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Tribute to Mr. Robert E. Ness

Robert E. Ness


Most of you know Robert Ness, so we thought we would tell you some things that you may not have heard before. Second to Ayrshires, our Dad’s other interest as a young man, was sports:
• he loved to play softball…even when the uniforms were sponsored? by Raeburn Holsteins;
• his hockey team once played an exhibition game against the? Montreal Canadians and he scored a goal against Jacques Plante;
• his third sport was curling and his team once badly defeated a? team of local doctors who advised him not to get appendicitis? later that night.

Our favorite story from Mr. Ness’ years at Macdonald College is one he would tell us when we were having trouble training a 4-H calf. In the lottery for the Mac Royal Show, he drew the wildest cow in the barn. He was given the option of drawing again but that only made it a bigger challenge. After weeks of perseverance, she behaved nicely for him in the ring. His reward came when the finalists were asked to switch animals and on one else could handle her. In fact, she bolted out of the ring.

Carnell Pearlstone was a successful herd sire at Macdonald College but he was old and fat. Professor Alex Ness offered him to Mr. Ness who brought him home and put him on a diet and exercise program. It took a year and a half before he bred a cow but he went on to sire many high lifetime production cows that bred extremely well. A lot of those cows were part of a bred and owned million pound herd, which was achieved in 1965 with 10 cows and later with nine, eight and seven cows. He was always proud of these million pound herds as proof of the longevity and profitability of Ayrshire cows.

He learned to speak Scottish and French in the same summer. In 1951, he was sent to Scotland by Burnside Farm to bring home a shipment of Ayrshires. Fortunately, for him, the ship was put into dry dock for repairs and he got to stay in Scotland for 26 days instead of four. It was a chance of a lifetime to see Scotland and leading Ayrshire herds. His six-week French Immersion began as soon as he was back in Canada. He stayed at the quarantine station in Lévis where he looked after the cows and played softball with the local team.

He also traveled, by train, to several US shows with the Burnside showstring. Once, they had the bad luck to be placed in the first car behind the locomotive. They arrived at their destination with Ayrshires looking more like Aberdeen Angus.

Most of you know that Mr. Ness has been on the boards of CIAQ and SEMEX but you may not know that his interest in AI goes back to the years when he housed the imported Ayrshire bulls for the Howick Breeders Club. He collected and checked the fresh semen and delivered it to Oakley McRae who did the inseminations.

We are very proud of his many achievements, and the time he has given to share what he knows with 4-H kids, and fellow breeders. We are amazed by the number of people he knows all over the world. Our mother always said she got to go to a lot of places as long as there was an Ayrshire cow at the other end.