Boone Run Farms in St. Paul’s Station, Ontario, Canada, will go down in Shade Haven history as the first farm in Canada with a Shade Haven in its pasture. When farm owners Jana and Paul Vleuten purchased the 120-acre farm two years ago, they had a plan. They wanted to raise heritage breeds of livestock, improve the soil and ultimately transition to organic. Currently they are in the process of converting the former cropland to all pastureland, utilizing rotational grazing practices aided by a SH1200 Shade Haven mobile shade system.
“The Shade Haven was really important to us. We didn’t want our cows standing out in the sun,” says Jana Vleuten. “There are very few trees in our pasture. We want to plant more trees, but that will take a long time, so the Shade Haven was a very fast option for us to provide shade for our cows.”
Providing shade for the comfort and health of their animals is important to the Vleutens. And it’s the law. The Ontario Ministry of Food and Rural Affairs established a requirement that animal owners must provide shade, a rule that is being enforced more and more.
“It gets hot here. We just had some days where it got up to 110 degrees [Fahrenheit],” reports Vleuten. “People want ethically raised animals who have had a good life.”
The good life on Boone Run Farms
Cattle, sheep, goats and the Vleuten’s beloved Belgian draft horses graze the hilly terrain on Boone Run Farms. A starter herd of pure bred Galloway Beef, a heritage breed with genetics tracing back to Scotland, follow a rotational grazing strategy that includes daily moves. “The ease-of-use of the Shade Haven being moved daily is the whole key to this,” notes Vleuten. “Because if we couldn’t move shade daily, it would shut down our rotational grazing plan.”
Vleuten expects the Shade Haven will play a role in repairing areas of soil, damaged by years of conventional cropping. “We are hoping that by placing the Shade Haven in areas that are poor, the cows will stand there and spread their fertilizer in areas we choose, instead of areas they choose.”
The Vleutens also raise Dorper sheep and Jersey Giant chickens – both heritage breeds. The sheep are rotationally grazed and the chickens serve as the bug-eating clean-up crew, which keeps down the fly population, eliminating the need for chemicals. The Vleuten’s new trained herding dog helps with the daily moves of cattle and sheep.
Boone Run Farms products are sold at its farm store, opened earlier this year. Farm details and products are listed on its website www.boonerunfarms.com. Products for sale include honey from the farm’s own hives, rainbow trout produced in the farm’s spring-fed aquaculture system, farm fresh eggs and pasture-raised chicken and beef. The trout is also sold to local chefs and restaurants in the Stratford area.
The couple plans to grow both the beef and sheep herds, possibly adding pumpkins, Christmas trees and educational tours to the mix in the future. Meanwhile a growing number of people looking for sustainably and ethically raised products have discovered Boone’s Run Farms.
“We have visitors to our farm on a regular basis. It makes me feel better when people visit my farm, and my animals are all provided with shade and fresh clean water. They know these animals are getting treated properly,” says Vleuten. “I’m pretty proud to show off my farm—and the Shade Haven is part of that.”