Calving distribution is the percentage of calves born in each 21-day cycle throughout the calving season.
As the calving season ends and producers switch gears toward breeding season, there is an opportunity for producers to evaluate their calving distribution and the impact it has on their bottom line. Now is the time for farmers and ranchers to incorporate any changes they want during breeding season, such as when to pull their bulls from pasture, that will affect next year’s calf crop.
Each time a cow is not bred during a 21-day heat cycle, it can cost up to 39 lbs of weaning weight (assuming an average daily gain on calves of 1.85 lbs/day). Having more calves born in the first 21 days of the calving season allows producers to market larger, more uniform groups of calves and increase their profit potential.
The standard industry target is to have at least 60% of females calving within the first cycle, followed by 25% calving between 21-42 days, 10% between 42-63 days and the remaining 5% calving in the fourth and final cycle. An ideal distribution could be 70-20-10 with a condensed breeding season of three cycles (63 days). Continue reading
Sometimes it can be hard to know where you’re going if you don’t look at where you’ve been. For decades, research and extension organizations have promoted many practices to beef cattle operators with the goals of improving production, product safety, and ultimately profitability. Recently, the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) and Canfax Research Services created a comprehensive report outlining the adoption of recommended beef management practices over time and across Canada.
The analysis used a broad lens to examine all cow-calf practices from feeding methods to manure management, calving cows to retaining heifers, pasture management to feed testing, and everything in between. Recent data from regional cow-calf surveys and research studies were compared to foundational producer survey and Statistics Canada information dating as far back as thirty-five years.
The first of its kind, this analysis:
- Consolidated benchmarks for parameters such as conception rates, weaning weights, death loss, and calving season length;
- Compared current practices and highlighted long-term trends across Canada where possible;
- Identified gaps in adoption and potential extension opportunities;
- Recognized and addressed barriers for adoption.
High protein forage can increase rates of gain, benefit soil
Editor’s note: The following is part 1 of a two-part series. Stay tuned for alfalfa grazing tips from cattle producers from across the country in part 2.
Respect it, but don’t fear it. That’s the message from cattle producers and beef specialists alike who through years of experience and research appreciate the value of grazing cattle on pure or percentage stands of alfalfa.
Properly managed alfalfa makes good pasture with several added benefits, including:
- Improved weight gains on all classes of cattle (gains of 1.5 to 2 or more pounds per day can be expected);
- adding fertility to the soil with a nitrogen-fixing crop;
- creating a hedge against poor forage production during dryer growing seasons; and
- increasing plant biodiversity to benefit soil health.
Yes, there are circumstances when turning cattle into a lush stand of alfalfa at the wrong time and perhaps with the wrong class of cattle can result in bloat. But paying attention to a few production and management principles can greatly reduce the risk of bloat and provide producers the opportunity to capture the benefits. Continue reading
This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
When Canada’s 2013 Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle was being developed, some participants felt it should require pain control for castration at all ages, like the dairy code. The producers and researchers on the beef Code committee were confident that pain control was beneficial for feedlot bulls and dairy calves but were concerned that there was no research showing whether nursing beef calves and individually-housed dairy calves respond to castration or pain relief the same way.
In the end, the 2013 beef Code required that castration be performed by an experienced person using proper, clean, well-maintained equipment and accepted techniques. Producers are 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. Continue reading
This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
Johne’s disease is caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis, or MAP) that was discovered in 1895 by a heavily bearded, bespectacled bacteriologist from Dresden named Henrich Albert Johne. When a cow develops persistent, watery, smelly hosepipe diarrhea, and progressively loses weight and body condition even though her appetite is normal and she isn’t running a temperature, she may have Johne’s disease. But it can be hard to know for sure.
Young calves, which are more susceptible to infection than older animals, are often infected with MAP through colostrum, milk or manure. The animal will look perfectly normal, while silently shedding MAP in its own colostrum, milk or manure for a few years before full-blown signs of disease appear. As a result, Johne’s disease is often compared to an iceberg – by the time you see an obviously sick animal, there will be a much larger hidden population of MAP-infected cattle that haven’t become sick yet. Continue reading
Calving is a natural process, but sometimes disease, weather, and many other factors can cause stress. How can beef producers best prepare newborn calves to get a healthy start? What are some effective ways to enable calves to be resilient against bugs like bacteria, viruses or other pathogens they will encounter? How can farmers and ranchers manage disease if and when it strikes?
“Having healthy calves takes planning,” said Dr. Claire Windeyer, Assistant Professor in Cattle Health at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Program. Windeyer shared a number of useful ideas during two previous webinars, Management During Calving Season for Healthier, More Productive Calves and Managing Young Calves to Prevent Disease. Many practices can be implemented on-farm immediately and there are links below to particular segments of the video. Continue reading
Here’s your chance to ask some of your burning vet related questions! A panel of veterinarians from across Canada will discuss some of the most common diseases they see in their region, including pink eye, foot rot, reproductive issues and more!
Registering on your smartphone? After you click ‘I am not a robot’, scroll up until you find the task to complete.
Thursday, November 29 at 7:00 pm MT
- 4:00pm in BC
- 5:00pm in AB
- 6:00pm in SK and MB
- 7:00pm in ON and QC
- 8:00pm 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 broadcast, you’ll have the opportunity to interact and ask questions too. Continue reading
Here’s your chance to ask burning vet-related questions! A panel of veterinarians from across Canada will discuss some of the most common issues they see in their region, including pink eye, foot rot, reproductive issues and more!
Registering on your smartphone? After you click ‘I am not a robot’, scroll up until you find the task to complete. Continue reading
Don’t forget to register for tomorrow’s webinar. By registering you can watch it live or view the recording later at your convenience.
A new webpage on BeefResearch.ca provides an overview of what mycotoxins are, the threat they represent for Canadian beef production and how to implement best practices to protect beef cattle.
Mycotoxins are often hidden hazards – a group of harmful toxins produced by certain types of fungi including mould that are only detectable with lab testing. They can create a variety of problems for beef cattle including reduced health and productivity.
The source of mycotoxins are fungi, including mould, that can be present in green pastures, cereal swaths, standing corn for winter grazing, cured and ensiled grass, cereal forages, crop co-products (straw, distillers grains, grain screenings, oilseed meals) and commercial feeds. Continue reading