Through the action of a diverse microbial community in the rumen, cattle have a digestive system that allows them to digest roughage, like hay and grass, and concentrates such as barley grain or dry distillers’ grains. Feed costs, including both grazed and conserved feed, are the greatest expense associated with beef cattle operations. Since nutrition is often the most important factor influencing reproductive performance, managing feed resources at a reasonable cost to consistently achieve high reproductive rates will help ensure profitability for beef cattle operations.
Key Nutrients Required by Cattle
Cattle require energy, protein, water, vitamins and minerals in suitable amounts to provide adequate nutrition. Young, actively growing forages and legume blends can often meet the nutritional requirements for normal growth and maintenance of cattle herds. Mature pastures, crop residues, or other low-quality forages may have reduced nutritive value, requiring supplementation of protein, energy or additional vitamins and minerals to maintain optimal health. Certain nutrients are required in the daily ration, while others can be manufactured and stored in the body. Continue reading
Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) has announced its inaugural research call.
The submission deadline is November 19, 2020. Final funding decisions are expected in mid-December 2020.
The objective of the call for proposals is to increase the level of research in the targeted areas and to accelerate outcomes advancing profitability, competitiveness, sustainability and food safety of agricultural products in Alberta. Continue reading
Not all lameness is caused by foot rot. Getting a proper diagnosis is the key to determining the appropriate treatment and management for any lameness condition. Lameness can affect any type of cattle including feedlot animals, breeding bulls, range cows, or animals confined to a corral. It limits an animal’s interest in eating, drinking, or breeding resulting in lower weight gains and conception rates, making it an animal health and welfare concern, as well as a production and economic issue.
A 2019 study reported that lameness is the leading cause for health treatments in breeding cows and bulls. However, diagnosing lameness isn’t always straightforward as the condition can be caused by multiple inter-related factors. Another recent feedlot study analysed health records from 28 different western Canadian feedlots over a ten-year period to determine common lameness conditions. Overall, lameness was diagnosed in 4.4% of steer and 4.7% of heifer placements. Comparing diagnoses by class of cattle, 4.9% of calves were diagnosed with lameness compared with 4.0% of yearlings. Of the lameness diagnoses, foot rot was most common at 74.5% of lameness cases, followed by joint infections at 16.1%, then lameness with no visible swelling at 6.1%, followed by lameness due to injury 3.1%. Continue reading
External parasites, such as lice, ticks and flies, live on and feed off their host animal. Parasites can cause stress and irritation, reduced weight gain, and production losses in beef cattle, and can also be a vector for diseases. They can pose a problem any time of year for beef producers, however, as winter approaches and cattle start to spend more time in close quarters, parasites such as lice can be a challenge.
Why does it seem like parasites persist in beef herds even after a control product has been applied? What is integrated pest management? What are practices that farmers can do to optimize control? Shaun Dergousoff, PhD, with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Kateryn Rochon, PhD, from the University of Manitoba gave an overview of Canadian parasites, and addressed common concerns during a recent BCRC webinar. Continue reading
This is Part Three of a three-part series (see Part One and Part Two).
Editor’s note: this article is also available in French. Download the translated version here.
When getting a clear financial picture for your operation, basic record keeping often isn’t enough. That’s why it’s essential to know your cost of production.
While many aspects of the industry are uncertain, thankfully there is the opportunity to examine what can be, for the most part, controlled – your cost of production. As a producer, the ability to measure and manage those components of your operation that are within your control is a powerful tool. Why not take advantage of that tool by signing up to participate in an upcoming focus group?
The Canadian Cow-Calf Cost of Production Network (CDN COP Network) will develop benchmarks for specific production systems and ecoregions across the country. Scenarios will be developed for what future farms could look like utilizing the 5% Rule to identify where incremental improvements could be made around productivity, input costs, and output prices. Each production system will have its own set of limitations and opportunities where greater focus may be beneficial. Continue reading
This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
Cattle were ideally created (or evolved) to consume and digest high fiber diets. Whoever (or whatever) was responsible for designing the rumen so elegantly probably should have paid more attention to the respiratory tract.
The design of the bovine respiratory tract makes it easy for BRD bacteria like Mannheimia, Pasteurella, Histophilus and Mycoplasma to move deep into the lung and find places to hide and makes it hard for the animal’s immune system to counterattack them. The bovine lung is so susceptible to infection and damage that it has been used as an “animal model” of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in humans.
