Can composting destroy BSE prions?

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is believed to be caused by misfolded prion proteins. On the rare occasion of an infected animal, the prions will be present in particular tissues, known as specified risk materials (SRM), of the animal. Proper disposal of carcasses and SRM is important to control the spread of BSE and maintain Canada’s controlled BSE status with the OIE.

A recently-completed research project, funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster, worked to determine whether composting can cost-effectively destroy prions. Continue reading

How do carcass processing procedures impact food safety?

Canadian beef packing plants have progressively and effectively modified their processes over time to reduce the levels of harmful bacteria contamination on product. Studies have shown that carcass pasteurizing is generally effective in commercial practice, but cuts and trim carry more E. coli than beef in its whole carcass state. Therefore beef is being contaminated during carcass breaking. What’s the source of the bacteria?

A recently-completed research project, funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster, worked to determine how Continue reading

E-beam irradiation research: new fact sheet and video

Irradiation is approved for food treatment in over 50 countries. In Canada, irradiation is approved for spices, seasonings, flour, onions and potatoes. In the United States, irradiation is approved for use in meat at absorbed doses up to 7 kilo Gray (kGy), and it has been scientifically proven safe for food use at absorbed doses up to 60 kGy. Irradiation has insignificant effects on nutrients in beef, even at very high absorbed doses.

A recently-completed research project, funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster, studied the effectiveness of low-dose electron-beam treatment (at 1 kGy) in eliminating harmful bacteria in beef trim used to make ground beef.  It also studied whether a panel of taste-testers could determine whether or not patties were made with e-beam treated beef based on color, aroma, texture, juiciness or flavor. Continue reading

Horns and brands: Canada’s beef carcass quality audit

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted with permission.

Quality audits can identify the most costly defects that impact carcass value, and help to track changes in carcass quality over time. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association carried out its first carcass quality audit in 1995. The defects identified in that audit became the focus of the CCA’s Quality Starts Here program, and Dr. Joyce van Donkersgoed spent a lot of time educating cattle producers about how to improve carcass quality and value by dehorning calves early and moving brands from the rib to the hip or shoulder. A follow-up audit was carried out in 1999 to measure the progress made in response to the Quality Starts Here program. Plans to repeat the audit were postponed as a result of BSE, but Canada’s third beef quality audit was completed recently. This column gives a quick overview of how the carcass quality audit was conducted, and some of the key findings relevant to cow-calf operators. Continue reading

WEBINAR May 22: Benefits of beef research

Join us online Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 7:00pm MT for a free webinar on the benefits of beef research for cattle producers.

You’ll hear from the Beef Cattle Research Council’s (BCRC) Science Director, Dr. Reynold Bergen, and Beef Extension Coordinator, Tracy Sakatch.  Dr. Bergen will explain the BCRC’s role in reaching the industry’s priority research objectives, and the value of results from various research projects funded through the BCRC. Tracy will discuss BCRC’s relatively new knowledge and technology transfer initiative. There will also be an opportunity for you to ask questions.

Updated May 23, 2013: Missed the webinar?  Watch it now: Continue reading

Planning pastures: Beef Research School episode

Taking the time to plan your pastures and hay land can boost forage productivity and cattle performance, and save you headaches later in the season.  A new video in the Beef Research School series features Steve Eby, a producer from Kincardine, Ontario, who shares his planning process.  While planing summer grazing areas, Eby considers drought and moisture tolerant forage species based on the topography of his land, cattle flow, watering options, and seeding and harvesting equipment. Continue reading

Focus on productivity

This is a guest post by Canfax Research Services.

The feedlot and packing sectors have been very successful at driving productivity and efficiency gains through larger carcass weights, average daily gains, feed to gain ratios and yield in order to decrease per unit costs and maximize profits.

Are things really so different for the cow/calf sector?  Continue reading

Pain mitigation: latest video in Beef Research School series

Branding, dehorning and castration are painful, but pain is very difficult to measure in beef cattle. This also makes it difficult to know whether anesthetic or analgesic pain control drugs are effective in cattle. In prey species, displaying weakness attracts predators so cattle have evolved to mask signs of pain. While they may be a stoic animal, there’s no doubt cattle experience varying degrees of discomfort during some routine management practices. The age of the animal, technique of procedure used, and use of pain medication all have an impact on pain.

The latest video in the Beef Research School features Continue reading