Meet the Council: Implementing Management Practices that Pay Off

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is made up of producer members from across Canada, representing and appointed by each of the provincial beef organizations that allocate part of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off to research. The number of members from each province is proportional to the amount of provincial allocation to research.

The following is part two in a series to introduce you to this group of innovative thinkers that set BCRC’s direction by sharing practices, strategies, or technologies that they have integrated into their own operations.

Conditions and circumstances across the country may vary but these three beef producers have found value in adjusting common management practices to work successfully on their operation.

Utilizing Different Calving Seasons

Fred Lozeman – Alberta

Fred and his family own and operate a mixed farm near Claresholm, Alberta at the base of the Porcupine Hills. Along with a spring and fall calving herd they operate a feedlot, finishing their own calves, as well as around 1,500 head of purchased cattle. They also grow most of the feed required for the feedlot and cow-calf operation. Continue reading

Research Chair Proposal & Proof of Concept Proposal deadlines 2 Weeks Away

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) invites proposals related to the establishment of research chairs and proof of concept research and clinical trials. The application deadline for both calls is October 1, 2020 at 11:59 PM MT.

Currently, a shortage of scientific experts and research capacity in some areas of beef, cattle and forage research are hindering the ability to conduct priority research that supports improvements in productivity and demand and responds to emerging issues. To fill these gaps, the BCRC is exploring options to establish Research Chairs in key areas with investment of Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funding in partnership with other funders.

To procure the strongest opportunities for capacity development and encourage matching investments, Research Chair concepts will be considered through an open call for proposals.  The BCRC welcomes proposals that work towards the achievement of its three core research objectives:

  • To enhance industry competitiveness and reduce production costs, priority outcomes are to enhance feed and forage production, increase feed efficiency, and decrease the impact of animal health issues and production limiting diseases.
  • To improve beef demand and quality, priority outcomes are to reduce food safety incidences, define quality and yield benchmarks supporting the Canadian Beef Advantage, and improve beef quality through primary production improvements and the development and application of technologies to optimize cut-out values and beef demand.
  • To improve public confidence in Canadian beef, outcomes are to improve food safety, strengthen the surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance, develop effective antimicrobial alternatives, ensure animal care, demonstrate the safety and efficacy of new production technologies, improve environmental sustainability and measure the beef industry’s environmental benefits.

The intended start date for a Research Chair funded through this call will be July 2022, unless clear justification for an alternate date is provided and accepted by the BCRC. The interval between BCRC funding decisions and Research Chair start date is intended to allow time for necessary matching funds to be procured.

The BCRC intends to commit funding to support one Research Chair through this call with additional calls in subsequent years subject to annual BCRC funding allocations.

This research capacity development initiative, in support of the National Beef Strategy, is made possible by the increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in most provinces.

With increased investment in research through the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off, the BCRC has committed to provide research funding in two key areas that have previously had limited funding:

  1. Proof of Concept – proposals to help inform whether a concept is worth pursuing as a larger, more defined funding request
  2. Clinical Trials – proposals to validate practices or technologies that have been discovered through research projects and/or to facilitate the adaptation of technologies utilized in other sectors, commodities, or countries

The BCRC has committed funding to short-term projects in these two areas, with a maximum of $50,000 per project regardless of duration. Project duration should not exceed six months to one year unless a clear rationale can be provided demonstrating the need for a longer time frame.

The purpose of this call is to fund proof of concept research and clinical trials that will lead to the achievement of objectives in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and the National Beef Strategy. Leveraging producer check-off funds allocated to approved projects with other industry or government cash contributions is encouraged but not required for this call.

All call-related information can also be found at www.beefresearch.ca on the Forms and Downloads page.

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The sharing or reprinting of BCRC Blog articles is welcome and encouraged. Please provide acknowledgement to the Beef Cattle Research Council, list the website address, www.BeefResearch.ca, and let us know you chose to share the article by emailing us at info@beefresearch.ca.

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions. Contact us directly or generate public discussion by posting your thoughts below.

An(other) Ounce of Prevention

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

My first fire drill in grade one was absolute chaos, screaming and panic as we all circled the teacher, who was likely wondering how our parents had managed to keep us alive this long. By grade three, we yawned and strolled to the nearest door. Fire drills teach kids what to do when there’s no real threat, so that they react calmly and automatically if a real fire happens. Fire drills save lives. Vaccines are for disease what fire drills are for kids.

When an animal is exposed to a disease-causing microbe, the immune system activates a variety of self-defence weapons to combat it. The immune system often responds a bit slowly the first time the microbe is encountered, because it’s starting from scratch. But the immune system has a “memory” that allows it to respond much more quickly and automatically the next time that microbe re-appears.

