A Visit to a Canadian Beef Farm

by Joyce Parslow

We’re still on a high after hosting our first ever public on-farm tour as part of a Canadian Living Advantage Member event. The rain was pouring down on the Sunnymead family farm but we were optimistic, like the farmers we were with, we were determined to take what Mother Nature gave us and make the best of it.

Ah Mother Nature...filled with surprises:)

Ah Mother Nature…filled with surprises:)

Dawn from Canadian Living setting up the signage

Dawn from Canadian Living setting up the signage

Firing up the grill at the Canadian beef Canadian Living event June 22

The cover of the hay barn made a beautiful backdrop for our cooking demo, hosted by Canadian Living’s Food Director, Annabelle Waugh. With the hush from hay bales and the vaulted roof, it was bit like being in a cathedral – calming. And as the bus drove up, the rain stopped (the biggest blessing), the music played, the food was served and the tours began.

The bus arrives after touring a local cidery, fruit farm, and farm stands at The Sheards Sunnymead Farm in Caledon, Ontario

the amazing music of Big Otter Creek

the amazing music of Big Otter Creek

Annabelle Waugh and Joyce Parslow get to work!

Line up for an amazing beef lunch

Line up for an amazing beef lunch

Bill Sheard of Sunnymead Farm is about to start the tour

Bill Sheard of Sunnymead Farm is about to start the tour

Here are some of the highlights of the tour – straight from the farm:

Our guests marveled to see just what cattle ate – most people didn’t realize many farmers work with nutritionists to get their feed recipes (mix) just right for cattle comfort, optimal health, and performance.

a feed display

Cattle ear tags are more than fashion accessories! RFID tags are used to track each individual animal throughout its life – talk about knowing where your food comes from – it’s a bit like a cattle passport! (RFID = Radio Frequency Identification Device)

RFID tag on Canadian cattle

How now brown cow! Canadian cattle come in an array of colours and breeds – Canadian breeds are of hardy stock best suited best for a Canadian climate —  eh?? Brahman cattle just don’t cut it here (unless their packing their ski jackets). Think Angus, Hereford, Charolais, Simmental and Limousin and the cross breeds of those. Did you know the first Angus calf in Canada was born right in my hometown?? Yeah Guelph!

Canadian cattle in feedlot

Living a stewards life. The Sheard family embody the concept of stewardship wholeheartedly — having done their homework, the headwork and the heartwork to protect their cattle and the creek that runs through the farm. It took capital spending and many hours of planning to develop and live up to their Environmental Protection Plan. “Worth every penny” says Bill.

And when it comes to the cattle, Bill says his barn and yard work to give their cattle comfort, “We try to give our cattle an environment that’s just like being under the shade of an old oak tree.”

Here’s a great reference on stewardship:

We are not owners, we are stewards. What we do with our money and possessions reveals our real priorities. We demonstrate through actions where our heart is.

The Sheard family:  Kelly, Sheila, Bill and Meagan

The Sheard family: Kelly, Sheila, Bill and Meagan

So on this Canada Day, let’s have a toast to honour and thank the Sheard family. Here’s a tribute to their commitment – and the commitment of all the other Canadian cattle farmers and ranchers who work each day to bring good homegrown food to our tables.

It’s a labour of love. Truly.

p.s check out this post for the links to all our photos, videos, and more from the event day

p.p.s ever wanted to visit a REAL beef ranch? Enter for your chance to WIN a Family Ranch Experience here.


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