We are pleased to present seven herd bull prospects at Transcon’s 2023 Red Deer County Bull Sale on Saturday, March 11th at 1:00pm at the Innisfail Auction Mart, Innisfail, Alberta. This is our thirteenth year at this event, and we are proud to be included in the strong offering that is always presented by this progressive group of breeders. Our 2023 offering continues to showcase our philosophy of highlighting the maternal strengths of the Fleckvieh Simmental breed. We firmly believe that the future will bring an increased herd size on the same amount of available labour. This means that with less labour available on a per cow basis, birth weights will come down to improve calving ease, and that gradually more and more horns will be bred off the cattle. We have moved slowly to incorporate the polled gene into our herd, as our goal is to try and accomplish this while maintaining the strong performance and mothering ability the Simmental breed is known for. In a market that suggests continued strong demand for beef, we think our bulls on offer all provide the maternal characteristics that will produce tremendous replacement females.
The common theme behind each of our bulls on offer in 2023, is the multi-generations we have worked with the dam and cow family behind each bull. While we do like to try and add an outcross female each fall, six of our seven bulls are direct descendants of three of our ‘founding four’ cow families that we brought with us from Dora Lee. DLD Lady Western 48R (Edison, Casino, Courage), Dora Lee Evangaline FF2P (Elton, Blaze) and Dora Lee Christina 28S (Cannon) all have great legacies at Applecross! The remaining cow family, HEMR Tasha 3T, (Chevy) was selected out of the Heimstra dispersal back in 2009, and immediately produced ‘APLX Axel 5Z’ who topped this very sale back a decade ago. Time sure flies, but we believe it is a testament to the strength of these respective cow families that they have formed the backbone to our herd.
Maybe the most intriguing bull we have on offer this year is ‘Blaze’. A homo-polled, dilutor free Black Gold Battleborn son, this mid-January calf is a real head turner. This will be the first (and only) Battleborn son to sell this year, after his daughters made their debut at Equation 2022 this past December and averaged $12,750. Between Battleborn/Rambo/WowEffect and Starfire down the dam side of the pedigree, we have walked four generations of the bulls behind Blaze here at Applecross, which showcases considerable consistency in a bull that represents the 5th generation of an Applecross prefix. With a moderate birth weight, heavy pigmentation, and a guaranteed horn remover, Blaze should tick a lot of boxes for a lot of different programs.
After an impressive debut with APLX Coach 37J in last years sale, Double Bar D Confidence 179D sired 4 more bulls in our offering this year. With Confidences’ daughters now in production, we are very pleased with the udder development, mothering ability and consistency we have seen with his progeny. ‘Casino’, ‘Cannon’, ‘Courage’ and ‘Chevy’ all carry their sires influence through great length of spine and sizable hips, while shaped more by their dams in their respective BW and calving numbers. These four bulls all so some stretch and performance, and with ages ranging from late January to late February, represent the youngest bulls in our 2023 offering.
In addition to our walking bulls, we always try to breed at least a few early cows AI in order to incorporate some outcross, top end genetics to our core herd. After noticing the FGAF Electric Avenue progeny stand out on pasture tours, we were successful in acquiring a semen pack a couple of years ago. He has two sons represented in Red Deer 2023 (and two daughters that have been ‘vetoed’ from seeing a sales ring and are thus staying home). Elton comes from our ‘E-Line’ and a dam that always moderates birth weight, while Edison will be the heavy weight on sale day, and may just be our most complete bull. As our lone ‘horned’ prospect, he has to be really good for us to consider marketing him in a program known for our focus on polled! Electric Avenue has developed a pretty impressive resume, so we look forward to presenting two sons in Red Deer.
We want to ensure our bulls will work for many years, so feet, legs and temperament are very important traits for us. The bulls are housed in a 5 acre paddock to ensure lots of exercise, and have been developed on a ration of free-choice quality first cut hay, combined with a forage based pellet by Country Junction. We pail feed our bulls twice a day, to ensure the bulls are quiet and used to being around people. We like working and walking through docile cattle, and feel the herd bull should be no exception.
Individual pages (short-cut links are on the right), have been created for each of the bulls. (For those reading this on phones, the bulls name or lot number can also be entered into the search bar, to locate their individual page). On each of the pages, we have also pictured their sires, dams and siblings – hopefully, sharing pictures will provide a better glimpse into the extended pedigree. It is also not unusual for us to have walked 4 or 5 generations of each respective cow family. We also plan to have videos of each of our sale bulls available approx. 2 weeks prior to sale day. Please check our Applecross Cattle Facebook page for up to date info on our sales offering.
Transcon’s 2023 Red Deer County Bull Sale promises to be another exciting event. We look forward to a great day on March 11th at the Innisfail Auction Mart!
It was a blustery winter week-end in Central Alberta as Transcon hosted the finale of “Alberta’s Simmental Week-end.” Their two-in-one bonanza of Fleckvieh Equation and Ultimate Red & Black were held at Westerner Park in Red Deer. With challenging road conditions, it was nice to be back inside the extensive Westerner facilities, where people could view cattle and visit in comfort. Despite Mother Nature not being overly cooperative, there was a steady stream of traffic throughout the barns all weekend, and a healthy crowd on hand Sunday, to watch 33 Fleckvieh lots pass through the ring to average a very impressive $10,152.
One of the ‘calling cards’ of Equation has been a bit of a focus on polled genetics. Between ourselves and several of the other consignors who have focused on developing polled cattle over the past number of years, this sale may be gaining a bit of a reputation! After only bringing open heifers for the past couple years, Beechinor Land & Livestock were back with an exceptional string of bred heifers. Stefon & Rebecca Beechinor have quickly risen to prominence for producing some of the best full Fleckvieh genetics in the world, so it was no surprise to see their lot 116 heifer, BLL Sugar Rush lead off the sale. This big volume polled Sugar Ray daughter was a unique blend of power and femininity, and created a palpable buzz in the audience, as she ended up selling to Mason Faulkner of Faulkner Farms from Centre Ridge, Arkansas, for $40,000. We had the pleasure of visiting with Mason when he was in Alberta touring cattle operations this fall, and are quite impressed with the foundation females he has selected to build his herd. After the BLL offering were a pair of outstanding heifers from the Keato Meadow string, followed by two powerful heifers from Keet Simmentals. Both being long term consignors, their heifers also had a robust following, with highlights including lot 102 ‘Keato Pld Ivy 24J’ being selected by West Gold Farms Ltd for $15,000 and lot 121 ‘Keet’s Harlequin 51H’ selected by Pheasantdale Cattle Company for $18,000. As Equation represented probably the largest selection of polled full Fleckvieh cattle available all fall, it was great to see the enthusiasm and success of our fellow consignors!
