Recognized for an outstanding career breeding cattle

Ernie sitting in front of a wall of ribbons he won during his time breeding cattle. (Aaron Wilgosh/Postmedia)

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Ernie and Irma Esau operated Ernmore Farms in Elm Creek until retirement in Carman, Manitoba, and Ernie was recently recognized for his lengthy and award-winning career with an article in the Charolais Banner.

“This really came as a surprise to me,” said Ernie Esau. “I happen to know a lot of people in the industry and it was really nice to be highlighted in the magazine. I’ve had a great career raising cattle with many ribbons and awards to show for it. It’s really an honour to have this done.

Esau started in the purebred business in 1951 with two Shorthorn heifers. He and his wife got married in 1955 and he officially showed his first animal in 1957. Esau and his wife continued to develop their Shorthorns and became so successful that in 1971 Ernie received the prestigious Builder of the Breed award from the American Shorthorn Association.

Ernmore Farms won Champion Pen of 5 Shorthorn bulls in Denver for two consecutive years. Esau lectured in the United States about the pros and cons of dual-purpose Polled Shorthorn cattle which started him on the road to bigger Shorthorns, where he became a trendsetter. He also served on the Manitoba Shorthorn Board of Directors for 15 years.

“We dispersed with the Shorthorns because the main market was in the US and it was too scary having your market across the border,” he said. “Irma liked the Maine-Anjou because they had a similar colour to the Shorthorns but she wasn’t able to switch as quickly. We had a short expensive experience in the breed. We also showed Maines in Denver and you could have a shot a canon down the alley that week and not hit anyone. That’s when I decided there was no future in them.”

Eventually, the duo made the move to Charolais as they realized the breed had the most commercial people watching in 1975.

“I had six kids to feed and I had to make a living. I was the first generation being a purebred breeder in our family and I did it without any money behind me,” admitted Ernmore. “There are many people that have money and look after what they have and do well. There are also those that have money and don’t value it and blow it down the tubes.”

Ernie’s accomplishments include many champion breeds and high sellers in his career. Ernmore Karl, one of Ernie’s top winners, was a son of Jack Dempsey that was the high selling bull at the 1988 Char-National sale that went for $20,000. Sons and daughters of this bull had a real influence in the Swedish polled Charolais herd.

Ernie also owned a couple of very influential females and successfully built a herd, and marketed their progeny. He also worked for the breed by serving as a Canadian Charolais Association director from 1991 to 1996.

Ernmore also served his community through 4-H leadership and as a director on several co-op boards.