By Emily Jaycox
For the Independent
Gert and Sonja Schrijver of Marsfield Holsteins dairy farm were named 2018 Master Breeders, the highest national award given by Holstein Canada to its members.
“That’s a lifetime accomplishment based on genetics, production and longevity,” said Gert Schrijver.
The award is given to breeders with the best ratio for breeding cows with high production, reproduction and health.
Schrijver, who serves on the Alberta board for Holstein Canada, says the award goes to show that Alberta dairy farmers can compete, both nationally and with the rest of the world.
“It sure shows as a farmer that you can compete.”
Marsfield Holsteins in located south of Stettler on Hwy 56.
The Schrijvers won “breeder of the year,” a provincial award, in 2009, and have been working toward Master Breeder for the past 15 years, says Schrijver.
His farm is now one of the top milk-producing dairy farms in Canada.
“It’s a great recognition of what you do as a farmer.”
Schrijver is an Alberta board member for the Dairy Farmers of Canada association.
Schrijver says he is very dedicated to improving the Canadian dairy industry.
“The Canadian dairy industry has been good to us so it means a lot to me to leave it better for the next generation.”
He spends a lot of time in Ottawa in his role as board member, and for the past 10 years, people have come from all over the world to tour his farm.
In October, he visited a farm in South Korea.
Marsfield Holsteins has brought attention to the Stettler area and helps to put the town “on the map,” says Schrijver.
“That’s a very important factor in farming – that you support your local community.”
The association has 12,000 members, and only 20 are awarded the top accolade each year.
Holstein Canada announces the Master Breeder winners at the beginning of each year for the previous year.
The winners are awarded at Holstein Canada’s annual a convention, to be held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island from April 24 to 27.
The crowning event of the convention will be the Master Breeders’ gala, with 800 people expected to attend.
Schrijver’s parents will be coming from Holland to see him receive the award.
His father was very active in breeding in the Netherlands, says Schrijver.
“The fact he is still able to come and celebrate is special too.”
Schrijver and his wife immigrated to Canada from Holland in 1996.
It usually takes a lifetime to build up a significant herd, and Marsfield Holsteins has done it in 20 years, says Schrijver.
“I’m pretty proud of that.”
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