Our very own Lot 114 (Applecross Ivy) and Lot 113 (Applecross Pixie) were next up. These two NUG Delmonte 81D daughters had been head turners all week-end, so we were rather excited to see how they would perform. When the gavel fell, Applecross Ivy had been selected by Robb Farms for $17,000. Robb Farms is part of a truly elite bull sale in SK, (Robb/Hoegl/Greenwood) in late February each year, so we will be looking for Ivy’s progeny to hopefully be future features!. Applecross Pixie ($10,000) got to enjoy an extended truck ride, as she is headed all the way to Quebec, to Kelvin and Ory Egan of Egan Home Farms. I had talked to Kelvin a few times over the years regarding our bred heifers, but there was always a fair bit of uncertainty with our late sale date and early calving dates on the heifers. Pixie fit the bill, being a cycle later gives her more time to adapt to her new environment. With Ory also spending the summer in Alberta working for Anchor D Ranch, he appears to have firmly caught the ‘purebred cattle bug’ and was the driving force behind acquiring Pixie. It is always great to see another generation be encouraged enough to invest in the industry!
For Equation 2022, we tried something ‘different’ and brought a pair of open heifers to town. I am old enough to remember the Fleckvieh sales of the 1990’s predominantly featuring open heifers but, gradually over time, the sales mix across the industry has shifted towards bred heifers. The combination of a late in the season sale combined with early calving dates, meant we did have some out of province buyers express concern about a heavy in calf bred heifer travelling an extended distance, so offering a few select open heifers was certainly something we had thought about in the past. With 2022 representing a 2:1 heifer to bull calf ratio, and an exciting new herd sire to showcase, we felt it only made sense to ‘test the waters’ with a couple open of heifers at Equation 2022. We were not disappointed with our decision! Our two heifers led off the Fleckvieh heifer calf division, with Lot 110 ‘Applecross Giselle 2K’ receiving the honour of being the lead heifer. When the gavel fell, she was selected by Robb Farms for $15,500, and will get to head to the same home as Ivy! A few minutes later, Black Gold Simmentals selected lot 111 ‘Applecross Dixie 20K’ for $10,000. Randy and Vanessa Noble were in Red Deer after a hectic (and very successful!) few days at the Friday Night Lights event, so it was awesome to see them pick out Dixie to walk their pastures! Bringing open heifers to Equation 2022 was certainly a smashing success for us, so that option will certain need to be considered again for Equation 2023!
Overall, the open heifers sold extremely well, with 5 lots topping that $10,000 threshold. The Skywest heifers were stabled right beside us, so we were able to take a long look at their two exceptional heifers that did very well, with lot 129 ‘Skywest Kamala’ selling to Corley Land & Cattle from Charleston, Tennessee for $13,000, and Lot 130 ‘Skywest Kamilia’ landing at Brock Ranches for $11,000. Sierra Ebbeson is another ‘next generation’ breeder at Brock Ranches, so super exciting to see that ‘purebred cattle bug’ spread!
A little later on in the sale, our Lot 112 heifer ‘Applecross Dotti 53H’ and lot 115 ‘Applecross Lydia 13J’ also got to share the sales ring. ‘Dotti’ was up first and she was selected by Jonathan Kittlitz of Keato Meadows for $12,000. We recall bidding against each other back when we acquired our Anchor T Impact semen at the same sale quite a number of years ago, so perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise when he was the successful bidder on a direct daughter! ‘Lydia’ also found a great home with the legendary Maxwell Simmental program. We have got to know Glen Maxwell over the past few years, specifically since acquiring our NUG Delmonte bull from them back in 2017. Delmonte sure shaped our program, so it was pretty cool to have Lydia heading to Maxwell’s. In all, our six heifers found homes across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and into Quebec. All five buyers acquired the APLX prefix for the first time, so we look forward to seeing how their progeny develops for their new owners.
In addition to the above noted high sellers, I thought it also worthwhile to share a few additional thoughts:
One of the neat things about being part of a consignment sale is seeing everyone have success. A quick scroll through the Equation high seller lists represents practically all of our fellow breeders, each of whom have been long term consignors to the sale. Certainly lots of smiling faces after the sale!
I also want to suggest that despite the number of programs in the barn, the Fleckvieh cattle all lined up in very similar condition. This is an incredibly difficult feat when there are many different operations coming together to showcase their programs. We have always found it a challenge to get the correct balance. We don’t want our cattle ‘green’ nor do we want them ‘fat’ – especially bred heifers that are three weeks from calving – so it was neat to see the consistency across Equation.
I do wonder if the combination of the Covid pandemic and increased quality of the Internet experience may be leading to a permanent change in attendance at sales. On a week-end where weather was uncertain, and at a time so close to Christmas, I did notice people tour through the barns that were then content to watch the sale virtually, and either bid online or via phone. With sales results being posted online within a couple of days (if not sooner), it also improves ‘access to information’ available without needing to be there in person.
The improvements and acceptance of technology and social media during the pandemic certainly has its pro’s and con’s. The efficiency gains of immediate access to information and ‘time savers’ can be offset by a seemingly decreased amount of person to person contact. Which is a change not always for the good! I may be getting to the stage of ‘old man shaking fist and suggesting things were better in an earlier time’, but sometimes a great conversation can provide nuance and shape opinion – while the internet (or even texting) simply doesn’t provide the forum for deep discussion. I may not always seem like the most social person, but simply being part of conversations, and listening to great advice have really helped improve our operation over the years. I do worry that the opportunity is being lost for new to the industry breeders aiming to find their own voice and direction, if there isn’t at least some focus on the ‘in person’ part of the purebred cattle business.
