Bison sector launches mentorship program

It’s hoped that connecting experienced producers with newcomers to the industry will help avoid expensive lessons

The Canadian Bison Association has established a mentorship program to help young producers develop leadership skills and industry knowledge.

“There’s a lot of mentorship that happens organically in our industry just on account of how small and close knit it is and it’s a way to link those new producers coming in who maybe don’t know who to ask about corn grazing or cover crops,” said Robert Johnson of RJ Game Farm at Fairlight, Sask., who will be mentoring Shayla and Dallas Sash of Tantallon, Sask.

“It’s a way to help build some networks right off the bat.”

Some new entrants might not have a livestock background but are trying to diversify from grain land into regenerative systems, he said. A mentorship program can help them avoid expensive lessons.

“Ideally, I’d like to see our organization build that next generation of leaders,” he said. “As a result of BSE we’ve almost got like a missing generation of producers out there.”

There were several new exhibitors at the Canadian National Show and Sale held in conjunction with Canadian Western Agribition in Regina.

Sale chair Les Kroeger said he wasn’t surprised at the prices realized during the event.

“The high quality bulls that have come from breeders that have been here for a lot of years, they brought some very good prices,” he said. “We knew we were going to be under a little bit of pressure so the prices were still very good. I think they were fair for the animals that were here.”

The reserve grand champion bull, a two-year-old consigned by Shale Creek Bison of Russell, Man., topped the sale at $13,500. It went to Elk Valley Ranches in Alberta.

The grand champion, also a two-year-old, from Silver Creek Bison of Binscarth, Man., sold to Deere Acres for $12,000.

The high-priced yearling bull sold for $7,500, going from Banner Bison at Melville, Sask., to Flying I Bison at Carievale, Sask.

The grand champion female was a yearling heifer also from Banner Bison. She sold for $5,750 to Deere Acres, while the reserve, a two-year-old bred heifer from Big Country Bison at Pelly, Sask., sold to Jared Cowie for $5,000.

Kroeger said yearling bull prices were a little lower than he would like.

“I expected maybe the top bred heifers would go a little bit more but that’s going to be the kind of industry pricing we’re going to see this year,” he said. “Not so many people are looking to go out and buy and increase the number of breeding stock on their farms, until we know where we’re going with the whole drought and environmental conditions.”

Overall the sale averaged $4,073 on 45 head. A donation heifer from Flying I Bison sold for $1,100 to Deere Acres. Proceeds go to the mentorship program.

Kroeger said the prices reflect a correction considering the environment last year. He said there is pressure on the entire agricultural industry from weather and tight feed supplies.

“Until we go through some of the sales and find out where everybody’s at, the future looks very good but we have to get some of these things sorted out before we’re going to see the real high-dollar animals selling,” he said.

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