Meet Your Ontario Beef Farmer


Heatherlea Farm – Caledon, ONheatherlea_7290-2

With a passion for Angus cattle, Gord and Pat McArthur began their own beef herd in the late 1970’s. In the beginning, they would sell sides and quarters of beef to friends and family, but it wasn’t until a short venture of running a bed & breakfast in 2007 that the potential to open a farm-gate market truly became apparent. The local food movement in Ontario was blossoming and the requests for naturally-raised meat was increasing. So in May 2009, with their fingers crossed, the couple closed the bed & breakfast and put a freezer in the garage with a small wooden desk and a tin cash box. It was the opening of Heatherlea Farm Shoppe. At that time, their son Don and his wife Melinda came back to work on the farm to grow the family business.

To this day, they continue to run a herd of 60 Registered Black Angus cattle. Their cattle are grass-fed, and are raised without the use of added growth hormones or antibiotics. They finish their cattle on hay, silage, and a small amount of grains so their beef is extremely tender with outstanding flavour.

Over the years, the business has grown to include frozen meats (such as local lamb, bison, emu and fish), produce, eggs, cheese, dairy, and other locally-sourced fine foods. An inspected kitchen was added to produce value-added products such as scratch meals and baked goods using home-raised and local ingredients.

As demand grew, the McArthur family decided that it was time to expand their business to include a cafe and a butcher shoppe. A new building was constructed and opened in January 2016, which attracts not only the locals but also people travelling from the Greater Toronto Area. With the addition of the butcher shoppe, the McArthur’s can now provide a true farm-to-fork experience from raising the animals to aging and custom processing.

An idea that grew from necessity to support their family has turned into a full-time shoppe that allows the McArthur’s to share their delicious, healthy and local food with their community! Learn more about Heatherlea Farm Shoppe by visiting their website or check out their twitter @heatherleafarm.

Rob and Maryjo Tait, Celtic Ridge Farms – Dutton Dunwich, ONCeltic Ridge1

Rob and Maryjo Tait own and operate Celtic Ridge Farms located in Dutton Dunwich, Ontario with their son Alexander.  Rob’s mom Annie Isobel still lives in the original homestead built in 1873 and remains active on the farm continuing the family farm tradition. Celtic Ridge Farms is a commercial cow/calf operation, along with a small purebred Limousin herd, and sheep.  Rob and Maryjo’s key focuses are on raising cattle without additives or added growth hormones, animal traceability, the welfare and health of their cattle and environmental sustainability. Cattle are finished on the farm and sold through farm gate sales, while heifers are retained to continue growing their herd.

The home farm has been in their family since 1873.  Their son Alexander is the fifth generation to live on the farm.  Rob’s parents Annie Isobel (McCallum) and Duncan Alexander Tait farmed throughout their lives and instilled many qualities in their children that continue today on the farm, most notably the importance of hard work, being community oriented and of course the importance of respecting and caring for livestock. Rob’s Dad always stressed the importance of being quiet around cattle and that continues today as Rob is nicknamed the “Cow Whisperer” for his ability to keep all of his cows calm and comfortable.

Both Rob and Maryjo graduated from West Elgin Secondary School (WESS) and the University of Guelph.  Rob returned to WESS as a History teacher and has been teaching fulltime since 2005.  Maryjo grew up on a mixed farming operation that included Purebred Limousin cattle, cash crops, goats & turkeys.  Maryjo currently works as a First Nations Liaison with the Ministry of Natural Resources.  Juggling parenting, the farm and two full time jobs presents its share of obstacles, but it also provides both with great opportunities and success.  Coaching, playing sports, playing music, director with Elgin Beef Farmers and participation on various boards are just some examples of their community involvement.