I also wonder if there is opportunity for further evolution of Simmental Week-end itself. With the highly successful Friday Night Lights, followed by a Saturday sale and then National Trust Saturday night, prior to Equation / Red & Black on Sunday, it is an extremely long (and incredibly busy) week-end, specifically for those of us consigning cattle to any of the events. For those consigning to FNL – Moving in Wednesday, prepping cattle and then sticking around until Sunday can be an extensive time commitment; with most of us having work pile up back at the farm. So maybe with increase in online presence, it might make sense to move to a more condensed weekend schedule in the future.
For the first time in a number of years, we weren’t successful in adding a new heifer from Equation. We always like to ‘save a bullet’ to use to support our fellow breeders at our own sale, but weren’t successful in getting one bought this year. We did get some shopping done both earlier in the season (Starwest Pol Harmony) and in adding a new AI option via the New Year’s Resolution Sale. We are always looking to add something different that we think will be an ‘improver’ to our herd, so were happy to achieve this goal again in 2022.
Finally, as we look towards 2023, we will need to dig pretty deep and scour a lot of options in our search for another herd bull. If 2022 has taught us anything, it is that quality polled genetics (specifically those that are ‘outcross’ to our existing genetic base) command a premium. It can be somewhat intimidating trying to find options that make economic sense for our smaller cow base, but at the same time, the search is part of the fun! (And a super successful heifer sale certainly puts us in a position to re-invest in our future!)
I can’t close without saying a few words about Transcon, our Sales Management team. Jay, Darren, Glen and Cody always do a quality, professional job – and spend significant amounts of time on the phone – talking – while walking animals out of their pens to check feet, and allow buyers to select animals with confidence. Sales Management is a long term gig – if a prospective buyer on order isn’t happy with their purchase they won’t be back. It is foundational to have mutual trust in a Sales Management team, and we have that with Transcon. Another really neat part of the Transcon team, is Jay’s willingness to offer a spot to people ‘new to the breed’. It might be more recently showcased within Red and Black, but as I mentioned earlier, it is super cool to see new people enter the purebred business. And everyone needs to get their start at their ‘first sale’; Jay has been tremendous in offering people that opportunity (which he also offered to us back when we first started!)
Overall it was another great year to present Applecross Cattle at auction. We were honoured by the compliments received, and the amount of interest in our program is rewarding. With calving nicely underway (the heifers are leading 7-1, so maybe we will have more opens to offer at Equation 2023!), we look forward to the excitement that 2023 will bring, and another step forward in our ongoing efforts to produce high-quality genetics that we can share with the industry.
We are absolutely delighted to present four bred and two open heifers for consideration at Transcon’s Fleckvieh Equation 2022, on December 18th at 1pm at Westerner Park, Red Deer , Alberta. Thanks to a return of some long term consignors, and the continued evolution of the breed, Equation ’22 will showcase the broadest selection of polled Fleckviehs for sale in Canada this fall. We look forward to the return of the Saturday social at National Trust, and just the chance to visit, catch-up and talk all things cattle in a great facility while inspecting the awesome diversity of the Simmental breed. It should be a great week-end!
Our theme this year immediately jumps off the page: DLD Lady Western 48R. When we established Applecross back in 2006, we wanted to start our herd with some of our favourite cow families from Ontario. Mom & Dad (Dora Lee), graciously granted us the choice of any four females on the farm. My first pick was ‘Lady’, a direct King Arthur daughter from SRN 2Y, who played her own starring role in establishing the Dora Lee Fleckvieh program in the early 1990’s. Dad often shared that letting ‘Lady’ go west was the most difficult cow he ever had to part with. (And when asked why he did let her go, he simply stated ‘because I was his son’). Through her long career at Applecross, Lady is probably most distinctly recognized for being the dam of APLX Envoy 2Y, who went on to leave his mark at Lone Stone after being selected out of the 2011 National Trust sale as a bull calf. We also retained every single one of her daughters. When we acquired Lady, we also managed to convince Dad to breed her Antonius (!!) before sending her out – which promptly turned into Applecross Diva and what is now an extensive ‘D’ – cow family, as evidenced by both ‘Dixie’ and ‘Dotti’ in this years offering. A couple of years later she gave us ‘Bella,’ who still walks here as the matriarch of our ‘B – cow family’ (and as a sneak peak will have a super neat grandson show up at Red Deer County 2023 Bull Sale), followed by ‘Lady Grace’, ‘Isabelle’ and ‘Frauline’, who are represented by ‘Giselle’, ‘Ivy’ and ‘Lydia’ respectively at Equation 2022 (we already had a F-cow family when Frauline came along, so Frauline’s daughters get L’s). While we are clearly pretty biased towards the 48R progeny, there is a consistency in volume and udder development across her daughters, who also showcase longevity, pigment and length of spine. Excluding our sale heifers, EIGHTEEN Lady decendants will calve at Applecross next spring. (I haven’t even mentioned that 48R also shows up in the extended pedigree of our exciting young herd sire, Black Gold Battleborn 44H – so this number will only move higher!) I think Dad would have been pretty tickled by the legacy of DLD Lady Western 48R.
The sixth of our sale heifers is the ironically named ‘Pixie’ (who is anything but tiny), who is from our 2nd most prominent cow family. Spruceburn Pauline was our choice of Bill & Donna McMurty’s bred heifer pen back in 2009. She founded our ‘P-line’ and gave us two stand out daughters that still walk here in (poundmaking) ‘Poppy’ and (pretty) ‘Paula’. Poppy cruises our pastures at an even 2,000 lbs and has produced high selling progeny on both sides of the ledger, while Paula is Jeanne’s favourite (and ironically weighed 5lbs more than big sister this year). Jeanne keeps vetoing Paula’s daughters, (and I have a tendency to do the same to Poppy’s), so while not quite to Lady’s threshold, we do have seven P’s calving out in 2023. I am bad at math, but on our fifty cow herd, it appears an even 50% of the calves born in 2023 will trace back to either Pauline or 48R. What can we say – we like our cow families!
