Maintaining momentum during the breeding season

Reproductive wrecks can happen all at once or slowly over several years. With breeding season just around the corner, producers should be considering ways to maximize conception rates in their cow herds. Using fertile bulls is one part of the equation, but what about the reproductive management of cows? What are some strategies producers can use this season to make sure their cows are reaching their breeding potential?

John Campbell, DVM, from the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine, shared his insight on boosting calf crop percentage and achieving reproductive goals during a BCRC webinar. Continue reading

This Will Make Your Skin Crawl

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Cattle won’t be the only creatures enjoying fresh pasture this spring; so will the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the American dog tick, which can transmit anaplasmosis and other bloodborne diseases. Anaplasmosis was removed from the Federally Reportable Disease list in 2014, so the government is no longer responsible for dealing with anaplasmosis outbreaks or compensating producers with affected herds. Understanding where these ticks are and what influences their population will help develop proactive strategies to avoid the spread of tickborne disease.

Ticks have a three-stage life cycle. Tick larvae emerge from the egg and feed once on blood from small mammals (mice, voles, squirrels, etc.). The engorged larvae then molt into nymphs that also feed once on small mammals. The engorged nymphs molt into adults that feed on larger animals, including dogs, sheep, deer, and cattle. If the adult ticks cannot find a host, they may overwinter under plant material on the ground and re-emerge in spring. Adult ticks begin Continue reading

How quickly do water systems pay for themselves? New calculator available

Allowing cattle access to clean water can improve herd health, as well as  increase weight gain and backfat. A 2005 study reported that calves whose dams drank from water troughs gained on average 0.09 lbs per day more than calves whose dams had direct access to the dugout. Because water and forage intake are closely related, as cows drink more water they also spend more time eating and therefore produce more milk for their calves. Calves with access to clean pumped water were on average 18 lbs heavier at weaning time. A separate study in 2002 found that calves, with dams drinking clean water, gained 9% more weight than calves Continue reading

A few key practices can reduce internal parasite resistance

Resistance is something we currently hear a lot about in agriculture, including the issue of parasite resistance in beef cattle. As spring approaches, producers may have questions about their parasite management decisions. How can livestock operators effectively manage internal parasites in their herds? What can they do to reduce the risk of parasite resistance?

Parasites are a normal part of the gut flora of pastured cattle. Left unmanaged, however, internal parasites can cause insidious production losses including a reduction in weights. Dr. John Gilleard, with the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, covered internal parasite management in beef cattle during a recent BCRC webinar.

Strategies to Managing Parasites

Grazing management, proper biosecurity protocols, monitoring parasite loads, and strategic deworming are all tools producers can use to manage for parasites. Gilleard also suggests following the “Five C’s:” Continue reading

How Castration Method and Age Affect Pain in Young Calves

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Canada’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle requires that castration be performed by an experienced person who uses proper, clean, well-maintained equipment and accepted techniques. A producer is expected to seek guidance from their veterinarian on the optimum method and timing of castration, as well as the availability and advisability of pain control drugs for castrating beef cattle. Calves must be castrated as young as practically possible, and pain control is required when castrating bulls older than six months of age.

The requirement to use pain control in older calves was based on research demonstrating its effectiveness in feedlot bulls. A lot of information was also available regarding the use of pain drugs in baby dairy calves, but the beef producers and researchers on the Code committee felt that the vast differences in genetics, herd dynamics and familiarity with people meant that nursing beef calves may respond differently to castration than individually-housed dairy calves that had been weaned at birth. A research project funded by the Beef Science Cluster is helping to determine when pain control is beneficial in beef calves. As a first step, students working with Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein (AAFC Lethbridge) and Ed Pajor (University of Calgary) examined how Continue reading

Intranasal vaccines are timely and effective

As he follows a proper vaccination program for his cow-herd, Ryan Beierbach also makes sure calves on his southeast Saskatchewan ranch are afforded the same protection. And for the past three years that program has also included early-season treatment with a nasal vaccine, followed later with coverage with injectable products.

It’s all about providing the best protection for calves against common diseases from the get-go, says Beierbach, who ranches near Whitewood, just west of the Manitoba border.

