A Tribute to Tom Hamilton
Friends, colleagues, and northern cattlemen are paying tribute to Tom Hamilton, the longtime OMAFRA beef researcher who died unexpectedly last Feb. 6 at the age of 58.
With his dry humour and professorial demeanour, Hamilton has been a fixture in New Liskeard-based cattle research for decades. He initially trained as a wildlife biologist before shifting to work with cattle. As a farm researcher, he looked for ways to work with - rather than against - the animal's natural instincts.
The result was a range of projects including studies of calving on pasture versus winter calving in barns; extending the grazing season; efficiently wintering cattle; and improving reproductive efficiency.
Hamilton delivered the information with his trademark humour. When a lousy hay season led to too many "poor doers" at calving time, Hamilton authored a factsheet on "Newborn Calf Jeopardy:"
Question: "This high-fibre substance links the summer of 2008 with poor-doing newborn calves in 2009. "
Answer: "If you answered 'What is poor hay quality?' you are probably one of many Ontario beef farmers having a frustrating calving season (and give yourself 100 points.)"
Behind the fun was a generous colleague with a first-class mind, says OMAFRA Agriculture Development Advisor and longtime friend Barry Potter. "Tom was brilliant," Potter says. Whether it was a technical issue or a complex theoretical glitch in a research trial, "he could really solve problems."
Hamilton "always had an entertaining way of getting the information across," said Beef Farmers of Ontario president and Temiskaming cattleman Matt Bowman, adding he was "shocked and saddened" to hear of Hamilton's passing.
A native of Kirkland Lake, Hamilton retired from OMAFRA last November after 30 years of service. Outside of the office, he was an avid outdoorsman, canoeist and cottager. He is survived by his wife, Patricia, and his children, William and Kristen. Memorial donations are directed to the Temiskaming Hospital.
Reprinted with permission from the Ontario Farmer.
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