Individual pages have been created for each of ‘Giselle’, ‘Dixie’, ‘Dotti’, ‘Pixie’, ‘Ivy’ and ‘Lydia’. Short-cut links are on the right – or simply enter their names in the search bar at the top of our home page – and their page will pop up. On the individual pages, we have also pictured their sires, dams and siblings. We try to take a camera with us on pasture tours – and while not always ‘professional quality’, hopefully sharing pictures provides a better glimpse into the extended pedigree.
The heifers all have quiet temperaments and are used to being around people. We like quiet cattle. We preg-checked in mid-October and the vet feels that three are safe to their AI dates, with the fourth bred potentially a cycle later. Also, due to the late sales date of Equation, we expect all of our bred heifers to be very heavy in calf – specifically as Cavill appears to have a little shorter gestation. For any out of province buyers, we are willing to take the heifers home and calve them out. While ‘stuff’ can happen, we would much prefer that ‘stuff’ to happen at our place, instead of having a disaster occur during the stress of a truck ride.
The Heifers are also vaccinated with ViraShield and Covexin Plus. They will be treated with Dectomax and the breds will have their first shot of Scourguard prior to sale day.
The 2022 Fleckvieh Equation promises to be another exciting event. We look forward to a great day on December 18th at Westerner Park.
We are saddened to share the passing of my dad, Ross Small, on Thursday, April 21st. Dad and my mom (Betty) founded Dora Lee in June of 1973, with the first Simmentals arriving in the spring of 1974. Mom and Dad had a mixed farm that consisted of purebred Duroc and Landrace hogs alongside the Simmentals, but it was the cattle that were truly Dad’s passion. With the purchase of ‘the farm next door’ in December 1992, the cow herd expanded, the pigs wound down, and Dad was able to focus on his goal of building his Fleckvieh herd.
Dad was always focused on the future, and would regularly ask the question ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ He always believed that true cattle breeders focused on where they thought the breed needed to go, instead of chasing what happened to be popular at the present time. Genetic improvement is so slow in cattle, the five year window ensured that steps taken now would align with those longer term goals. Dad’s own focus for Dora Lee was on three things: He was dedicated to the idea of 100% Fleckvieh, and spent hours going back through pedigrees to ensure they all originated in Germany or Austria. He was confident that polled cattle were the future, and began incorporating the gene into his program shortly after the first polled Fleckvieh import bulls arrived in Canada in the late 1990’s. He was also a believer in ‘keeping on top of change’, and utilized DNA technology to measure for feed efficiency / RFI. He was convinced that this would be the next, long term evolution to the cattle industry, and as always wanted to be there when the time came to have already genetically selected for the future demands of the market. While the priority of Feed Efficiency may still be in the future, the sales results from this past spring would certainly suggest that his early ideas regarding polled was right on the money. Those five year plans may take more than five years, but they give focus and shape to the direction of an operation; allowing it to move forward.
Mom and Dad enjoyed the opportunity to travel for cattle, and meet new people along the way. For many years, Dad really enjoyed ‘Fleckvieh Week-end’ in Alberta – but it was always the Friday night social (prior to Fleckvieh Fest the next day) that was his favourite part of the week-end. The opportunity to visit, socialize and break bread with his fellow breeders was something not to be missed! He enjoyed his visits to the United States, Scotland, and the World Simmental Congresses in Germany, Australia and Calgary. As much as those trips revolved around cattle, it was always the people they met that made the lasting impressions. Dad enjoyed a good joke, but also really enjoyed getting to know people, especially those just starting out with Fleckvieh. Even as they stuck much closer to home over the past few years, he continued to study catalogs, making ‘his pick’ of every female sale, and always noticing when ‘Dora Lee’ would appear in a pedigree. He was quite tickled to see our high selling bull from this spring be a ‘Dora Lee’ grandson, and reminded me several times, (both before and after the sale) that it was also ‘his pick’. It only took a pedigree or a prefix to trigger a conversation on the people behind the cattle with whom he built lasting relationships.
One of the cool things about cattle is that the prefix’s in quality cattle stand the test of time. While we will miss my dad, a consistent reminder of his passion and legacy will live on in the name ‘Dora Lee’.
March 12th was another great day to hold the Red Deer County Bull Sale at the Innisfail Auction Mart, Innisfail, Alberta. Unseasonably mild temperatures created beautiful travelling weather to see a great group of bulls sell. Customers had the opportunity to have a hot lunch and inspect a high quality, diverse group of bulls presented by a number of great consignors, before watching them strut their stuff in the sales ring.
In all, eight bulls ended up topping the $10,000 threshold at this years’ event which included bulls from each of the Fleckvieh, Purebred Simmental, Black Angus and Hereford divisions – truly a strong multi-breed sale! The overall high seller was a polled Fleckvieh bull from Keato Meadows – Lot 49 – that sold for 21,000 to Lakeview Simmentals of Meacham, SK. This is the second consecutive year that Jonathan & Ebony Kittlitz of Keato Meadows have brought the high seller to town. As we have worked beside their program in both the Fleckvieh Equation and Red Deer Bull Sales for quite a number of years, it is awesome to witness their continued success! Overall 68 lots sold for an average of $6,899, with the fullblood bulls averaging almost $8,500.
While our own string suffered some setbacks during semen testing, the highlight of the day for us was our Lot 42 bull – APLX Coach 37J. We think very highly of the potential of this homo-polled, herd builder, and were excited to have him sell to the deep south of the United States! ‘Coach’ was acquired for $15,000 by a partnership of Red Oak Farm / Josh & Hilarie Gardner of Greenville, Alabama and Little Creek Cattle / Jason & Nikki Gress of Starkville, Mississippi! It is always a great feeling to have your genetics selected for international use, and we look forward to seeing how ‘Coach’ performs for his new owners.
Coach wasn’t the only bull who got enjoy a lengthy truck ride, as our lot 41 bull ‘Impulse’ is New Brunswick bound after being selected by Mike Groom / Kenridge Farm, Leverville, NB. Our other two bulls both stayed close to home. John and Terry Matheson of Red Deer County selected our lot 47 bull ‘Wrigley, and Dallas Phillips acquired our Lot 40 bull in ‘Intrigue’. Dallas was a repeat buyer for us, after selecting ‘Dundee’ from us back in 2019. It is always special to see customers return for more bulls!
