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While the old nursery rhyme says Mary the contrary used several odd techniques to get her garden to grow, Canadian beef producers are relying more on new forage varieties, new forage blends and new management approaches to not only produce more grass, but also help to extend the grazing season.

Producers are looking for different things from forages — that includes varieties that come into production early and hold their quality later, varieties and species that tolerate drought, others that don’t mind wet feet, legumes that have high production but minimize the risk of bloat, and grasses, legumes and even annual crops with the versatility to be grazed, baled or silage —?these are among the features being evaluated and incorporated into forage mixes across the country. Continue reading

Hormone Hearsay

When it comes to the use of hormones in beef cattle, sometimes there are more questions than answers. Reynold Bergen, PhD, with the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), breaks down why hormones are used and how they work in a recent BCRC webinar.

He tackles the question that is at the top of everyone’s mind – is the use of hormone implants safe?? (Spoiler alert — yes!).

Although there has been sound scientific research to back up the decades-old practice of using hormonal growth implants, one can find many headlines to falsely suggest otherwise. It’s important to take a critical look at the source of such information. Is it credible? Do the studies reflect the science, real world conditions or practices? Who are the authors of the article and who performed the study? Continue reading

Attn Researchers and Extension Agents: BCRC Opens Two Calls for Letters of Intent

The Beef Cattle Research Council invites letters of intent (LOIs) for research projects as well as LOIs for technology transfer and production economics projects. The application deadline for these separate but concurrent calls is August 31, 2018 at 11:59 PM MT.

The purpose of these two targeted calls is to achieve objectives in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and the National Beef Strategy. These new calls for research and technology transfer LOIs, expected to occur annually, are made possible by the recent increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in most provinces.

Approved projects, funded by Canadian cattle producers through the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off, will be required to Continue reading

Attention researchers: Genome Canada and AAFC funding

Genome Canada in partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has recently launched the 2018 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition: Genomics Solutions for Agriculture, Agri-Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture (2018 LSARP).

This funding competition aims to support projects that will use genomics to advance the sustainability, productive capacity, and competitive position of the Canadian agriculture and agri-food & fisheries and aquaculture sectors, and thereby strengthen Canada’s economy and the wellbeing of Canadians. There is approximately $30 million available through Genome Canada, and up to $16 million from AAFC. Successful projects can receive up to $4 million from Genome Canada, and $3 million from AAFC over a maximum of four years, with a 1:1 co-funding ratio to Genome Canada’s contribution.

More information about the Request for Applications can be found on Genome Alberta’s website.

When seeking funding, researchers are encouraged to refer to the priorities and target research outcomes in the?Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy. Continue reading

This Column is Brought to you by Your National Check-Off

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

The third annual Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) takes place in London, Ontario on August 14-16. The CBIC is co-hosted by the BCRC, Canada Beef, Canadian Beef Breeds Council, and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). The CBIC’s Bov-Innovation session is a popular, interactive, fast-paced, workshop full of tips, ideas, and concepts that cow-calf and feedlot producers can take home and adopt on their farms. Bov-Innovation pairs an expert explaining the science behind best practices with a leading producer explaining how they have adopted these practices to benefit their cattle and their profitability. This year’s topics were carefully chosen based on producer suggestions: Continue reading

Pain, Pain, Go Away

Beef producers are busy in the spring and summer months processing cattle, performing common procedures such as castration and dehorning. Producers may also brand their cattle as a form of identification. These practices are commonplace on beef farms across Canada, and in many cases are necessary for the long-term health and welfare of the animals, however they cause pain. Reports show that producers and veterinarians who incorporate pain control measures during painful procedures often describe ease of use and potential improved gains in their herds.

Pain control is becoming a priority among producers and scientists as anesthetics and analgesics, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are more readily available.

How can producers mitigate pain in beef cattle effectively? Are there practical ways to manage pain in real life conditions? What is a Continue reading

Bov-Innovation set for August 15th in London, ON

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is proud to co-host Bov-Innovation, an interactive, producer-oriented session that will take place during this summer’s Canadian Beef Industry Conference. The conference, in its third year, will be held in London, Ontario, at the London Convention Centre from August 14-16, 2018. The Canadian Beef Industry Conference is co-hosted annually by the BCRC, Canada Beef, Canadian Beef Breeds Council (CBBC), and The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA).

