By Mike Anderson

It’s not easy for a local cattle breeder to win awards at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair; the competition is stiff, and the judging tough.

But Black River Farms keeps finding a way to win.

Owned and operated by Dan and Janet Munro, the small cattle breeding operation, with just 12 cows, located at 309 Catering Rd. in Sutton, has won multiple awards at the Royal over the years.

Its champion pure-bred Simmental heifers and bulls have also been featured in cattle shows across Canada and the United States.

This year, the Munro’s yearling, IRCC Jasmine, won Junior Champion Female in the Female Senior Yearling competition during the National Simmental Show, held at the Royal on November 6.

A female senior yearling — the term for a young cow that has not yet calved — must be born between January 1 and February 28, 2021, to enter the competition.

This year’s prize follows a Grand Champion Female Award in 2019 for their cow, Black River Ivanka, who won three times at the Royal as a calf, yearling and cow.

“This win was totally unexpected. It was a very humbling experience. It’s tough to win at the Royal,” said Munro, who added the win had special significance because it was Royal’s 100th anniversary.

“People have been going there for a hundred years and still haven’t won.”

This year, Jasmine, co-owned with local farmer Joe Pollard, beat out more than 30 other yearlings for the prize.

Dan & Janet with Jasmine

According to Munro, the Simmental breed originated in Western Europe, mainly in Switzerland, Germany and France, and came to Canada in the early ’70s, primarily as dairy cows.

Over the years, it was cross-bred with the Angus breed in North America to become much sought-after beef cattle.

“They are either a solid red or solid black, some come with a white face. Our yearling was solid red,” said Munro, who, along with his wife, Janet, took over the farm from his father, Richard Munro, in 2009.

According to Munro, Jasmine is now a hot property with a potential value of $30,000, and he has been fielding calls from prospective buyers.

“Normally, we would keep her home to have her calve on the farm in February. But we had a number of inquiries at the Royal after she won, including some from Alberta and Saskatchewan,” he said.

Munro says the potential buyers are also impressed with Jasmine’s pedigree.

“Her mother was showing down in the United States three or four years ago, and she won at the Simmental Breeders Sweepstakes, a quite large show in Louisville, Kentucky,” he said.

“So when the mother, or the dam, as they call them, wins, it’s a big deal.”

Jasmine eating hay
Black River Farms Barn

Munro says the key to their success has been getting the best breeding livestock.

“We took the approach that rather than have 20 or 30 cows, we decided to keep 10 or 12. But we bought them as calves, and we bought the best ones we could find as far as their pedigrees are concerned,” Munro said.

“We also breed them artificially. So we breed them with the best bulls we can find. And that combination seems to have worked quite well for us.”

“Sure, I’d love to have 30 or 40 of them, but Janet would probably run away.”

Munro says having a champion will help them market the calves they raise yearly. Those calves are sold in the fall or kept until the following year and sold as yearlings.

“It makes us more prominent within the industry. People get to know you raise champions. And if people want to buy offspring from the farm, it certainly enhances their program as well,” he said.

Munro is also hopeful more publicity will have an added benefit: getting motorists, mostly daily commuters, on Catering Rd. to slow down when he’s out on his tractor.

“To be quite honest with you, I don’t think Georgina knows we exist,” he said.

“We farm in a very small way here, but people drive by our place all the time, going a hundred miles an hour, and they give you the finger when you pull onto the road. I don’t think they really appreciate what we do.”



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