The Switzer family from Aneroid, Saskatchewan, have been registering Angus cattle in Canada since 1945.

Bob Switzer’s parents started breeding registered Angus cattle in 1945 under the name of “Southern Lane Farms”. In 1966 Bob purchased his first registered Angus from the Corydon dispersal at Elbow, Sask., eventually leading to the establishment of “Sandy Bar Ranch” at Aneroid.

In 1978, the now popular Short Grass Bull & Female Sale was started in partnership with Larry & Ian Gross of Wiwa Creek Angus at Rush Lake in order to improve the outlet for black Angus bulls in south-west Saskatchewan. A third partner, John Frank of Assiniboia, also joined the fledgling sale with the event being moved to Consul, Sask., where it remained until re-locating to Aneroid in 1998.

The sale continues to draw bidders, buyers and visitors from a wide area of the southern prairies and the northern United States and is held annually on the third Saturday of April each year.

In the herd building years of Southern Lane and later Sandy Bar, the Switzer family showed their cattle at area shows throughout Canada. There is no doubt that Bob, through his 4-H experience and working for other outfits, found the show ring bug … just like so many others throughout the 70′s and onward. Bob explains, “when I was young, we showed cattle for a source of summer income. Hayes classification paid good money and you could advertise your herd at the same time.” Always dedicated to their breed, they were successful showing steers and breeding cattle alike. When asked about his biggest win, Bob reluctantly stated, “The 1995 Farmfair Sweepstakes Championship was truly a highlight,” but went on to say, “Winning the pen shows over the past years is the ultimate and maybe that is why our cow herd looks like it does today.” As Switzer’s involvement in the commercial sector increased, showing decreased and he retired his show stick eleven years ago. Bob added, “Many breeders have shown cattle, but few can brag of transporting them to the Royal and back in a box car, then walking them from the train down Pasqua to the stadium for the first Agribition and then partake in the first swamp!”

Bob Switzer’s involvement in the Angus breed started at a young age and so did his involvement with boards and committees. As a director of the Saskatchewan Angus Association in the late 1970′s, he was instrumental in organizing the first Angus and Angus influenced feeder calf sale in Moose Jaw. It was an overwhelming success and led to sales in Assiniboia, Maple Creek, Mankota, Medicine Hat and in subsequent years, throughout Canada. In the early 1980′s, Bob assisted in starting the first feeder calf sale in Glasgow and Chinook, Montana, which are still going today. Bob recalled, “after we came up with this feeder sale plan in Moose Jaw, we had to find someone to buy these calves, so Larry Toner, Bob Larson and I boarded a plane and flew to Windsor, Ontario, to meet with Tom Cook. Tom was an order buyer who owned Lakewood Feedlot and on his sign at the lane it read “Black Angus Freezer Meats.” Tom gave us an old motor home and off the three of us went, turning in to any farm that had a silo in western Ontario.” The trip was a success, as eighty percent of the calves in the first sale went East, with Tom Cook purchasing the champion pens. Bob has made the trip every year since, for his annual tour and as the feeder market grew and flourished, so did the Sandy Bar bull trade.

In 1998, a group of producers from the area with a mutual complaint gathered for a meeting. Their concern was the fact that all cattle and grain was being shipped out of the province and with it families followed. Their decision was to build a facility to feed their product and employ local personnel. Since there are always rivalries among communities, it was agreed that one producer from each community would be appointed to the founding board of directors. At the first meeting, it was agreed that location would be based on proximity to a major highway, water, feed supply, three phase electricity and gas. The decision was made to build a feedlot west of Hazenmore just off highway 13 … Red Coat Feeders was born. Bob recalls, “Brad Wilderman and Dale Blair were a great help in the formation. A group of us toured all the large feedlots through Western Canada, learning and decided to build a facility for ten thousand head with the capacity to expand to twenty thousand. On July 6th, the first post was dug into the ground and the feedlot opened for cattle on October 6, 2000. Bob Switzer is a founding director and Past President of Red Coat and is very active, to this day, as a director, supplier and patron. Proudly, Switzer says, “Red Coat Feeders is a total community project that is running at a full 20,000 head capacity, has grown to thirteen quarters of land, operates seventeen full time staff and involves another three times that in spin off. We accomplished was we set out to do”.

Family life is the largest part of the Switzer heritage. In 1988, they had the misfortune of losing Sandra, Bob’s first wife. In 1992, Bob married Gail Kornfeld from Val Marie. Her family operates a large commercial cow-calf herd and was honoured by the Saskatchewan Angus Association as Commercial Producers of the Year in 2006.

The Switzers are blessed with four children who have been raised in a “cowboy way”. Beau, the oldest, runs the Valley Blossom operation at Lac Pelletier. Kyle attended Dickinson State in North Dakota on a rodeo scholarship and achieved an Agricultural degree. He has been a member of the CPRA and CCA, specializing in Saddle Bronc with numerous titles throughout his career. He works with his father-in-law in Big Valley, Alberta, and on November 30, 2007, he started his own company, Fine Line Locating. Jane graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Degree in Commerce and is a Human Resources Manager at Millar Western Forest Products, Whitecourt, Alberta. The youngest, Bailee just graduated from Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas with a Master’s Degree in Animal Science. She also attended University on a rodeo scholarship. Bailee also is a member of the CPRA, WPRA, & CCA and has also numerous titles won in the Ladies Barrel Racing event.

Bob Switzer is a Past President of the Canadian Angus Association, has been a board member and President of the Saskatchewan Angus Association, a founding director and President of Red Coat Cattle Feeders, a member of the board of the Mankota Stockmen’s Weigh Company, on the Saskatchewan Stockgrowers and has been a member of the council of Auvergne Municipality. He has judged virtually every breed of beef animal in Canada, most of the breeds at Agribition including the First Lady Classic, Toronto Royal, Farmfair, Saskatoon, Lloydminster and the PNE. The judging experience he most remembers is the National Angus show in Ireland but you must ask Gail or Bob Prestage for the rest of that story.  Another highlight was judging the Mexican National Show held in Leon, Mexico.

Sandy Bar is a household name in the livestock industry. Their influence can be found throughout the world as Southern Lane and Sandy Bar have sold cattle to England, Ireland, Scotland, United States, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Russia, Kazakhstan and every Province in Canada except Newfoundland. Although they have not exhibited cattle in the recent decade, the progeny of Sandy Bar sires remain dominant and competitive throughout Canada’s major breeding establishments.

Bob Switzer is not without opinion, if you want it, just ask. When asked about:

  • Selling semen – “No semen should be sold until a bull is proven and that is the way the entire beef industry should go”.
  • EPD’s – “@##$%$$##@”.
  • Performance – “I believe in performance testing and all bulls should be tested in one group rather than individual contemporary groups.”
  • Breeders – “You are not a breeder, until you feed your own cattle to see how they perform.”
  • The Future – “The government needs to subsidize fairs to enhance breeder participation. The cost of showing is prohibitive for younger, smaller breeders. The juniors are our future and we best keep them on the farm.”

The Switzer heritage is now into its fifth generation; they have been pioneers and builders truly adding value to the Angus breed and the livestock industry in every facet. They were named “Breeder of the Year” in 2003 by the Saskatchewan Angus Association, but their work as breed ambassadors stretches over six decades. Their dedication and voluntary ideas have made the Angus breed the leader in this country.