What was very likely the biggest bovine in the world died on Tuesday on a farm just outside of Steinbach.
Dozer, a seven-year-old steer, lived and died on Kismet Creek Farm, south of the Manitoba city. At his most recent measurement, he was 6' 5" in height.
“He did kind of put us on the map,” says owner Karl Schoenrock. “Having such a ginormous beauty seemed to attract more attention than normal.”
That may, in fact, be an understatement. Dozer’s appeal stretched far and wide. The sheer size of him gave the small animal sanctuary he called home international fame in 2018 when he was found to be as big if not bigger than Knickers, a celebrity cow from Australia who measured in at 6’4”.
“It just seemed to catch people’s attention all across Canada,” Schoenrock says. “And we had calls coming in from all over the world when it first hit the media.”
Schoenrock says the steer was single-hoofedly responsible for countless visitors and dozens of donations from across the country. “Everyone wanted to see this mighty Dozer and how gentle and kind he was.”
That was the thing about Dozer: not only was he really really big, but he also had an endearing character. To Schoenrock, Dozer will be remembered for being a gentle giant; one that made friends with both his fellow animal residents and the many many humans who came to see him.
“This just goes to show that all animals can be like big pets if you just treat them that way,” he says.
Dozer was originally donated to the centre by a woman named Rebecca Hanuschuk, who felt Kismet Creek Farm would be an idyllic place for her beloved bovine to spend his days. Schoenrock believes she was right.
“He lived with a whole bunch of other animals that wouldn’t be going for slaughter and he was able to have friends and hang out and do things that normal cattle don’t get to do.”
Dozer also boasted of a longevity uncommon among steer. The average steer lives for two to three years. Dozer lived for seven. Having nothing medically wrong with him, Schoenrock attributes the beast’s enormity more to its long life span than anything else. Though he admits that theory is difficult to verify.
“I’ve talked to every farmer I know, beef farmers and dairy farmers, and none of them can tell me if his size is normal or not because it is just not something they see on the commercial side.”
So how did Dozer die? Schoenrock says he is not totally sure.
“He usually situates himself on this nice big hill where he can kind of watch over the farm. Nearby, there is a small slope and I think his legs sort of gave out on him and he fell."
The hill was not easily visible from Schoenrock’s home so some time passed before he realized anything was wrong. When the steer was found, he was laying on his side suffering partly from heatstroke and partly from struggling relentlessly to try and stand back up.
“We got the vet down, we propped him, up and the vet did what he could but suddenly his heart gave out and he just passed away.”
Last fall, the Guinness Book of World Records expressed interest in Dozer, who may have officially gone down in history as the biggest steer alive. COVID-19 complications have set back the process at Guinness so Kismet Creek Farm is still unsure where their Dozer stands.
“Whether he was the largest steer in the world, or even number two or number three, it still would have been a special thing,” mourns Schoenrock. “It is kind of sad that he never got to have that recognition while he was alive.”