Henry Rosing is a straight-ahead commodity beef producer. He’s not hormone free. He’s not organic or natural. He doesn’t differentiate his beef as a specialty product. He doesn’t supply niche markets.
Yet his production methods are such that feedlot buyers in Eastern Canada are willing to pay in the top end of the price range for cattle from EUR Ranches Ltd., which Rosing manages at Lake Francis.
That’s because of the information he provides.
“When an animal walks off the truck in Quebec or Ontario, I can tell them what they’re getting,” says Rosing.
Rosing operates genetic, health and feeding programs which add value to cattle by providing buyers with data they require to sell the animals for the best returns.
His programs are part of a marketing strategy aimed at satisfying the customer, Rosing says.
“Customers know what they want and we’d better get good at providing it.”
Rosing, 54, has been getting good at it since 1992 when he arrived in Manitoba to manage EUR, a cow-calf operation owned by a German family.
Rosing’s work for EUR paid off when he was recently named commercial breeder of the year by the Canadian Red Angus Promotion Society. He is only the second Manitoban to win the award.
Rosing had previously managed a ranch in Innisfree, Alta. for another absentee owner after emigrating from his native Holland in 1981.
After deciding not to invest directly in cattle because of the high capital costs and volatile economy that characterized Canadian agriculture in the 1980s, Rosing, his wife Bea and three children arrived in Manitoba attracted by the province’s wide-open spaces and looking for a place to settle down.
EUR fit the bill. Originally owned by a grain company, the farm had gone through various ownerships before being purchased by the Layher family of Stuttgart, Germany in the early 1970s.
With roughly 1,700 cows on 18,000 acres, EUR is one of the largest cow-calf operations in the province.
But raising cattle in Manitoba’s south Interlake region can be challenging, especially since much of the land is poorly drained and scrubby, with thin topsoil and often stony ground.
Since taking over as manager, Rosing has pursued an aggressive strategy to improve the farm’s rangeland through brush control, rotational grazing, improved grasses and legume mixtures.
He emphasizes it takes time to improve marginal farmland and says the way to do it is to nurture the land by working with it instead of against it.
“You have to take the long approach,” he says.
Rosing calves his cows in late April and early May to avoid biting insects and wet conditions.
Unfortunately, his pasture management program has taken a hit lately from the unusually wet weather which has plagued the Interlake for three straight summers.
Poor species such as cattails, sedges and brush are encroaching on the grassland Rosing worked so hard to improve. He finds it all a little “heartbreaking” to watch.
Fortunately, his breeding program is still working well.
EUR’s herd originally consisted of Simmental, Charolais and some Herefords. But Rosing now uses Red Angus genetics to crossbreed Charolais cows. Introducing the Red Angus genetics seemed to produce the quality feedlots wanted.
EUR sells backgrounded steers for finishing to two main buyers: a feedlot in Ontario and another one north of Montreal.
The Ontario feedlot buys mostly Charolais-cross steers while the Quebec feedlot takes mainly Red Angus crosses.
Rosing envisions the day when livestock traceability will enable him to provide buyers with complete details about his animals while receiving back data about carcass performance in one complete information loop.
Such a system is coming but it’s “not quite there yet,” Rosing says.
In the meantime, Rosing continues to add to his track record, raising cattle with a full-time-equivalent staff of five people. Those include Harmon, 24, one of his twin sons. [email protected]
“Customersknow whattheywantand we’dbettergetgood atprovidingit.”
– HENRY ROSING