Celtic Ridge Farm’s philosophy has not changed that much from the early days. Their cattle are raised on a vegetation diet, which means they frequent the pasture grasses and hay.  Celtic Ridge Farms offer both grass-fed and naturally raised beef, whose forage-based diet is also complemented by high quality corn and oats.  All animals spend their spring, summer, and falls outdoors on pasture, and spend winters with access to the barns.  Celtic Ridge Farms has just built a new beef barn that will ensure a stress free environment for cattle and operators and will allow Rob, Maryjo and their family to continue their expansion for their farm and business.

All of their cattle are “Born, Bred & Raised.” on Celtic Ridge Farms, allowing Rob and Maryjo to know where each cow and calf came come, ensuring a unique local product for each customer. They take pride in carrying forward their family’s farming traditions of producing quality beef. To learn more about Celtic Ridge Farms and to see or purchase products, please visit their website, follow them on Twitter @celticridgefarm or like them on Facebook.

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Allan and Colleen Cathcat – Kendal, ON Cathcart1

Allan and Colleen Cathcart, fifth generation farmers from Kendal, Ontario, operate a cow-calf farm with Charolais beef cattle. Their top priority is to raise high quality and healthy animals in a stress-free environment with a key focus on increasing the number of animals on their farm, and using innovative technology to market their animals.

Colleen and Allan are currently engaged in a number of industry-driven programs developed to uphold consumer confidence in Canadian beef. They are enrolled in Canada’s Verified Beef Program, a national on-farm food safety program, and they also currently take part in a data sharing program, Beef InfoXchange System, that helps farmers keep track of how their cattle perform, even after they have left the farm. This program allows the farmer to use this information to help improve the genetics of their herd for the future and produce high quality beef.

Colleen and Allan enjoy taking part in their community and showing their love for the Ontario beef industry. Allan is a member of the Durham Cattlemen’s Association, while Colleen takes the time to reach out to the public and connect them to where their food comes from. She is an active agvocate, posting information and videos frequently to Twitter and Youtube. Check out her Twitter page, @collcat123 to learn more about Ontario beef farms straight from the farmer!

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Jack and Diane Chaffe – Mitchell, ON

ChaffeJack Chaffe lives north of Mitchell, ON with his wife Diane and three sons Owen, Evan and Curtis, where they operate their fifth generation family farm with his brother Joe. Chaffe Farms Ltd. is a feedlot operation that feeds 2,000 cattle a year in a state-of-the-art handling facility, providing a stress free environment for both the cattle and those working in the barn. Jack graduated with a diploma in Agriculture Business Management and is involved in all aspects of the family business from finances and herd health to the buying and selling of cattle and commodities.

Jack also takes part as an active member in both his agriculture and local communities. He is currently a member of the Beef Farmers of Ontario’s Board of Directors and has been a Director for the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association for the past two years. In his local community, he is a hockey coach for players of all ages from beginning players to the Junior level, as well as being the President of the Mitchell Minor Hockey League.

Jack believes it is important to encourage young farmers to continue to be involved in the Ontario beef industry and to pass on knowledge and support to the coming generation of beef farmers. Two of Jack’s sons are currently interested in being involved in the beef industry, currently caring for their own herd of 20 Red and Black Simmental cows.

Chaffe Farms Ltd. markets their cattle through the Ontario Corn Fed Beef program, a brand that can be found in over 200 Loblaws’ stores across Ontario. Visit the Ontario Corn Fed Beef website to learn more about this program.

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Mark and Anna McCutcheon – Sprinvale, ON Teal's Meats

Mark and Anna McCutcheon own and operate Teal’s Meats, a family run butcher shop in Springvale, ON. This year Teal’s Meats is celebrating 100 years in business, a tradition Mark and Anna are proud to continue. In 2009, Mark and Anna purchased the butcher shop including a small farm near Anna’s family farm, Bennville Limousin. Mark and Anna have slowly worked to expand the business which originally produced only pork sausage, to include a full line of meat products. They seized the opportunity to add beef and to source their products from their family’s herd of cattle.

