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The challenge with Ontario calves

Calves from Ontario generally continue to miss the quality mark for larger feedlots in the province which continue to rely on cattle from Western Canada for the uniform lots of vaccinated cattle they need.“We need 200, 300, 400 head together because that’s our pen size,” says Steve Eby, who runs a feedlot near Kincardine. They fill their pens August to September, a time when Ontario calves in sufficient numbers of the same sex and common genetics are not always available.

Carl Frook runs a feedlot near Elmwood, Ont., and he also finishes mostly western calves, although he allows that his best-performing pen of cattle in 2016 was 215 head of cattle from northern Ontario.

Chris Freiburger, who finishes cattle in several barns on his farm near Walkerton also buys only western cattle for similar reasons.

There are some bright spots in Ontario, however. Dr. Peter Kotzeff of Metzger Veterinary Services in Chesley, who has monitored vaccinated calf club sales at the Keady Livestock Market for years, told a recent feedlot tour group that the average pull rate for Ontario calves in feedlots was 16 per cent versus eight per cent for western calves. But of the 3,600 calves sold through the calf club sales at Keady last year, the average pull rate was six per cent.

“The producers here that know me know that my philosophy has always involved management. Management is the base of everything,” says Kotzeff.

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