Five Nations Beef Alliance Conference

This week I’d like to share an article written by Ontario 4-H Council Director, Kim McCaw. Recently, Kim had the opportunity to attend the Five Nations Beef Alliance conference. Kim was one of three ranchers representing Canada at this event. She was selected through the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) program which is a mentorship program that provides youth ages 18–35 with industry-specific training through a combination of formal and informal opportunities to learn from existing beef cattle industry leaders. Read on to learn more about the CYL and her experience at the conference. If you’re interested in applying for the CYL more information can be found here >

Five Nations Beef Alliance Conference
By Kim McCaw 

The Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) conference was hosted by Canada and held in British Columbia in 2012. This conference provides an opportunity to cultivate international relationships between young leaders of the beef industry and build awareness of common goals that adhere to science-based standards.

The FNBA is a private entity which includes the national organizations representing beef cattle producers in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States. In addition, a group of 15 young ranchers from the five nations were actively participating in the sessions. The three young ranchers representing Canada at this event were Sheldon Kyle, Jake Meyer and myself who were selected through the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) program to participate in the Five Nations Beef Alliance Young Ranchers Program. The CYL program is a mentorship program that provides youth ages 18–35 with industry-specific training through a combination of formal and informal opportunities to learn from existing beef cattle industry leaders. The youth accepted into this program participate in provincial, national, and international high level discussions and events that define the direction and future of the Canadian cattle and beef industry.

FNBA Conference

FNBA conference delegates in Banff

The FNBA conference was kicked off with farm tours in British Columbia. These tours included ranches, feedlots, vineyards, and historical landmarks. The tour concluded in Banff, Alberta where the conference’s meetings and discussions were held.

One of the places of the stops on the tour that I found most interesting was the Douglas Lake Ranch, which is the largest Canadian ranch. They have 3500 Hereford cows and 2500 Black Angus crossed Simmental cows plus calves. In total the ranch had approximately 12,000 animals and consisted of 500,000 acres, which is approximately 41 acres per cattle beast.

Site tours

Industry tours during the FNBA conference

Another stop was Southern Plus Feedlot. Southern Plus Feedlot is located at the northern tip of the Sonoran desert whose dry, temperate climate is ideal for housing and feeding cattle. The cattle are fed the finest quality hay, barley and corn grown on the sunny benchland of the South Okanagan along with pulp from wine grapes. Cattle respond to stress and these are truly “contented cows” because of the excellent conditions they experience throughout their lives. The staff at Southern Plus are highly trained in the welfare of animals and the cattle are always handled humanely and with kindness. The cattle are processed in British Columbia at modern facilities resulting in the high quality beef products, Okanagan’s Finest Angus Beef.

Quilchena Hotel is home to the Quilchena Cattle Company, which was established in the 1870s. The Company runs 4000 head of cattle over a mix of pasture, range and forage crops. The link between the ranch and hotel is strong–most of the hotel’s excellent trail-riding horses are retired ranch horses from the Quilchena Cattle Company and sometimes you’ll meet one of the cowboys from the ranch in the Quilchena saloon or coffee shop.

The Quilchena farm has approximately 1,000 acres of forage crops, mainly alfalfa, producing 2,200 tonnes of hay and 5,400 tonnes of silage making the ranch completely self-sufficient in terms of feed supply. The forages are harvested from early June to early September.

The next stop for the FNBA tour was Tinhorn Creek Winery in Oliver BC. An interesting quote that our group heard on the topic of sustainability from the winery was: “We are stewards of the land and our relationships with them; people rely on us for their livelihoods and trust us to keep them safe; we must reduce our production of carbon; and conserve the use of water, preserving the integrity of our watersheds.”

Giant trees in BC

Taking in the scenery in BC

Once our group reached Banff, we settled in for two days of discussions and meetings between the leaders of the beef industry in the member nations. The FNBA conference program was most interesting with an array of discussions on important topics concerning the beef cattle industry such as global strategies on foot and mouth disease (FMD) control, animal welfare and trade, and sustainable beef production.

One of the key things that I learned at the FNBA Conference is that the opportunities and challenges that we’re facing in the agriculture industry are almost universal from top to bottom. It is so important to have young educated leaders helping to resolve these challenges and seize these opportunities for the future of the beef industry. In time, consumers will likely recognize the crucial role producers have in the sustainability of our land and the importance of feeding our growing world population.

Attending the FNBA Conference provided me with an opportunity to network and share ideas with delegates from other countries about the opportunities and challenges in the global beef industry. I was able to learn new skills and knowledge and at the same time establish new friendships and networks.

Kim McCaw is a 4-H volunteer and member of the Ontario 4-H Council Board of Directors. As a 4-H leader, she volunteers her time assisting members with showing beef cattle at local fairs. She enjoys working with and watching youth improve their leadership skills through self-development and enjoys seeing them make a difference in their community.

A Fantastic First Year With 4-H

Hello Everyone! My name is Robyn Cox and I’m the Communications Intern for 4-H Ontario. I’m a recent graduate of The University of Western Ontario’s Media and the Public Interest program and am looking forward to keeping you posted about the happenings at 4-H Ontario. Last week I got the opportunity to talk to Hallie Hulton, a young lady who just experienced her first year in a 4-H Horse Club. Talking to Hallie was a lot of fun. She was happy to share with me some of the great experiences she had with the club this year and it was inspiring to hear about the learning opportunities she took advantage of through 4-H.

