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A tribute to Don Pochylko

Purely Purebred with Mike Millar: News about you from the November 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Hereford and cattle juniors from all breeds have until December 15 to apply for two $1,500 awards to participate or attend a cattle-related event or learning experience. It is all part of the Beef Cattle Learning Award created by Frances, Lance and Sheri Leachman of Big Gully Farms at Maidstone, Sask., in memory of Buddy Leachman. To apply, send a one- or two-page description of the event with estimated expenses and an explanation of your long-term goals for involvement with beef cattle. The awards are intended to instill lifelong skills and knowledge in the beef industry and to recognize and reward youth who invoke the values, character and strengths that Buddy Leachman possessed. More details are found at the Big Gully Farm website.

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Canadian Western Agribition announced a new marquee event connected to agriculture and trade last month. In partnership with TD Wealth Management and the Regina Chamber of Commerce, CWA will host a panel discussion with former Premiers Brad Wall (Saskatchewan) and Frank McKenna (New Brunswick) on Tuesday, November 20. “Food, Fuel, and Free Trade” will focus on the challenges and opportunities facing Canada’s agriculture, manufacturing and energy industries as they navigate a new free trade agreement. “Mr. McKenna is a former ambassador to the U.S. and Mr. Wall’s reputation as a trade advocate is known around the world. We’re in for something special,” noted CWA CEO Chris Lane. Tickets for this event are limited, however. More information can be found at the Agribition website.


CWA president Bruce Holmquist was as pleased as the rest of agriculture about the signing of the U.S., Mexico and Canada trade agreement. “It appears the new agreement will maintain stability for trade between Canada and our two largest trading partners, and that is a win for our livestock exhibitors as well as for the producers and companies involved in CWA’s growing grain programming. Agribition is the marketplace for 1,500 head of the best beef cattle in North America and the growers we have attending farm a combined 4.5 million acres in Western Canada,” says Holmquist. “There aren’t many issues more important at Agribition than getting those products to market.”

The Canadian Beef Breeds Council had a similar reaction to the new agreement. In a statement, the CBBC noted the United States alone represents approximately 80 per cent of the global export market for Canadian beef cattle genetics and is critical to the ongoing success of our family farms.


The Canadian Junior Gelbvieh Association recently announced Braylen Blake from Glentworth, Sask., is the 2018 winner of its annual junior scholarship.


There are a few Gelbvieh events happening at Canadian Western Agribition this year, starting with the breed association’s annual meeting on November 20, followed by the National Gelbvieh Show on November 21, and the National Gelbvieh Sale, November 22.

A few days later the Gelbvieh Wish List sale will be happening December 2 at the Westerner Park in Red Deer. New this year, junior members were being reminded to send in their Gelbvieh-influenced show photos to [email protected] to qualify for a Wish List sale credit.


Whitney de Decker.
photo: Supplied

The Canadian Speckle Park Association has welcomed Whitney de Decker as its new business manager. Living in Roslin, Ont., de Decker and her husband, along with their three children, raise Speckle Park and Simmental cattle. She is taking over from Rod Remin who served as the breed’s business manager for the past eight years. Remin helped to increase herdbook registrations along with membership and was instrumental in getting a new performance program off the ground this year.


In the new year if you don’t see Canadian Limousin Association general manager Tessa Verbeek around many functions, don’t be concerned. She is taking maternity leave in 2019. Laura Ecklund has been hired as part-time interim general manager to fill in for Verbeek for next year. Ecklund takes over in January 2019. Meanwhile the association is looking for someone to take on the role of office manager and registry/member services assistant based out of the Calgary office on contract for a year. More details are available at limousin.com or you can just email a resume to Tessa Verbeek at [email protected].


A tribute to Don Pochylko
By Mark Kihn, Calgary

Don Pochylko, Stettler, Alta., in his own brusque and boisterous way, was the leader of the Charolais breed for the better part of the ’70s and ’80s. Don, 82, died September 2, 2018.

While other breeders worked to top a $4,000 sale average, Don’s SanDan Charolais (named for wife SANdra and first son DANny) productions cleared $8,000. He was a top-notch marketer, promoter, breeder, and Charolais ambassador. Occasionally, SanDan’s sales featured diamond ring giveaways to buyers of high sellers.

Knowing that a tossed magazine can easily land outside back-cover up, Don bought that spot in the Charolais Banner for 10 years. His ad, always noticed and always debated, promoted his cattle into the Charolais forefront. But Don added to that. He attended Charolais events and sales throughout Western Canada — selling the breed and selling his cattle.

Don also sold beef. In 1989 at a Charolais banquet at Agribition in Regina, he first bawled out the chef, then chased him back into the kitchen. The transgression? The chef was carving the hip of beef “with the grain” instead of against it. “Who wants stringy beef?” Don asked. He then found an apron, gave the hip half a turn, grabbed the knife, and proceeded to carve beef for the next 30 minutes. Properly cut, the beef fell apart nicely on the plate — and on the palate.

His feisty personality served the early days of the Canadian Charolais industry well. The Charolais history book, “White Gold,” tells of a March 1971 Ballroom Sale held at the Winnipeg Inn. In order to enter the ballroom, the cattle had to come up through a freight elevator and walk through the kitchen. Don was on the halter leading the way, walking a bull past the stoves. He even commented to the bemused chef, “Here are your steaks, Papa!”

