THE WEPPLER FAMILY TAKES PRIDE IN THEIR FARM AND DAIRY COWS
WEPPLER FAMILY FARM
Carman and Beth-Ann Weppler know a thing or two about family farming.
On a drizzly early morning in June, the atmosphere at the Weppler home is buzzing. Carman and Beth-Ann have been up for hours taking care of the morning milking, and 7-year-old son Lachlan and 4-year-old daughter Rea are thrilled to wave to the school bus as it passes without them on it. While Lachlan and Rea excitedly show off their rabbits, cows and chickens, Beth-Ann explains that this is a family operation, and the kids stay home from school occasionally in order to fully participate in farm life and bring those stories back to their classmates at school.
WATCH: CARMAN AND BETH-ANN TALK ABOUT WHAT REAL FARMING MEANS TO THEM
Both Carman and Beth-Ann grew up on dairy farms in southwestern Ontario. In 2000, Carman and Beth-Ann took over the Weppler family farm and are raising their young family on the homestead. “I am here carrying on their legacy,” says Carman. With Lachlan and Rea, the Weppler farm has been home to four generations of family farming. According to Carman, “Cows are part of the family. All the livestock is part of the family. Farming is part of the family.” Beyond dairy, the Weppler operation also includes 4,000 laying hens and cash crops including winter wheat, soybeans and corn.
But Beth-Ann is quick to point out that, “Our lives revolve around our cows. They’re our girls, so we get up in the morning for them, we end our day for them and whatever we can fit […] in between is what we can fit in.”
Animal welfare is top of mind for the Wepplers, particularly for their cows. “If the animals are healthy and their welfare is high, they’re going to be profitable for you. We try to do everything in our ability to make those cows healthy and comfortable and working for us.”
Partnering with their veterinary clinic is a cornerstone to the Wepplers’ herd management program. “At a minimum, our vet clinic is here every 4 weeks to do herd health, to talk about what’s going on. Having a supportive vet clinic can really ease those hard times when you’re having cow issues or calf issues. To know that you can call them and they’ll be there in 20 minutes or an hour and you’ll have a solution in place is amazing.” Adds Carman, “It used to be that, ‘you don’t call the vet, ‘cause that’ll cost you money.’ In this day and age, [we have] a totally different relationship with our vets now.”
Using Metacam® 20* is another part of the Weppler animal welfare and herd management program. Beth-Ann says, “We can administer the drug and then within hours we’ll have cud chewing, [the cows are] more alert in the eyes, perky. So you know that it had to have done something. To know that if you have an animal that’s hurting, to administer something right away, on-farm, [brings] peace of mind. You only need one injection and that’ll do you for 48 hours.”
Metacam® 20* also has financial benefits in the Weppler operation. “It’s a different way of thinking. If that animal is in pain, it’s not performing, it’s hurting, so it’s not performing as it should. That means that if a cow is not feeling [well], she’s not a profitable cow anymore. I give her a dose of Metacam® 20* and she gets up and feels better and continues on. That avoids the use of antibiotics, and loss of revenue for a longer period of time,” notes Carman.
WATCH: CARMAN AND BETH-ANN DISCUSS ANIMAL WELFARE
A champion plowman (currently the provincial Traditional Plowing champion and a former national champion), Carman also has a real appreciation of the soil science side of farming. What’s more, plowing competitions allow the family to enjoy downtime together. The Wepplers travel to competitions within Canada and even travelled to Denmark as a family for the World Plowing Championship in 2015. “We were so proud to be able to cheer Carman on and give him support, especially when he had such an amazing day in the stubble,” Beth-Ann says. They hope to return to the world championship in Germany in 2018.
Before taking over the family farm, Carman completed his degree at the University of Guelph. But his education didn’t stop there. He is continually training and learning about new developments in the industry. “It’s important to stay up to date,” he says, and takes courses in crop management, field preparation and herd management. Adds Beth-Ann, “Training is a great time to network with your peers. You build up contacts but also hear what they’re doing on their farms that you can possibly bring back to your home farm to make your days easier.”
And that networking is so essential in a rural community. On the business side, Carman says, “Benchmarking is an extremely crucial element in any business. You need to know where you are in respect to your peers. It doesn’t matter if you’re way in front of them or behind… you need to know where you are to be profitable and to make the best business decisions.”
Plus, there’s the personal side of being an active member of a community. Beth-Ann tells a story about helping a neighbor after some beef cattle got out in the middle of the night. She says, “You just drop what you’re doing and go and help […] because you know that if the same thing were to happen here, I know my neighbours would be there. It’s a give and take situation – that’s what real communities are all about.”
For the Wepplers, real farming is “putting all your chips on the table and hoping at the end of the day that you come out on top. It’s going with your instincts, putting it all out there and learning every time you do it.”
For the Wepplers, this is real farming.