Herd History: 
Oceanbrae Farm was started in 1923, when John and Vera Barrett purchased 165 acres of land in Belmont Lot 16, situated on picturesque Malpeque Bay.  The first Dual Purpose Shorthorn was purchased in 1950 by Keith, and the Shorthorn herd steadily grew from there on.  Oceanbrae Farm began ROP testing in the early 1960's, and soon began showing cattle, both locally and nationally, particularly at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.  In 1976, Keith's son Fred entered into a partnership with his father, which persisted until the very recent past, where upon Keith's retirement, Fred has taken over the full operation of the farm, with the help of his son, Matthew.

Breeding stock to form the basis of Oceanbrae's herd has been bought from numerous breeders in Canada, the United States, and Great Britain.  They have also sold breeding stock to breeders in many of the same locations.  In recent years, members of the family have traveled to countries such as the USA, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to see Milking Shorthorns.  At the present time, 40-45 head of Milking Shorthorns are milked at Oceanbrae Farm, along with about 10 head of registered Jerseys.

The best cow families at Oceanbrae originated in purchases of breeding stock from Ontario, the United States, and Great Britain. The core families of the herd at the moment are:

  • The Ideal family, starting with Fieldcrest Ideal-P EX-92
  • The Accent family, including Oceanbrae Fawn's Accent-P EX-94
  • The Lady family, including Oceanbrae Lady 57th EX-90
  • The Bessie Joe family, including Oceanbrae Bessie Joe 52nd EX-90
  • The Leigh family, including Oceanbrae Jurist Layla EX-92
  • The Pepper family, including Oceanbrae Pepper 2nd EX-91-3E
  • The Lass family, including Oceanbrae Lass Loretta VG-88

Our breeding philosophy emphasizes a balance of type and production while retaining the efficiencies and easy-working nature of our Milking Shorthorns. We have incorporated Illawarra, Swedish Red and Red Holstein genetics in our breeding program but we aim to keep purity percentages high while not sacrificing genetic improvement. Polled genetics (largely the Ideal and Accent families) has been an increasing part of the herd in recent years. A number of top females are flushed each year, primarily with the goal of multiplying top female genetics in our own herd. We have sold embryos to other Canadian breeders as well as to breeders in the United States and New Zealand.

Our herd has been the top BCA Milking Shorthorn herd in Canada for the past few years and the Oceanbrae herd has also had the highest composite BCA herd average in the Maritime provinces for the past four years.

Farming Practices: 
Like many other farms in Prince Edward Island, Oceanbrae Farm has not remained exclusive to one type of farming. A small cow-calf operation (including a herd of purebred Simmentals) exists on the farm, bringing the total number of cattle on the farm to approximately 200 head. At the same time, total acreage has steadily increased, with the farm now owning approximately 600 acres of land.  With this land, a potato/corn/mixed grain/forage crop rotation has been utilized, and the farm grows all of its own hay silage and hay. While we used to grow elite seed potatoes, now we rent a small acreage each year to maintain a 5 to 6 year crop rotation.

A large portion of Oceanbrae's acreage is devoted to permanent pasture.  From May to October, the dairy cows are rotated from one small pasture to another, with this constituting the majority of the roughage in their diet.  Heifers are grazed on a pasture close by, and hay silage, corn silage, and hay are made for the winter months.  Grain is fed as crushed corn (grown on the farm) as well as a protein supplement.  Most of the cow's nutritional requirements are met by high quality roughage and forage.

Community History: 
Lot 16 got its name from Samuel Holland's survey in 1767, which divided the Island into 67 lots, distributed to wealthy absentee landowners.  After confederation with Canada, Lot 16 was one the only regions of the Island to keep its lot distinction.  Belmont is the portion of Lot 16 which lies directly on Malpeque Bay, including the Belmont Provincial Park "down the road."   Malpeque is a beautiful bay know for its rich fishery, especially its world famous Malpeque Oysters.  The area still has a high concentration of dairy farms, as well as acres of famous Prince Edward Island Potatoes.