Cavendish farm plans to go big into beef

Cold stor­age, feed growth all part of Vik­ing Fur’s pro­posal

The Compass - - Sports - BY ASH­LEY FITZ­PATRICK afitz­patrick@thetele­

The owner of a fur farm in Cavendish plans to di­ver­sify his busi­ness by ex­pand­ing into cat­tle farm­ing.

The plan for the Vik­ing Fur farm is more specif­i­cally to grow to 100 head of cat­tle and move from 160 acres of land leased at present (73 acres in pro­duc­tion) to 300 acres.

The plan also in­cludes new cold stor­age to sup­port the farm’s ex­ist­ing mink fur op­er­a­tion and its 15,000 fe­male breed­ers.

It is all now un­der en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment.

Peter Noer, pres­i­dent of Vik­ing Fur, told The Tele­gram the ex­pan­sion will do dou­ble duty mak­ing the farm a more di­ver­si­fied and sus­tain­able busi­ness, while help­ing the prov­ince step to­ward its goal of in­creas­ing food self-suf­fi­ciency from 10 per cent to at least 20 per cent by 2022.

Belted beef

Noer said he com­pleted ex­ten­sive re­search in de­cid­ing on south­west Scot­land’s Belted Galloway for ex­pand­ing the farm, given its per­for­mance on the avail­able diet and ex­pe­ri­ence in a sim­i­lar cli­mate.

“I think it will be the right species of cat­tle to in­tro­duce here to New­found­land,” he said.

To be sure, he brought in a small num­ber of Belted Galloway from Nova Sco­tia last fall.

The Vik­ing farm herd cur­rently stands at 17 an­i­mals, in­clud­ing five calves. Noer’s hope is to go to 20 to 30 an­i­mals in 2018. If the ex­pan­sion plan is ap­proved, he could even­tu­ally grow to 100 head.

The cod co­nun­drum Cold stor­age is a sig­nif­i­cant piece of the puz­zle.

The mink op­er­a­tion already takes what would oth­er­wise be dumped waste from fish pro­cess­ing and Noer uses it in food for his mink. It is a com­mon prac­tice with fur farms, with chicken byprod­uct an­other pop­u­lar feed source.

The fish and chicken pro­cess­ing byprod­uct is kept in cold stor­age, but stor­age space on the is­land is pricey and in­creas­ingly scarce. And no one is too keen to save room for mink food.

On top of this, with all of the talk of the re­turn of cod­fish and a de­sire within the provin­cial fish­ery to ex­pand cod pro­duc­tion, Noer said he sees de­vel­op­ing his own cold stor­age - roughly 55 me­tres by 30 me­tres - as a proac­tive move. It will al­low him to get ahead of an even greater crunch on space.

He cur­rently helps with food sup­ply for other farm­ers and said the cold stor­age space would be a boon to more than just his farm.

Fed­er­a­tion sup­port

The Vik­ing Fur farm has re­ceived crit­i­cism in the past about flies and the smell from of Agri­cul­ture mink ma­nure. Noer in­vested more than $2 mil­lion to in­stall a ma­nure man­age­ment sys­tem on the farm in 2014 and is highly con­scious of the sig­nif­i­cance to the pub­lic.

In 2015, com­pany plans to es­tab­lish a sec­ond fur farm off the Ar­gen­tia Ac­cess Road were turned down on the heels of neg­a­tive pub­lic re­sponse, with con­cerns about smell com­monly cited.

Ma­nure is used on the main farm, one to two kilo­me­tres from the near­est neigh­bour. Un­der the ex­pan­sion plan, ma­nure will help with hay growth on added acreage.

Fel­low farmer Merv Wise­man, pres­i­dent of the New­found­land and Labrador Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture, said the plan al­lows Noer to avoid re­liance on main­land pur­chases for mink feed and cat­tle feed.

“This is a per­fect ex­am­ple of how we’re go­ing to meet th­ese (gov­ern­ment) tar­gets and achieve the goals and ob­jec­tives for all of that,” Wise­man said.

The farm’s plan was reg­is­tered for en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment on Aug. 28. Pub­lic com­ments are due by Oct. 3, with a de­ci­sion from the min­is­ter or re­quest for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion by Oct. 12.

Noer told The Tele­gram any­one in­ter­ested in see­ing the farm for them­selves is wel­come to con­tact the farm and a tour can be ar­ranged.


Peter Noer is the pres­i­dent of Vik­ing Fur


The site of Vik­ing Furs.

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