Like a fire drill, a vaccine mimics exposure to disease-causing microbes without causing the disease. Nearly all vaccines recommend two doses, given a few weeks apart. The initial vaccination is like the fire drill in grade one. It teaches the animal’s immune system to recognize particular features of a microbe that causes a specific disease. The second “booster” dose given a few weeks later is like the fire drill in grade three. It stimulates the immune system’s memory and generates a much stronger and long-lasting immune response and enables the immune system to spring into action if the microbe itself appears. Reproductive diseases also require an annual booster for the breeding herd. Proper vaccination allows the animal’s immune system to respond much more quickly, automatically and effectively when a real disease challenge occurs. Continue reading

Registration now open for 2020/2021 Webinar Series



This year’s webinar series will cover a range of topics including record keeping, invasive weed species, and reproductive failure in the cow herd, all focused on practical, science-based information for Canadian beef producers.

Register here.
 You can register for as many (or all!) of the webinars you’re interested in at once. After you click the link above, be sure to scroll down to see and select for all six (6) dates.

See topics and descriptions below. Continue reading

Why a Cost of Production Network?

This is Part One of a three-part series (watch for Part Two and Part Three in the coming weeks).

Editor’s note: this article is also available in French. Download the translated version here. 

Canada is the sixth largest beef exporter in the world. Live cattle to the United States are also a substantial business. Cost of production and price competitiveness are key aspects to any major exporting commodity, along with regulatory environment and available resources. The beef industry must be profitable and competitive to secure land, labour, and capital otherwise those investments will go into other commodities that provide a greater return on investment.

The Canadian Cow-Calf Cost of Production Network (CDN COP Network) has been developed collaboratively with provincial coordinators and funded by the Beef Cattle Research Council. Industry has taken a lead role in coordinating the Network working with local expertise in each province. This information will support cow-calf producers as they evaluate how to evolve with new technologies and enhance competitiveness in an international marketplace. Continue reading

New Resource: Record Keeping and Benchmarking Level 3



The final level of Record Keeping and Benchmarking resources for beef producers is now available.

Level 1 was previously launched for farm managers who are new to record keeping or who may already keep records but are unsure what information is worth keeping or how these records can be used.

The Level 2 resource was developed to build upon the themes covered in Level 1 but also goes more in depth on some of the analysis that can be accomplished once you have established a set of records. The purpose of Level 3 is to dig deeper into analysis and application of collected farm data.

The Level 3 resources include the following topics: Continue reading

The BCRC invites Proposals Related to Proof of concept research and clinical trials

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) invites proposals related to proof of concept research and clinical trials. The application deadline for this call is October 1, 2020 at 11:59 PM MT.

With increased investment in research through the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off, the BCRC has committed to provide research funding in two key areas that have previously had limited funding:

  1. Proof of Concept – proposals to help inform whether a concept is worth pursuing as a larger, more defined funding request
  2. Clinical Trials – proposals to validate practices or technologies that have been discovered through research projects and/or to facilitate the adaptation of technologies utilized in other sectors, commodities, or countries

The BCRC has committed funding to short-term projects in these two areas, with a maximum of $50,000 per project regardless of duration. Project duration should not exceed six months to one year unless a clear rationale can be provided demonstrating the need for a longer time frame. Continue reading

New Resource: Financial Record Keeping Level 2

Editor’s Note: release of the Level 2 Financial record keeping module adds to the previously released content focused on Animal Health & Performance, Forage & Grasslands, and Genetics. Stay tuned for Level 3 Record Keeping modules to be available in the coming weeks.

In agriculture there are many areas of risk and uncertainty. Sectors with tight margins, such as the beef sector, can greatly benefit from having a better understanding of their operation’s finances. Understanding where the strengths and weaknesses occur is one way to reduce the stress that comes with uncertainty and provide financial resiliency to help your operation adapt to challenges. Continue reading

The Benefits of Bringing Cattle and Crops Together

Grazing cattle on neighbouring farmland can have benefits to both the cattle producer and the farmer if done properly. From Saskatchewan to Manitoba and Ontario the following producers have had success with grazing cattle on neighbouring crop land.

Leanne Thompson and Tannis Axten are neighbours in southeastern Saskatchewan. The Thompsons own and operate a cow-calf and backgrounding operation with 500-800 head of mother cows as well as backgrounding cattle. The Axten family owns and operates a 6,000 acre grain farm that is highly diverse, focusing heavily on soil health and intercropping. Both operations have experienced mutual benefits by arranging to have the Thompsons’ cattle graze stubble and cover crops on the Axtens’ landbase. Continue reading

Winter Feed Cost Comparison Calculator – Regional Trends and Opportunities

Feed prices are driven by supply, demand and the price of alternatives. Winter feed presents the largest variable cost for producers. As producers look for ways to protect margins and minimize losses this fall, there are opportunities to be found in examining low-cost feed alternatives.

While the cost of some inputs cannot be controlled by any one operation, producers can control their budget for high-quality rations. Knowing where a crop may fall short on nutrition is a critical first step, and a feed test will point out where supplementary nutrients may be required for a herd. The next step is sourcing nutrients at the lowest price, choosing from a variety of feedstuff that offer nutrient balance. The Beef Cattle Research Council’s Winter Feed Cost Comparison Calculator is a decision-making tool that helps producers compare the cost of feed alternatives available in their area.

Regional Conditions and Trends to Consider                                                                            Continue reading