February 18, 2016 (Toronto, ON) – The sponsors of the Ontario Pasture Award, the Beef Farmers of Ontario
(BFO), Mapleseed and the Ontario Forage Council (OFC), are pleased to announce that Kevin Aitken of
Maple-Dale Farms from the Holstein area in Grey County is the winner of the 2016 Ontario Pasture Award.
The Award was presented yesterday at the BFO Annual General Meeting in Toronto.
For his environmental improvements and exceptional pasture management, Aitken will receive a cash award
of $500 and a bag of forage seed courtesy of Mapleseed.
Maple-Dale Farms consists of 240 owned acres, 200 of which are in pasture, along with an additional 35
acres of rented land. Aitken runs a purebred Hereford operation with 97 cow-calf pairs and 15 Holstein dry
cows on pasture, including those that are owned and also some that are custom grazed during the summer
In 2009, Aitken made the decision to seed all of his un-pastured land into a permanent pasture. Since then,
5,000 feet of waterline have been installed to provide fresh water to each paddock for a convenient water
supply at all times.
All pasture land is intensively rotationally grazed, and Aitken stresses that his goal is to produce the
maximum amount of pasture growth each day of the year, in order to maximize the genetic potential of his
herd. Pasture is his main source of feed from roughly mid-April to mid-November, and Aitken purchases
locally sourced hay for his owned cows through the winter months, which eliminates the need for additional
equipment and extra labour.
“I should have started managing my pastures more intensively 20 years ago,” stated Aitken. “Our land would
have been in much better condition.”
Barry Robinson, Sales Manager with Mapleseed, commented that the pasture management program utilized
on Aitken’s farm is a model that should be considered by more beef farmers across the province. Well managed pastures have many environmental benefits, as well as herd health advantages. Rotational grazing
allows farmers to evaluate the nutritional and forage needs of their animals and assess forage quality and
“As producers try to maximize the net profit from every acre, the practical techniques being followed on
Maple-Dale Farms are a great example of how other producers can improve their pastures and overall
profitability of their operation,” stated Joan McKinlay, Director of the Ontario Forage Council.
The deadline for applications for the 2017 Ontario Pasture Award is November 30, 2016.
For More Information:
Kevin Aitken, 2016 Pasture Award Winner: 519.321.9724
Ray Robertson, Manager, Ontario Forage Council: 1.877.892.8663
Lawrence Levesque, District Sales Manager, Mapleseed: 1.519.281.0032