The Wise Maine-Anjou herd was established in 1973 by R.B. and Leta Wise of Irricana, Alberta. The ranch continues to be operated by Leta Wise, along with daughters Deanna and Dallas Wise and granddaughter Keltey Whelan.
The ranch, 40 miles northeast of Calgary, Alberta, is 900 acres of pasture and hay production supporting 120 head of black and red purebred and percentage Maine cows that are calved from late February to early April.
The nucleus of the cow herd has always been bred to Maine bulls in order to retain the higher-percentage purebreds. The current bull battery is made up of Wise-bred sires and bulls purchased from other purebred operations with the goal of producing outcrosses that are consistent with the current herd. Yearling bulls and select females are marketed and sold by private treaty each year.
The breeding philosophy has stayed constant throughout the years as the Wises carefully choose the genetic lineage for their calving program. The naming of their females within cow families makes tracing lineage simple. The breeding program has been fine-tuned to meet the demands of purebred and commercial customers. The Wises breed for easy fleshing cattle with moderate frame size, ease of calving and longevity.
The Wise females are the key to the uniform yearling bulls that they sell each year. Their bull pen consists of sound, rugged individuals with quiet dispositions. These selections have resulted in many bull buyers being long-time customers, some who have purchased from the Wises for more than 20 years.
The goal to produce eye-appealing, maternally powerful females has served the Wises well in their pasture and in the show ring. In 2007, Leta’s granddaughters, Piper and Keltey Whelan, began exhibiting cattle from the herd in 4-H and at junior shows, where they enjoyed years of success with Wise-bred females. The show ring is still used as a marketing tool for the ranch, and a handful of cattle are campaigned and exhibited at fall shows including Olds Fall Classic, Farmfair International and Canadian Western Agribition.
Wise-bred cattle can be found in the pedigrees of many prolific Maine-Anjou bulls and females throughout North America and continues to be a sought-after stamp of consistency, quality and integrity.
For the Wise Ranch, the emphasis is on pleasing the cattleman with good functional cattle that you like to look at and will deliver the performance and gain you require today.
We invite you to look around and see what our breeding program can do for yours!
R.B. & Leta Wise
The Wise Ranch
Keltey with ZTA Black Ruby 488E in the RBC Supreme Challenge
Canadian Western Agribition 2018
First purebred Maine birth in Canada
R.B. second from left
Grand Champion Steer, 1984 Calgary Stampede Steer Classic
Owned by the Wise Ranch & the Estate of Bob Stewart
Draftpick, bred by the Wise Ranch
The Wise Ranch has played an interesting role in the developmental history of Maines and other European breeds as a boarding location for some of the first animals that were imported into Canada during the early 70's. At the time, the family operated the Wise Custom Fitting Service. They boarded cattle, managed herds for clients and fitted them for shows and sales. The skilled activity of "fitting" had always meant putting the proper weight gain and condition on an animal, not clipping and grooming animals as it has come to mean in more modern applications.
Through the years 1976-1986, the Wise Ranch was home to hundreds of bulls of many breeds as they operated as a test station. In the early 70's, they purchased their first percentage Maine heifers from LK Ranches, the McKinnons of Bassano and it was the performance of those first cattle that led to the decision by the Wise's to purchase a herd of fullblood Maines, originally imported from England by Thunder Beef Breeders of PEI. At that same time Horton Helena, who became matron of the Wise fullblood herd, was purchased from Tom Morton of Strathmore, as well her calendar year heifer and her yearling daughter were also acquired.
The Wise Ranch featured fullbloods until their dispersal in 1984, that brought about the complete refocusing of their program, as they moved on to solid black Maines which continues to this day. R.B. Wise sought out his first solid black A.I. sire at Denver in '85, DF Midas. He bought up semen in a strategic move to position the Wise Ranch for future development of black Maine-Anjou cattle. R.B. believed strongly in the future of black segment of the Maine-Anjou breed. The moderate-framed, solid black Midas daughters and grand daughters formed the nucleus of the breeding program. Before his death, he was able to fulfill his goal of having 100 solid black females in production.
R.B. Wise passed away in February 1996, after 42 years in the purebred cattle business, 24 of which were as a Maine-Anjou breeder. Over the years, he earned a reputation for his ability to spot a "good" one and raise functional cattle and quality. Berwyn judged many prominent cattle shows across North America and became known for his straight forward, "shoot from the hip" honesty.
Leta Wise and her family come by their interest in breeding purebred cattle as honestly as her father, the late E.J.C. Boake of Acme, who had the largest herd of Shorthorn cattle in the Dominion at the time of his death. Today, the reduced herd of 120 black Maines represent another family tradition. As traditions go in the beef industry, both Leta in 1949, and daughter Debra in 1969 won the prestigious Grand Champion Baby Beef competition at the Calgary Bull Sale- the first and only time a mother and daughter had won the D.E. Black Shield.
ZTA Black Ruby 224X, bred by the Wise Ranch