Wallenstein’s Sauder Holme and St. Paul’s Squibbland honoured
Sticking to the basics and doing it well has paid off for two Ontario dairy farms that have earned this year’s prestigious Master Breeder shield from Holstein Canada.
Holstein Canada designated 19 farms as Master Breeders for 2021, including four in Ontario, 10 in Quebec, two in Alberta, two in Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick.
The two farms in southwestern Ontario to earn the shield were Sauder Holme in Wallenstein, north of Waterloo, and Squibbland in St. Paul, southwest of Stratford.
More than 1,000 Master Breeder shields have been awarded since the programs began in 1929. The shields are awarded based on a point system including balanced breeding with high production, outstanding conformation, and great reproduction, health, and longevity.
Founded in 1884, Holstein Canada has 9,200 members and is responsible for maintaining the Holstein Herdbook under the Federal Animal Pedigree Act of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Squibbland is operated by Dean and Debbie Squibb and their son Steve. It’s the second time the Squibbs have received the Master Breeder shield, the last time was in 2005. Master Breeders have to wait 14 years before they can receive another shield.
Dean and Debbie Squibb started the farm in 1984. The farm maintains about 70 cows in a tie-stall barn. The Squibbs grow mainly forage crops on 100 acres of their own and an additional 300 acres that are rented.
Steve Squibb now mostly handles the breeding program on the farm. “Our philosophy is to focus on strong, powerful cows,” Steve said. “We keep an eye on all the genetics and stay on our path, not going along with the fad of the day.”
Murrel Sauder has been in the dairy industry his whole life but started his own operation in 1999 with his wife Martha and started with a herd of 25 cows.
“We kept growing … and the animals we bought did really well for us,” he said.
The Sauders now milk 43 cows in a tie-stall barn. The farm grows corn, hay and wheat on 100 acres and an additional 37 acres of rented land.
“We have also just tried to do the little things right,” said Sauder, commenting on his breeding program.
Producers still face a challenging year despite a decision by the Canadian Dairy Commission to raise the price of raw milk by 8.4 per cent in February.
Squibb said the increase was “well needed” and will largely be eaten up by the swiftly rising costs of inputs.