Anna’s parents, Ferdinand and Anita Haupt farm in Haldimand County where they diligently grew their farming business and raised their family of 5 children. Growing up, Anna, together with her mother and sisters enjoyed working with the cattle. They would attend many local fairs with 4-H project animals as well as tending to the day to day care of the cattle. The family farm also consists of a cash crop operation growing corn, soybeans and wheat as well as an equine facility, boarding and importing high quality Hanoverian horses.

On farm today, Anna’s mother, Anita, operates the cow herd along with her youngest sister Greta (who is also involved with the horse training along with her father). Her sister Niki and husband, Ian have begun to take on the cash crop end of the family farm, working together with her mother and father. Anna and Mark complete the family business by marketing and selling the quality beef produced on farm from their butcher shop.

Bennville Limousin is a herd of purebred Limousin cattle, where a strong focus has always been breeding stock. The health of the cattle and providing a comfortable environment is also very important. The Haupt and McCutcheon families realize that along with genetics, the environment in which cattle are kept is very important for them to meet their full potential. The herd grazes pasture for as much of the year as possible. In the winter months they are housed in deep bedded, sheltered barns with access to a large yard for exercise and are fed high quality hays and baylage. Calves are kept and finished on the farm on a diet of corn that is grown on farm, protein supplement and free choice hay and baylage.

Being able to take an animal from birth through to the dinner table is highly rewarding to Anna and Mark. Customers wish to know where their meat is coming from and how it is raised and appreciate the connection to the farm that Teal’s Meats is able to offer. Along with this, a main focus of Teal’s Meats is to provide a consistent and very high quality product. Their customer base returns on a weekly basis to buy their meats from the butcher shop and have come to enjoy the consistently tender and juicy beef that they are able to purchase and enjoy from Teal’s Meats.

Being a “mom and pop” shop, operated by only Anna and Mark, they are able to interact with customers face to face and answer their questions to understand what is important to them. They value this relationship with consumers as it is something that many farmers never get to experience. It gives insight into where their consumers are coming from and allows Anna and Mark the opportunity to share the day to day activities on the farm and the care that goes into raising livestock. Mark and Anna have three young daughters and love being able to work from home and having their children about their day to day business.

Teal’s Meats has a retail outlet on farm as well as attends the Ottawa Street Farmers’ Market in Hamilton. Their products are also available at other locations in Southwestern Ontario. To learn more visit Teal’s Meats and Bennville Limousin online, as well as their Twitter and Facebook pages.

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Dave and Estelle Hewitt – Simcoe, ON

Hewitt's2Dave and Estelle Hewitt have operated their farm for close to 40 years in beautiful Simcoe County.

Dave returned to his family’s third generation farm in 1974 after graduating from the University of Guelph.  In 1976 he married Estelle, and together with the help of their three children (Kevin, Derek and Krystal) and their staff they have grown their family business in several different areas. These include their beef cattle, corn, soybeans and hay for both cattle feed and cash crop, a retail and wholesale meat store and meat processing shop, along with a custom snowblowing operation for the snowy winter months.  Their children and spouses have helped to continue this success by contributing fresh new ideas and marketing their products and services.

Dave and Estelle believed there would be a demand for locally produced meat products.  So in 1985 they added a wholesale and retail meat shop right on the farm.  This business quickly expanded, so in 1988 they added a meat processing shop.  This shop helped keep up with the demand for locally produced meat products.  Shortly after the processing shop opened Dave felt the need for a quality and unique snack food.  After months of testing other commercial recipes, Dave decided to form his own recipe and that was when Dave’s Homemade Beef Jerky was created. It is made with a secret family recipe and can now be found across Ontario.

After many years of success, the Hewitt family continue to enjoy providing quality meats, mouth- watering beef jerky, outstanding customer service and enjoy growing quality corn, soy beans and beef for Ontario families. Ontario Corn Fed Beef is available at their Butcher Shop along with Dave’s Homemade Beef Jerky. The Beef Jerky is also available at Orillia Fairgrounds Farmer’s Market, Gravenhurst Farmer’s Market or can be ordered online.  Visit Hewitt’s Country Meats for more details.

