Devan graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2005, but it wasn't until his second year of university that he realized that he wanted to follow in his family's footsteps and take over the dairy farming family business. With a Bachelor of Science in Agri-Business Management,he returned home to do what he loves most: raising cows.
Devan farms with his dad and grandpa in Chilliwack, BC and is proud to produce a natural and local product for his community. He gets a lot of satisfaction from working with the animals on a daily basis and watching them grow. He says, “I take great get pride in knowing that the milk that I get from the supermarket is milk that came from this farm.”
How many cows do you have on your farm?
I manage 500 cows on my farm, which is larger in size than the average dairy farm in BC. Technology helps me manage my herd. The use of computers helps me keep track of which cows are currently pregnant, taking vaccines. It also helps me monitor any anomalies in each cow's milk production.
With technology helping you stay organized, do you have opportunities to socialize with your cows?
Milking each cow twice a day gives me the opportunity to be social with my herd and recognize each cow's personality, quirks and behaviour. "Our Jersey-cross cows are definitely a more curious group. If you leave a gate open, they will walk over and investigate. Regardless of the herd size, each animal is an individual with its own needs and behaviour." Devan and his family's favourite cow is an 11 year old Jersey Cross named Princess. Princess will be retiring soon and heading to a local hobby farm, a decision that was tough for the Toops to make.
How long have you been dairy farming?
Like most dairy farmers in BC, I come from a family with deep roots in dairy farming. My family has been dairy farming for almost 140 years and we have faced ups and downs in the industry. The status quo isn't good enough. As a dairy farmer in Canada, I have a bit of stability, which allows me to budget for things like a new ventilation system in our barn to ensure our animals are comfortable. In farming, the animals always come first.
Why did you choose to be a dairy farmer?
I can't imagine working in an office. Coming back home in 2005 to work on my family's farm was an opportunity to work with living, breathing animals.
What makes a good dairy farmer?
To be a good dairy farmer, you need patience, attention to detail and dedication. There isn't a lot of instant gratification in farming. The exception is helping a cow give birth to a calf.
Any final thoughts?
I am proud to be a dairy farmer and I am proud to be a dairy farmer in Canada. If I wasn't dairy farming, I would only hope to work in an industry that I could really stand behind and have faith in. Dairy farmers in Canada have to adhere to some of the strictest animal welfare and food safety regulations in the world. We choose to wake up everyday at dawn and take care of our animals. We dedicate our lives to provide a nutritious product to Canadian consumers and we continuously strive to go beyond what is expected of us.
The Toop Family still farms on the same land since 1905! Find old historical photos of BC's dairy industry at BC Dairy Historical Society.