Sheep producers named farm family of the year

Written by Lorraine Stevenson - Manitoba Co-operator Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sheep producers named farm family of the year

Silver Bend Ranch of Miniota has earned the 2018 honour from the Red River Exhibition Association

By Lorraine Stevenson
Reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator

Brian Greaves & Karen Hill

Brian Greaves and Karen Hill and their son Mark are the Red River Exhibition Association’s 2018 Farm Family of the Year. The couple also has a daughter, Alison, who is studying veterinary medicine in New Zealand.
A Miniota-area couple who began to farm “from scratch” in the early 1990s is the 2018 Farm Family of the Year, named by the Red River Exhibition Association (RREA).
Brian Greaves and Karen Hill, who have two children Mark and Alison, were presented with the award during the Hall of Fame banquet in Winnipeg last week.
It’s a great honour, says the couple, who took over the farm on Hill’s family’s side in 1993, naming it Silver Bend Ranch.

A school teacher, Hill met Greaves in New Zealand while visiting there to do some travelling and teaching.
Greaves brought with him over 20 years’ experience in the sheep sector when he came to Canada.
The two and a quarter sections they began to farm included land Karen’s grandparents had homesteaded, plus land acquired by uncles and her father over time.
Her father bought his parcel with pay from his service in the Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, but pursued a career as an agricultural representative in Dauphin instead of going back to farm.
Hill and Greaves stepped up as farm successors after her bachelor uncles had no immediate family to carry on behind them.
They then became both sheep and cattle farmers and have exemplified adaptation, innovation and environmental stewardship in their farm operation.

Big changes

Over a relatively short period of time, they made many changes and improvements to it, the most significant being switching all its cropland over to perennial pasture.
They re-established hay land, added shelterbelts, enabled rotational grazing, and restored a nearby wetland, fencing it to keep out livestock. They also began to deploy innovative farming practices like no-till seeding, polycropping, and winter bale grazing.
All of this was done to ensure their farm’s long-term sustainability, said Hill.
Theirs is very light and sandy soil, which had eroded and become depleted from earlier conventional practices used there.
“We knew if we were going to be a success on the farm, job one was to restore the health of the soil,” she said.
The wetland restoration was undertaken in a partnership with Upper Assiniboine Conservation District. The area had been drained in the 1950s when Hwy. 83 was constructed, but was never a productive site and they wanted to see its role protecting the watershed resume, said Hill.
“We have wonderful groundwater here and it’s really important to us to maintain that underground water supply.”
They also worked with the Upper Assiniboine Conservation District and Prairie View Municipality to create an easement on 95 acres of land along the Assiniboine River for the development of publicly accessible hiking trails and riparian forest, and Hill was involved with a local committee that had interpretive signage placed on it acknowledging the presence of Aboriginal people once residing in the surrounding Assiniboine River Valley.
Their artifacts dating back 1,000 years have been found in the river valley below their farm, notes Hill.

Sheep producers

The couple has 120 head of cattle but are also the first sheep producers to be honoured with the RREA award.
They currently have 60 breeding ewes and about 140 lambs and Greaves’ experiments with crossbreeding their sheep flock have produced a composite breed featuring maximum carcass growth, increased fertility and significantly higher-quality wool.
They took the view that if you have to shear wool, it should generate income, said Hill. Lower-quality wool can cost more to have it sheared than it’s worth.
“Our sheep now produce 10 to 12 lbs. of wool per sheep and we’re now into the levels of what’s considered finer wool, so we’re looking at $2 to $2.40 per pound for it,” she said.
Greaves has served in numerous leadership roles with groups and boards such as the Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers, Manitoba Sheep Association, served as a mentor to other sheep producers, and as a wool and sheep judge in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Karen’s been a volunteer board member and staff with Agriculture in the Classroom–MB and a 4-H leader while also serving on the executive of local sports and culture groups.

