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Hilltop Cattle Co. Ltd. has a rich history

Beef operation keeps owners busy
Hilltop Cattle Co.
The Hilltop Cattle Company is located outside of Carlyle.

CARLYLE - Dave and Shelley Slykhuis have been farming together for over 40 years. David started the dairy farm seven years before we were married. 

During the summer of 2002, we sold the dairy portion of our farm. We currently run a cow-calf beef operation.

A beef operation seems to have specific jobs during the year. Usually in March, April and May, we are calving the bred heifers and cows. This includes making sure calves are sucking, filling out paperwork to record calving date and whether it’s a heifer or steer.

Shelley adds all this info to a larger chart that allows more information to be added like sicknesses, deaths or whether the animal has been sold.

From November to May, daily winter feeding chores are completed. Over the summer months, hay, silage and straw are made and brought home to the hay yard. Routine checks of all the pastures keep Brody busy.

On a pre-planned day in October, all calves are weaned and about 150 steer calves leave on semis. These calves were pre-sold on a T.E.A.M. online auction in early September for October delivery and payment. This year, these calves are headed to Quebec. Also on weaning day, the replacement heifers and small calves are started on feed.

Any remaining calves are sold at an auction mart nearby. Definitely a busy day, resulting in replacement calves and the cows bawling for their mom/calf for a few days. 

On a November day, we pregnancy check all cows and bred heifers. Open females are then sold at an auction mart. 

Seems that a beef operation has more challenges than a dairy operation. 

A year into our beef work, BSE hit and the market took quite a tum to low returns. Over the years, we have had good years and lower return years. Therefore getting paid once a year can take its toll mentally, compared to a dairy operation, where you’re getting paying twice a month. Thank goodness for an off farm income/career.

As I reflect on our operation as a mom, I appreciate the involvement of our children and grandkids. Over the years, we have had help from our children on the busiest days (weaning and pregnancy checking). I must remember, kids can help if it is a Saturday since the kids have their own careers. 

This year has seen us following through with our succession plan. Maturing and health issues have helped us move onto the next generation of farmers. Brody is farming full time and is now a director of Hilltop Cattle Co. Ltd. 

It has been very important having our accountant knowledgeable with succession planning. 

As I conclude my story, I would like to remind one and all, that farming is comprised of many types of farming. We are so appreciative of our lifestyle - living on a large portion of land in the hills north of Carlyle, being our own boss and enjoying the fruits of our labour.

Take care and shop locally whenever possible. 


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