Bov-Innovation is designed to engage both cow-calf and feedlot beef producers. Sessions are fast-paced yet full of tips, ideas, and concepts that producers can adopt on their farms immediately. Presenters include researchers who will explore the science behind best practices as well as industry leaders who will explain how they incorporate concepts to benefit cattle and ultimately the profitability on their beef operations. Topics are carefully chosen based on producer opinions and this year, two sessions will be offered:

  • Cross-Canada Cattle: Best transport practices” will include information from Derek Haley, PhD of the University of Guelph. Dr. Haley leads a research program on animal welfare and behaviour, and is currently exploring long-distance cattle transport. Feedlot operator Steve Eby from Kincardine, Ontario, will share his experience with shipping and receiving cattle, and will provide his insight for successful transport outcomes.
  • The Grass is Always Greener: Pasture infrastructure and management” will be moderated by Barry Potter, with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. Barry has a special interest in beef production in northern Ontario and will facilitate presentations from beef producers Jason Desrochers and Tim Lehrbass, who are each farming in diverse regions of Ontario. Desrochers operates a cow-calf and backgrounding farm near Val Gagne in northern Ontario, and will explain how their farm overcomes land use challenges and converts marginal land into forage. Lehrbass farms in southern Ontario, near Alvinston, and will share grazing management strategies from his operation, which was recently recognized for excellence in forage management.

Continue reading

Have You Rotated Your Breeds Lately?

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Before becoming a politician and long before becoming a noted Western Canadian historian, Grant McEwan was an animal science professor at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1938, he and A.M. Shaw published “An Experiment in Beef Production in Western Canada” (Scientific Agriculture XIX:177-198), summarizing one of Canada’s first crossbreeding projects. Straightbred 2-year old Angus, Shorthorn, Galloway and Hereford cows (40 each) were pastured year-round on the Matador community pasture in southwestern Saskatchewan and bred to Angus (1930), Hereford (1931), Shorthorn (1932) and Galloway bulls (1933). As a result, each calf crop had 25% straightbred and 75% F1 crossbred calves. The calves were finished for slaughter at the university feedlot in Saskatoon. Crossbred calves averaged 3% higher Continue reading

Maintaining momentum during the breeding season

Reproductive wrecks can happen all at once or slowly over several years. With breeding season just around the corner, producers should be considering ways to maximize conception rates in their cow herds. Using fertile bulls is one part of the equation, but what about the reproductive management of cows? What are some strategies producers can use this season to make sure their cows are reaching their breeding potential?

John Campbell, DVM, from the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine, shared his insight on boosting calf crop percentage and achieving reproductive goals during a BCRC webinar. Continue reading

Eight beef producers share their recent changes

Canadian beef producers appear to be keeping up with the often heard axiom “the only constant in life is change”. With that in mind, these eight beef producers from across the country talk about recent changes they’ve made or are making in their farming operations.

Some of the changes are management related, others are operational, some involve getting a broader perspective of expert advice, and another was about how to make a job simpler when you’re wearing your mitts.

They are fairly easy to moderate, sometimes major changes – even a series of relatively small tweaks —?these producers are making in management and production practices that either improve their management skills, increase forage or beef production efficiency, or just increase their knowledge to ultimately help them achieve the bottom line goals —?save time or money, reduce costs, increase returns, improve profitability.

TREVOR WELCH
GLASSVILLE, NB
Rotational grazing and forage stand improvements

Photo submitted by Trevor Welch

Trevor Welch has been developing a rotational grazing system on his western New Brunswick family farm over the past three years. Season long grazing was fairly successful with a small herd of beef cattle, but as he plans to expand the herd, he’s looking to increase the carrying capacity on a limited land base.

“We own most of our pasture land, and also rent some land as well,” says Welch, who is the fourth generation on the five generation farm — his son Taylor is interested in farming and his dad, Fred, is also still involved. As with most parts of Atlantic Canada a 40-acre pasture can produce enough forage to support a 30-cow beef herd for the season. “But with season-long grazing there were always some areas that would be underutilized and other areas that were overgrazed,” he says. The Welch’s run a herd of purebred and commercial Black Angus cattle. Continue reading