‘The Ranch’ was purchased in November 2000. Sunset Ranch is located 5Km (3 miles) South of the Hamlet of Madden, Alberta. That places us approximately 30 minutes north West of Calgary in the heart of cattle country. From the ranch house we have a spectacular view of the Canadian Rockies.
The original intent was to raise a few purebred cattle for show purposes but what type of cattle to specialize in? It did not take much research to realize what the future in the beef industry was with miniatures. After thoroughly researching all the various breeds of established miniature cattle, the Miniature Herefords were selected. I had raised Herefords on Vancouver Island and was familiar with their strong points as well as their problems. The decision was made to purchase a good quality Miniature Hereford cow, and a superior Miniature Hereford bull to build the herd through natural breeding. In addition, the business plan called for three commercial cows that could be used to expand the registered herd via embryo transplants.
The business plan fell off the tracks and by the end of March 2001, the registered herd consisted of 4 bred cows, 2 heifers, 2 calves and a bull plus a number of frozen embryos. In addition to the registered herd, there were 2 commercial cows that had been bred back to a Miniature Hereford bull and 1 additional commercial cow along with her bull Calf.
Sunset Ranch’s philosophy is simple – raise the best Registered Miniature Hereford cattle conceivable in the most natural, humane methods possible. While the philosophy is simple, implementation is much more complex. I did a lot research on breeders to ensure Sunset Ranch started out with good foundation stock with the realization that I did not have a lifetime to improve and alter the breed to meet my standards.
Prior to arrival of the stock, I had selected the best beef cattle Veterinarian in the local area to look after the new arrivals. Craig Dorin and I sit down on a regular basis and discuss health issues such as vaccine protocol. We strive to balance the health of the animals with the minimum use of vaccines and implants. Each fall samples of our winter supply of hay are sent off to a lab for analysis. Craig then formulates a winter feeding program. While I would like to go organic, time and financial resources will only allow us to produce “natural beef” at this stage.
All new fencing is being built with high tensile wire and the existing barbed wire will be replaced with high tensile wire as finances allow. You will find no cattle prods here. Calves are gradually weaned and halter broken to reduce stress on the both the calves and mothers. Horns are left intact although they are weighted to turn them down for safety reasons.