Recent History – 2000
Sept. 21, 2000
DAWSON CREEK — One of the driving forces of innovation in the Peace country beef industry, Bill Wilson’s ranch is situated just east of Dawson Creek along Highway 49. Wilson rents the property that was once the Northern Lights College Agricultural School.
“I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan,” said Wilson, “then moved to Manitoba about 15 years ago and ran a ranch there for about four years.”
From there it was up to this part of the world where he worked as an assistant to Darrell Peterson at Bavarian South Peace Farms before going into business for himself.
As well as looking after approximately 100 cows he and his kids own, the energetic cattleman said he also works with the South Peace Feeder’s Association and the South Peace Bred Heifer Co-op.
Wilson commented on the current state of the beef market.
“They’re good days if you’re in the cow/calf business. If you’re trying to feed it’s a disaster because calf prices are so high you can hardly justify buying calves to feed, there just isn’t anything left. The whole industry is kind of a confusing thing. You think . . . calf prices are high . . .the whole beef industry is good, which isn’t right. The cow/calf industry is excellent but the feeding industry is really having a tough time.”
The way the numbers add up, it seems like, overall, the majority of area beef producers are on the healthy side of the equation.
“There really aren’t many people that are just in the feedlot part of it.” Wilson said. “Most people have a cow herd. They may also have a little extra grass, usually that’s the case, they have some lease land or some grass. They either keep their own calves or buy calves to grass. That’s just not happening as much, especially in the last year.”
In terms of grazing practices, Wilson appears to have a proven formula to follow.
“We graze our own cows. I also custom feed some calves and I do quite a bit of custom feeding of cows in the winter and then the calving as well. Some of those cattle I graze in the summer. We’re into the rotational grazing but not on a daily basis, most of the time it’s five to seven days that we move to a new pasture.”
So why does Bill Wilson think the price for calves is so good?
After a brief pause to consider the question, he said, “beef consumption is up slightly, it’s been improving. At the meat counter it has more descriptive labelling. Cow numbers are down so there are fewer calves being produced. Feed is cheap, and that’s generally North America wide.”