Rodney was born and raised on the farm south of Riverhurst near the shores of Lake Diefenbaker he now calls Misty Creek Farms. It has been in his family since homestead, qualifying it as a “century farm”. Cattle have always been a part of this farm’s history.After graduating from high school in Central Butte, Rodney attended Palliser Campus in Moose Jaw and received a diploma in Electrical Engineering Technology. He tried city life for six years working for SaskTel, but the call of the country was too strong. So in 1981 Rodney started full time farming that included six cows and twelve heifers.
His grain and cattle farm has a cattle herd that includes eighty cows which he refers to as “his girls”as they must share in the responsibility of making the farm profitable.
Rodney’s cattle management philosophy includes four main elements:
1.The herd size is integral to the farm’s resources and sustainability.The cattle herd utilizes the farm’s land and feed base that are better suited for cattle raising than grain farming. The herd grazes many different pastures and fields during the year.
The main herd is typically divided in the spring into smaller herds which then rotational graze the native and tame grasses in many smaller pastures or paddocks from April through November. Abundant water is piped to various locations in the pastures so the cattle don’t overgraze grass near the water source.
2. All the feed the cattle use is sourced on the farm. Summer pasture and winter feed (grass, hay and straw) come from several locations on the farm and manure is recycled for crop production. Any grain used also comes from the farm. No growth hormones are used, only salt and mineral supplement are used in their diet.
After harvest the herd will also forage through grain fields eating grain missed with the harvest operations. Because of the variety of field crops grown this provides a wide variety of feed sources. A popular (tasty) choice is dry bean stubble as the herd will sort through it regularly looking for a stray bean.
3. Rodney’s herd care philosophy includes maintaining herd health without excess use of vaccines with the appropriate balance of protecting the individual health of animals when they require it without treating the whole herd.
The herd is a closed herd which means all the replacement stock (heifers) are selected from the herd with the only outside animals being yearling bulls introduced every couple of years to maintain herd genetics. A closed herd allows closer control over disease entering from other herds.
4. Herd handling is done on a regular basis throughout the year to observe any changes in the cattle (herd health) as well as to familiarize them (new calves) with humans, horses, dogs and vehicles.
Herd handling includes moving the cattle through handling facilities (corrals, barns, alleys, squeezes and head gates) located in a manner that doesn’t unnecessarily alarm or stress the cattle. An important source for design of the facilities has been Temple Grandin’sphilosophies on “the world as a cow sees it” which has provided valuable insight into protecting the cattle as well as the humans that work with them and make the necessary interaction a lot safer. Herd checking is done frequently to monitor herd health and performance.