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Future looks bright for Saskatchewan cattle farmers

MOSSBANK, Sask. – Life on the farm is the way it has been for three generations of Joel Mowchenko’s family.

His ancestors settled near Mossbank in 1911. In the past century, the land has been used to raise cattle and grow wheat. About three years ago, the family started farming solely cows. Today, about 70 cows wander its vast land.

With all that history at hand, Mowchenko looks at this area with amazement.

“I can’t even imagine what it was like farming with horses and a threshing machine,” he said of his ancestors.

Whether harvesting crops or overlooking a herd, farming has changed dramatically since it started way before Saskatchewan even became a province.

In 2013, the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary. In doing so, its president Harold Martens is looking at the evolution of the industry.

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“In days gone by it was managing cattle, today, it is managing grass,” he said.

One of the biggest changes in recent years is the attention to the industry’s environmental footprint, especially when it comes to forage, which is the plant materials that are fed to grazing livestock.

At the same time, strides have been made in regards to breeding.

“They’ve been able to manage the genetic pools in their livestock so we get increased production from the same amount of feed we put in,” Martens explained, “and that’s really important.”

As some things change, many stay the same, explained Mowchenko.

“Cows are cows,” he said. “They have babies and you sell them and people eat them.”

Recently, after a day of chasing cows around the field after they broke down the fence, Mowchenko did consider finding another profession, but he just cannot stay away.

“It might be something in the blood — just a love of the land and a love of growing food,” he said.

He feels it is a worthwhile calling and his own kids, Olivia and Eron, hope to continue the legacy. Except…

“Eron said he has to have a farm closer to the city because he’s going to be a movie star and an author,” said Mowchenko while laughing.

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The future looks bright for possibly the fourth generation of Mowchenko farmers.

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