Sheep producers from Alberta take Agribition by storm

Isabelle and Gavin Nicol’s Sandy Hill Charollais won supreme ram, supreme flock, rookie of the year and premier breeder

Isabelle and Gavin Nicol’s first trip to Canadian Western Agribition with their sheep was, to put it mildly, a success.

Their Sandy Hill Charollais stock took the show by storm, winning the supreme ram, supreme flock, rookie of the year and premier breeder.

The supreme ram also brought the supreme price. Sandy Hill 102F sold for $1,400 to Small Bar Livestock at Craven, Sask.

“We know we have good animals,” said Isabelle Nicol. “But it’s not a very widely known breed so it was awesome to do so well.”

The Nicols moved from Scotland, where their families have always been in the sheep business, to the Red Deer area a dozen years ago. They settled on Charollais because they were similar to Rouge de l’Ouest, which they were used to.

“Charollais is a terminal sire used to put meat on lambs,” Nicol explained. “They have lots of muscle and loin. The breed also has a lot of maternal traits as well.”

They maintain a flock of 60 purebred ewes, use genetics from the United Kingdom and run an artificial insemination program while maintaining high health status.

“We cull pretty hard,” she said.

Sandy Hill exhibited at the All Canada Sheep Classic in Humboldt last year. Small Bar Livestock also purchased their championship yearling ram at that show.

The 2020 show is in Ancaster, Ont., and the Nicols intend to be there.

When they attended Agribition as spectators last year they discovered there were no Charollais entered.

“We’re doing everything we can to promote the breed,” she said.

Also at Agribition, Rocking S Jilly 8F, a Suffolk from Rocking S Ranch at Nokomis, Sask., was the high-selling ewe. She went to VDH Farms in Abee, Alta., for $1,200.

The supreme ewe in the show was Struck 21F, with twin lambs at side, a Suffolk from Struck Farm at Pilger, Sask.

Overall, 55 total lots sold for an average $563.55.

Meanwhile, in the Agribition Select Horse Sale another rookie had the high-seller.

Justin Miller of Virden, Man., and his gelding, A Tru Canadian, were last into the sales ring.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I’m actually really surprised. I didn’t have many guys call or ask about him. The horse showed really good I thought. He’s big and strong.”

Miller used the 11-year-old black-and-white paint in the community pasture that he runs. But he said he had more horses than he needed and this one was the quietest and likely the easiest to sell.

He acquired the horse in a trade after offering a sport horse in exchange.

The horse sold over DLMS to Sjogren Farms of Edberg, Alta., for $15,250.

“I’ll be back next year with another one,” Miller said.

The sale average on 14 geldings was $7,721.

In the commercial cattle sale, 265 bred and open heifers sold.

The 200 bred heifers averaged $2,560 per head, while the open replacement heifers averaged $1,563 each.

Blairswest Land and Cattle at Drake, Sask., showed two pens of five bred heifers that brought $3,300 per head in the sales ring to top the sale. One pen of Simmental-Red Angus went to Palmer Charolais of Bladworth, Sask., while the other went to K&P Habermehl Ltd. of Macrorie, Sask.

The high-selling lot of open heifers was a pen of five Simmental-cross animals from Wadella Ranch at Kipling, Sask. MGB Simmentals from Minburn, Alta., paid $2,425 per head.

In the show ring, the top pen of five open heifers were Hereford-Angus-Simmental and came from the Jackson Family Farm Ltd. at Humboldt, Sask. The reserve was from Wadella Ranch.

The top bred heifers were Simmental-Angus from Hebert Livestock Ventures at Wawota, Sask. Westman Farms of Vermilion, Alta., showed the reserve, which were also Simmental-Angus.

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