Once again we need to recognize the team at Transcon for doing a tremendous job working the phones and managing the sale. The Red Deer County Bull Sale is part of an extremely busy stretch of events, and we appreciate the time and energy Jay Good and his team invest to ensure we have a successful sale. We look forward to working with them again later in the year at Fleckvieh Equation!
With both the bull sale and calving now behind us, our thoughts move directly to breeding season. While we haven’t been successful in adding a new walking bull this year, we do have a couple of new options for AI so that we can continue to diversify our offering. It is an exciting time for Applecross Cattle to continue in our quest to provide new, better, and different genetics to share with the industry.
We are pleased to present nine herd bull prospects at Transcon’s 2022 Red Deer County Bull Sale on Saturday, March 12th at 1:00pm at the Innisfail Auction Mart, Innisfail, Alberta. This is our twelfth year at this event, and we are proud to be included in the strong offering that is always presented by this progressive group of breeders.
Our 2022 offering will be our deepest and most diverse bull string yet – clearly showcasing our breeding philosophy. We firmly believe that the future will bring an increased herd size, on the same amount of available labour. This means, that with less labour available on a per cow basis, birth weights will come down to improve calving ease, and that gradually more and more horns will be bred off the cattle. We continue to slowly incorporate the polled gene into our herd, as our goal is to add this genetic trait while maintaining the strong performance and mothering ability the Simmental breed is known for. In a sector that continues to operate with compressed margins, we think our bulls offer low maintenance, highly maternal characteristics that will produce both tremendous replacement females and heavy steers.
Maybe the most intriguing bull we have on offer this year is ‘Coach’. A homo-polled, dilutor free Double Bar D Confidence son, this mid-February calf is a real head turner. His dam manages to combine two of our founding cow families, that we have enjoyed the privilege of working with since the early 1990’s. The proven maternal of Antonius and King Arthur combine with the outcross of Rangemore Carrousel to create a truly unique individual that is loaded with potential. With endless ways he can be utilized, Coach is definitely worthy of consideration as a program changing breeder bull.
Rare for us, is also a pair of Anchor T Impact embryo herd sire prospects. One of the early lessons my father taught me, was that while ET could be a valuable tool, it should only be used incredibly selectively – it was his opinion that it was utilized too often to simply multiply genetics, when instead we should focus our efforts on breed improvement. We have tried to take this lesson to heart, but simply couldn’t resist a long-term goal of incorporating Anchor T Impact into our polled program. The dam, Applecross Diana is one of the young ‘stars’ of our herd, and we are confident you will hear a lot more from this moderate framed female in the future. These two Impact sons offer stacked maternal pedigrees backed by multiple generations of calving ease, all with a unique genetic twist!
The largest sire group is that of our home raised, homo-polled head turner, APLX Wedge 6F. With his first daughters now in production here, we have been very happy with his progeny to date. These five sons all showcase their sires incredible volume and shape, but are also very much defined by their dams. ‘Warner’ and “Wildcard’ were both born a little heavier, and pack a little more punch; while ‘Whiskey’ and ‘Wrigley’ both stack highly maternal Spruceburn Starfire dams to provide a little more balanced profile. Finally there is ‘Wheeler’, a true curve bender. His moderate birthweight, combines with a strong top and massive hip, this beauty of a buckskin is projected to be our ‘heavyweight’ on sale day. Together, we expect these five ‘W’s’ to create a really neat feature pen in Innisfail.
The five Wedge sons on offer are joined by Wedge’s maternal brother in ‘Duke’. We are incredibly high on Applecross Piper, but with so many relatives around it is incredibly difficult to figure out which way to breed her. For this years’ model we reached deep into our AI inventory to an old school Fleckvieh in JB Doctor Duke, to create our own ‘Duke’, and offer a little different polled twist with this classic line.
Individual pages have been created for all nine of our bulls on offer. Short-cut links are located in the right-hand column; alternatively, mobile users can also simply put the bull’s name in the search bar. On the individual pages, we have also pictured the sires, dams and often multiple generations of the genetics behind the bulls. Maternal lines are very important to us, and we feel that behind every great bull is an outstanding cow family – and we have been working with some of these cow families since the early 1990’s! Links to the CSA database and current EPD’s have also been profiled, and we would be more than happy to provide any additional supplemental information.
We want to ensure our bulls will work for many years, so feet, legs and temperament are very important traits for us. The bulls are housed in a 5 acre paddock to ensure lots of exercise, and have been developed on a ration of free-choice quality first cut hay, combined with a forage-based pellet by Country Junction. All nine bulls are quiet and used to being around people. We like working and walking through docile cattle, and feel the herd bull should be no exception.
The 2022 Red Deer County Bull Sale promises to be another exciting event. We look forward to a great day on March 12th at the Innisfail Auction Mart.
December 19th was another great day to wrap up 2021’s ‘Alberta Simmental Week-end’ with Transcon’s Fleckvieh Equation and Red and Black, 2 in 1 Sale Extravaganza at the Innisfail Auction Mart. Despite the onset of ‘full winter’ impacting travel earlier in the week, temperatures moderated for sale day to allow for steady traffic through the legendary Innisfail Auction Mart cattle facility. In what was the last ‘live’ Simmental sale in Alberta of 2021, astute cattlemen had the opportunity to have a hot lunch, visit with consignors, and inspect a high quality group of open and bred females, and a few herd sire prospects, before watching them pose for viewers in the sales ring.
In what is sure to become a sale tradition, consignors Skywest Farms led off the sale with Lot 103, one of several impressive Kuntz Duramax daughters that they had on offer. ‘Skywest Hope’ sold for $22,500 to Lockhart Valley Simmentals / Lee & Tina Robson of Rimbey, AB. A few lots later, the sales order turned to open heifers and. after some spirited bidding, Lot 119, BLL Lady Jane 53H ended up the top open heifer at $15,000 as Gail Gerein of Unity SK was the successful new owner. On the purebred side, the high seller was Lot 4, ‘City View Hawaii 37H’ a really impressive SVS Tycoon Daughter, who was selected by Circle 7 Simmentals of Shaunavon, Sk.
