Rainbow River Simmentals is a fourth generation farming operation located near Minnedosa, Manitoba, Canada. We represent the second generation in breeding purebred Simmental cattle, continuing the breeding program that my parents, George and Vivian Bernier, established under the name 'Lazy Rainbow River Ranch'. Mom and dad operated Lazy Rainbow River Ranch just a few miles north of my hometown, Fisher Branch, a small town in Manitoba's Interlake that is a four hour drive northeast of the city of Brandon, or two hours north of the city of Winnipeg. While my dad was a full-time cattle rancher and managed a total of 3700 acres, my mom was a teacher in Fisher Branch, and over the years they raised three daughters on the farm.
Only nine months after getting married, my dad purchased his first registered Simmental bull on April 20, 1981 - a purebred bull by the name of 'CALL Doelfi's Mascot 115M'. After breeding purebred Simmentals for several years, dad decided to expand into purebred Gelbvieh genetics and in 1988 he purchased his first registered Gelbvieh bull. The breeding program at Lazy Rainbow River Ranch grew to include 350 head of purebred Simmental, purebred Gelbvieh and Simm-Gelbvieh cross cattle which we felt were two breeds that complimented one
another well and made a strong maternal cross. Over the years, dad sourced purebred breeding stock from across Western Canada and from Montana in the United States, and by always keeping a strong business sense in mind, Lazy Rainbow River Ranch became one of the strongest herds of purebred Simmental and Gelbvieh cattle in the Interlake region. The breeding program always focused on good uddered, very maternal cows that would calve easy and raise long-spined, well-muscled and high gaining calves. I remember weaning bull calves in the fall that weighed well over 1000 lbs, and they were just raised on mama's milk and good grass. Docility was always a number one priority, and it shows in the cow herd that I currently operate over 30 years later. Aside from a few select consignments to Bull Test Stations over the years, dad always sold his bulls and females by private treaty. Prior to the onset of BSE in 2003, over 50 bulls would sell by private treaty each spring.
In 2000, the first purebred red Simmental cattle (which included a bull and a bred cow) arrived at Lazy Rainbow River Ranch and marked the start of the red Simmental program. I purchased my first two registered Simmental cows on August 26, 2005, when dad and I bought a group of bred cows from the KLC Simmentals dispersal sale in Alberta. Two of the cows were purebred black Simmental, which marked the beginning of the black Simmental program. In 2006 at the Canadian Western Agribition Simmental sale, I purchased my first purebred black Simmental heifer calf, SGCC Blk Razamataz 29S, for $5000. A few weeks later, I purchased two more registered black Simmental cows from the M&J Farms herd dispersal sale in Manitoba, and with that, my own purebred red and black Simmental program was founded.
However, by 2005 the cow herd at Lazy Rainbow River Ranch had grown to approximately 500 head. Since I had moved to Winnipeg to attend university in 2004, I could only be home to help on weekends, and reliable farm help was hard to find, so the decision was made to
downsize the Lazy Rainbow River Ranch herd with a reduction sale held in the fall of 2005. Subsequently in 2008, dad made very difficult decision to completely disperse of the remaining 350 head. After 27 years of breeding Simmental cattle, I could not stand to wave goodbye to those top-quality cows that my parents and I had worked so hard to develop. Therefore, I retained 32 of the most elite registered Simmental cows and heifers, and have since taken over the purebred operation.
After completing my Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an Animal Systems major at the University of Manitoba in 2008, I decided to pursue a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree specializing in beef cattle nutrition and physiology. Prior to completing my M.Sc. degree, I was hired by Manitoba Agriculture and had to relocate to the Brandon, Manitoba area in 2010. At this time, I made the decision to purchase farm land because there was no way that I would part with my cattle to live in the city of Brandon. With that, I bought myself a quarter of land where I now call home near the town of Minnedosa. Since 2011, Dustin and I have been working together to build our new farm from the ground up. As of January 2015, our cow herd consists of 44 head of purebred red and black Simmental cows, all of which are registered, and we also operate 700 acres of grain land near the Cardale, Manitoba area where Dustin grew up.
In 2014, we decided to do some rebranding of our farm name. My parents really wanted me to continue the 'Lazy Rainbow River Ranch' name that they worked so hard to establish over the past 33 years, but the name was enough of a tongue-twister that people rarely "got it right" at cattle shows, sales and other promotional events. I decided that it was time to simplify the name into something that would be more easily pronounced and remembered, but I wanted the new name to remain in keeping with my parents' original farm name. As such, the name 'Rainbow River Simmentals' came to be, and in November 2014 our new logo was designed incorporating the original "double R
with a bar (RR)" brand that my parents had
registered for their herd over 30 years ago.
Also, as of 2015, all Rainbow River Simmentals
cattle will be identified by their registered
names starting with the prefix "RAINBOWRIVER".
If you have any questions about our cattle,
please do not hesitate to call, email, or check
out our website or Facebook page for up-to-
date information, pictures and videos. Visitors
are always welcome on our farm! We are very
proud of our cows, bulls and replacement
heifers so we would love to give you a tour of
our herd if you are ever in our area.