Shipwheel Cattle Feeders Ltd.
The eldest of three sons Albert Damgren was 12 years old when the famine hit Sweden. Upon hearing his family talk about how hard the famine was on their family and how someone would have to take another job somewhere in order for the family to survive, Albert took it upon himself to do something about it. The 12 year old boy got up in the middle of the night went to the boat docks and boarded a ship headed for America.
After Arriving in Michigan, Albert Green (he changed his last name from Damgren to Green) and immediately began working for farmers in the area. Albert worked different jobs and headed north into Canada finally settling in Taber, AB. In those days in order to own the brand you had to purchase all the livestock with that particular brand. Although the Shipwheel brand first appears in Henderson’s Northwest Ranchers Directory and Brand book in 1888, it was purchased by Albert Green somewhere between 1937-1941. The Shipwheel brand was transferred to Albert’s son in law Billy Holtman of Taber on December 31, 1957.
Billy Holtman continued ranching and raising angus cattle and operating as Shipwheel Ranching. In June of 1973 Billy’s eldest son Blake Holtman purchased the land owned by Billy Holtman began his own company Shipwheel Cattle Feeders Ltd with the Shipwheel brand.
Since 1973, customers have chosen Shipwheel cattle Feeders to feed and market their cattle. The Shipwheel brand has earned a respected place among Alberta’s cattlemen for four generations. Today this brand is your assurance of honest, reliable and knowledgeable service at one of Canada’s most forward thinking and efficient feedlots.
About the Operation
Proper stockmanship – as developed by Bud Williams - is not about having tame animals you can pet or trick into the pen with grain or not yelling. It means having the tools to keep your livestock in the proper mental state as they go through the entire production process including rotating pastures, gathering, sorting, weaning, backgrounding, and loading with the results of lowered stress and better quality of life for you and your livestock.
~ Taken from Hand n‘ Hand Livestock Solutions
Lately many producers have been coining the term “low stress” cattle handling. In the early 90’s Blake heard Bud Williams speak at a Holistic Management International conference in Albequerque, New Mexico and eagerly invited Bud to come and work with him and his staff on cattle handling if ever in Canada. A short time later Bud showed up at the Shipwheel office and continued to spend 12 hours a day for weeks showing, teaching and explaining his methods of moving cattle to the employees of Shipwheel.
We have seen proven results on cattle performance from Bud’s cattle handling methods. We humbly continue to learn, grow and teach his methods to our staff because ultimately we believe it is best for the cattle and the people.
Shipwheel Cattle Feeders Ltd. has always been an innovative forward-thinking company with a strong emphasis on environmental stewardship.
Blake Holtman accidentally stumbled on Allan Savory’s methods at a conference in Phoenix, AZ in 1979. Blake listened to Allan’s talk and immediately agreed that Savory’s decision making tools and grazing methods made sense to him. The “Savory Method” had an emphasis on rest and recovery and taking all the ecosystem processes into account when making decisions. Blake took the very first course offered by Allan Savory and Stan Parsons in San Angelo, TX in 1980. After taking the course he immediately came home and converted our conventional continuous grazing system into three different grazing cells and 65 different paddocks and began to plan, monitor and control the grazing. Within a few years he had noticed a huge improvement to the land and to the production of the grass and the cattle.
The holistic management grazing planning is still actively used every year to graze our grass yearlings. And although we continue to be humbled every year by Mother Nature, we have learned to work with, not against, nature.
It’s been over thirty-five years since Shipwheel was introduced to Holistic Management and we are now working on transition of the farm to the 4th generation. Managing our “triple bottom line” to all aspects of our business and Holistic Management is a key component of why we are where we are today.
We make roughly 10,000 tonnes of compost every year that we sell to our farming neighbours. Every spring we haul the manure out of the pens and pile it in rows on the compost pad. The manure is then turned into compost by using an aerobic biological process where microorganisms convert the organic material into a humus-like material. This is achieved by using the application of controlled conditions (ie: optimum combination of organic feedstocks, aeration, turning frequency, temperatures and time) to enhance the natural decomposition process. The end product supplies our customers with a fertilizer that is very high in an organic form of N, P, K , Ca, and Sulfur. And best of all … one teaspoon of compost has over one billion microbes and you get all those for free.
Our size allows us to provide exceptional care to each animal and to cater to each customer’s needs. Our close proximity to packing plants reduces transport costs for our customers.
Shipwheel’s emphasis on proper stockmanship or “low stress cattle handling” also goes hand in hand with our choice to feed cattle with no mass treatment of antibiotics whenever deemed possible.
- Ideally located in a year round moderate climate
- Abundance of fresh underground water
- Professional experienced staff
- Emphasis and experience in proper stockmanship
- Specialized in feeding cattle with no mass treatment of antibiotics
Shipwheel Cattle Feeders was recently recognized by Alltech's inaugural Planet of Plenty award in 2021 for their dedication to wholistic management, continuous improvement and innovations.