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Tribute to Mr. Armand Bilodeau

Armand Bilodeau


Armand was born in 1936 in St-Agapit. He is the youngest of a family of 14 children. At a very young age, he is involved with the “Club des jeunes agriculteurs” (Young Farmers Club) where he enjoyed showing Ayrshire calves. He also participated at the county fair with his father.
1958 was a big year. He bought the family farm « Ferme du coin de la route », a 100 acres farm with an Ayrshire herd of approximately 50 head. He built himself a house and married Madeleine Bergeron, also of St-Agapit.

At that time, he had a very good Ayrshire herd. He owned good cow families, namely « Du coin de la route Rougette » a cow that was known for her high production. She produced 132,750 lbs of milk in 12 lactations. That was a lot at that time.

In 1968, a terrible ordeal struck the 32 cows herd; a contagious disease, brucellosis. Every month, veterinaries from the Federal came and took blood samples from the entire herd. The cows found positive had to be slaughtered. I remember seeing 12 cows leave the same month. In total, 64 animals were slaughtered over 3 years.

Starting up again was difficult. A few years later my father bought very good cows at herd dispersions. As time went on, with the genetic improvement of the bulls from the insemination center, he was able to rebuild his herd. It’s then that he started showing, in St-Agapit, Trois-Rivières, Montmagny, Quebec and a few head in Toronto.

Armand is also very much involved socially. He was President of the Etchemin Ayrshire Club in 1981 and 1982. He was also Director of the Agricultural Society for six years. He sat as Director of the Coopérative St-Agapit. He was also President of Ayrshire Quebec in 1988. He is also involved in his parish, he was President of the Lions Club, Grand Knight, Faithful Navigator, Director of the Caisse populaire, volunteer fireman and many more.

In 1990, Armand and Madeleine decided to sell the farm to their son Roger, who continued breeding Ayrshires. The herd is still 100% Ayrshire and not goes under the prefix “Ro-Ann”. Following the transfer, Armand continued to be very active at the farm. Over the last twelve years, Armand invested a lot of time in his small flock of sheep. He attended different exhibitions with a lot of pleasure and success until last fall. He also kept an eye wide open at the Ayrshire shows.

We are very pleased to thank and congratulate this couple who, by their energy and their courage, were able to recover from terrible ordeals. Now retired, their greatest joy is to spend quality time with their children, their 10 grand children and numerous friends.

The Ayrshires have served me well. When I first started farming after World War II I had Ayrshires and when I came to Canada in 1961, I had the opportunity of buying the farm Joe Saville had started to build up on Vancouver Island. This was an Ayrshire farm and Joe had purchased Oak Ridge Royal Jo at a sale in Portland.

Royal Jo became the brood cow of the farm, she lived for twenty years and for a long time was the highest milk producer in Canada. Many of our cows have her blood in their pedigree, as for instance Starman Kathleen who has just completed 100,000 kg of milk. Balme Ayr Farms is primarily a milk farm and if the cows do not milk, they do not stay. We have twice been at the top of the table for large herds, the first time with modest BCA’s of 140. The breed has come a long way since then and indeed Royal Jo would have done much better if I had known as much as I did later about feeding.

Notable about our animals is Balme Ayr Leslie who had BCA’s of over 300 and another Milkman cow, Tanya 5, who gave over 11,000 kg on a recent lactation.

Joe Saville had bulls. We still have bulls, some we have bred and some came from bob and Ellen Saville and others in Alberta.

A few years ago, I passed the farm on to my son Oliver who is showing himself an innovative farmer and I am proud of his progress. I still manage to do a small amount of tractor driving to keep my hand in.