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Jason and Gabrielle Desrochers – Val Gagné, ONDesrochers1

Jason and Gabrielle Desrochers, along with their two daughters, have a beef farm in Northern Ontario. Their farm is located in Val Gagné, which is situated between Cochrane and Matheson Ontario.  Although there are challenges farming in the North, Jason’s family have plenty of experience, as Jason is the third generation on the farm. Jason’s father and brother are also an integral part of operating the farm. It truly is a family farm atmosphere.

The farm takes advantage of the abundance of pasture available in Northern Ontario, to raise beef for a niche brand: Golden Beef [insert hyperlink:], a brand that produces grass and forage fed beef raised without the use of growth promoting hormones or antibiotics.  Jason’s role as President of Golden Beef has given him insight on how to market premium beef as well as how to educate consumers to ensure they have a positive eating experience.

Producing high quality beef for the grass fed program has not narrowed the marketing options for the farm. On the contrary, beef from their farm is marketed through the Golden Beef program and through the Ontario Corn Fed Beef program. Their farm is a strong supporter of both Ontario beef brands.  It continues to be an important part of the Desrochers farm to provide consumers with the choice of enjoying Ontario Beef, whether grass fed or corn fed beef.

To learn more about the Golden Beef program, the products available to you and how to order, please visit their website.

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Adam and Dana Thatcher – Wellington, ON

Thatcher'sThatcher Farms is located on 140 acres in Eramosa Township, in beautiful Wellington County. Adam, a graduate of the Ontario Agriculture College and Dana, an elementary school teacher enjoy farming and the lifestyle it provides for their family. Thatcher Farms is entering its fourth year of business, which grew out of necessity and a love for good food.

To Adam and Dana, knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown is an essential ingredient when looking to buy fresh, quality and sustainable meats. To them, raising animals and livestock requires time, patience and a true commitment to the process, with an end result of what they believe to be a quality product. This dedication to the improvement of their farm and their product resulted in them being recipients of Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers Award for 2013.

All cattle on Thatcher Farms are raised locally and are grown without any added artificial hormones. The cattle are fed rations made up of different grains and alfalfa-timothy hay. Thatcher Farms is proud to be a member of Ontario’s Farm Fresh Marketing Association and welcomes you to their on-farm store, where you can choose from a variety of different farm fresh products including Ontario beef. With a grant from Beef Farmers of Ontario, Thatcher Farms was able to add a butcher shop to their market in the spring of 2012, allowing them to offer customers their own locally produced meat products.

Buying your fresh meats from Thatcher Farms means you can buy with confidence! Beef from Thatcher Farms is available at their on-farm store as well as at the Guelph Farmers Market. Visit Thatcher Farms for more information.

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Dan O’Brien –  Ottawa, ON

danobrienDan O’Brien, of O’Brien Farms, is a fourth generation beef farmer, raised near Greely, Ontario. O’Brien has worked in the beef industry his entire life but it’s his latest venture – selling his own local beef – that’s given him a name for himself and his cattle.

The care and attention O’Brien Farms puts into their animals allows them to be confident that the beef that they are raising is of the highest possible quality. Their customers can count on O’Brien Farms for premium quality beef year-round. Dan’s motto is, “If it isn’t good enough for my family, I won’t sell it.”

All cattle are born and raised locally and are grown without any artificial hormones or antibiotics. His cows are fed hay during the winter and spend the summer on pasture, grazing. O’Brien Farm’s barns and pastures are designed to maximize comfort and care for their cattle.

Dan is a member of Savour Ottawa and welcomes the growing interest in initiatives such as the 100-mile diet. He is passionate about increasing the connections between his community and farmers. Dan believes purchasing locally produced beef helps to support local families and farms as well as associated local businesses including the local abattoir, farm supply dealers and neighboring farmers.

