This acorn didn’t fall far from the tree.
Greenwood Electric Impact ET won the RBC Supreme Bull title at Canadian Western Agribition in November, two years after his sire, Greenwood Canadian Impact ET took the same title.
And while “Electric” was strutting his stuff in the ring, his new owner Ben Armitage was watching his investment grow before his eyes. Ben had bought the bull sight unseen just two days before. His first glimpse of his new acquisition was just hours before the Supreme competition started.
Electric’s breeder Scott Payne had called Ben from the Limousin sale at Agribition to tell him he had a good bull up for sale. “Scott said he was probably going to go quite a ways, he's a pretty good bull. So that's about all I needed to know,” Ben said. “That probably doesn't happen in the cattle business much anymore. Just honesty, and word of mouth—you don't even need a handshake.”
Electric was bred by Scott and Jackie Payne at Greenwood Limousin and Angus in Lloydminster, product of Canadian Impact and Greenwood Young & Restless, a donor cow at their operation.
Jaxon Payne, who showed him, says there are some calves that show you how special they are from the get-go.
“Well, to be honest, as soon as he was born I knew he was pretty special. We had lots of calves off [Canadian Impact], but he was just a standout from day one,” he said.
“We showed him as a calf and he did really well. He was Reserve behind his dad at Agribition as a bull calf. And then we showed him as a yearling and he did really well, and then showed him as a two-year-old. That's when he had the unreal year.”
Jaxon says that as a calf, Electric held his head high. He was thick and “hairy and kind of fancy-looking,” and showed a lot of his dad’s look.
“All the way through summer, he was just always our best. He just gave us that look. Yeah, he's our favourite one, I guess I could say,” he said.
Electric has been a favourite of judges this season, too. He won Supremes at Lloydminster Stockade Roundup and at Farmfair on his way to his big Agribition win—a triple crown. Jaxon said they knew they had a competitive animal, but they also knew Electric wasn’t the only one in the ring.
“After the first one and then after winning Edmonton and going into Regina, we knew we had a good shot. But we knew it's not going to be easy because there's a lot of new competitors and new harder bulls there to compete against,” he said.
“I guess we just had some luck and did the best we could. And with a panel of five judges, you don't know where it goes. You could have a good animal and not do good, or have a good one and win.”
Every win along the way was a thrill.
“It's crazy how good it feels,” Jaxon said. “It’s what you work for, and what everyone wants to do when you're showing cattle. It's just a big thing to win.” The high quality of the competition makes it hard, he said, but it makes the win even more exciting.
That winning feeling got better every time, and when they took the RBC Supreme Jaxon said the rush was “just crazy.”
“Yeah, crazy. I was so excited, it’s still hard to believe. I still go back and watch the video on my phone and it still gets me excited. I've always wanted to be on the halter and win one so yeah, it's pretty exciting.”
Electric is definitely delivering on the promise he showed as a calf. Jaxon describes him as having a nice, structurally sound front end (“it’s unreal how he could walk,” he says), a big middle, and “just a lot of good about him.”
“He was kind of ‘cock of the barn’ for quite a bit. A lot of breeders, even of other breeds, would talk about him and just how good of a limo bull he was.”
He’s having semen drawn at Bow Valley Ranch, and his genetics will go to programs around the world. He already has offspring sold to Australia, South Africa, Mexico, the United States and all over Canada.
Jaxon says Electric’s genetics can deliver some star quality to a Limousin breeding program, and can perform equally well with commercial cows.
“I think he'll sit well with any type of female, to be honest,” he said.
“It depends what you're gonna want out of them. I think he can make it for you if you want a showy calf. And if there's commercial guys wanting the pounds on their calves, I think he'll do it on any cow he'd work on.”
Limousin breeders will recognize the maternal value and softness in the Impact line, but Jaxon says Electric offers value for commercial crosses. “It'd be really cool to see him used commercial as another cross opposed to the mainstream breeds, as he has a lot to offer maternally or for raising heavy steer,” he said.
