New Year’s Resolution: Get Better Grades

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Youthful carcasses from feedlot-finished cattle are graded for yield (amount of meat in the carcass) and quality (marbling score). Federal grading began during World War II to ensure quality standards during wartime price controls. Canada’s last major beef grading change occurred in the early 1990s, when Canada added quality grades to the grading system.

Canadian and US beef quality grades are quite similar (i.e. A vs. USDA Standard, AA vs. USDA Select, AAA vs. USDA Choice and Canada Prime vs. USDA Prime), but Canadian and US yield grades currently predict different things. Canada’s three yield grades predict “lean meat yield” (the percentage of red meat in the entire carcass). This essentially estimates the edible part of the carcass, at least for those consumers who trim the external and seam fat from their steaks and roasts and drain their ground beef. In contrast, the US has five yield grades (YG1 to YG5) that predict the “retail yield” of the four largest primal cuts (chuck, rib, loin and round) that make up 81% of the beef carcass. Unlike Canada’s lean meat yield, US retail yields account for the fact that beef sold in retail stores still carries some fat trim, as well as regular, medium and lean ground beef. The differences between Canada’s lean yield and US retail yield grades has caused some confusion and frustration in cross-border trade.

On January 15, Canada will change from three “lean meat yield” grades to five “retail yield” grades. Because both the definition of yield and the number of yield grades are changing, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lacombe Research & Development Centre worked with commercial packers in Canada to assess how the distribution of Canada’s yield grades may change when the new system is adopted. Continue reading

Veterinary insights from across Canada: Webinar January 15



Here’s your chance to ask burning vet-related questions! A panel of veterinarians from across Canada will discuss some of the most common issues they see in their region, including pink eye, foot rot, reproductive issues and more!



Registering on your smartphone? After you click ‘I am not a robot’, scroll up until you find the task to complete. Continue reading

2018 Highlights and Deliverables

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is Canada’s industry-led funding agency for beef, cattle and forage research. Our mandate is to

  • determine and communicate the Canadian beef cattle industry’s research and development priorities, and
  • administer the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funds that have been assigned by producers to research

The BCRC’s research priorities focus on

  • improving competitiveness in the production of Canadian beef cattle,
  • supporting science-based policy, regulation and trade,
  • supporting science-based public education and advocacy,
  • supporting the Canadian Beef Advantage, and
  • accelerating the adoption of beneficial innovations by the Canadian beef industry.

The BCRC invites and funds projects and initiatives that have the greatest potential to benefit the sustainability and competitiveness of Canada’s beef industry. The BCRC is led by a committee of beef producers who proportionally represent each province’s research allocation of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off.

2018 has been a transition year for the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) in terms of both funding and program administration. An increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off from $1 to $2.50 per head in most provinces and revised allocations to research has grown the BCRC’s research budget from approximately 15 cents to Continue reading

Top 10 blog posts of 2018

This past year we published 80 blog posts that offered production tips and decision tools, provided a science-based perspective on issues in the media, highlighted new beef, cattle and forage research projects and results, and announced other exciting initiatives. Of those, these were the top 10 most popular:




10) 5 tips for grazing corn this fall and winter
Being sure to feed test, easing cattle into corn grazing by providing only a couple of days access to feed plus a hay bale, and making sure proper shelter is provided can make a big difference in how cattle perform while grazing corn.http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/5-tips-for-grazing-corn-this-fall-and-winter/




9) Are cattle drinking Canada dry?
We often see headlines about how human lifestyle and dietary choices (particularly beef consumption) can impact environmental sustainability. They often vilify beef and don’t tell the whole story. This article provided a more in-depth look at cattle’s role.http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/are-cattle-drinking-canada-dry/ Continue reading

Does Antibiotic Resistance Move Through the Environment?

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


Recent columns have talked about antibiotic use in Canadian cow-calf and feedlot operations. Contrary to common misconceptions, antibiotic resistant bacteria are very unlikely to transfer from cattle to beef, evade food safety interventions in the processing plant, survive cooking, and cause an antibiotic resistant infection in a person. But can antibiotic resistant bacteria be transmitted from cattle, through feedlot manure and runoff, across soil, through wetlands, streams and rivers, and reach humans through the environment?

A Beef Science Cluster study led by Dr. Rahat Zaheer and Tim McAllister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (with collaborators from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the University of Calgary’s faculties of medicine and veterinary medicine, University of Guelph, Alberta Agriculture and Feedlot Health Management Services) examined this question.

What they did: This research focused on bacteria called enterococci that can cause infections in humans (e.g. urinary tract, liver and bile duct, heart, surgery wound, and bloodstream infections). Most enterococcal infections can be effectively treated with macrolide antibiotics. This is important because macrolides (products like Draxxin, Zuprevo, Micotil, Tylan, Zactran, etc.) are commonly used in both beef production and human medicine.

Over a two-year period, this team collected samples from feedlots (pen floor fecal samples, collection ponds, stockpiled and composted manure), agricultural soils, wetlands, streams, municipal sewage, packing plants, retail meats and human patients. Advanced lab testing was used to identify the specific types of enterococci and antibiotic resistance patterns in the samples from each location.

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Results of recent Cow-Calf Production Surveys across Canada



Industry data provided by production surveys can serve as a benchmark for production performance across the country. Historical production surveys include the Alberta Cow-Calf Audit (1986-88, 1997-1998) and “Reproductive Efficiency and Calf survival in Ontario Beef Cow-calf Herds” (1983). Sixteen years later, the survey was revived, revised and expanded into the Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey (WCCCS, 2014). In the last two production years, additional surveys have occurred across Canada (Western Canada, Ontario, Northern Quebec, Atlantic). These have provided an overall picture of current production and management practices on beef cow-calf operations in each region of the country for the first time. The objective of these surveys were multi-faceted.

Canadian Cow-Calf Surveys



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Mycotoxins

A new webpage on BeefResearch.ca provides an overview of what mycotoxins are, the threat they represent for Canadian beef production and how to implement best practices to protect beef cattle.

Mycotoxins are often hidden hazards – a group of harmful toxins produced by certain types of fungi including mould that are only detectable with lab testing. They can create a variety of problems for beef cattle including reduced health and productivity.

The source of mycotoxins are fungi, including mould, that can be present in green pastures, cereal swaths, standing corn for winter grazing, cured and ensiled grass, cereal forages, crop co-products (straw, distillers grains, grain screenings, oilseed meals) and commercial feeds. Continue reading