A Fantastic First Year with 4-H
By Robyn Cox

Hallie Hulton is an articulate and energetic 10-year-old who just completed her first year in a 4-H club. Growing up on a horse farm, it is no surprise that Hallie wanted to participate in the Frontenac Horse Club this year. In her first year, Hallie has proven her showmanship prowess by racking up a number of winning marks with her beautiful horse, Lady. These include the Grand Champion Novice at the Metcalfe Regional Fair and the Frontenac Show, where she also garnered the award for Reserve Grand Champion overall.

Hallie and Lady's Achievements
Hallie and Lady proudly display their achievements

For Hallie it was the perfect timing to join the Horse Club; a mare on her farm had just given birth to a colt and her cousin, Kevin Hulton, was coaching the club alongside fellow volunteers Kathy Townsend and Marsha Pearse. Her background with horses made Hallie a great help to the friends she met in the club and the club gave her a golden opportunity to exercise her teamwork capabilities.

Hallie’s passion for animals is evident. Not only does she care for Lady but she also helps out with the six other horses, the family dog, and the five cats on the farm. As she puts it, “I love watching them grow up.”

Hallie’s pride and excitement shines through when she talks about all the different things she learned in the club: showmanship, feeding, care, and riding. While Hallie knew many of these things already her skill set and confidence grew with the club considerably. Also, her willingness to research at home and read books on horses allowed her to get the most out of her 4-H experience.

She is excited for another year in the club but in the meantime she continues to “Learn To Do By Doing”, in true 4-H fashion.


2011 W. Garfield Weston Foundation 4-H International Exchange

The following post comes from 4-H alumnus Gordon Alblas. In 2011, Gordon was selected as the Garfield Weston 4-H International Exchange recipient from Ontario. The W. Garfield Weston Foundation 4-H International Exchange is a unique opportunity to learn more about agriculture and resources around the world, represent 4-H in Canada, and gain new friendships and experiences that will last a lifetime.

Funded by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, the exchange sends 4-H delegates to various locations around the world, such as the United Kingdom, Korea and Taiwan, where they participate in a reciprocal host-family exchange for up to eight weeks in this once in a lifetime opportunity. Thanks to Gordon for sharing his exchange story!

An Opportunity of a Lifetime
By Gordon Alblas 

Gordon Alblas
Gordon hard at work in the Wales country side

Thirty eight days and 2500 pictures my United Kingdom exchange was truly amazing. In the summer of 2011 W. Garfield Weston Foundation exchange had six delegates from all across Canada participating. I was honoured to be Ontario’s delegate to the UK; what a true experience of a lifetime.

At the start of the trip of the Canadian delegates met in Toronto for an orientation meeting and to give us an opportunity to meet with the Weston foundation, our sponsor. After a jam packed day of introductions and then touring in Toronto it was time to be UK bound for the three of us. Our plane left at 6:30pm our time and landed 6:30am their time so we missed a night of sleep and we still had three hours of waiting and then four hours on a bus to get to our final destination. Needless to say we where all a little tired by the time we were picked up at the bus station in Coventry.

In Coventry we got to meet some other exchangees from Europe. We spent two days together before we were sent off to our first hosts. During the two days together we had the opportunity to tour the Warwick Castel, it is truly amazing the history in this country and the Warwick Castel is no exception to that. It was a great opportunity to see how people lived hundreds of years ago.

After the Young Farmers’ national meeting we were all “delivered” to our first hosts. The rest of the stay in the UK was all with different hosts individually. The longest that I stayed with one host family was one week, and the shortest time was one day. This gave a great opportunity to see a lot of the country in the best way possible, experiencing life through the lives of the people themselves. There is no better way to see a country then by the people that live there. The hosts that I stayed with were great, they all worked very hard to get me around to see all sorts of agriculture activities happening in their area. Almost every day of the 38 days that I was in the UK I was touring a different farm or helping out on a farm. I found this to be the best part of the trip, being able to interact with the UK farmers and learn all I could about farming in the UK. From all of the tours I had, each one taught me new things that I can take back to my farm at home to improve my farm at home.

The best part of the trip was that the hosts planned out the stay while I was with them. Most of the time I did not know what I was doing the next day or sometimes not even the day of, but to just go with the flow and not get too concerned made the trip a great success. I worked on farms one day, toured sites like Cambridge College the next, and was taking in amazing views of the Wales country side on another.

The Young Farmers in the UK is similar to both 4-H and Junior Farmers here in Canada. This was a great way to meet young people starting out farming in the UK and to learn about the challenges and opportunities that they face. I also found that there are a lot more young farmers with their own operations there then there is here in Ontario. This was a great encouragement for me being a young farmer starting out in Ontario because they have many of the same challenges to face as I do here starting out.

Last but certainly not least, are the many friends I made in the UK . Thanks to modern technology, it is possible to keep in contact with far away friends and to exchange different farming ideas. I am new to the sheep industry so the knowledge and pointers that some of the sheep farmers gave me are an invaluable resource.

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation exchange was truly an opportunity of a lifetime. I had an amazing time and learned a lot about the way of life in another culture. I was able to see and experience many new things during my stay in the UK. This was a great way to broaden my horizons not only in agriculture but also in the history of the land.

Gordon Alblas is a current 4-H alumnus. Gordon was a 4-H member for 12 years completely 63 projects including dairy, farm machinery and field crops. Gordon was also a youth leader for the Hamilton Wentworth Dairy Club.

Share Your 4-H Story4-H Ontario’s Alumni program is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services. Hyland Seeds is passionate about agriculture and believes in supporting the people who are deeply rooted in the agricultural industry; dedication to 4-H is proof of this commitment. Thank you Hyland Seeds!