“It is a great day and age to be producing beef,” says Bryan Bonney of Norfolk Cattle in Tillsonburg, Ontario. “Modern tools and advances in technology greatly simplify our lives helping us spend our time and energy improving our cattle rather than addressing time consuming problems.”
Bryan Bonney and Dana Cadman are first generation cattle producers. Assistance on the farm comes with small but willing hands of their daughter Addison (8) and son Beau (5). Raising purebred Angus and full blood Fleckvieh Simmentals, Norfolk Cattle is a seed stock operation. Believing in quality over quantity they micromanage their 70 breeding cows understanding that paying attention to the small details makes all the difference.
“It’s all about efficiency,” Bonney says. “Angus tend to have a shorter gestation, mature at a younger age, and finish at a higher grade.” Raising replacement females and breeding bulls he takes advantage of artificial insemination and embryo transfer to have the best genetics available for customers. The top producing cows are flushed and embryos are transferred into recipients. “Embryo transfer calves make up half the calf crop.” Bonney comments his Simmentals are exceptional mothers, who milk well and are docile making them easy to work with. He goes on to say, “Raising full blood Simmentals in addition to the Angus allows customers to choose what works best for them.”
Bonney is a believer in taking advantage of current technology and scientific advances to aid him in producing the most efficient animals possible. “Dana and I were just talking about how fortunate we are to living and raising cattle in this age of knowledge and technology. Every aspect of life is so much easier, we have information at our fingertips.”
Using the latest science in genomic enhanced EPDs (Expected Progeny Differences) Bonney says, “Genomic testing gives more insight into what the animal actually is, taking management differences out of the equation.” Genomic information is able to predict performance of offspring earlier with more confidence researchers say. Genomic enhanced EPDs improve selection of bulls and replacement females saving producers time and money. Cadman keeps track of all information on excel spreadsheets. Bonney believes these records are extremely important and will develop even more importance as trends became evident.
By collecting data and using current science Bonney provides the best information possible enabling customers to successfully select cattle that will help them reach their goals. “Birthweights and growth impact fertility and breed back of heifers and cows; growth and scrotal development of bull calves are important considerations for fertility as well. Combining ultrasound carcass data, disposition considerations and how well the animal is put together; looking at feet, legs, and soundness along with our collected data and the genomic enhanced EPDs we are able to select the best offering for the private treaty bull sale in February.”
Calves are born in mid-December through February in a monoslope barn at Norfolk Cattle. Once grass is available pastures are rotated to allow 20 to 30 days’ rest. “Everyday fence are moved using ring top posts and Gallagher Turbo Wire reels. The paddocks are approximately 100 ft wide by 600ft long. Our soils are sandy, overgrazing can be a real problem. Exposed soil temperature become very warm preventing forage growth. I was told I wouldn’t be able to raise cattle on grass here but I am doing it with the help of Gallagher products. We are fortunate to have a local knowledgeable suppler of Gallagher products in Brussels Agri Service“.
The perimeter fence made of 5 strands of hi tensile has been maintenance free connected to a Gallagher MR 5000 energizer. Another product I wouldn’t be without is the Gallagher Fault Finder. I can make sure the fence is hot as we set up new paddocks, if there is a problem, I am able to locate it quickly with the fault finder.” Using bungy gates Bonney comments that he never needs to dig gates out of snow, a plus living in Ontario. Not only a fan of efficient cattle, Bonney says that efficient equipment saves him time and affords him peace of mind, “I worry about things I need to worry about.”
One thing Bonney says he never worries about is water for the cattle. A must for livestock in the frigid Ontario winters is maintenance free waterers that work well no matter what time of year. Bonney has thirteen E-Fount 3390E waterers by Miraco scattered throughout his pastures and in the barn that the cattle use year-round. He says some these waterers were installed five years ago and have been trouble free. Obviously, a fan he comments, “Some are exposed to wind and become buried in snow. I simply dig them out, tap the ball with a rubber mallet to break them free of ice and they are ready to go.” All have been installed as recommended. “The water stays very clean with no algae growth. A couple times a year I spend 10 minutes cleaning them out by simply removing a few screws and the drain plug. The Miraco waterers provide clean, cold, fresh water to the cattle which I believe to be as important as their nutrition,” says Bonney.
The atmosphere of the farm is a great place to raise the kids. Beau has his sights set on farming and Addison loves being outside helping with the calves and gardening. “We even have Gallagher Turbo Wire around the garden,” Cadman points out. Bonney says, “Seeing the cattle do well for my customers is very satisfying. Success proves we are on the right path putting emphasis on the science behind raising cattle.”
“Efficient cattle, efficient technology and efficient equipment helps me to concentrate on the important aspects of raising my family and producing great cattle.”
More information about Norfolk Cattle can be found at their website: https://norfolkcattle.com