Next generation

Their devotion to agricultural life has evidently rubbed off on the next generation too.
Their son Mark has recently signaled his intent and interest to carry on the farm and is now enrolled to study animal science in September. Their daughter Alison is completing her final year of study in veterinary medicine in New Zealand.
The farm family’s name has been added to a distinguished list of 52 other farm families recognized by the RREA since the award’s inception in 1966.
“The Greaves Hill family is deserving of this award because they embody what it means to live in rural Manitoba,” said Eleanor Cassels, chair of the Farm Family committee and president of the Red River Exhibition Association.
“They engage with their community, are exemplary stewards of the environment and have built a farm business that is progressive, diverse and a welcome place to work and visit.”
This article was originally published in the June 28 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator.

Posted in Company News

Alberta Veterinarian Honoured for Dedicating Entire Career to Canadian Livestock Industry

Written by Alberta Lamb Producers Thursday, July 12, 2018

Alberta Veterinarian Honoured for Dedicating Entire Career to Canadian Livestock Industry

Press release:  Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, July 6, 2018 


Vancouver, B.C. – Dr. Kathleen Parker was awarded the 2018 Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) Merck Veterinary Award for dedicating her entire career to contributing to the Canadian livestock industry, including poultry, swine, beef, and more recently, small ruminants.
After graduating from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in 1981, Dr. Parker established a mixed animal practice in central Alberta. The large animal ambulatory service has evolved into a comprehensive mixed animal practice today at a clinic in Three Hills, Alta. where she also runs a purebred Suffolk Sheep Farm with her husband.
Her dedication and passion for the improvement of animal health has been demonstrated through her lifetime commitment to her own practice, as well the various positions she has held within small ruminant organizations and her involvement with industry events.
Dr. Parker remains a valued keynote speaker at symposiums, workshops, and conferences across Canada. She strives to encompass the overall scope of the animal health industry by empowering producers, students, and clients to learn and understand the purpose and benefit of livestock welfare. She is a veterinarian that teaches those around her because it is her belief that knowledge is power.
“She has devoted countless hours to producer meetings, continuing education events for producers and veterinarians alike, and has sat on numerous boards and advisory committees,” says Dr. Leisa Floreani, veterinarian at the Fairview Veterinary Clinic Ltd. “Furthermore, she has also mentored dozens of veterinary students from both the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. The value of her tireless efforts towards developing young veterinarians cannot be overstated.”
One of her biggest contributions to the health of small ruminants in western Canada was securing the funding and authors to develop the various modules that make up the Flock Health Manuals available through the Alberta Lamb Producers website (
The Merck Veterinary Award, sponsored by Merck Animal Health, is presented to a veterinarian whose work in large animal practice, clinical research, or basic sciences is judged to have contributed significantly to the advancement of large animal medicine and surgery, including herd health management.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is the national and international voice for Canada’s veterinarians, providing leadership and advocacy for veterinary medicine. Each year, CVMA proudly recognizes individuals and groups for their outstanding contribution to veterinary medicine. Visit to learn more about CVMA.

Congratulations to Dr. Parker from Alberta Lamb Producers on receiving this prestigious award!


Holstein Agro Expo 2018

Written by CCWG Friday, July 6, 2018

Holstein Agro Expo 

Sheep Shearing Competition July 6-7, 2018

7th Annual Eastern Canadian Sheep Shearing Competition

7th Annual Eastern Canadian Sheep Shearing Competition

Left to right:
Don Metheral, Don Lewis, Jerry Kelleher, Sam Sloan, John Kuepfer


Posted in Shearing News

Wool Handling & Evaluation Course

Written by SPANS Thursday, June 7, 2018

Sheep Producers Association of Nova Scotia are conducting a Wool Handling & Evaluation Course to all who are interested!

wool handling & evaluation course in NS

Date: July 4th - 6th

Location: NSPE Complex, Bible Hill, NS

Instructor: Lisa Surber

A practical, hands-on course aimed at providing education on improving the qulaity of the flock's wool clip.
Learn good fleece handling & preparation techniques, from the sheep to the sack.
"Improved Quality = Increased Returns"
Learn to assess wool for different end-users, such as in the fibre arts and crafts. 

Register: before June 22

Contact: Ashley at SPANS 902-895-0581