With 110 years of ranching experience, Shiloh Cattle Company remains a strong, family-oriented operation nestled in the Hand Hills, just southwest of Hanna, Ab. Four generations have now graced their lands, starting with current co-owner Blake Morton’s great-grandparents: Kingsley and Alice Morton.
In 1946, Blake’s grandparents, Lawrence and Francis Morton purchased additional land in the area but in 1959, Morton’s parents, Merle and Irene, purchased the original home quarter along with the rest of the ranch from Kingsley.
Over the years, the two ranches slowly became one which is now known as Shiloh Cattle Company.
Although Blake has always been actively involved in the ranch his whole life, it was not until 1995 that he moved back home after spending a few years off ranch as an industrial millwright. In 1996, Darcy Olesky moved to the ranch.
It was then that Blake and Darcy began forming their vision of what the ranch is today, and shortly after, registered the ranch under the name Shiloh Cattle Company.
After several years of building up their commercial herd, Blake and Darcy purchased their first 11 Purebred Red Angus cows in 2004 from Hugh and Marylee Wilkie of Tomahawk Red Angus.
In 2007, they purchased another 90 head of Red Angus Cows along with the bull calves from Tomahawk Red Angus, beginning their current adventure in raising Angus cattle.
Today, the pair currently run approximately 285 cow/calf pairs that are split, two-thirds Purebred Red and Black Angus and one-third Red Angus cows that are bred to Purebred Simmental bulls.
This is all done on 3,500 acres of land.
The pair’s passion for cattle runs deep.
“It’s a pretty good way of life,” said Olesky. “It’s not an easy way of life all the time and you don’t get rich at it that’s for sure.”
Their annual ‘Trendsetter’ Bull and Replacement Heifer sale began five years ago and is now conducted in their sleek new sale barn on the ranch.
This year, the sale took place on Sat. March 23 to a full house due to the beautiful spring weather and a loyal buyer base.
Their top priority was naturally getting the animals ready for sale but also keeping the yard in good condition and reassuring everything is in place.
“We make sure they are our main priority. We make sure they are clean and clipped up and looking good,” said Blake. “Sale day starts off with sorting and putting animals in their pens and getting ready for the viewing so people can look them over before the video sale.”
Their top selling bull went to George and Laura Baxter of Countridge Red Angus in Bassano for $14,250.
Their high selling heifer went to Neil and Sheila Lust of Lust Farms in Cypress County for $5,500. Black Commercial Open Heifers averaged $1,650 while the Red Commercial Open Heifers averaged $1987.50.
Blake and Darcy began showing cattle since 2012, collecting a number of highly ranked awards along the way.
Red DKF Racer 8E is a Red Angus bull who cleaned up well, taking home the Grand Champion title at three of the most well-known shows in Western Canada including the Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Farmfair International in Edmonton, and Olds Fall Classic in 2018.
This yearling herd sire has also been named the Canadian Angus Association National Champion Junior Red Angus Bull of 2018 and 2018 Red Angus Show Bull of the Year.
On top of this, Racer became the Angus Silver Medal Champion of North America.
“We’ve been fortunate,” began Olesky. “He did amazing. We bought him from a ranch out in Saskatchewan at Agribition and we were very pleased with how we did.”
Their other decorated animal, herd sire Red Mar Mac Debut 70D, was named the 2018 Canadian Angus Association National Champion 2-year-old Red Angus Bull.
Darcy and Blake are most proud of receiving the Canadian Red Angus Promotional Societies Purebred Breeder of 2017, as well as the 2016 Alberta Angus Association Purebred Breeder of the Year, along with their eight Canadian Angus Association National Red Angus Championship Awards from the CAA Gold Show Circuit.
This includes three awards in 2018 for the Canadian Angus Association Red Angus Senior Bull Champion, Red Angus Junior Bull Campion, and Red Angus Canadian Show Bull of the Year.
The one aspect the pair did not anticipate was the friends they would meet along the way as they now affectionately refer to them as their ‘show family’.
Even with their success in the show ring, their main focus remains on raising high quality beef seedstock with the commercial producer in mind.
They pride themselves on preventative techniques to keep their animals happy and healthy.
A prime example of this is the daily bedding that takes place during the winter.
Extra bedding stops tag, a collection of dirt and grime that accumulates on the underbelly of cattle, from staying.
“We’re pretty picky with our animals,” said Olesky. “We want them to always be clean. We bed heavy and we are always trying, no matter what time of year, to keep them clean because I mean like a lot of places, they get tag on them and stuff and it’s a lot of work to get that off once it’s on there.”
“I think as far as a business goes, how you represent yourself and your product is how well you’ll do.”
Social media has become a large part of any producers marketing toolkit. For Shiloh Cattle Co., this is no exception.
With 1.8 thousand ‘likes’ on Facebook, traction can be made with a click of a button.
“We find that we use Facebook more for promotions than our website now. It’s just a crazy, crazy tool to use,” said Olesky.
Morton added, “Facebook is almost more effective nowadays than the web page. A web page you can’t interact with and people want to interact.”