Meet Dave Cockburn, a young farmer in Cochrane District
By Emily Potter, Beef North Project Assistant
Tell me about yourself, your operation and what made you move north.
When I was growing up, my grandparents had a cow-calf operation of 120 purebred Charolais in Tweed, Ontario, and I spent alot of time there. In 2012, my wife Sonya and I moved north because of her job. It was easier for her to find work in this area than down south so that helped with the decision. We bought the farm we are on now (AV Acres) in 2013. My wife didn't come from an agriculture background at all but is really involved with the day-to-day farm work, helping with feeding hay and whatever else needs to be done. There's really nothing she doesn't do.
I bought some of the cows we have now from my grandfather and currently we are running 25 purebred Charolais cows. We also do some custom equipment work. We sell most of our calves as stockers to feedlots in the New Liskeard area (about two hours south of here.) We sell herd replacements as mostly private treaty.
What's been one of the best things about your move north?
The neighbours and the community have been really welcoming and helpful. In general there are just some really good people here. The other farmers in the area have been quick to assist with anything we need.
What are some challenges you've had to face?
The funding available to farmers is limited in terms of what it will cover. We're limited in terms of access to infrastructure so we also rely on things such as vet services from New Liskeard. The winter weather is certainly a challenge but you learn how to deal with it.
What are your long-term goals?
I want to expand our herd up to 70 head of purebred Charolais and be able to market good replacement stock. I also want to focus on getting some more farmable land, but that can be challenging as it can be competitive with the cash croppers in the area.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone moving up north to farm, what would it be?
Make sure you understand what's involved. If you're completely new to farming, ask for help and take every opportunity to learn. Depending on the area in the north you're looking at, you may be limited in terms of infrastructure available to you, so make sure you talk to people to figure out how they deal with that.
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