Andrea Stroeve-Sawa, Trevor Sawa and family.
History of Shipwheel & The Shipwheel Brand
The eldest of three sons Albert Damgren was 12 years old when the famine hit Sweden. Upon hearing his family talk about how hard the famine was on their family and how someone would have to take another job somewhere in order for the family to survive, Albert took it upon himself to do something about it. The 12 year old boy got up in the middle of the night went to the boat docks and boarded a ship headed for America.
After Arriving in Michigan, USA Albert Green (he changed his last name from Damgren to Green) and immediately began working for farmers in the area. Albert worked different jobs and headed north into Canada finally settling in Taber, AB. In those days in order to own the brand you had to purchase all the livestock with that particular brand. Although the Shipwheel brand first appears in Henderson’s Northwest Ranchers Directory and Brand book in 1888, it was purchased by Albert Green somewhere between 1937-1941. The Shipwheel brand was transferred to Albert’s son in law Billy Holtman of Taber on December 31, 1957.
Billy Holtman continued ranching and raising angus cattle and operating as Shipwheel Ranching. In June of 1973 Billy’s eldest son Blake Holtman purchased the land owned by Billy Holtman began his own company Shipwheel Cattle Feeders Ltd with the Shipwheel brand.
Shipwheel Cattle Feeders Ltd. Has always been an innovative forward thinking company with a strong emphasis on environmental stewardship. Blake Holtman accidentally stumbled on Allan Savory’s methods at an Ensminger conference in Pheonix, AZ in 1979. Blake listened to Allan’s talk and immediately agreed that Savory’s decision making tools and grazing methods made sense to him. The “Savory method” had an emphasis on rest and recovery and taking all the ecosystem processes into account when making decisions. Blake took the very first course offered by Allan Savory and Stan Parsons in San Angelo, TX in 1980. After taking the course he immediately came home and converted our conventional continuous grazing system into 3 different grazing cells and 65 different paddocks and began to plan, monitor and control the grazing. Within a few years he had noticed a huge improvement to the land and to the production of the grass and the cattle.
Lately many producers have been coining the term “low stress” cattle handling. In the early 90’s Blake heard Bud Williams speak at a Holistic Management International conference in Albequerque, New Mexico and eagerly invited Bud to come and work with him and his staff on cattle handling if ever in Canada. A short time later Bud showed up at the Shipwheel office and continued to spend 12 hours a day for weeks showing, teaching and explaining his methods of moving cattle to the employees of Shipwheel. At Shipwheel, we will forever be grateful for the knowledge and skill that was passed onto us from Bud Williams. We have taken that cattle handling knowledge and have been using it heal depressed immune systems and maintain healthy animals.