Grey Banks Ranch Ltd. receives Commercial Breeder of the Year Award

Grey Banks

If purebred seed stock animals are the building blocks of the cattle industry, then Commercial cattle producers are the mortar that brings it all together. We strive to produce healthy, efficient cattle that will fill the grocery carts and dinner plates of consumers around the world.

There is little doubt that as purebred breeders, we hold all Commercial producers in high regard!

Each year the Alberta Angus Association takes the opportunity to recognize one of those producers and today we are honoured to show our appreciation and respect to a Ranch Family who are resourceful, forward thinkers with a vision!

By implementing the best of Angus genetics, marketing strategies, and good old-fashioned sweat and tears, Grey Banks Ranch is creating a dynamic Commercial cattle and grain farming operation near Three Hills.

That being said, Hal, Bernita and Carson Edwards, of Grey Banks Ranch Ltd., Three Hills, were honoured as “Commercial Breeder of the Year” at the Alberta Angus Association Hall of Fame Banquet and Awards. This event was held Thursday, August 17, 2017, in conjunction with the Canadian Beef Industry Conference at the BMO Centre at Calgary’s Stampede Park.

Hal’s Grandfather worked as a Cattle Buyer and Rancher in Oregon before deciding to move North of the 49th parallel to begin grain farming and cattle ranching. He started out in the Carmangay area, but in 1921, he moved further north to the current location of Grey Banks Ranch 10 minutes south of Three Hills, Alberta. Here he found the land to be conducive for both operations.

In 1949, Hal’s Dad took over the mixed farm operation. In 1951, he made a conscience effort to transform the beef cattle, from Grandfather’s herd, to Dairy Cattle. From there he continued to dairy successfully for 25 years developing commercial and purebred herds up to 1976 when he had a herd dispersal of all the Dairy cattle. Hal’s father was a savvy business minded person, with a committed work ethic. These traits and skills have been passed on to his son.

After completing his Heavy Duty Mechanics Diploma, Hal worked for a number of years in the Oil Industry gathering starter capital for the farm as well as finishing his second Diploma in Agricultural Production with a Major in Production Management both through Olds College. He then bought his father’s commercial herd of beef cows and his neighbour’s herd as well. This started his operation of commercial beef cows. Adding to the mixed farm, Hal started to feed cattle due to the low price of grain. He maintained the three operations – grain farming, the cowherd and the feedlot – up until BSE. It was during this time, that he decided to change his commercial beef herd to strictly Angus because of its acceptability and demand within the market place. Of special note, two thirds of the cattle that go through to slaughter, at the packing house, and then move on to our grocery store shelves, have Angus genetic background of 50 per cent or more.

During this time, Bernita was working full time at St. Anthony’s School in Drumheller as an Elementary Teacher and a Special Needs Teacher. After their son Carson was born, Hal & Bernita decided that she would stay at home versus going back to work Teaching. It was a natural transition to combine their skills to build the family farm and develop the cowherd to be of better quality. They began keeping records of their cows based upon their lineage and their ease of calving. They also focused on the performance of the calves, which they feed thru to finish. They also considered the longevity and the genetic conformation of the animals as they selected their bulls from Premier Dams and Elite Cows, which greatly assists in the overall soundness and ease of management of the herd. Today, their herd has produced calves that have been top performers at the finishing feedlot as well as desirable replacement heifers.

They use their knowledge of good nutritional practices to build balanced rations for their cows and feedlot animals to ensure top genetic performance of all animals.

When it comes time to market the calves for either the Auction Market or a Finishing Feedlot, Hal draws on the many options available to determine which course of action needs to be taken depending upon the weight and performance of the calves in the feedlot. From their group of heifer calves, they choose their replacement heifers for their own herd.

Over the years, they have drawn their knowledge from various people within the Cattle Industry. From these folks they seek inspiration, or information that may help them with their decisions from purchasing the right bulls, to overall health and nutrition of the animals, marketing the cattle for the Auction market, the Finishing Feedlot or the Packing House.

After three generations of endless struggles and a sharp learning curve, Hal & Bernita along with Carson, have re-created Grey Banks Ranch to be the thriving Ag Business it is today. Perseverance and the ability to know when to take risks are important skills for the survival and growth of the company. Making time for God, family and friends throughout the year can be challenging, but is always rewarding to them.

Going forward, the future is not set, but this family hopes they will always be able to be involved in the Cattle Industry.