REGINA — The beef business has taken the Dolliver family all directions on the compass.
Originally from Nova Scotia, John and Tammy Dolliver moved to Alberta eight years ago. Later this year, the family and their cattle will be moving further west to join Tanya Belsham to work at Poplar Meadows Angus in Houston, B.C.
Speaking with a Maritime brogue, John describes how the cattle show circuit has taken him to events throughout North America, where he worked as a professional groomer and fitter. They made the trek from the East Coast and chose to move to the arid country of east-central Alberta for their new home.
“We drove into Stettler, the wife and I,” he said.
The move to Stettler was a big change from their mixed farm back east where they had cattle, pigs and apples. Back home, they were used to a green landscape and frequent precipitation.
This year at Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, they showed they are ranchers at heart.
They had the grand champion Shorthorn female and sold the bull calf at side that they own with Pinch Hill Cattle Co. for $19,500 to top the breed’s sale. They offered full possession and a half interest.
Their grand champion came from Nova Scotia stock and stood in the top 10 at the final Supreme show held Nov. 29.
Their daughter, Katherine, has been showing cattle since she started school and has won such prestigious events as the carcass competition at the Calgary Stampede with a home raised heifer in 2014.
Showing is a major part of their life, and she has accumulated enough winnings to build a tidy education fund for university next year. They attend at least 17 shows a year.
“This year we cut back because Katherine is in Grade 12. We got to jackpot shows and we are probably down to 10 this year,” he said.
A large part of the family business is raising and selling show cattle. They offer a mix of breeds that may include Chianina, Shorthorn, Simmental, Maine Anjou and others to produce a steer suitable for showing at 4-H, junior and jackpot events.
This year they staged their first online auction for three days over the Thanksgiving weekend. About 200 people signed in and they sold cattle from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.
“I knew it was going to be good because a lot of people were looking,” he said.
Show steers are popular in the United States, where they may sell for thousands of dollars. The trend is growing in Canada.
“The States have bigger dollars for the steers, but it is building here more and more,” he said.
“It is getting stronger and stronger. It seems to be a new generation of kids coming along and they want to show.”
He is selective and wants to provide structurally sound cattle. He is also willing to teach and work with the children who buy their steers so they can learn how to train and groom them.
More Canadian events are offering larger junior cash prizes and scholarships so a young person has the potential to earn $20,000 on a steer, he said.