O’Brien Farms has an open door policy and regularly invites chefs and the general public to tour the farm to view firsthand how the cattle are looked after.  The visitors arrive in ones and twos or in some cases by the bus load.  Taking a few minutes to explain how raising cattle is done from start to finish helps grow an understanding and appreciation for what it takes to raise the some of the best beef Ontario has to offer.

Beef from O’Brien Farms is available at the Ottawa Farmers Market as well as at local retailers throughout the Ottawa region, which you can find here. They also offer a refrigerated delivery service to your home or business in the Ottawa area. Visit O’Brien Farms for more information.

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Darold and Kara Enright
Hastings, ON

In 2004, Darold and Kara Enright purchased the 95 acre farm that is now known as Enright Cattle Company. Located just south of Tweed, Ontario, the farm raises purebred black and red Simmental cattle.

Enright Cattle Company is proud to continue a family farming tradition that dates back four generations in both of their families. Kara’s parents, Don and Chris Langevin, have been farming in the area for more than 30 years.

Darold and Kara bring a world of agricultural knowledge and farming experience to their operation.

Kara started buying her own beef cattle in her early teens, after her dad moved from dairy farming to raising purebred Simmentals. She went on to graduate with both a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and a diploma in Agriculture from the University of Guelph. As a result, Kara has in-depth knowledge in beef cattle nutrition and proper animal husbandry and care.

Brought up raising cattle, Darold has superb cattle handling skills and is also an exceptional carpenter.  With a diploma in Integrated Resource Management from Sir Sandford Fleming College,  he has excellent knowledge in woodlot management. Something that is also essential to every farm’s success is working equipment which Darold does a great job in maintaining.

Working with Kara’s parents farm, Langevin Farms, allows Enright Cattle Company to have a fresh supply of beef year round! Their cows and calves are raised in the most natural environment possible. During the summer months, animals are kept on pasture and eat only a healthy diet of grass. In the fall, the calves are weaned and  moved to a diet of farm-blended mix of their own homegrown hay and grains with added mineral and vitamins. Their cattle live outdoors except during calving season when the new offspring spend their first couple of weeks in the barn with their mothers.

Giving their cattle the best environment and most balanced nutrition possible keeps them very healthy. Enright Cattle Company does not use artificial hormones and their cattle only receive antibiotics if they require them.

Darold and Kara are very active in the local community. Enright Cattle Company hosts a pancake breakfast and horse drawn sleigh ride every year on the farm. This event is open to family, friends and community members.

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Murray and Sandi Shaw and Ralph and Brenda Eyre – Lambton, ON

couples 253The families of Murray and Sandi Shaw and Ralph and Brenda Eyre are partners in Bluewater Beef. They have been farming and caring for their beef cattle for several generations with the commitment to continually improve traditional farming methods with environmentally sustainable farming practices.

Murray and Sandi Shaw along with their four children – Clayton, Cameron, Lilian and Logan operate the farm where Murray was born and raised. They have been expanding and updating since they purchased it from Murray’s dad and are currently working with their farm herd of 80 in Mooretown, Ontario. Their cattle are raised on grasses and legumes and as they reach maturity they are fed a whole grain diet. On their farm they also use a sophisticated tracking system to collect information about each animal including the feed they provide and animal health information. The gathering of this information allows them to easily share details about the animals they raise on their farm.

Ralph and Brenda Eyre and their three boys – Reid, Riley and Colin, run a family cow herd that consists of 80 beef cattle in Courtright, Ontario. Their cattle are also raised on a similar diet of grasses and legumes and as they reach maturity they are fed a whole grain diet. Ralph and Brenda’s families have a passion for farming as both families have farmed for multiple generations. Brenda’s father and uncle owned and operated a local community meat shop for 44 years before retiring a few years ago. Ralph and Brenda appreciate having the opportunity to provide families with the same high quality beef that they have provided for their own families for almost 20 years.

As partners in Bluewater Beef these families take pride in their farms, and the beef they raise. They strive to provide their customers with the peace of mind that comes from knowing where their food comes from.

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