This is a problem because cattle need a lot of oxygen. Cattle need nearly three times as much oxygen as a similar-sized horse just to stay awake and lie around. But the horse has nearly three times more lung capacity than the steer. Lung damage is one of the reasons that BRD hits cattle so hard, so fast. Continue reading
Editor’s note: The following is the final instalment of a two-part series that will help you to evaluate different considerations for bale grazing across Canada. Click here to read part one.
Beef farmers everywhere are looking to reduce costs, decrease their workload, and improve the carrying capacity of their pastures. Bale grazing is a production practice that can help.
There is a learning curve with any grazing method, especially when it’s planned for winter, arguably one of the most unpredictable seasons. Three producers across Canada share their experiences with bale grazing, provide their top tips, and explain why extending the winter grazing period has been a game changer on their farms.
Wallace, Nova Scotia
John Duynisveld operates a beef and sheep farm on 250 acres of pasture land on the north shore of Nova Scotia. He calves his herd of 25 to 30 cattle in May and June, and markets his grass-finished beef directly to consumers.
John says they started doing things differently on their farm after his dad attended a grazing seminar more than 30 years ago. Later, when he was working on his Master’s degree, grazing management became a big focus once again. “As you delve into more ways of trying to extend your pasture and ways to be more cost effective and labour efficient, bale grazing becomes sort of an obvious choice,” he says. They’ve been bale grazing for 20 years and purchase dry hay from a neighbour who sets the bales up in the field for Duynisveld. Continue reading
Editor’s note: The following is part one of a two-part series to help evaluate different considerations for bale grazing across Canada.
Many Canadian producers have taken steps to extend their grazing period and provide forage for cattle outside of confinement and away from corrals. Well planned extensive wintering systems have obvious benefits for reducing on-farm labour and yardage costs, but extended grazing also has environmental advantages for nutrient management and potential forage yield improvements.
Bale grazing enables producers to keep cattle away from confinement, depositing manure and nutrients on the landscape, rather than in the corral. Photo courtesy of Hans Myhre.
Different methods of extended winter grazing may include annual forages for swath grazing, corn grazing, and grazing crop residue or cereals. Perennial forages can also be stockpiled for later grazing. Continue reading
Pastures can be impacted by annual, biennial and perennial weeds, and each region across Canada will have different weeds that are problematic. During the summer, cattle and feed are on the move, increasing the risk of bringing unwanted invasive species onto your farm. This webinar will cover tips for dealing with invasive weed control for different regions across Canada.
To learn more about invasive weeds and brush control in pastures, visit the new topic page!
Register for our upcoming webinar to hear from three subject matter experts as they provide information from regions across the country and answer your questions about combating invasive weed species.
Registering on your smartphone? After you click ‘I am not a robot’, scroll up until you find the task to complete.
Wednesday, October 28th at 7:00 pm MT
- 6:00pm in BC
- 7:00pm in AB and SK
- 8:00pm in MB
- 9:00pm in ON and QC
- 10:00pm in NS, NB and PEI
Vaccines stimulate the immune system of the animal to produce antibodies. Antibodies (or immunoglobulins) are proteins created by cells in the blood or in various lymphoid tissues that can be found in the intestine or upper respiratory tract. These specific proteins help to destroy various infectious organisms that can cause disease. Cattle also produce antibodies when they are naturally exposed to infectious organisms.
Vaccines are certainly a primary component of our modern herd health programs, but it is important to remember that they rarely provide absolute protection and other management components such as biosecurity, nutrition and environmental management also play important roles in protecting the herd from infectious diseases.
When cattle are exposed to infectious pathogens, the immune system is stimulated to respond to these infections. It takes time for this complex machinery to respond to a pathogen when it is initially exposed to the antigen (either through vaccination or natural infection). As a result, antibodies aren’t created in time to prevent disease from occurring on initial exposure. However, the immune system is able to “learn” and develop a specific response to a pathogen (a disease-causing agent) such as a particular bacteria or virus or parasite. This is important because when an animal is exposed to the disease for a second time, the immune system has memory cells that are programmed to respond to antigens they have previously encountered. Continue reading