Young producer is full member of family ranch

Kailey Wirsta is an active member of K-Cow Ranch, where the family raises Charolais, Polled Herefords and Angus cattle at Elk Point, Alta. Her ambition is to be a full-time rancher.  |  Barbara Duckworth photo

Kailey Wirsta helps select cattle and make breeding decisions and is taking over publicity for the Alberta beef operation

REGINA — For Kailey Wirsta, the farm is not someplace she ended up but the place she chose to be.

Wirsta of K-Cow Ranch at Elk Point, Alta., works with her parents, Kevin and Janice Wirsta, and has been involved with cattle all her life. When she graduates from Lakeland College at Vermilion, Alta., she plans to return to the ranch.

The family raises Angus, Charolais and Polled Herefords.

Her father had a Hereford background and her mother came from a Charolais operation. When they married, they maintained the breeds and later invested in a purebred Angus herd so they could sell more breeds.

Her mother works at ATB Financial and her father recently became a municipal councillor. They were recently named a BMO farm family for their contributions to agriculture and their community.

Cattle are the operation’s mainstay.

“A Hereford heifer was born on my first birthday so Mom and Dad gave it to me. That is how my herd started,” she said.

When she was seven, she won a $750 heifer lottery that enabled her to pick out a Hereford female named Sophia that became the foundation of her herd. She now owns about 40 registered cattle that carry her herd prefix KJW.

She is a full member of the farm operation, helping select cattle and make breeding decisions and taking over the publicity side.

She has started designing the K-Cow bull sale catalogue, advertising material and farm brochures — all part of promoting a purebred operation.

Cattle are her life and she and her sister, Lexi, were home schooled. She studied at home from grades 4 to 10, which gave her flexibility to work with cattle and horses.

She is currently in Grade 12 and when she completes that she plans to study agribusiness and marketing, as well as graphic design.

She and her father are often the public faces of the operation. He is also her mentor and has worked with her to select cattle.

“He values my opinion,” she said.

She and her sister are active in youth programs including the all breeds junior program, Summer Synergy in Olds, Alta.

“We benefitted greatly from that program,” she said.

Scholarships were won and she valued the education component of judging, grooming, showing and marketing.

It also gave her a chance to meet other young people from across the West.

At K-Cow Ranch, Wirsta has taken over the video production of the annual sale. She does all the videos for the sale cattle, places them in sale order and during the sale itself, she ensures the program runs properly.

Wirsta has known for a long time that she wants to continue what her parents founded — live forever in blue jeans and breathe agriculture every day.

“I don’t consider it work if you like what you are doing,” she said.

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