Community effort saves local farm cattle from possible disaster

Recently a herd of cattle belonging to Chad and Amanda Burback, who farm near Togo, escaped from a corral located north of Togo.

High winds in the area on April 26 were responsible for blowing down wind-boards and fences of a corral containing 50 heifers and one bull. The animals promptly decided to go on a journey.

article continues below

“We received a call from Dillon Hamell, letting us know that he had spotted our cattle by the gravel pit along the Number 5 Highway,” said Amanda. “We immediately went and started tracking the herd, and their tracks led to the railroad tracks. We were able to follow until we reached the area known as the Pine Creek Valley. It’s a jungle in there. We were forced to quit their trail at this point, and we feared we might not get the animals back.”

The couple returned to their home yard site, and Chad called Tyson Leis who fortunately has a cousin, Ryan Rezansoff, who works for CN Railway. Rezansoff immediately contacted CN to put out an alert about the cattle on the railroad tracks, and enact a 10 km/hr speed limit for any trains in the area.

“Chad was still on the phone with Tyson, when we heard the train whistle blow in Togo, signalling a train was coming through,” Amanda said. “We became very concerned, as we well knew from past experience that if a swift moving train were to approach the herd still on the tracks, they simply wouldn’t react and move off the tracks out of harm’s way. Many animals would certainly have been wiped out if a speeding train approached them.”

With Rezansoff’s quick action, the train slowed to 10 km/hr, and only ten minutes later the Burback’s received a call their friend, Chris Schwartz in Runnymede, telling them that the entire herd of 50 heifers and the bull had arrived in Runnymede.

“Our heifers are pail-fed,” Amanda recounted. “They know that a bucket full of grain means feeding time.”

The couple quickly instructed Schwartz to grab a couple buckets, fill them with grain and shake them while calling for the cattle. “We knew the heifers would immediately follow the buckets and the calls,” she said.

At first, Schwartz was dubious, but he quickly complied and was amazed and very relieved when the entire herd, including the bull, followed him into his corral north of Runnymede. Just as Schwartz was closing the corral gate with the animals safely inside, the train went throbbing past.

Everyone was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

“It was really intense,” Amanda said. “We are grateful that our whole community rallied together to save these animals. We have some friends who lost 14 cattle when the animals wouldn’t move off the railway tracks, and that fear was certainly on our minds during the whole episode.”

Early the following morning, the Burbacks retrieved the herd, trucking 13 animals per trip, back to the corral north of Togo.

“We are so thankful for the help we got from our fantastic friends and neighbors, Dillon Hamel, Tyson Leis, Ryan Rezansoff and Chris and Dale Schwartz.” Amanda said. “Everyone’s quick actions contributed to the herd’s impulsive journey having a happy ending.”