He administers a three-way intranasal vaccine to pasture-born calves at anywhere from two weeks to two-and-a-half months of age. As the herd is processed after May-June calving, usually in early July, all calves also receive an eight-way injectable clostridial vaccine, including tetanus. And then at fall weaning, they also are vaccinated against IBR and BVD. Beierbach believes in covering the bases.

“From the research I’ve seen, the nasal vaccines do a better job of providing immunity to the calf early on,” says Beierbach. “And from my observations, I believe I am seeing improved health in my calves.” Continue reading

This December, you’ll need a prescription to buy virtually any livestock antibiotic

If you haven’t done so already, the first few months of 2018 would be an excellent time to develop a relationship with a beef veterinarian.

Starting late in 2018, Health Canada is introducing a couple of important changes affecting the way animal antibiotic products can be accessed by producers. And having an established Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) will be an important part of a smooth transition. (see sidebar below)

Click to download a two page handout on the changes to how antibiotics can be purchased. Handout includes a list of cattle products that will need a prescription as of December 1, 2018.

The key point is, starting Dec. 1, 2018, all livestock producers will need a prescription from a licenced veterinarian, before they can buy a medically important antibiotic (MIA) for therapeutic use in livestock production. This applies to all beef cattle sectors using antibiotics — cow-calf operators, feedlots and feedmills Continue reading

Preventing reproductive wrecks: Webinar January 23

Update: Missed the webinar? Find the recording and check for future webinars on our Webinars page: http://www.beefresearch.ca/resources/webinars.cfm

Even small changes in the open rates of cows can have a major economic impact. Join this webinar for tips to increase and maintain high pregnancy rates with information on everything from mineral intake to disease management.

This webinar will begin with a brief presentation about the Certified Sustainable Beef Framework by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB).

When
Tuesday, January 23 at 7:00 pm MT

  • 6:00pm in BC
  • 7:00pm in AB
  • 8:00pm in SK and MB
  • 9:00pm in ON and QC
  • 10:00pm in NS, NB and PEI 

Interested but aren’t available that evening?
Register anyway! This webinar will be recorded and posted online at a later date. All registrants will receive a link to the recording and additional learning resources. By attending the live event, you’ll have the opportunity to interact and ask questions too.

Register now

Find and register for more BCRC webinars here.

Watching on a tablet or mobile device?
If you plan to join the webinar using your tablet or mobile device, you will need to  Continue reading

Yo-Yo Diet Strategies

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the October 23, 2017 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Getting weaned calves on feed can be a challenge. This is often attributed to the change from a forage-based diet to unfamiliar feedlot rations and feed bunks, distress from recent weaning, illness, etc. To compensate for this, some feeders use a relatively high-energy receiving diet, the rationale being that if they’re not going to eat much, each mouthful better pack a nutritional punch. But part of the challenge these calves face may be complications from feed deprivation during marketing and transportation. Recent research led by the University of Saskatchewan’s Greg Penner suggests that the rations fed both before and after feed restriction affect how well cattle cope with and recover from these challenges (J. Anim. Sci. 91:4730-4738 and 91:4739-4749).

What they did: This study used Continue reading

Abnormal weather doesn’t grow average forage

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Averages are useful statistics, but sometimes averages can be misleading. As the University of Saskatchewan’s late Iain Christison said, “the average human has one breast and one testicle”. Canada’s rainfall may be close to average this year – but much of the country is experiencing severe drought, and most of the rest is soaked. Either way, low yields, unharvestable or spoiled forage mean that winter feed supplies will be below average in many places, and nutritional value likely won’t be average, either.

For instance, drought-stricken pastures and forage crops have lower levels of carotene, which cattle need to produce vitamin A. A recent paper from Cheryl Waldner and Fabienne Uehlinger of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (Can. J. Anim. Sci. 97:65-82) looked at 150 beef cow-calf herds in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Calves born the spring following a drought had a much higher risk of vitamin A deficiency, and calves with severe vitamin A deficiency were nearly three times more likely to die than those with higher levels. Continue reading