Gillian Watt is the manager of the new Applied Sustainable Ranching program that will be offered at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake.

Gillian Watt is the manager of the new Applied Sustainable Ranching program that will be offered at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake.

Innovation the key to success in ranching industry for Gillian Watt

Growing up on a ranch and being a 4-H member helped give Gillian Watt the confidence to be innovative when it was her turn to be a rancher.

Growing up on a ranch and being a 4-H member helped give Gillian Watt the confidence to be innovative when it was her turn to be a rancher.

Speaking by phone on her way to the BC Bison Association AGM in Fort St. John recently, Watt, manager of the new Applied Sustainable Ranching program at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake, said her great-grandfather Jim Bishop managed the Gang Ranch at the turn of the century.

Later his son, her great uncle, also Jim Bishop, managed the Gang, so she has deep roots in the BC ranching industry.

“My father James (Bud) Watt grew up in Vancouver but his aunt and uncles were all ranching in the Cariboo so right after the war he headed to Clinton and bought Kelly Lake ranch with his brother in law.  Over the years, dad did a lot of innovative things in ranching to produce better quality calves and increase his returns,” she said.

Bud worked closely with BCAI Centre when the exotic breeds as they were known as back then were coming into Canada.  He performed artificial insemination on about 800 head per year when he worked for Ted Termunde managing the Diamond S Ranch at Pavilion, this was about 50 years ago now, Watt said.  They were the first to bring Simmental cattle into Canada. Then when he bought his own place at Barriere he continued the relationship with BCAI centre and did progeny testing on a large number of these new breeds and shared the production results with the Centre in exchange for free semen.

After selling Kelly Lake Ranch, her dad managed the OK Ranch, then Diamond S Ranch, and from there was the herdsmen for Coldstream Ranch for a couple of years.

Gillian first came back to the Cariboo after university to work as the Range Resource Officer at the Chilcotin Forest District.  In 1994 she, along with her husband Jack Brown-John, and his partner Tim Menning and his wife, purchased the Black Creek Ranch on the Horsefly River.

Her foray into innovation began by venturing into grass-fed beef sales, focussing on beef jerky, and lean ground products that were a product of market cows.

“Market cows are largely all grass-fed but selling them in the fall through traditional markets, I thought there was a lot of room to improve returns in this area,” she said.

In her later years at Black Creek Ranch she began working on her MBA in Agriculture through the University of Guelph. At that time she changed from putting up hay to custom grazing.

She sent her cows away for overwintering at Cache Creek, where they were doing the winter corn grazing, and then brought them back just before calving.

To balance this expense, in the summertime she brought in cows from Cache Creek for custom grazing on her ranch.

“It seemed a better fit because of the heavy snow fall and the hard winter conditions. It rains a lot at Black Creek also so it seemed like a better fit to graze the land than put up hay.”

After that she started a tourism business at the Black Creek Ranch where guests could stay in a bed and breakfast and fly fish on the Horsefly River.

“We offered full meals and they fished in the river. It’s rated as one of the top fly fishing rivers in North America,” she added.

About four years ago she sold the ranch and has a hobby farm now near Kamloops where she raises a few sheep for direct sales to stores, restaurants and a few direct clients.

From Black Creek Ranch, Gillian went to work for the Royal Bank as an agriculture account manager and then onto TRU as a business mentor,in the office of research, where she worked on a couple of projects with the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association.

Eventually Gillian left TRU to work for the B.C. Association of Abattoirs (BC Meats), but has recently retired from BC Meats to return to head up the new agriculture program in Williams Lake.

During her time with BC Meats, she has helped create two main programs  — an online ordering tool for chefs and stores  to buy “100 per cent B.C. Beef” and the B.C. Meats Traceability System.

The Traceability System gives producers information on their carcasses, she explained.

“They take a picture, grade it and the producer can log on and see his grade. At the other end, the chefs and stores can see the grades as well.”

The first launch of the information system revealed that some things needed to be changed and upgraded so those tweaks are in development now. Watt’s replacement will be working closely with the BC Ministry of Agriculture’s Traceability staff to upgrade this system.

Gillian will be in Williams Lake on Monday, Nov. 16 to host an information session about the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program.

It takes place from 7 to 9 p.m.

 

Just Posted

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

A Cariboo Regional District director and School District 27 trustee, Angie Delainey is also a fourth generation business owner in downtown Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Angie Delainey appointed Cariboo Regional District represetive on regional board

Delainey and Steve Forseth represent the CRD at the North Central Local Government Association

Pauline Schmutz, 75, receives her COVID-19 vaccine from public health nurse Donna McKenzie on Tuesday, April 13 at the community clinic at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Additional COVID-19 vaccine clinics scheduled for Horsefly, Big Lake

Anyone 18 and over who has not received a vaccine yet is encouraged to register

The Cariboo Regional District. (Angie Mindus photo)
Industrial park slated for Watch Lake Road

Building company Omnitek to start building new plant on 32-acre site

Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort on Puntzi Lake has been purchased by Tsideldel First Nation. (Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort photo)
Tsideldel First Nation buys Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort at Puntzi Lake

“It’s a good opportunity for the band, our children and our future,” said Chief Otis Guichon

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Most Read