Justin and Jeff McLellan
By Pat Grotenhuis
Third-generation farmers Justin and Jeff McLellan knew fairly early in life that they wanted to continue the family tradition of raising and caring for mink.
The two helped on the mink farm their grandfather and father operated while they were growing up. Jeff went straight into farming when he graduated high school while Justin left for a brief period to earn a business diploma from Lambton College before returning. The brothers, who farm with their father in Chatham-Kent, enjoy the challenge of working on the farm. They were recognized for their commitment to animal care in the 2013 Faces of Farming Calendar published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Their page was sponsored by the Ontario Fur Breeders’ Association and the Canada Mink Breeders’ Association.
“I like being outside working with family, and that the job changes from day to day. There’s always something new to learn,” says Jeff.
On the farm, everyone has their own area of specialty but they work together to make sure everything is done right. Justin focuses on management decisions about how the mink will be cared for. Jeff is in charge of taking care of the machinery on the farm and performing maintenance on it. Their father, who is still actively farming, runs the feed mill the family runs.
The McLellans make all of their own feed for their animals and for other local farmers. When it comes to harvesting time, they also help other mink farmers in the area.
The brothers have a lot of farm responsibilities that keep them busy, but they both still find time to enjoy their hobbies and spend time with their young families. Both Justin and Jeff are married. Justin has two children – a four year old and a one and a half year old. Jeff’s a new dad as well. They enjoy fishing, and Justin also enjoys playing hockey while Jeff likes snowmobiling.
A lot’s changed on the farm since their grandfather began working on it in 1959 (later purchasing it in 1979). Over the years many improvements have been made to accommodate new technology and make the mink more comfortable.
A big improvement included replacing the barns that the mink live in. The new structures are designed to be taller and have better air flow. This keeps them much cooler in the summer.
Justin is working towards a goal of using genetic selection for animal improvements. He is always looking to have a consistent size of mink coming through the barns, and would like to continue improving the quality of their animals. With every decision, the McLellans ensure they are making changes that benefit the animals themselves.
“If I’m making a living raising these animals, I want them to have the best life they can,” says Justin.