It was a really awesome day for Applecross Cattle, as we were really happy with the condition and shape our heifers were in sale day. We had a tremendous number of inquiries leading up to the sale, and were humbled by the number of compliments we received on our program. Our lead two polled heifers were selected to be the 3rd and 4th heifers in the ring, and both went to first time customers. After being selected by Mike McCart / Alliance Simmentals, for $6,400, Lot 117 ‘Applecross Liesel’ is Ontario bound. Lot 116 ‘Applecross Paris’ is staying right close to home here in Central AB, after being acquired by OH Kay Farms / the Lougheed’s of Red Deer for $5,000. And finally, a little later in the sale, Lot 114 ‘Applecross Olivia’ was selected by Jayme Hunter of Caroline, AB. and lot 115 ‘Applecross Carly’ by Justin Wagner of Leslieville, AB. It was great to see four new customers acquire Applecross genetics, and we are excited to see what our females can do for their new owners.
We were also successful in making two acquisitions during the sale. Our eyes were certainly drawn to Lot 118 ‘BLL Hocus 51H’, and with both ‘Sibelle Sugar Ray 25F’ and ‘Brinks Bullet Proof’ being outcross to our herd, we jumped at the opportunity to add this promising female to round out our open heifer group. We were also able to add Lot 105 ‘Skywest Harmony’. We have been very impressed with the Duramax progeny, and were quite interested in the Twenty X bull when he sold at Anchor D back in 2011, so it was pretty cool to add this larger framed female to our walking herd. We are always on the look out for new or different genetics that can add different dimensions to our herd, and we believe we have been able to accomplish that goal again in 2021!
Once again we need to recognize the team at Transcon for doing a tremendous job working the phones and managing the sale. Jay Good and his team are always a quality sales management group – constantly on the phone while inspecting cattle for prospective buyers. Since interest and bids don’t always result in a purchase, you can’t always see their work – but that certainly wasn’t the case for Equation 2021. Between the onset of winter weather and the continued impact of Covid, fewer people are able to attend the sale. Having a professional, reputable sales team inspect animals and provide advice on behalf of potential bidders and buyers is simply irreplaceable .
With the heifers sale a now behind us, we are full into calving. With some new AI options and the first Black Gold Battleborn 44H calves set to arrive, it is an incredibly exciting time of year. Being a purebred cattle breeder is always a journey – and there are so many ways that we can still work to improve both our herd and sale offerings. Yes, our trend of offering more polled genetics will continue, but we certainly won’t be successful if we single-trait select – so we will continue to keep an eye on feet, thickness, udders and temperament – while also continuing to mix back in different horned genetics to continue to diversify our genetic base. We are really excited about both our open heifer group, and the yearling bulls that are only days away from being clipped up for bull sale pictures. We are truly fortunate (and very blessed) to own and operate Applecross Cattle where we can continue in our quest to provide new, better, and different genetics to share with the industry.
We are pleased to present four bred heifers at Transcon’s 2021 Fleckvieh Equation Sale at 1 pm on December 19th, at the Innisfail Auction Mart, Innisfail, Alberta. We really enjoy the group of consignors that join together in what has become the last ‘live’ Fleckvieh sale of the year in Alberta. Every year seems to bring a few new faces, and this year we are excited to have moved ‘down the road’ a few miles to our new location in Innisfail. The last two versions of the Red Deer County Bull sale have enjoyed great success at the Innisfail Auction Mart, and we look forward to more amazing hospitality from the Daines family.
Our 2021 sale string really showcases the importance of our cow families. We have taken a slow approach to building our herd to ensure that multiple generations of cow families all walk here. This way, the maternal lines can develop, and we can watch and compare as the younger generations work alongside their matriarchs. We are very selective in adding females – typically only circling a few each fall with the goal of adding only one or two neat outcross females that have the potential to found a legacy cow family of their own, and simply make our herd better. So in that vein, it is not a surprise that all four of our bred heifers on offer trace back to three of our initial founding lines. Our ‘Christina’ (or C) cow family, our Pauline (P) cow family, and Lady Western cow family (who has founded five different lines – D’s, B’s, L’s, G’s and I’s (!!!)). Why have naming guidelines if you can’t break them occasionally!
The easiest place to start is with the youngest and last of our founding matriarchs, Dora Lee Christina 28S. We selected Christina as one of our ‘founding four’ females from Dora Lee. We knew that one of the priority cow families from my parents was RHY Zamia 40Z, so we jumped at the chance to obtain this grand-daughter. Christina is one of those seemingly rare females that can produce both top quality sons and daughters, while also moderating birth weights. She is a moderate framed, no nonsense cow, still working here as she enters her 16th year; having never taken a year off. From a progeny perspective, she is probably best known for producing APLX Santana, who put on the miles spending time walking in three different Fleckvieh herds: Wa-Na-La-Pa, Gibbons Farms and Virginia Ranch. She was also the dam of APLX Javar 18A who worked at Troy Cerny’s / Diamond T, and is the dam of high selling daughters Applecross Candice (to Sunville in 2015) and Applecross Cynthia (to Anchor D in 2017). With all the balance to her progeny, it is not that surprising that Christina shows up in the sire side of our Lot 114 heifer, Applecross Olivia, and then as the maternal grand dam to our lot 115 heifer, Applecross Carly. Both of these heifers are moderate framed, solid dark red in colour, and project to have the same versatility that Christina has provided us.
For the Pauline Cow family, let us count the P’s. Poppy, Paula, Piper, Panda, Patience, Pepper & Penelope are all slated to calve in 2022. All of them originate with one of our earliest selections, Spruceburn Pauline, who was our pick of Bill & Donna McMurtry’s heifer calf crop way back in 2009. Bill and Donna got to know my parents from a number of Fleckvieh events over the years, and being one of the original supporters of Fleckvieh cattle, it was great to have them located close by when we relocated to Alberta. Donna is legendary for her knowledge of pedigrees, and was willing to not only provide advice as we first started out, but also AI some cows for us each spring while also allowing our girls to date Spruceburn Starfire for a few years. While we still walk a couple Starfire daughters (and Starfire himself shows up in Olivia’s pedigree as he combined with Christina to produce ‘Santana’), it was the acquisition of Pauline that really stands out as carrying on the Spruceburn legacy at Applecross. Despite a relatively short career, she left us with two daughters. Applecross Poppy 1X and Applecross Paula 13Z. Both have been very prolific and popular! Poppy is an amazing looking female, and cruises around our pastures as a 2,000lb working girl. Her progeny has topped both our bull sales (APLX Wrangler) and heifer sales (Applecross Penny). Paula is one of Jeanne’s favourites (as our camera roll would attest), and as such her daughters seem to be vetoed more often than not whenever Transcon is here selecting calves. One look at our lot 116 heifer, ‘Paris,’ and you will see why we are so high on this cow family.
