Bruising and injection sites: Canada’s Beef Carcass Quality Audit

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



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. Dr. Joyce van Donkersgoed went on to teach Canada’s cattle producers how they could improve carcass value through better cattle handling and facilities, moving injection sites from the hindquarters to the shoulder, and using products that could be injected subcutaneously (under the skin) rather than intramuscularly (in the muscle) whenever possible. 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 is focused on surface injection site lesions and bruises in fed cattle.

Visible surface injection site lesions and bruises are trimmed from the carcass and discarded. This costs producers because it reduces carcass pay weight, and costs packers because surrounding cuts are often damaged. Continue reading

Optimizing protein levels in diets containing distillers’ grains



Optimizing protein formulation in the diet of growing beef cattle is one of the most effective and practical methods of improving feed conversion efficiency and growth performance. Many protein feeds are commercially available for cattle, including soybean meal, canola meal and distillers’ grains (DG). Canola meal is a common protein feed in western Canada and its production is expected to increase. However, canola meal protein is degraded more readily in the rumen. DG, a by-product from the process of grain-based ethanol production, is used in beef cattle diets depending on its availability and price relative to the cost of cereal grains. Chemical composition and feeding value of DG vary with grain source and milling process.

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

Storage life of vacuum packaged beef



Opportunities to trade Canadian beef to distant, overseas markets are increasing. Developing these markets requires demonstration of an adequately long storage life for Canadian product.

A recently-completed research project, funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster, worked to determine how long various cuts of Canadian beef stored at different temperatures would keep at a condition acceptable to consumers. Continue reading

BCRC welcomes announcement of new forage research chair

For immediate release
June 10, 2013

Calgary, AB – The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) welcomes today’s announcement of federal-provincial Growing Forward 2 funding of $1.25 million over five years for the creation of a forage research chair at the University of Saskatchewan.

As highlighted in the 2012 National Beef Research Strategy developed by the BCRC and the Beef Value Chain Roundtable, Canadian beef industry stakeholders strongly identify the need for continued and reinvigorated forage and grassland productivity capacity and research.  The new research chair position will help address this concern.  Continue reading

On-farm E. coli O157:H7 control?

Editor’s note: Following the recent release of the Independent Review of XL Foods Inc. Beef Recall 2012, we thought it timely to pull this article from the archives to help address any questions about pre-harvest interventions or on-farm practices to mitigate food safety risks. See below for links to more science-based information on E. coli O157:H7 and summaries of industry-funded research which strives to find practical, economical and effective solutions to reduce or prevent pathogen contamination throughout the production chain. Stay tuned to the BCRC Blog to learn about upcoming food safety research funded within the Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster under Growing Forward 2.

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted with permission.



E. coli
O157:H7 has raised its ugly head again with the unfortunate illnesses and massive cross-Canada beef recall. E. coli bacteria are naturally found in the digestive tract of all warm-blooded animals. There are many strains of E. coli. Most strains are harmless and some may have health benefits. But E. coli strains that produce Shiga toxins can be very dangerous. When humans absorb Shiga toxins they can experience severe abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. Recovery can take over a week. Consequences can be more severe or even fatal in patients who are very young, very old, or have weak immune systems. E. coli O157:H7 does not cause illness in cattle because cattle do not have receptors for Shiga toxins. Continue reading

Hay and Pasture Report: alfalfa weevils, prairie corn silage & more

The Saskatchewan Forage Council (SFC) just released a new issue of the Saskatchewan Hay & Pasture Report.  Take a look for information on:

  • how to manage alfalfa weevils
  • a new sanfoin variety for bloat-free alfalfa (research supported by BCRC | FRG.02.09)
  • research on the nutritional value of cool season corn silage
  • the extent of alfalfa winterkill in the U.S.
  • forage market information from Saskatchewan and surrounding jurisdiction
  • working with your local Regional Forage Specialist

and more.  Continue reading

Manure application and soil nutrient management: new video

Cattle manure is a valuable resource in agriculture when utilized properly. On an annual basis, approximately 3.4 million hectares of land in Canada receives animal manure as an amendment to improve soil fertility and quality for crop growth. Manure from cattle contains macronutrients and micronutrients that plants need. It also has considerable amounts of organic matter that can improve soil tilth. Land application of cattle manure is an effective way of recycling nutrients. As such, cattle manure that is hauled out and applied to farm fields or deposited directly by grazing or overwintered cattle reduces reliance on commercial fertilizers and helps to sustain land productivity.

The latest video in the Beef Research School series features Dr. Jeff Schoenau, University of Saskatchewan researcher and professor of soil science. Continue reading

Changes to the CFIA anthrax program

This is a guest post written by Karin Schmid, Beef Production Specialist with the Alberta Beef Producers

Anthrax is a rapid, fatal disease caused by bacteria (Bacillus anthracis) that exist as inactive spores in the soil and can remain dormant for many years.  Animals contract the disease when they consume infected soil, feed or water and spores become active within the animal, causing death within hours.

Initial symptoms include weakness, fever, and excitability, followed by depression, difficulty breathing, lack of coordination and convulsions.  There may also be a bloody discharge, which can further contaminate the soil.  However, due to the rapid progression of the disease, death is often the first sign. Continue reading