Ben Armitage sees the same things. He’s heard from Hutterite colonies that would like to cross Electric with their Holsteins. “They cross like you wouldn't believe with a Holstein. They will cross with Angus, Holstein, pretty well anything.”
Ben runs 350 Limousin-cross and Simmental-cross commercial cows on his own operation, but he doesn’t think he’ll be putting his new bull out on his herd.
“That Saturday morning at Agribition I turned to Scott and said ‘well, he's not walking this summer with my commercial cows.’ And Scott burst out laughing. I said, ‘he’s way too valuable for that.’”
And that was before Electric won the RBC Supreme show. He has since added North American and World Limousin titles.
Obviously the big wins don’t just come from an animal showing off what nature gave them—it takes a lot of work, it takes time, and it takes a team. Jaxon and his brother Jayden, who showed Canadian Impact to his RBC Supreme win in 2017, put in the hours to get Electric into show shape.
“It takes lots of time to get one ready and looking as good as it can. It's not just taking them to the shows and that's as easy it gets. Me and my brother spent a lot of time getting them ready. Like two months before we'd be washing them every day and getting them working as best we can,” Jaxon said.
While the show is won by all the hard work in the barn and the paddock, the payoff in the ring is definitely worth the effort.
“Winning each Supreme was unreal,” Jaxon said. “And it's definitely hard to do because there's so many good ones out there. But when you get to win it, it's pretty special.”
It was pretty special for Ben Armitage, too—not bad for a blind purchase made on the recommendation of a trusted breeder.
“Scott said he was a good bull—that’s all I needed to know,” he said.
Countess has been turning heads and stopping conversations all year.
Brooking Countess 7077 won Supreme at Prince Albert and Grand Champion Female at Farmfair on her way to winning Supreme Champion Female in the RBC Beef Supreme at Agribition in November. She was shown with her female calf Brooking Dusty’s Countess 9026.
Countess was bred by Justin and Tawnie Morrison at Brooking Angus Ranch in Radville, Saskatchewan and bought as a calf by Randy James of Dusty Rose Ranch in Arcola. She lives at the Brooking operation, and was shown by Justin and Tawnie.
Randy saw something special in Countess at the Brooking calf sale. Now everybody sees it.
“It was just one of those rare years where you just are sort of dominant,” Randy said. “Every show you go, to you have a real shot at winning.”
But being “sort of dominant” doesn’t mean winning comes easy. Countess had to deliver against other excellent animals in every show, and Randy says this was an exceptionally competitive year.
“It was ridiculously competitive in there, especially the Angus two-year-olds. But just the two-year-olds in general,” he said. “All breeds were real competitors, and it was just exciting to actually be in the hunt at every show you went to.”
While Justin and Tawnie were in the ring, Randy was trying to stay calm. “You kind of feel confident, but you never really know,” he said. “There was never anything guaranteed along the way. It was good to see that much competition, but it definitely made every show cut nerve-racking. I probably put on 10,000 steps at every show just pacing around.”
It was exciting for the crew too, but they were focused on their work. Justin says on one hand, you don’t prepare any differently for the big ones; every show deserves your best.
But he admits there’s something special about Supremes, and you can see it in the crew.
“The competition doesn't change the way we do things. When you’re showing with a cow like that, you try your hardest,” he said. The effort is the same, but maybe the intensity is ramped up a bit.
“You always try hard. But there's something special about that final drive in the Supremes that make it so you try your hardest,” he said.
Randy could see the team’s high buy-in level while Justin was in the ring. “I got a little different perspective at the shows than Justin did because I was able to get away from the stall a little bit more,” he said.
“I got to watch it from the sidelines and stand there with the crew. And their reactions were probably as good or better than ours. They were as happy or happier when she won as we were—they were almost as invested as we were by the end of it. They were rooting for her as much as we were.”
Besides impressing judges wherever she went, Countess caught the eye of everyone in the barn. Randy says the appreciation from the other exhibitors means a lot.
“We had just the acceptance across all breeds. Walking through the barns, every barn you get into at every show, people from all breeds were just appreciating this cow. And that was good to see because a lot of times there's a little bit of breed prejudice—it's just the way it works.
