LLOYDMINSTER — Like most cattle producers, Ritchie Davies has faced his share of challenges.
However, his perseverance and longevity in the industry have earned his business the highest recognition at the Lloydminster Stockade Round Up.
On Nov. 2, the Lloydminster Exhibition Association presented Davies’ family-owned and operated business, Vee Tee Feeders Ltd., with this year’s Cattlemen of the Year award in a special ceremony during the Round Up.
“I am feeling very good about it. It is awesome to receive that in this area from this organization because the company that you are included in is pretty incredible,” said Davies.
“There are many, many worthwhile cattle organizations in the surrounding area that have received this and we are honoured to be joining them.”
Davies, who has farmed just northwest of Lloydminster his entire life, started Vee Tee Feeders with his brother, David, and friend, Don Olson, in 1973.
The Davies brothers began working the ranch and Olson joined on as the office manager and bookkeeper.
What began as a small operation has now grown to include an 8,000 head feedlot with a cow-calf herd, more than 1,500 commercial cows, a 150 head purebred Angus herd and an order buying business.
The company covers many facets of the cattle industry, but Davies said he doesn’t believe they have done anything particularly special to deserve the award.
“I don’t think we have done anything unique or different or cutting edge more than anyone else in the cattle industry. We just did the same things and suffered the same ups and downs. I like to think that circumstances and probably just staying with it benefited us more than anything,” he said.
The family pulled the business through the BSE crisis in the early 2000s and suffered through the sudden death of Olson, losing a friend and partner in 2007.
Davies credits Olson as being a large part of the business, managing the office side until his death.
However, the last decade has also seen new life breathed into the business, thanks to Davies and his wife Linda’s three children, Ted, Don and Jennifer, and their spouses, who are all now involved in Vee Tee Feeders.
“We are very fortunate to have young people that want to stay in this industry and probably the biggest tragedy of BSE has been that we lost a generation of cattlemen and we are not going to get them back,” said Davies.
The industry will look quite different 20 years from now because of that, he added.
Davies said his attachment to the land has kept him going.
“I just love the way God put all that together,” he said. “I mean, you sow a seed, you get a crop, you have a cow and a calf and you see something new … It has been a good life.”
The Cattlemen of the Year Award has been presented for the past 30 years to a Lloydminster area producer who has shown dedication to the cattle industry and contributed to the community.