On the Road Again

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced significant changes to Canada’s livestock transportation regulations in 2019. Previously, truckers could haul cattle for 48 hours before a mandatory five-hour feed, water and rest stop (unless they were within four hours of their final destination). The new regulations require an eight-hour feed, water and rest stop after 36 hours, with no four-hour grace period. The new regulations could have benefitted from some meaningful science.

Research that could have helped inform these regulations has been underway since 2018. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein and Daniela Melendez Suarez of Agriculture Canada’s Lethbridge Research Station are leading a major study to determine whether feed, water and rest stops provide measurable benefits to feeder cattle during long-distance transport. The January 2020 research column described their first experiment, which found that rest stops didn’t clearly benefit preconditioned cattle. Their second experiment is now published (Effects of conditioning, source and rest on indicators of stress in beef cattle transported by road; doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0244854). Continue reading

Tips to Select Corn Silage Hybrids Across Canada


Selecting a corn seed hybrid starts by determining your intended end use for the product. Photo credit to Ontario Cattle Feeders

When grown and harvested properly, corn silage can be an excellent source of energy and fibre for beef cattle. Selecting a corn hybrid starts by determining your intended end use for the product. Are you planning to use corn silage as feed for mature cows or as part of a complete ration for feeder cattle? The answer to this question can change the variety of corn that producers should select. For example, if the silage will be used as a winter feed source for the cow herd, a higher energy corn variety may be better suited than a high fibre variety that would be used in a feeder ration where corn silage is used as a fibre source.

Much of Canada is suited to cool-season plants, but plant breeding companies have developed corn hybrids that require fewer corn heat units (CHU) during the growing season. The minimum CHU rating for corn hybrids has fallen from 2300 to 2000 over the past 40 years. Continue reading

The Seed is Falling – Aerial Seeding Alfalfa was Worth a Shot for One Operation

Aerial seeding crops is not a new idea for many farmers, particularly those in flood-prone regions. However, most producers that are experienced with seeding by plane typically plant canola or other annual cash crops, not forages. While there have been a few examples where producers or organizations have experimented with aerial seeding forages, results have been variable, due in part to weather, timing of activities, and seedbed contact.

Arron Nerbas, of Nerbas Brothers Angus, was trying to figure out a way to rejuvenate some of their farm’s old forage stands that were located in the floodplain of the Assiniboine River Valley. These one-time hay fields became subjected to extended periods of flooding for many years, with floodwaters lasting for six to eight weeks. “What came back was primarily quack grass and reed canary, not productive forage species,” Nerbas explains. “In past years we would spray it out then seed a companion oat crop under-seeded to forage,” Nerbas says. “Because of the flooding, we didn’t want to take the risk of spending a lot of money.” In an effort to come up with a solution that was cost effective and flexible, they turned an eye to the sky and decided to investigate aerial seeding. “We thought instead of completely re-establishing a forage stand, why don’t we try and fly out alfalfa and see if that would work.” Continue reading

Attn Researchers – RDAR Launches Call For Proposals

Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) has announced its Call for Proposals.

The first submission deadline is March 18, 2021. Final funding decisions are expected in late April 2021.

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

Applications Open For The Beef Researcher Mentorship Program

Applications for the 2021-22 term of the BCRC Beef Researcher Mentorship Program are now being accepted.  The deadline to apply is May 1, 2021.


The 2020/2021 mentees participated in a virtual event with the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Program.

Six researchers were selected to participate in the program this past year. Each was paired with two mentors – an innovative producer and another industry expert. Each of the researchers have reported very successful and valuable experiences through the opportunities provided, including:

    • Establishing partnerships with industry and other researchers to further their research programs
    • Meeting several producers and industry leaders with whom they ask questions and have meaningful discussions about cattle production, beef quality and safety, and the Canadian beef value chain
    • Attending industry events and touring farms and ranches to better understand the impacts, practicalities and economics of adopting research results

The BCRC is excited to continue the program and invite applications from upcoming and new applied researchers in Canada whose studies are of value to the beef industry, such as cattle health and welfare, beef quality, food safety, genetics, feed efficiency, or forages. A new group of participants will begin their mentorships on September 1st.

The Beef Researcher Mentorship Program launched in August 2014 to facilitate greater engagement of upcoming and new applied researchers with Canada’s beef industry.

Learn more about the program and **download an application form at: http://www.beefresearch.ca/about/mentorship-program.cfm**

Continue reading

Nominations For Canadian Beef Industry Award For Outstanding Research And Innovation Due May 1st



The Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation is presented by the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) each year to recognize a researcher or scientist whose work has contributed to advancements in the competitiveness and sustainability of the Canadian beef industry.

Nominations are welcome from all stakeholders of the Canadian beef industry and will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of beef producers, industry experts and retired beef-related researchers located across the country.

Nominations will be kept on file and re-considered for up to two additional years. In such cases, the nominator will be contacted each year and given the opportunity to revise the nomination.

To be eligible, nominees must be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants actively involved in research of benefit to the Canadian beef industry within the past 5 years. Benefit to the industry must be evident in a strong research program aligned with industry priorities, a demonstrated passion and long-term commitment through leadership, teamwork, and mentorship, involvement in ongoing education and training (where applicable), and active engagement with industry stakeholders.

Nominations for the 2021 award will be accepted until May 1, 2021.

The 2021 award will be presented at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in August.

Past recipients of the Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation are:

Learn more and find the nomination form at http://www.beefresearch.ca/about/award.cfm

Continue reading

Attn Researchers: The Saskatchewan Agriculture Development Fund is now accepting letters of intent

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture is now accepting Letters of Intent (LOI’s) for research funding under the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF).

The Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) was created to fund research to help farmers and ranchers become successful. The core of ADF provides funding for basic and applied agriculture research projects in crops, livestock, forages, processing, soils, environment, horticulture, and alternative crops. It provides project funding of $15 million per year on a competitive basis to researchers in public and private research and development organizations, selected on the basis of their research’s potential to create growth opportunities or enhance the competitiveness of the provincial agriculture industry.

Letters of Intent will be accepted until April 15, 2021. Continue reading

Record Keeping for Forage and Grassland Management Webinar March 23rd



Pasture and stored forages are critical resources in the cattle industry. An effective management plan requires realistic production goals, a clear understanding of forage production, effective grazing strategies and timely responses to forage availability and changing environmental conditions. Record keeping can support management decisions needed to effectively manage both pasture and stored forage. This webinar will discuss the record keeping methods used by three producers to manage their pastures and forages. 



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

Celebrate Canada’s Agriculture Day and Beef Producers who Safeguard the Environment

Today, we celebrate Canada’s Agriculture Day. Canadian beef farmers raise cattle, produce nutritious beef, provide jobs, and create economic value, making the beef sector an important part of Canada’s agriculture and food community.

Canada’s beef producers also play a vital role in taking care of the environment, a large responsibility that farmers and ranchers are not always credited for. While there is still room for improvement on some fronts, there is much to celebrate while the beef sector continues to improve its environmental track record. These facts demonstrate some of the valuable ways in which beef producers manage environmental resources: Continue reading

What goes in must come out: manure and nutrient management



In a cow-calf operation where cattle are often fed in pens for a portion of the year, pens are generally cleaned at least annually to remove accumulated manure and bedding. While backgrounders and feedlots have enforced protocols to manage and store manure, general guidelines apply to all producers who are handling and storing manure.

Manure offers a long-term source of nutrients that can influence soil properties, increase soil carbon and nitrogen, and alter soil phosphorus and potassium concentrations along with other nutrients. Best management practices must be followed across all sectors from cow/calf to backgrounders and feedlots. Continue reading