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Serhienko family finds new ways to win

EDMONTON — Standing in the winner’s spotlight is not a new experience for Dennis Serhienko and his family.

But this year, how they got there surprised many.

The Serhienko family is well known as a Charolais breeding operation based at Maymont, Sask., which has won several times at Regina’s Canadian Western Agribition for big white females and bulls.

But at Edmonton’s Farmfair International, the family broke from tradition and won the supreme female with a Black Angus pair.

The honour went to a cow named SC Mich Rose 30X with a heifer calf at side.

It is owned in partnership with Serhienko Cattle Company, Michelson Land and Cattle of Lipton, Sask., and Wheatland Cattle Company of Bienfait, Sask.

Dennis and his daughter, Katie Serhienko, also showed the grand champion Charolais female and Katie had the grand champion prospect calf.

The Alberta supreme show is the culmination of the Olds Fall Fair, Lloydminster Stockade Roundup and Farmfair International, which was held Nov. 9-13.

Champion cattle gather in Edmonton for the final leg of the show circuit. The supreme winners receive a Dodge Ram truck and other prizes.

In an interview before the final show, the father and daughter team talked about the cattle business and where they fit in the competitive purebred world.

The Serhienko Cattle Company is a traditional Charolais operation, which is currently down to about 50 cows following a major sale to a large family ranch in Mexico. The buyer was looking for a well-known brand and wanted a maternal type Charolais.

“I was excited to see them go, but I was sorry to see them go,” Dennis said.

The decision to add Angus cattle through partnerships is part of an evolution for the operation. Serhienko considered them a good fit that cross well with Angus cows to produce a smoky-coloured calf.

“The Angus is the maternal breed of choice. The nice thing with Charolais is when you cross Charolais on Angus, they are very identifiable,” he said.

“The silver calves go to a sale barn and they know they are Charolais-Angus.”

He said he thinks Charolais are faster growing, more efficient with feed and add red meat, while the Angus add marbling to the carcass.

The Serhienko family might be known in the show ring, but Dennis also wants economically viable cattle that earn their keep.

“The banners are nice but at the end of the day, the cattle have to be functional. Banners don’t pay bills.”

Serhienko also thinks it’s important to mentor young people to build their interest in agriculture.

“The shows get the young guys and girls interested and they become good stockmen later on,” he said.

“There is so much technology in the beef industry now and we old guys don’t embrace it enough. It seems the next generation of the daughters and sons bring the technology and stockmanship together now,” he said.

Katie is learning those skills. She is a second-year agribusiness student at Lakeland College in Vermilion, Alta., where she takes time off from her schedule to help show cattle and work on the farm.

“They understand and they are very hands-on oriented, so they want you out in the industry more,” she said.

When she graduates she wants to work in agribusiness off the farm but hopes to return to the farm later.

Her sister Cassie is still in high school but helps at the big shows as well.

The entire family plans to attend Canadian Western Agribition at the end of November with a full complement of show cattle.

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