BLONDE d'AQUITAINE
UPDATED: February 16, 2017 - Embryos & Semen For Sale
                              

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Welcome to our Blonde pages. The Blonde breed is known first and foremost as a terminal sire breed. That means that all F1 offspring should enter the beef production industry. Blonde cross calves excel in the feedlot, on the rail and on your plate. They are virtually unmatched for their feed conversion and lean meat yield abilities in feedlot situations. They also have a fine grained meat that is more tender (less shear force) than most other breeds.

Our Blonde herd is being selected for conformation and production traits. We use EPD's as a guide but they cannot trump what we can see with our eyes and count in our pocketbook. Our cattle are raised under Western Canadian conditions without excessive supplementation. The realities of real world beef production simply don't allow for it. Cattle that are lacking in capacity and natural doability won't work in our operation, nor will cattle that are too extreme in mature size. These off-type cattle usually work their way out of the herd quickly due to poor production and fertility.
 
History
 
The Willow Springs Blonde herd was started by my grandparents, Hugh & Jessie Rigney (Grandpa passed away in 2009 & Granny in 1997). They purchased of a group of commercial cows AI'ed Blonde in 1974 followed by a group of Blonde percentage females AI'ed Blonde followed in 1975. In 1976 Grandpa attended the Tonmark Sale at Carriage House in Calgary, and purchased his first Fullblood Blonde females. They were Tonmark Lena, Lucy, Lucille, Letitia and Ivory. With the purchase of Fullblood females came the need for a bull. At that time most import bulls were housed in the AI studs, so he went on a tour and finally found the bull he wanted; Igha.

However Grandpa's most important purchases came in the fall of 1980 and the spring of 1981. He purchased Miss Helen Bur Jo and her daughter Miss Jewel 16K, and then WSS Mighty. Helen had a daughter in 1982, WSS Petula 13P. Jewel and Petula went on to raise almost every champion and high seller that we had. Mighty went on to become the most dominant bull of the eighties.

Grandpa also became a driving force in the breed. He sat on the Alberta or Canadian Blonde Association board of dirctors from 1977 until 1994, and sometimes both. He also served as President of both associations.
One of his claims to fame was his willingness to speak his mind; you never had to guess what he was thinking.


Grandpa and I checking the cows (1982)
Grandpa was tireless in his promotion of the breed. He realized the importance of putting the cattle in front of the buying public, as did many other like minded breeders. We often spent most of the summer showing or preparing to show cattle, and always had large strings to ensure that the show was made. We started in early July at the Calgary Stampede, then headed to Red Deer, Vegreville, Vermillion, Camrose, Stettler and Olds. We also attended smaller one day shows in our area such as Barrhead and Westlock. When the fall rolled around it was time to head off to Lloydminster, Edmonton Farmfair and sometimes Regina Agribition. The National Show, Sale and annual meeting was held in the spring, and Grandpa always attended. If in Western Canada with a string of cattle, and he usually tried to send one or two head if the event was held in Ontario or Quebec.

Grandpa also realized that Blondes were firstly a terminal cross breed, and regularily contributed to bull tests over the years (Ellerslie, Bassano, Strathmore, Vermillion, Ma
yerthorpe, etc.). These tests provided the opportunity for feedlot operators to witness the feed conversion benefits of Blonde cattle, and gathered a large number of bulls in one location for commercial breeders to assess. He had his share of high gainers, with the most prominent being WSS Rex 6R and WSS Sultan 3S. Both were sons of Mighty out of the Gold Rush Locket 484M cow, both were the high sellers and both sold into purebred herds (Roseneath & Fouillards).

In the late eighties Grandpa started a sales management company with good friend Marcel Fouillard, and they only managed Blonde sales. They were finding that they were contacting most of the buyers for the sales, and vice-versa, so why not get paid for it rather than paying someone else. Prospector Sales Management ran succesfully until well after Grandpas retirement from the business.

In 1991 Grandpas Willow Springs herd was dispersed. Twenty lots from the Petula and Jewel families averaged $3500 including heifers calves, bull calves an
d the old girls themselves. The sale averaged $2450 on 87 lots, with calves sold as their own lots. It may not sound that high, but he had never been one to hoard his best, and in fact he sold them quite often over the years. Grandpa sold more females over $4000 per capita than any other herd of his day (he only ever had 20-30 cows). The two that stick in my mind are a 9 month old Petula daughter, WSS Ulla 31U for $7400 (1987 National Champion Female), and Gold Rush Locket 484M as a ten year old for $10,000.

For more historical information on the cattle mentioned please check the Herd Sires & The Cows pages.

My original Blonde herd began in 1991 with the dispersal of my Grandfathers herd. At that point I took over the Willow Springs name, and raised a small herd of Blonde cattle until 2001 when I dispersed due to other commitments. However, I couldn't keep my passion for, and fond memories of the breed down. In 2006 we purchased some embryos out of my favourite old cow, WSS Petula 13P, and AI'ed some of our Red Angus cows to Blonde bulls. We also purchased a package of polled Purebred cows from good friends George & Karen Gray, of Southview Blondes in May of 2007. In 2007/2008 we purchased embryos from WSS Petula 13P, WSS Zoey 6Z, WSS Ursa 26U and a package of embryos from Marcel & Jean Fouillard representing their best cow families of the past.  Thus our new Blonde herd was born.
 

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Willow Springs Stock Farm
Reed & Michelle Rigney and Family
Box 5959 Westlock, Alberta, Canada T7P 2P7
Phone/Fax (780) 348-5308
rigney@clearwave.ca