As much as I like to tease Jeanne about consistently vetoing progeny from the ‘P-Line’, I will readily admit to having a soft spot for ‘Lady’. DLD Lady Western 48R was one of my dad’s favourites; a direct King Arthur from SRN 2Y, one of his founding Fleckvieh lines. She was the toughest one for him to part with when he gave us full rein to select four cows to come west with us when we started Applecross Cattle. Lady Western is probably best known for being the dam of APLX Envoy 2Y that left his mark at Lone Stone Farms / Lonnie & Karen Brown, as I hoarded all of her daughters here at Applecross. Over the years, she left us five daughters to start cow families with: ‘Diva’, ‘Bella’, ‘Grace’, ‘Isobel’ and ‘Frauline’. As we already have an ‘F Cow Family’ (started by Anchor D Fergus), we promptly decided to name all of Frauline’s daughters L’s. Frauline has given us three full sisters in a row: Lyanna, Liesel and Lydia. This years model Lot 117 ‘Liesel’ is an absolutely massive, big volume homozygous polled bred heifer, that we originally planned on retaining – there is simply so much breeding potential in this heifer! She certainly carried the volume of her grandma through the generations, and will provide endless genetic possibilities for her new owner.
Individual pages (short-cut links are on the top right), have been created for each of ‘Olivia’, ‘Carly’, ‘Paris’ and ‘Liesel’. We preg-checked in mid October and the vet feels that all four are safe to their AI breeding or early exposure. The Heifers are also vaccinated with ViraShield Gold and Covexin Plus. They will be treated with Scour-Guard prior to sale day. On the individual pages, we have also pictured their sires, dams and siblings. We hope to have videos of our sale heifers completed next weekend.
The 2021 Fleckvieh Equation promises to be another exciting event, We look forward to a great day on December 19th in Innisfail!
The title tonight is one of my dad’s sayings. An idiom as a reminder to take time, to do the things that we enjoy; even when our schedules may seem busy. A pause on the farm – for a few minutes – an hour – an afternoon – an evening. Just to enjoy the blessings we have been given, and to be thankful. It has been a tough six months for us at Applecross Cattle. The continuation of a world wide pandemic, combined with personal loss and some family health challenges, has had a material impact on our mental health. So practicing self-awareness, and focusing on our own communication skills, have become essential. It is also a reminder that I am very fortunate that I have a partner I travel through life with, that I can share / talk to / be with / be a source of strength and remind me (or I can remind her) that sometimes we just need a break; to take time to ‘smell those roses’.
We are very fortunate to be able to have a cattle operation. We do this by choice. And a lot of people, in a lot of professions, can’t say that. There are certainly lots of great things about having the cows, but at the same token there is simply no escape from them. As one of our great friends mentioned when we were visiting the other day ‘the best part of the place is the cows / but it is also the worst part’. Cows demand attention; and more often then not, when it isn’t convenient! If the bull calves decide to push through a fence and get on the highway in the dark one night, or the resident senior herd bull decides that 2am is a great time for exploring the flowerbeds, neither situation is something that can be deferred to more accommodating daylight or even business hours between 9-5 in order to be resolved. Nothing impacts a Saturday night ‘date night’ cow-tour like noticing an animal with a limp, or simply looking ‘off’. Having cattle reinforces the suggestion that while for many days of the year they can exist perfectly healthy (in the pasture they are supposed to be in), that we are still on call 24-7-365. So a pause, spontaneous or planned, can remind us of all the great reasons we do choose to spend our life in the purebred cattle business. Outside, with nature, watching our cattle turn grass into milk and meat.
This year both of us have tended to operate with a higher level of emotion, so we have made a conscious effort to take these breaks to remind ourselves why we do what we do. A pause on a hilltop to watch the cattle work their way through a new pasture. A Saturday night gator ride that stops for no reason, other than to watch the cattle grazing, backdropped by a glorious sunset. A pause to reflect, a reminder that we are fortunate enough to do what we do, and that billions of people in our world have life so much worse. We are fortunate in so many ways. We need to take time to reflect, give thanks, and enjoy the moment while blessed to have each others company. And as the world turns back toward “normal”, time with family and great friends also returns to become moments that are cherished. Cherished because of what was missed; but also cherished because there is that sense of sharing; of openness and the awareness that everyone has their own demons. Together we can give each other strength – while also (often) enjoying some great cattle to boot!
When life becomes more challenging, it is often the deep rooted pillars that have always anchored our lives that move towards the fore. For us growing up, Sunday was always a time for our faith, and a pause (as much as possible) from ‘farm work’ so that we would have time for reflection, restoration, and rejuvenation. I was also blessed to grow up in a house of music. My mom sung in the barn during chores (and sometimes – if it wasn’t stupid early in the day – we would even join in!). My dad would play the same ‘Sunday Songs’ before church every week. And with two siblings that played the piano (one of whom is a now church pianist), music was never far. So between scripture and song, they continue to be inspirations that keep us grounded, sane and settled. A couple readily come to mind: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34) and also ‘Trust I seek, and I find in you. Every day for us something new’ (Metallica). Reminders that while still planning for the future, try to stay in the “today” without worrying unnecessarily about things that might not even happen tomorrow. And also that we are fortunate the have someone to share our burdens with; hand in hand as we journey through life.
For Applecross Cattle itself, the farm has done very well for us this year. Despite widespread drought across Western Canada, some timely rains in June and again in late August allowed us to stretch our pastures a lot longer than anticipated. The cattle have moved closer to home and were put on feed 2 weeks earlier than usual, so we count our blessings that we have been so fortunate. As we were short grass, we did pivot and double the usual number of cull cows that went to town after weaning. The entire cow herd is mapped for performance of their progeny, with a simple test of whether their offspring was retained into our herd, became one of our sale animals or were culled. The combination of lack of performance, some flaws (I really like to clean up udders and feet), alongside some older cows that simply aged out of our program, meant quite a number went to town. It is always a sad day to see some trusted mainstays leave the yard, but at the same token having the opportunity to clean up the bottom 20% of the herd should never be passed up. The bonus is that I am much happier touring the cow herd!
