Major Tom and Cutter Ranch owner Sacha Bentall. Photo by Kathy Wolverton.

Major Tom and Cutter Ranch owner Sacha Bentall. Photo by Kathy Wolverton.

Cutter Ranch owners named Outstanding Young Farmers for BC & Yukon

Tyler McNaughton and Sacha Bentall awarded at gathering of OYF alumni and friends in Abbotsford, March 14.

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At 39 and 33, Tyler McNaughton and Sacha Bentall of Cutter Ranch near Fort Steele are far too young to be put out to pasture but their animals thrive on it.

Thriving animals equals a thriving business and a thriving business has made McNaughton and Bentall the 2018 BC & Yukon Outstanding Young Farmers.

McNaughton and Bentall received the prestigious award at a gathering of OYF alumni and friends in Abbotsford, March 14.

Branded as “where food comes from,” Cutter Ranch produces pasture-raised lamb, pork and beef on their 160-acre ranch. The pair began raising lamb at Bentall’s parents’ farm in Clinton before moving to Fort Steele.

“We started with lamb but soon diversified into hogs and poultry,” McNaughton said. “Our intent is to produce high-quality ethically-raised meat raised in a low-stress environment.”

Rather than use conventional barns, Cutter’s animals are housed in greenhouses when not out on the pasture.

After seeing “what worked and what didn’t,” they made a major change in 2016, eliminating poultry, streamlining their pork production by phasing out farrowing and using purchased weaner pigs as a base and adding beef. The changes had an immediate positive impact. Sales of their pasture-raised pork increased 219 per cent in 2017 and have already increased another 30 per cent this year.

McNaughton and Bentall have established a web-based sales and distribution system and aggressively price their products. They try to involve the local community as much as possible, touring hundreds of kids through the farm during lambing season each spring and regularly conducting sheepdog demonstrations.

“Our core goals were to pursue the endeavor as a couple, dedicate time to raising a family, be environmental stewards of our land, be self-employed and grow high quality/nutritious food,” McNaughton said. “We can say unarguably that our goals have not changed.”

To earn the 2018 award from judges Al Timms (retired TD Bank BC agriculture manager), Mark Sweeney (retired BC Ministry of Agriculture berry and horticulture specialist) and Kurt Bausenhaus (KPMG), McNaughton and Bentall outpointed two other finalists, Roger & Lana Groot of Hatch Creek Ranch in Topley and Gemma McNeill & Douglas Zaklan of Zaklan Heritage Farm in Surrey.

The BCOYF program is sponsored by the BC Broiler Hatching Egg Commission, Clearbrook Grain & Milling, Farm Credit Canada and Insure Wealth. To be eligible for the award, applicants must be between 18 and 39 and derive most of their gross revenue from on-farm sources. They are judged on the progress in their agricultural careers, the sustainability of their farming operations and involvement in their industry and community.

McNaughton and Bentall will represent BC at the National Event in Winnipeg, MB, November 29 – December 3, 2018. At that event two national winners will be chosen from the winners in seven regions across Canada.