Evolution of Shadow Creek Farm and Target Red Poll
The Red Poll breed of cattle have been a part of our family history for the past three generations with Dean’s parents and maternal grandparents owning Red Poll cows and now our grand kids are helping during calving season.
Origins and the Old Farm
Dean and Marsha Anderson bought their first Red Poll bull, Double M Ricochet, as a calf in the fall of 1983 from the McRorie’s at Jarvie, Alberta. This bull was used on grade crossbred cattle with the resulting heifer calves retained. These offspring were noted for easy calving, lots of milk and great mothers that usually let several calves suckle. So after consistently rearing bigger calves the decision was made to purchase five registered Red Poll bred heifers in January of 1987.
The Red Poll cattle are very docile with Marsha penning a cow at night and milking her out in the morning before letting her back with the herd. This kept our young family supplied with milk as well as some of the neighbors. It did not seem to matter which cow as they all generally would stand to be milked with little fuss.
Red Poll cattle are also noted for small calving weights with large weaning weights so we had little difficulty in selling the bull calves throughout the Peace River area with equal numbers going into Alberta and BC.
The New Farm
Skip ahead to 2007, a pivotal year for us as a family, with retirement looming on both fronts and discussions of what we were going to do as we were too young to quit working. Dean loves to build and Marsha loves her cattle, so we started a new farm from scratch. Roads and dams where built in the summer of 2007, land was cleared in the winter of 2007, planting of pasture and hay land was done in summer of 2008, a hay shed built in 2009, Water wells, cattle water systems and fences constructed in 2010, more fences and a shop built in 2012, a barn and corrals set up in 2013 and for 2014 – a house in progress. You can see where the priorities lay.
As for the Red Polls, in 2012 & 2013, we bought new bloodlines with heifer calves from four different bulls, primarily from Larry & Linda Flemming from Wabamun, Alberta and then in the summer of 2014 picked up the complete herd dispersal from Harold E Howe out of Swalwell, Alberta. With the realization that the genetic pool of the Red Poll breed in western Canada is limited in 2013, we bought 200 straws of Pinpur Movin’ On, a bull bred at the Purdue University Ag Station. Again in 2014 we looked at an outstanding bull in New South Wales, Australia and imported 600 straws of Eurimbla Leopold. Since then Leopold’s semen has gone to New Zealand and other breeders in Australia. With further purchases of Red Poll semen we now have seven different AI bulls to choose from with Genetics from England, New Zealand, Australia and the US.
As to the future, we continue to use progeny data and conformation selection to better the breeding herd, while realizing that commercial cattlemen have differing requirements for their bull selection. We also continue to use AI to improve the quality of animals that we have on the farm and offer for sale.