Bilingual cow breed a winner

By Geoff Lee

November 8, 2017 2:14 PM

Gary Graham from Marsden dolls up his four Maine-Anjou cows with hair spray prior to judging in the showring on the opening day of the 39th Lloydminster Stockade Roundup at the exhibition grounds. The red and white coloured cows are pureblood French Maine-Anjou born in March. GEOFF LEE LSS PHOTO

If cows could speak, a couple of the Maine-Anjou beauties that strutted into the show ring at the Black Diamond Acres Stockade Round-Up would say “C’est si bon.”
Gary Graham and his wife Sandy, who breed the French cattle at their Manitou Maine-Anjou ranch near Marsden, would translate that as, “It is so good”.
One of their four cows took the reserve grand champion female and another the grand champion bull on the opening day of Round-Up at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds on Nov. 1.
The competition was limited to a few breeders, but Gary said the next day, “It’s always nice to win something for sure.”
“Whether you win or lose, the big thing is just to be there to show your cattle off.”
At Manitou they bred females as purebred or fullblood cattle, and sell bulls and females all over the world with their distinctive red and white colouring.
An hour before the judging, Gary said this year was their first time at the show in a number of years as a lead up to their entry at Agribition in Regina from Nov. 20-25.
“We did show here for about 10 years but I kinda quit,” he said.
“This year we are forced to get back to Agribition because they wanted some red and white cattle back in the barns, so then I thought, well we’d better be in Lloydminster, so we’re also seen there,” he said.
The Maine-Anjou were new to the show this year, but Gary said they’ve been raising them since the breed came to Canada in the early 1970s with other imports like Charolais, Limousin and Simmental.
“The thing about Maine-Anjou cattle—they were the biggest breed in France at the time,” he said.
“They were bigger than Charolais and bigger than Simmental— a big breed, but very functional.”
He said the thing he always likes about Maine-Anjou cattle was that they were always at the top in feed conversion testing in the 70s and 80s.
“That means the amount of pounds going in to the amount of pounds put on an animal ,and yet it didn’t seem to matter to a lot of people,” said Gary.
“I always thought that was an amazing trait with the Maine-Anjou breed being a big animal, it still had great feed conversion.”
He said the other attractive quality about them is they are docile and are sought after by people that were getting into 4H calves.
“They knew the breed was quiet, so their kids would hook on to a Maine-Anjou calf,” he said.
As for the judging at Round-Up, Gary said for most of the breeds judged in the show ring at Round-Up, it’s a beauty contest.
“I mean they are looking at certain traits,” he said, and suggests if they were judged on performance or weight of gain, it would be a different deal.
“People judge them today, how they walk, how they step, spring of rib, confirmation, but having said that, it doesn’t really mean that it’s ever giving any true breed characteristics.”
Gary calls Maine-Anjou the ultimate breed for crossbreeding to get good feedlot cattle.
“And that’s what we’re all into the game about is meat production, so I think that’s how it really should go,” he said.
Manitou Maine-Anjou breeds about 150-160 heifers a year and was pleased to be able to show off their genetics again in Lloydminster.
His said his goal coming back to Round-Up is, “Just come and be presentable again and see what happens—it’s part of the business to see where you are sort of thing.”

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