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West River Holsteins

In 1998, Jack Thomson and Rhonda MacDougall accomplished their dream – owning a dairy farm – and what made it even better was the fact that they were able to purchase a farm in their home community of Antigonish. After Jack and Rhonda graduated from McGill University’s Macdonald College, Jack gained experience working as a dairy herdsperson, for the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture (NSDA) as an Agriculture Representative and as a Sire Analyst in Ontario. With that experience, Jack moved back home to Antigonish and purchased the farm from the Corsten family in 1998.

West River Holsteins is operated by Jack and Rhonda along with their kids: Shamus, Bryce, Keith and Elise, as well as their farm employees. Here they have approximately 280 head of purebred Holsteins – and milk 135 of them. Waking up before the sun for 3:30am milk time followed by milkings at 11:30am and 7pm. Over the past 20 years the farm has changed significantly, in 2007 lightning struck the orginal dairy barn causing it to burn down and a new one be built as a replacement. Currently, West River Holsteins farms 500 acres, including 75 acres of corn silage.

“We’ve been proud participants in Open Farm Day since it’s inception – with the exception of 2007 we have participated every year,” Jack explained. “We’ve welcomed thousands to the farm to experience life on a dairy farm and learn more about agriculture.”

Open Farm Day is the largest group that is greeted by the farm every year in addition to the industry tours, school visits and university tours they host as well.

“As the number of primary producers decreases and individuals get additional generations removed from the farm, education is increasingly important. This is especially true since the advent of social media and internet advice on everything,” Rhonda added. “The best source for what is done on the farm, how things are done and why they are done is the farmer, and we are proud to share that educational component with anyone who desires the information from those who farm everyday.”

Did you know: in addition to being a large dairy farm, they also have 50 sheep and lambs, as well as chickens?

When visitors arrive on site there will be given two options: a self guided tour using static displays, and a guided tour. Static displays are set up around the farm to facilitate a self-guided tour and are a great option for those who have visited the farm in the past or who already have knowledge of dairy farming. The guided tours are a great option for those looking to get more details on each aspect of the operation, gain a better understanding of the indusrty/commodity, and have their questions answered by the farmer or the employees.

“Everyone at West River Holsteins loves being involved in agriculture. It’s a story we are proud to share and one of which many can claim a part of success – employees, family, 4-H members, neighbours and community. We appreciate the opportunity to share our story and our farm with those who are interested in learning more about farming and agriculture.”

West River Holsteins can’t wait to meet you on the farm!


22 hours ago

Meet Your Farmer

Our website got a refresh! Check it out!
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2 days ago

Meet Your Farmer

Only 32 days after being planted from seed (and just 28 days post-germination), these beautiful Fernleaf Lavenders are growing...well, “like weeds,” if you’ll pardon the pun. These are annuals of the “spike” category which will eventually send up stalks about two feet long with clusters of purple blossoms. Visitors to our farm this summer will get to see these unusual plants in our Educational Garden. 😊 ... See MoreSee Less

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4 days ago

Meet Your Farmer

Open Farm Day participants Sugar Moon Farm were on CBC Nova Scotia!

Amy Smith
How sweet it is! The full story about our visit to Sugar Moon Farm

Ryan Snoddon and Tom Murphy
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4 days ago

Meet Your Farmer

High school teachers, check this out! 👇High school teachers - have you seen Before the Plate? Have you been itching to use it as a resource in your classroom? 🍽

We are SO EXCITED to share this comprehensive Documentary Viewing Guide for Grades 9-12 students that meets learning outcomes in Science, Social Studies, Health, Careers Ed, PAA and more! Here's what you need to do..

1️⃣ Download our Before the Plate Teacher Guide which includes FULL access to the Before the Plate documentary:
2️⃣ Download the editable Before the Plate Student Guide so you can tweak the resource to meet the needs of your students:

Wondering which learning outcomes you'll hit by using this resource? Click on your province and find out!

🌱 British Columbia -
🌱 Alberta -
🌱 Saskatchewan -
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🌱 Ontario -
🌱 Nova Scotia -
🌱 New Brunswick -
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🌱 Newfoundland and Labrador -
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5 days ago

Meet Your Farmer

Not much change in the bud this week,the warmer temperatures coming will make a difference! ... See MoreSee Less

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  1. South Shore Exhibition

    July 23 - July 28
  2. Western Nova Scotia Exhibition

    July 31 - August 3
  3. Shelburne County Agricultural Exhibition

    August 6 - August 10
  4. Annapolis Valley Exhibition

    August 12 - August 17
  5. Cape Breton Exhibition

    August 12 - August 17


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