An accompanying photo showed Don, complete with Elvis-style sideburns, in the crowded kitchen milling around with the white cattle.

Actually, Don was rarely without a comment. At Charolais meetings, his almost lyrical speaking style, emphasizing individual words, his cadence speeding up then slowing down, could turn a roomful of breeders towards his opinion. His pronouncements had the betterment of the fledgling breed at heart.

He knew he was leader. When he would bid on cattle in the auction ring, other bidders joined in knowing Don had spotted a good one. Their bids would drive the price higher. Don would then disguise his intentions to passive action: “If my feet are crossed, I’m bidding — if they’re not, I’m out” he told a ringman.

In his later years, now retired to Red Deer, Don was still involved with the purebred cattle business. He cooked up beef in big ovens, and catered events and sales. He suffered a stroke several years ago, which slowed him, but did not diminish his spirit. He was often on the phone giving opinions or gathering them.

Don was successful by many standards in the beef business. His Stettler funeral attracted hundreds from Western Canada. He had no magic formula for his success. One of Don’s favourite sayings was “the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

But more importantly, he helped others along the way. “I’ll say this — a lot of people learned a lot of things off Don,” said Hazel George, a former Alberta Charolais secretary and fellow breeder at Airdrie.

To those he knew, Don accepted the nickname of “Pooch.” Like a lovable dog, he was there for his friends — which included a large section of Charolais cattlemen. They were always stronger and more courageous with him on their side.

Don passed away while leaning against a fence looking at cattle and chatting about them at a friend’s place near Innisfail, Alta.

Mark Kihn was with the Charolais Banner magazine for 11 years, 1982-93, including many as managing editor.


Simmental cattle were one of the feature breeds at Expo Boeuf in Victoriaville, Que., October 13-15. One of the highlights of the event was when XCEL Sheeza Gem 407A, owned by Xcel Livestock, Russell Ont., was awarded the Supreme Champion female over all breeds. It was also a busy weekend in the breed in Western Canada at the Olds Fall Classic Show October 5-7. Several of the top prizes in the all-breed “Stars of Tomorrow” and commercial cattle divisions were garnered by Simmental cattle.

Plans are underway for the 2019 Canadian Simmental Association (CSA) convention being held in St-Hyacinthe, Que., August 7-11. It will feature the CSA annual general meeting, Young Canadian Simmental Association’s national show and Friends of Canadian Simmental Foundation auction.


This year the Olds Fall Classic was held October 5-7 at the Olds Exhibition Grounds. Celebrating its 9th year, the Olds Fall Classic had the most entries ever at 400 head with seven breeds represented.

New this year on the Friday evening was the Irvines Pro-Am Challenge with nine teams participating in a cattle fitting contest. Teams consisted of a junior, and a senior member over the age of 22. This was a friendly contest with many juniors working with a mentor of their choice. Another new event was the Olds Regional Exhibition’s Dessert Auction during the MNP exhibitor social that raised $7,600 for youth programming.

2018 Grand Champions — Olds Fall Classic

• Black Angus Females: Riverstone Georgina 9C, Madison Sibbald, Cochrane, Alta.
• Black Angus Bulls: 5T Bag Of Chips 6092D, Lazy MC Angus, Bassano, Alta.
• Charolais Females: ONL Miss Allie 6D, Daines Cattle and O’Neill Livestock, Red Deer County, Alta.
• Charolais Bulls: Sharodon Double Vision 1D, Kay-R Land and Cattle Ltd., Waskatenau, Alta.
• Hereford Females: FCC 2012 Betty 18E, Flewelling Cattle Co., Bowden, Alta.
• Hereford Bulls: MLL 10Y ROCKY ET 225D, MJT Cattle Company, Edgerton, Alta.
• Maine-Anjou Females: ZTA Black Ruby 488E, Wise Maine-Anjou Ranch, Irricana, Alta.
• Maine Influence Females: LSF RUBY 727X 25E, Lucky Springs Farms, Rocky Mountain House, Alta.
• Maine Bulls: KKS Special Reserve 707E, KC Stock Farm, Sangudo, Alta.
• Red Angus Females: Red Ter-Ron Diamond Mist 138D, Ter-Ron Farms, Forestburg, Alta.
• Red Angus Bulls: Red DKF Racer 8E, Shiloh Cattle Company, Craigmyle, Alta.
• Shorthorn Females: DJS Anndelle HC 712, Golden Oak Livestock, Red Deer County, Alta.
• Shorthorn Bulls: Baehr Acres Dream Maker 2D, Baehr Acres Shorthorns, Red Deer County, Alta.
• Simmental Females: Boss Lake Ms. Elle 638D, Boss Lake Genetics, Parkland County, Alta.
• Simmental Bulls: SKV Defiance 47D, Nolara Farms, Mayerthorpe, Alta.

About the author

National account manager

As National account manager for Canadian Cattlemen, I work with all major accounts including equipment manufacturers, ad agency's and national breed associations. When I'm not busy working and promoting Canadian Cattlemen magazine, my family and I are running a purebred herd of Simmental cattle at Grandora, Sask.

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