Friday, June 30, 2017

WAF Youth Team Update June 2017

The last four days have been a complete whirlwind for our Canadian teams. On Sunday and Monday we spent our days taking part in the WAF Conference. There were some great speakers and panel discussions covering everything from genomic practices, to nutrition, traceability, rotational grazing and more. Additionally there were many vendors set up for members to talk to and learn about new advancements in technology that will further breeders in our industry.  
Team Aspire

Team Aspire

At the conference our teams also competed in a public speaking competition. We were tasked with creating a ten-minute presentation to answer the question "How do new technologies empower the Aberdeen Angus producer to capitalize on new opportunities?" Each team that presented had a slightly different take on what technologies were most beneficial and overall the exercise raised a lot of interesting discussion points. Our Canadian teams represented us well in the competition with Travis Hunter from Team Canada Believe placing 2nd and Macy Liebreich from Team Canada Aspire placing 3rd in the individual speaking portion. Monday evening we attended the Gala dinner at the National Museum of Scotland. Our Canadian delegates got dressed up and fancy to take part in the formal event. It was a classy evening with delicious food and we had a great time socializing, singing "An Angus for Me" and watching the WAF auction.

Tuesday morning we hopped on a bus and drove to our new location for the much anticipated Agri Olympics. Our first stop was at Borders farm where we learned about the UK grading system and looked at some fat cattle. Teams were tasked with assigning live weights in kilos and an estimated grade to four of the fat steers there. Later this week we will get to see those steers hung up after they are butchered and we will be able to compare what we expected the carcass to look like with what it actually does. Next we drove to Borders agricultural facility where the rest of the team events took place. Teams had to operate various tractors and JCB equipment, navigate through an obstacle course on a quad, catch a group of heifers, build a traditional stone wall out of various rocks, identify the flags of the Forum as well as try to figure out what certain equipment and artifacts from a vet museum were. After a fun afternoon of great competitions, all the teams got together and played a game of soccer to work off some energy.  

Right before dinner we also had the opportunity to act as a handler in a dog agility course. Our border collies were extremely well trained and they made us all look like pros. At dinner we enjoyed a "Taste of Borders" with traditional style food and Highland dancers for entertainment. Two members of each team also had to learn part of a highland dance and perform for the delegates. It was quite entertaining to watch as none of us really knew what we were doing. 

After a long day we were all very happy to jump on the bus and head home!

Wednesday was a day full of farm tours. We started off early in the morning at Graham's dairy and walked through their production site. It was quite impressive to see how all of the milk and butter was sorted and packaged by their machinery. On our way out we got to sample some of their fantastic ice cream which served as a breakfast for most. 

Next we stopped at Cherrybank herd to look at their cattle. This operation manages their cattle from birth to finishing so we got to take a look at some Angus cows and calves, feeder steers and finished steers. We were able to escape the wind for lunch and enjoyed a huge meal consisting of salads, steaks, burgers and lamb kabobs. Lastly we traveled to Fordel to take a look at some purebred Angus cattle. We were able to engage in a debate about the "ideal" Angus cow and what type of selective breeding practices we should be employing. We saw an excellent herd of cattle and drove up and along the Scottish countryside. On the way back from the pastures we drove through a small town which was quite entertaining as we were all seated in hay feeders being pulled by tractors. 
Although it was a busy day all the Canadian teams had a fantastic time and are really looking forward to the rest of the activities!
WAF Team Canada