Cheese makers win young farmer award

Alberta cheese makers were named co-winners in Canada’s annual Outstanding Young Farmers competition in Edmonton Nov. 21.

Patrick and Cherylynn Bos of Ponoka, Alta., raise 1,400 dairy goats in a milk and cheese processing business, Rock Ridge Dairy. The couple processes their own and other producers’ milk also.

During peak production, they make one and a half tons of cheese each week, which is sold in specialty stores across Western Canada.

The couple is putting the final touches on a new rotary goat milking parlour and will increase production to 900 goats an hour from 180 goats an hour and cut milking labour to two hours from nine hours a day.

They also host 400 to 500 visitors each year in an effort to increase awareness of life on the farm.

The Boses currently donate 2.5 cents for every litre of milk they sell to the Calgary Food Bank as part of their Children’s Milk Program.

The other winners areAmy and Mike Cronin from Ontario, who operate a 17,000-sow hog operation in Ontario and the United States on 50 hog sites.

In 2014, they built the first crate-free farrowing system in North America. Their barn includes a thumb print entry system, electronic sow feeders and video cameras.

“Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers provides a wonderful platform to recognize and celebrate Canada’s agricultural entrepreneurs and leaders,” said Bev Yee, Alberta’s deputy minister of agriculture and forestry.

The two national winners were chosen from six 2015 regional finalists, including Mark and Cori Pawluk (Manitoba region), Jeff and Ebony Prosko (Saskatchewan region), David and Sara Simmons (Atlantic region) and Christian Bilodeau and Annie Sirois (Quebec region).

The OYF competition is open to participants 18 to 39 years of age who make the majority of income from on-farm sources.

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