The Key to Setting up a Healthy Calf for Life? Colostrum

The following is part two of a series of three posts featuring calving management practices and intervention strategies to help producers optimize newborn calf health and well-being. Read part one to learn about resuscitation techniques.

Newborn calves are born with virtually no immunity of their own. Unlike other mammals, a cow’s placenta does not allow antibodies to pass from the mother to the calf during pregnancy, which means the calf must receive its initial immunity from the antibody-rich colostrum, or first milk, of the cow. This initial immunity is essential because it provides protective antibodies against many of the diseases that affect newborn calves, such as calf scours, navel abscesses, arthritis and pneumonia. If the calf is at risk of not having adequate colostrum, such as if it had a difficult birth, is a twin, is delivered via c-section, has a weak suckle reflex, or hasn’t sucked in the first few hours of life, supplementation is recommended. If a calf requires colostrum supplementation, here are a few things to consider. Continue reading

Calf 911 – New Video Demonstrates Effective Calf Resuscitation Strategies

The following is part one of a series of three posts on calving that include newborn calf management practices and intervention strategies to help producers create positive calving outcomes.

Calving is a natural process and most cows give birth to a healthy calf and everything goes as planned. However, there are times when things go wrong. Perhaps there is a malpresentation, such as a backwards arrival, or the calf’s foot is back. In some cases, perhaps calves do not take their first breath after a difficult labour. Here are a few tips to consider to get a calf up and going as soon as possible: Continue reading

Get ‘em out, get ‘em up, get ‘em fed, write ‘em down… Rawhide!

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

It’s called calving difficulty for a reason. They’re difficult to deliver, it’s difficult for the calf to survive, it’s difficult to watch it die, and it’s difficult to lose the $1,250 the calf could have sold for in fall. The Beef Cattle Research Council’s 2019 Adoption Rates of Recommended Practices by Cow-Calf Operators in Canada report indicated that around half of all preweaning death losses occur within 24 hours after birth, with a significant proportion of those attributed to calving difficulties. How you help a calf in the first few hours after a difficult birth is critical to determining whether it will survive to weaning or not.

It’s well known that providing timely calving assistance, effective calf resuscitation and colostrum are critical. But how you do these things is just as important as what you do. These calves have already been through a lot – providing the wrong kind of help can make it harder for them to survive. Sometimes doing the wrong thing is also harder for you. Continue reading

What’s been done and what’s next? An update from our Executive Director, Andrea Brocklebank

We are pleased to provide our annual report in two formats to highlight some of our deliverables and challenges in 2020. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with feedback at info@beefresearch.ca.

Who is the BCRC?

Video guide:

0:38-1:32 – Who we are
1:33-5:40 – How we were impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic
5:41-11:46 – What we are funding
7:25 – Example: Cattle transport and rest stops research (Learn more here.)
9:20 – Example: Nutritional value of beef compared to other protein sources research (Learn more here.)
10:36 – Example: Environmental sustainability of beef production (Learn more here.)
11:47- 19:58 – How we deliver research results to you
15:32 – Example: A tool for producers to help evaluate feed test results (Try it here.)
17:37 – Example: Carry capacity calculator (Try it here.)
18:37 – Example: Forage U-Pick interactive tool (Try it here.)
19:59-22:56 – Our priorities in 2021

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is Canada’s industry-led funding agency for beef, cattle and forage research. Its mandate is to determine research and development priorities for the Canadian beef cattle industry and to administer the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funds allocated to research. The BCRC is led by a 14-member Council, comprised of 13 producers and one member at large, who proportionally represent each province’s research allocation of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off.

The BCRC is completing its third year of a ten-year plan presented with the increase in Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in 2018/19. The allocation of check-off funding to beef research increased to be in line with the National Strategy recommendations – acknowledging historic under funding of research and the need to address many significant priorities.

BCRC continues to operate within a 10-year plan in an effort to manage multi-year research funding contracts (3 to 10 years in length). This plan is built on the assumption that provincial allocations of the national check-off to research will remain unchanged moving forward. Continue reading

Have 15 Minutes? Make an Impact on the Future of Beef Research



As someone who follows the BCRC Blog, you’re almost guaranteed to be what we call a ‘Canadian beef industry stakeholder’, meaning you

  • own or manage beef cattle,
  • conduct research on beef, cattle or forages,
  • are a large animal veterinarian,
  • own or work for an abattoir/beef processor,
  • are a government employee in a beef-related role,
  • work or volunteer for an organization that actively supports the beef industry, or
  • have another valuable role that supports and relies on Canadian beef production.

You hold a stake in the industry, so the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) relies on your input on research and extension issues.

When you answer these 16 questions by March 5th, you will inform the next five-year Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and impact the long-term competitiveness of the Canadian beef industry.


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