We enjoyed a balanced calf crop and were able to continue our progression with polled genetics. I have said this fairly frequently over the past 5 years, but we are blessed with the strongest set of open heifers we have ever raised – there are some really neat, different genetics in the pen – and some of our more impressive matron cows (finally) gave us daughters. We also retained more bulls in our development paddock than we have ever had in the past, and have selected four bred heifers to present at Equation 2021. We won’t spoil the details, but between our walking bulls, some AI, and (rare for us) embryo calves, we are pretty excited for the potential of our 2021 calf crop.
In closing, this blog post may be a bit of a departure from our usual musings. Everyone has days they struggle with internal demons. And in Agriculture, I think there has always been a stigma to acknowledging them; confusing a public persona of ‘toughness’ and resiliency with experiences and challenges that every person faces. Mental health is just too important, so we decided to share a small snapshot of our journey. We are so fortunate to be able to live our dream of Applecross Cattle, while having each other to rely on when times are a challenge. So on Sunday night, we pause. To reflect, and to just ‘smell those roses’. We are so grateful. For friends. Family. Scripture. Song. Partnerships. And (of course), plenty of time to talk cattle.
March 13th was another great edition of the Red Deer County Bull Sale at the Innisfail Auction Mart, in Innisfail, Alberta. It was a gorgeous spring day, with unseasonably mild temperatures in Central Alberta which, despite all the uncertainty surrounding the current pandemic, led to a robust crowd enjoying comfortable weather to inspect bulls in their large outside pens. Customers had the opportunity to have a hot lunch and preview a diverse group of bulls presented by a number of great consignors, before watching them strut their stuff in the sales ring.
The three lead bulls in the ring were all from the Keato Meadows program / Jonathan and Ebony Kittlitz of Ft. Sask. Despite being regular consignors at this sale for more than a decade, this was their first time being selected to lead the sale! Their headliner status did not disappoint, as their lot 34 bull ‘Keato Pld Ben Hur 951G’, both led off the sale and ended the day as the overall high seller, for $18,500 to Lakeview Simmentals at Meacham, Sk. One of the cool features of the Red Deer Bull Sale is that, over the years, numerous breeders have been given the spotlight in the lead-off spot, so it was great to see Jonathan and Ebony’s program showcased and recognized with the high selling bull!
Over the past few years, the Red Deer bull sale has evolved from one devoted exclusively to Simmentals, to one now involving both Angus and Herefords. It has been great to meet and get to know these up and coming breeders, who also bring different perspectives and a whole lot of enthusiasm to the sale. In this regard, we would specifically like to recognize the Bricker’s from Chestermere Stock Farm – their Hereford string was very impressive, averaging a very strong $8,228 across their nine lots.
In all, nine bulls ended up topping the $10,000 threshold at this years’ event, with the high-sellers split fairly evenly across all breeds, including both fullblood and purebred Simmentals. Overall, 62 lots sold for an average of $6,630.
The highlight of the day for Applecross Cattle was the selection of two lots by Arthur Smith of Smith Simmental Ranch from Ft. Sask. Arthur has been a long time supporter of the Lone Stone Farms Simmental program at Westlock, where he had acquired several ‘APLX Envoy’ daughters over the years. This year they turned their attention to our curve-bending lead bull, APLX Daytona 55G, who they acquired for $11,250. Later on in the afternoon, they were also successful in acquiring our heifer bull candidate, APLX Cairo 14H, for $6,500. We hope these two youngsters perform just as well for their program as their ‘Envoy’ daughters have.
It was also great to see the return of two of our previous clients. Frank Deur of Crossfield selected ‘Diego’ at last years’ Red Deer Bull Sale, so it was awesome to connect and have him select our homo-polled youngster, APLX Watson 29H. We were also super excited to see Linda Bingeman / Conestoga Farms successful in acquiring APLX Dalton 50G. Linda had been to Red Deer in 2013 to select ‘Ajax’ from our program, so it was nice to see her back looking for another APLX bull. Repeat buyers are the foundation of any successful bull sale!
APLX Denzel 9H is Ontario bound, after being selected by Brian and Lynn Vail, of Clarksburg. Vailview Farms have been long time customers of my parents operation (Dora Lee Genetics), so with Dora Lee winding down, it is pretty cool to see the Vail’s decide to connect with the Alberta based Smalls! It is not a surprise that Denzel goes back to one of our founding Dora Lee females, DLD Lady Western 48R.
Our final bull, APLX Dillon 57G, stayed right here in Red Deer County, after he was selected by Ryan Layden of Layden Farms, just east of Innisfail. It is always neat to send bulls long distances, but having our prefix on bulls in the ‘neighbourhood’, is also a great experience.
Overall it was a tremendous day for Applecross Cattle at auction. Our 6 bulls all found great homes, and it was fun to meet new people and visit with old friends on a gorgeous afternoon in Innisfail!
Once again we need to recognize the team at Transcon for doing a tremendous job working the phones and managing the sale. Jay Good and his team are always a quality, sales management group – constantly on the phone while inspecting cattle for prospective buyers. Bull sale season is a tough gig – there is a different sale every 48 hours, across three provinces, so it can be easy to lose focus – but we always admire their professional approach. We look forward to working with them again later in the year to market our females at Fleckvieh Equation!
We also want to give a big shout out to the Innisfail Auction Mart. It is simply a great venue for marketing bulls. The Daines and their team are awesome hosts, provide first class service, and are great people that showcase a strong desire to host successful agricultural events. We are super supportive of the sales’ decision to relocate to Innisfail!
With both the bull sale and calving now behind us, our thoughts move directly to breeding season. We have a couple of (new to us) high profile options for AI and a brand new walking bull to test out. It is an exciting time for Applecross Cattle to continue in our quest to provide new, better, and different genetics to share with the industry.