Drought management strategies

Editor’s note: Due to dry conditions in many parts of the country, we’ve pulled this article from our archives. It was originally posted in July 2015.



For timely timely information on weather and climate relevant to the agricultural sector in Canada, visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Drought Watch webpage

Whether in the form of pasture, stored forage, or supplements, feed is the largest variable input cost in cow-calf operations. A big challenge is to feed the cow in a way that meets her current and future nutritional requirements for maintenance, lactation, maintaining a successful pregnancy, giving birth and getting rebred within 80-85 days of calving as cost effectively as possible. This challenge is obviously much greater during drought, when feed is scarce and expensive.

Aside from moisture, one thing that will help keep you and your cows from experiencing a wreck this summer is knowledge. We’ve pulled together a good list of resources that can help you and your herd get through the drought.

So pour yourself a coffee or an iced tea, and delve into the links below. After a few hours of reading, you’ll likely have a few new plans to keep your cows and grass in good shape, and to keep from shelling out more money for feed or vet bills than need be this year and down the road.

Let us know if the information you’re seeking isn’t here, or if we’re missing some valuable information you’ve found elsewhere so that we can add those links to this list. Continue reading

Producers with large herds are believers in low stress weaning

Editor’s note: The following is the second in a two part series. See part one about the research behind two-stage weaning.



Producers who have tried it, say they are sold on reduced-stress weaning techniques. Of four beef producers across Canada contacted who have used low stress weaning measures for several years, one favoured the fence line low stress weaning system, while the others all preferred the two-stage weaning system, commercially known as QuietWean.

Fence-line weaning, which has been used by some producers for generations, is a low-stress one-stage weaning system that involves sorting cows and calves on weaning day and then dividing the two groups with some type of fencing. Cows and calves can still see each other, and often can still have nose-to-nose contact, but the fencing prevents calves from nursing. In most set ups cows and calves can wander away from the fence line to continue feeding or grazing. After about three or four days the two groups appear to lose interest in each other — weaning is complete. Continue reading

Low-stress weaning benefits on several levels

Editor’s note: The following is the first in a two-part series on low stress weaning. In part two, you’ll hear directly from producers with large herds that use these methods.



There is way more to it than just going to bed with a yard full of quiet cattle, but that’s one of the notable spinoff benefits cow-calf producers from across Canada attribute to low-stress weaning systems they’ve used for several years.

Producers say calves that are eased into weaning perform better immediately after weaning, they observe considerably fewer cases of stress-related diseases, the anxiety and stress demonstrated by both cows and calves during the more traditional abrupt or cold weaning is virtually eliminated, and yes the farm yard is much quieter, too.

Continue reading

Attention researchers: Ag Action Manitoba Program funding available

The Ag Action Manitoba Program provides grant funding for researcher and industry-led projects that contribute to the development of agricultural knowledge and skills and improve the competitiveness and sustainability of Manitoba’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-product sectors.

The deadline to apply is August 31, 2018. Applicants do not need to reside in Manitoba, as long as the activities related to the application occur in Manitoba or have a positive outcome for Manitoba.

More information can be found on the Manitoba Agriculture website.

When seeking funding, researchers are encouraged to refer to the priorities and target research outcomes in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy.

Reminder: The Beef Cattle Research Council is currently inviting letters of intent (LOIs) for research projects as well as LOIs for technology transfer and production economics projects. The application deadline for the BCRC’s calls for LOIs is August 31, 2018 at 11:59 PM MT.

Continue reading

Join us next month in London, Ontario

Meet the council
The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) currently has 12 members. These 12 beef producers proportionally represent the provincial organizations of beef producers that allocate part of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off to research.

The Council recently elected Ryan Beierbach (SK) as Chair, and Matt Bowman (ON) as Vice-Chair.
Joining the Council is Garth Porteous (AB), Graeme Finn (AB), Fred Lozeman (AB), Steven Pylot (SK) and Dean Manning (Atlantic). They join Dave Zehnder (BC), Chris Israelson (AB), Michael Spratt (SK), Larry Wegner (MB) and Rob Lipsett (ON).

The Council sincerely thanks departing members Bryan Thiessen (AB), Tim Oleksyn (SK), Melanie Wowk (AB), Darren Bevans (AB) and Nathan Phinney (Atlantic) for their commitment and valuable input over the years.

Visit our website to learn more about our council and staff

Every time a beef producer sells an animal he or she invests in research through a portion of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off. Producer dollars help to fund scientific studies and innovative developments that are advancing Canadian beef production and impacting farms and ranches across the country.

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is excited to invite you to join us at an upcoming town hall and open house for a clearer picture of Check-Off investments and beef research in Canada.  Both events, to be held at the London Convention Centre in mid-August, are free to attend. Beef producers and other industry stakeholders are encouraged to participate.

Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) Open HouseAugust 16th – 1:15 pm

You’ll hear recent examples of progress made in beef-related research, discuss the objectives to be tackled next, meet the individuals leading the way, and take home new ideas to help keep your operation ahead of the herd. Top researchers will be in attendance to Continue reading

Advancing innovation in Canada’s beef sector with a $14 million federal investment

NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release
July 11, 2018

Calgary, AB – The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) welcomed today’s announcement of $14 million in funding for the Sustainable Beef and Forage Science Cluster under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership AgriScience Program. Announced by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Minister Lawrence MacAulay while attending the Calgary Stampede, the Science Cluster funding will support the sustainable advancement of Canadian beef and forage production and help position the industry as a leader in export and economic development. Continue reading

The heat is on



With many parts of the country experiencing extreme heat, it is important to remember that cattle aren’t able to dissipate heat well and are more susceptible to heat stress. Cattle can experience heat stress at temperatures around 26oC, depending on the relative humidity.  They don’t sweat as efficiently as other mammals, and the rumen produces a lot of heat through the process of fermentation; their temperature spikes four to six hours after feeding.

Heat stress can result in reduced feed intake, reduced daily gain, and death in extreme situations. Secondary effects such as acidosis or sickness from going off feed may also be an issue. Heat can reduce bull activity and change the way a cow shows signs of estrous which can result in a prolonged calving season. These various effects can add up to big dollars lost from a producer’s pocketbook if the risk or effects of heat stress aren’t reduced.

The risk or effects of heat stress can be reduced by: Continue reading

Producers share ideas for developing safe and relatively economic pastures with greater longevity



While the old nursery rhyme says Mary the contrary used several odd techniques to get her garden to grow, Canadian beef producers are relying more on new forage varieties, new forage blends and new management approaches to not only produce more grass, but also help to extend the grazing season.

Producers are looking for different things from forages — that includes varieties that come into production early and hold their quality later, varieties and species that tolerate drought, others that don’t mind wet feet, legumes that have high production but minimize the risk of bloat, and grasses, legumes and even annual crops with the versatility to be grazed, baled or silage — these are among the features being evaluated and incorporated into forage mixes across the country. Continue reading