REGINA — The cattle may have been dispersed, but the friendships live on for John and Rosemarie Perrot.
The longtime Charolais breeders from Naicam, Sask., were recognized at Canadian Western Agribition for their contributions to the industry and inducted into the breed’s honour roll.
When they married 47 years ago, neither had any experience in the cattle industry other than a desire to be part of it.
“My parents brought home a calendar with Herefords grazing by a stream,” John said.
“I thought one day it was my dream to have a herd of cattle.”
Rosemarie’s family had commercial cattle when she was growing up, but John was a grain farmer with no livestock background. Neither had been 4-H members, but the two greenhorns were determined to learn the business from raising cattle to exhibiting them at shows.
They started with a few commercial cows.
“My dad wanted us to buy some milk cows because we had three little kids,” said Rosemarie.
They got into the purebred business in 1973 when they considered buying a bull from Henry Begrand. He talked them into also buying purebred Charolais heifers.
They gradually learned and expanded the herd and stayed with the business for 40 years. All three children are involved with cattle, and the result has been long-term success.
“It was gradual and John had a good eye,” said Rosemarie.
They would eventually sell cattle and embryos across Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Norway, Australia and New Zealand.
Prices started to collapse in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but they resolved to continue. They started working on embryo transfers in the mid 1980s, and that business kept the farm afloat.
The next crisis started in 2003 when BSE was discovered in Canada and cattle markets collapsed overnight as international borders closed.
Like many others, they experienced a major drop in the value of their cattle. There was some market for calves, but bred heifers and cows were not desirable, so the herd expanded to 400 breeding cows.
However, it was not all bad news.
“Our herd really improved over those years. We got more selective at that time,” said John.
They continued actively showing cattle in the 1980s and 1990s and never missed an Agribition in 20 years. They had grand champion female five times.
“At the time, we had the most grand champions until Dennis Serhienko started showing cattle,” said John, referring to the Charolais breeder from Maymont, Sask.
They held a sale every year but decided in 2012 it was time to scale back and dispersed 600 head. They now have about 40 cows as they move toward retirement.
Their son, Greg, and his wife, Anna Marie, started their own operation and now raise Angus cattle.
This year they had the high seller at Agribition’s Power and Perfection sale with a heifer going for $22,000.