“But she was a pretty popular cow across all breeds, and a lot of top-notch breeders really appreciated her for what she was. That was kind of the highlight for me.”
Justin also noticed that respect in the barn.
“It only happened a few times in my life where we had an animal this good,” he said. “But when you walk the pair to a tie-out or into the show ring, you'll see people having a conversation and they'll stop talking and they'll watch her walk by.
“There's a Charolais breeder that said she was their favourite cow that has ever been shown in the Supreme. When other breeders and your competitors give you those kind of compliments, it's pretty rewarding.”
Randy says Countess combines power and “a lot of middle” with a genuine feminine look, traits that don’t often come together. Her heifer calf definitely shows Countess’s ability to produce top-quality females, and Randy expects the power will come through in her male offspring. “I think she's one of those cows that is kind of all-around enough to raise both sexes, and have real good quality in both sexes of her progeny,” he said.
Justin says the judges were obviously impressed with the cow, “but for a two-year-old to raise that high end of a calf, one that's arguably better than herself, that is a very rare feat.”
Randy’s next big goal is for her to raise a bull calf that’s just as good as the heifer.
The partnership between Randy and the Morrisons clicks very well. Justin said he’s really happy Randy bought Countess at the Brooking calf sale; and Randy deeply appreciates the work that Justin and the crew have put into her.
Randy sold his own Simmental operation a few years ago to work full-time in the oil patch. But he is still very much a cattleman, and has been for three decades. And his investment in Countess goes beyond the price he paid for her.
"A lot of the investor-type guys are not necessarily cattle people, where I guess we are,” he said.
“I don't know if that changes things. But you do look at things a little bit different. It's not just about making money. There's more pride in the outcome of this show with these animals. I’m as excited about what we do with this cow from here on, as I was about what we could do from the time we bought her till she won that show.
“It just gives you a little different perspective. You know, you appreciate things more because you know how much hard work it takes to get to that point, and the hard work it takes at home to get these animals to the show. Especially these cows, the hours that Justin put in at home to get this done. It's overwhelming how many hours and how many late nights it takes to really get these things done.”
Justin said the big shows are not typically part of the Brooking plan, and that it was Randy who saw Countess’s ring potential. “We were lucky that Randy bought that heifer calf and had a goal to do things like this,” he said.
The RBC Supreme win puts Countess into the spotlight—or more into the spotlight. After all she hasn’t exactly been waiting in the wings up to this point.
“We're going to a highlight her quite a bit,” Randy said. “We did a lot of flushing on her last spring.
“That cow had an incredibly busy year last year. She was asked to do a lot as a two-year-old. I mean, she calved early and just about immediately went out to the flushing facility. We had good success flushing her and then we were still able to get her back in time to be able to show her, and not every two-year-old is able to do that.”
Randy expects Countess to be the centerpiece of his marketing for the next few years. Depending how the flushing goes over the summer, he expects to have embryos and even a dozen or so live calves on offer.
“I think we're looking at having around a dozen calves over this spring,” he said. “We will probably market some of those somewhere in the fall. That's a little too far away to know for sure. But we'll definitely be marketing embryos again, probably in the New Year's resolution sale. And we’ll have some available this fall. They were real well accepted this spring, so obviously we'll try to sell some more next spring.”
Countess’s amazing run is the result of a great partnership and an outstanding animal. Justin says Randy’s ownership was key to bringing her to the RBC Supreme championship. “Randy is as ideal a partner for that cow as possible,” he said.
“And it's not like the heifer was cheap when he bought her. So it's pretty rewarding that she did so well for Randy, after kinda sticking his neck out so much on her as a calf. It's nice that it all worked out.”
And Randy gives full credit to Justin and the Brooking crew.
“I didn't have a ton of input on the day to day stuff. So that was all Justin. He's one of the best in the business in my mind. You need such an attention to detail and no small thing goes missing.
“And I honestly believe that if she was in somebody else's hands, the results might not have been as good. I’m just real happy to be able to be partners with them on the call.”