Read the Progressive Dairy Canada digital edition

Brown Swiss gift leads to love of farming

Frédéric Marcoux for Progressive Dairy Published on 27 November 2019
Dave Labrie with Xavier and William Malenfant.

“When will I finally get my own cow?” At 7 years old, Xavier Malenfant from Saint-Cyprien, Quebec, wasn’t kidding at all when he asked his godfather and uncle that question. Four years later, Dave Labrie says without a doubt, the decision to buy a Brown Swiss cow for his nephew was the right one to make.

Until he was 6, Xavier had been afraid of cows whenever he visited his uncle at Ferme Charlusson Inc., located in eastern Quebec. The farm has approximately 100 cows, consisting of Brown Swiss and Jerseys, with one Canadienne and one Guernsey.



Xavier’s fear ceased suddenly when a Brown Swiss, who was outside pasturing, showed affection to the little boy; the animal just wanted to be petted.

At this very moment, the young boy fell in love with the breed. He wanted his own cow. Xavier asked his uncle to buy one for his birthday. Months passed by, and Dave finally realized that his godson was not joking. “At first, I thought it was a joke,” he says with a laugh. “I found his request particularly expensive. Something must have clicked in his mindset for the Brown Swiss breed, quickly overcoming his fear. Before this moment, it would have been difficult for him to love cows more than he does now. During winter, Xavier asked me if I was shopping for his cow. I was sure he was going to forget about that. We celebrated his seventh birthday in the barn as planned in August, where he told me again that he wanted to have his cow.

“Finally, I found him a Brown Swiss from the U.S. a little while later. When the cow arrived, it was quite an event and Xavier was there. He missed a full school day to be present,” Dave recalls.

Xavier Malenfant, at the age of 7, stands by his cow Rose.

A passion

That one cow, whose name was Rose, was a source of motivation for Xavier. He decided to get even more involved in the farm.


Rose is no longer in the barn, but the boy’s interest in farming is far from stopping. Xavier’s passion for agriculture has grown really fast. Now at 11 years old, he frequently milks the herd with his uncle. If he doesn’t have school, he will surely stop by the barn. He says without hesitation that he would like to study at the Institut de Technologie Agroalimentaire (ITA) campus at Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, in a few years. “I like cows. I like to milk them, and I like the mechanics,” Xavier says. “I would like to become the owner of the farm in a few years if it is possible. I love the variety of tasks to do.”

‘One heck of a duo’

Xavier’s older brother, William Malenfant, is not left out. Although he doesn’t appreciate the Brown Swiss breed as much as his brother, he is a great help at Ferme Charlusson.

“William takes care of the maintenance of the machinery park. He knows a lot more than me even though he is only 14 years old,” Dave says. “Xavier’s mother also bought the family sugar shack because Xavier and William strongly insisted on having it. Last spring, William worked on it as much as if he was the owner. Both brothers have a huge sense of initiative.” The boys have even created a company for the sugar shack with the help of their mother, Dave’s sister.

The two brothers already feel a strong sense of belonging to the farm. If they must hurry back from school to help their uncle, they will do it without hesitation.

“They both love the farm so much. At the beginning of the summer, while they are still at school, they regularly want to know what’s going on with the farm and what hay season is going to be like. They see the work that has to be done. They’re not like many other kids of their age. They really feel involved. It’s really nice to see that,” their uncle says.

The 42-year-old man, who doesn’t have any children of his own, would appreciate to team up with his nephews in the next few years if they want to take over the family business. The young duo would become the fifth generation to work on the farm.


“The two brothers are a heck of a duo. They are always present on the farm. I don’t have any employees, so I am lucky to have them with me. I see them taking over the business together. It’s still too early to know, but we’ll see what happens in a few years,” he says. Dave does not know what the future holds for his family, but one thing is sure, Brown Swiss cows will continue to dominate the herd if Xavier is still involved with his brother.  end mark

PHOTO 1: Dave Labrie with Xavier and William Malenfant.

PHOTO 2: Xavier Malenfant, at the age of 7, stands by his cow Rose. Courtesy Photos