By Brandy Harrison
STIRLING — Between 600 and 700 eager bidders — a fair number from as far afield as British Columbia and Texas — crowded around the auction ring to get a piece of Don Donnan’s highly-classified herd.
“The highlight for Bev and I was probably seeing the number of people and friends in the Holstein industry from coast to coast that decided to make our sale their destination that day,” says the Stirling dairy farmer, who dispersed his herd of largely Excellent or Very Good cows on Aug. 26.
Over 260 head, the sale averaged $4,400, with the 110 milking cows pulling in a $5,700 average price tag.
A fancy young show cow, two-year-old Wendon Windbrook Mercy, jointly owned by Donnanview and the Patenaudes of La Ferme Gillette Inc. in Embrun, topped the sale with a whopping $50,000 winning bid from Maryland cattle buyers Michael Health and Gene Iager.
T&L Cattle Company of Rosedale, British Columbia bought a two-year-old cow and a seven-month-old calf for $20,000 apiece. In all, 25 animals were bound for Alberta and British Columbia post-sale.
But a surprising number of cows are staying put.
The Donnans sold the farm to Western Ontario dairy farmer Ron Groen, who will milk in the Stirling barn for five years to comply with quota regulations before moving back to Western Ontario and returning the deed to the Donnans. Groen scooped up 44 cattle at the sale to add to about a dozen he’d bought from Donnan a year and a half ago.
“He wanted to make sure it was full as fast as it got emptied. It’s just the oddest thing. We sold them all and here they are. It was cheap trucking,” jokes Donnan.
But while he promised Bev he would sell the farm if none of their children took over, Donnan isn’t bowing out. He and Ewen MacMillan, who’s worked in his barn for 20 years, will stay on to work for Groen.