity.  When Robert & Leroy’s father passed away in 1963, the brothers started working together to keep the place going.  At this time, they had 25 Commercial Hereford cows with 4.5 sections of land to start their own place.

The winters around Hanna can be very challenging with the blowing wind and snow.  Most cattle will feel the temperature change and some may not fair well in these conditions.  Robert and Leroy have reported that they have land near Finnegan Ferry where they will winter their herd and have had success feeding and bringing the cattle home happy and well fed.

Their annual branding usually occurs at the end of June.  The crew that comes and helps the Hayes brothers have mostly been Hereford Breeders they have been around in the past years.  They also have a full time hired hand and every spring they hire at least 3-part time young gals to help train their horses for the annual horse sale that is in August.

The Hayes brothers have always bought Hereford cattle throughout their herd.  They have tried other breeds to cross breed but have always had success with the Hereford.  Some of the Breeders they have enjoyed doing business with are Corbiell Herefords, DW Herefords, Carlram Herefords, Randy & Robin Flecik, Tide Creek Herefords and the Musgroves. 

Robert & Leroy still enjoy their hard cold winters, busy springs with calving, summers with haying and fall for bringing home of the cattle for the winter.   They have down size to 700 head of commercial cows and maintain the ranch with 30 sections.  It is something they are very happy to share is their challenges and awards with running this ranch south of Hanna, AB.


NORTHERN ALBERTA HEREFORD CLUB - AWARDS

• Purebred Breeder 2016 – Lone Pine Ranch


Our journey with Herefords began in 1984 with 2 Heifers from Karen’s parents. Since then females have been purchased from many prominent Breeders in Alberta. Our kids, Kelly, Randy and Jodi were very active in 4-H and AJHA showing their Hereford and Hereford influence projects. They all took their turns helping at shows. Kelly was Chairperson of Bonanza in 2001 in Camrose and putting on that event was a family event. She then became Adult Advisor to the Juniors, was a Director of the NAHC and AHA. The last few years she was the push behind our show string.  Our kids are now on their own paths. Kelly is in Georgia, Randy in Red Deer and Jodi in Nova Scotia.
           
Bruce was a 4-H leader for 18 years, Chairman of the District Beef Committee for 4 years, and on the 4-H Provincial Heifer Show Committee for 2 years. He is the Chairman of the Lacombe Bull Sale, a Director of NAHC, and AHA Director. Karen is a Director of the NAHC and Secretary of the Club. She has clerked many show over the last years but mostly likes to stay in the background and look after the details (designing our promotional material or forking manure whichever is needed).

We run approximately 100 head of females and strive for easy fleshing, moderate birthweights, calving easy, and good growth. Our animals are not pampered or pushed. We have sold bulls that have walked pastures for 10 years for their new owners. Not good for us but great for them. Most of our bulls are sold by Private Treaty. We do take bulls to Lacombe Bull Sale and for the first time Calgary Bull Sale. Our animals can also be seen at Hardisty Field Day, Farmfair, and the Canadian Bull Congress and in our pastures.

One of our biggest joys now is promoting Herefords threw kids that may be wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show them otherwise.


• Commercial Breeder 2016 - Jim Hines and Family

The KM Ranch is one of Alberta’s good historical ranches still in operation near Kitscoty, AB. The “Walking U” brand is still used to mark some to the top commercial cattle in our province. KM Ranch originated in 1906 near Rockyford, AB, at the site now known as the Stallville Colony. Always determined to improve his herd, Dick Hines purchased bulls from the Calgary Bull Sale in 1910. He drove his team of horses and sleigh to Calgary, purchased bulls, tied them to the sleigh and walked them home.

In 1918, the KM Ranch moved north to Kitscoty country. The Hines Family loaded 1700 head of cattle on trains and transported them north to the new ranch and turned them out. That year they sold all the calves which was a very good idea because the winter was severe and the cattle had to adapt to the changes of elevation and environment. In 1921, the Hines family built a house and a barn in 1923 which are both still standing and in use.

Always trying to improve his herd Dick Hines purchased the Calgary Bull Sale Grand Champion in 1958 from the Simonet Family of Clandonald. In the early years going to grass meant swimming the North Saskatchewan River and driving the cattle north to more pasture. By 1957, the Lea Park Bridge was built and the livestock was trailed across the bridge 12 miles north to pasture. In 1958, a grazing association was formed by nine Hines family members and Oscar Peterson. This area included 18,000 acres north of the river. This site of Lea Park was often used to match up pairs and sort cattle and still is today.

Jim, and later with his son Marty, and families have operated this ranch from the early 1960’s to the present time running up to 400 head. Jim sold 200 top cows a couple of years ago, to slow down, but I think the best he will be able to do is semi retire. Jim and his son Marty have continued the tradition of buying top bulls and currently have one of the best herd bull batteries you will find anywhere. This has paid off however, because they have won the top prize with their steers six years running at the British Breeds Sale at Balog Auction. When asked why Balog Auction? Jim will tell you “Bob has treated us like gold every year we have been going there” and can’t stress enough the good service and hospitality they have received. Jim and Marty also travel their steers to compete against large drafts of Hereford steers that are among the best in Western Canada and to sell close to Feel Lot Alley where the highest gathering of steers is fed in Canada.

Jim has purchased several bulls from experienced Hereford producers. He knows what he wants and doesn’t settle for less. Jim says that most of the time big cattle fetch the most money and doesn’t agree with downsizing the cow herd and buying very low birth weight stock. You can get small inferior cattle easy enough by not buying good enough bulls. Their biggest steers top the market and their heavy cows bring the most salvage.

The KM Ranch and the Hines Family have been one of the top producing ranches for many years and the Hereford Association would like to thank the Jim and Marty Hines Families for their leadership and ongoing support of the Hereford industry. Congratulations for being chosen the 2016 Commercial Breeder of the Year. Well deserved.

Submitted by Al Fenton.


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