Fruit of longhorn ranchers’ efforts shipped overseas

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Farmer Mark Stewart stands in his pasture with his herd of longhorns. Mark and his wife Tina have already exported a shipment of longhorns to Germany and plan to do so again later this year.

ADAM JACKSON/Ponoka News

For Mark and Tina Stewart, it has been a long, but rewarding process.

The couple, who own MSW Meats just west of Ponoka, made one shipment of Texas longhorn cattle to a farm in Germany and will make another one within the next year.

It started about a year ago, when a farming couple from Germany cold-called the Stewarts asking about the longhorns on their farm.

The couple was looking for something different on their farm and with the recent switch to healthy food alternatives, the longhorns were a natural fit.

“They are great animals; quiet, easy calving and produce very lean beef, all of our livestock are raised in a chemical-free environment,” said Stewart.

Shortly after the telephone introduction, the German couple visited the farm to spend time with the cattle and to check out the operation. After returning home, they decided that they wanted to pursue a purchase of Texas Longhorns.

Then the work began. The German couple chose nine bred heifers, 11 heifer calves and four bull calves to add to their herd overseas. The couple purchasing the longhorn cattle took care of all of the shipping costs — at approximately $15,000 per container.

“The initial expense may be high, but they are already producing offspring at their new home,” said Stewart. “You’ve got to start somewhere.”

There were many obstacles to overcome for both sides, including dealing with livestock shipping regulations and trying to maximize the amount of cattle that could be shipped in each crate taking care to look after their prize horns.

The cattle were shipped on March 8 and are already creating a new herd on the farm in Germany.

Even though there were a few snags in the process, in the end everyone was pleased with the outcome. Both parties look forward to go it again soon.

Stewart says that although the shipment of cattle from Canada to anywhere in Europe was one of only a handful done in the last few decades, he sees doors opening because of it. “The possibilities in Europe are endless,” said Stewart. “It’s well worth it for everyone involved.”

“There is a fairly large market for these animals. We have market for breeding stock, breeding bulls, skulls, hides and of course the lean natural beef.”

Stewart, who produces elk, longhorn, bison, chicken, turkey and pheasant on his farm just west of Ponoka, is intent on keeping all of the animals on his farm as healthy as possible without using drugs.

“We have chosen a chemical free environment to produce our livestock, it is a back to nature way of farming,” said Stewart. “There is a huge demand for grass finished, naturally raised meat, I do not use any growth hormones, antibiotics, sprays or fertilizers out here. The animals are eating what they’re supposed to be eating, producing a more natural and health conscious product for those looking for it.”

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