Lost profits: Injection site lesions cost the industry $1.63 million: New Video

Injection site lesions visible on the carcass surface have increased to nearly 14% of non-fed cattle and 8% of fed cattle. Even in areas that are inches away from injection sites can result in tissue damage causing tougher meat and lower eating quality. As a result, injection site lesions cost the industry $0.56/head or $1.63 million in 2016. That’s up considerably from 0.21/head or $662,951 in 2011.

What do you need to know?

Animals should be properly restrained to ensure the safety of both yourself and the animal. This will also give greater access to the neck area to improve delivery accuracy and reduce the risk of broken needles.

Use subcutaneous (below the skin) when possible versus intermuscular (into the muscle) when administering injections. Intermuscular injections generate a greater risk of developing a reaction to the treatment and can create injection abscesses and bruising. Continue reading

Q&A on conventional production of Canadian Beef

Do growth promoting, antimicrobial or other veterinary drugs affect the food safety of Canadian beef?

Veterinary drugs are regulated by the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. All veterinary drugs go through a Health Canada approval process before they are licensed for use.  The Health Canada Veterinary Drug Directorate (VDD) evaluates and monitors the safety, quality and effectiveness, and sets standards for the use of veterinary drugs to ensure that, when used according to label directions, they are safe for both animals and humans.

For a more detailed explanation of the veterinary drug approval process in Canada, download ‘Canada’s Veterinary Drug Approval Process.

Label and veterinary directions indicate proper administration doses and routes for veterinary products, as well as pre-slaughter withdrawal times, which ensure that the product has been metabolized by the animal before the meat is harvested. Most drugs are completely metabolized during the prescribed minimum number of days between the last administration of the drug and slaughter, and therefore leave no residue. Continue reading

How fresh pens and pastures prevent calf losses

Whether it is the Sandhills Calving System or a variation, the objective is the same.

Photo supplied by Dr. Claire Windeyer

Doug Wray believes in keeping newborn calves separated as much as possible from other two-week and older calves on his south-central Alberta farm to avoid livestock congestion and dramatically reduce the risk of congregated calves developing and spreading scours. And for the past several years the plan has worked.

Wray, who along with family members operates Wray Ranch near Irricana, north of Calgary, has developed this calving-on-pasture system over the past 10 years. In his year-round grazing system, his herd of about 300 bred cows moves onto grass about May 10. They actually begin calving May 1 on swath grazing and then by May 10 the pregnant cows move to grass and the first batch of cows-with-calves stay behind.

The first grass pasture is 160 acres in size, divided into eight 20-acre paddocks.

“The herd is managed in one group on pasture for about two weeks before we make the first split,” says Wray. At roughly the first two-week mark cows with calves (usually about 120 head) “are taken to fresh pasture in one direction, while the bred cows head to new grass in another direction,” he explains. Wray essentially runs two herds at Continue reading

Developing Faster, Less Expensive Diagnostic Tests

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the October 1, 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Last month’s column discussed how antibiotics are used in Western Canadian cow-calf operations. Respiratory diseases are a common reason for antibiotic treatment in cows, bulls, and calves and diarrhea is a common reason for antibiotic treatment in young calves. Because both respiratory and intestinal infections can involve many different microbes, having a better understanding of what microbes may be causing a particular animal to be sick could allow more appropriate treatment decisions. For example, antibiotics don’t kill viruses, so using antibiotics won’t help an outbreak of scours that is primarily viral in nature. Similarly, some antibiotics are more effective against some bacteria than others, so being able to select the antibiotic that is most appropriate for the bacteria that are involved would be helpful.

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Antibiotic Use on Canadian Cow-Calf Operations

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

Antibiotic use records are important for producers who want to track the effectiveness of the antibiotics they use. Industry groups need antibiotic use data to refute misleading claims about our production practices. Even restaurant chains and meat companies marketing “antibiotic-free” beef need records to keep treated animals out of their “never-ever” supply stream. When it comes to antibiotic use in the beef industry, most of the attention is focused on the feedlot sector. That’s because most of the antibiotic use occurs there, and because large feedlots work closely with specialized veterinarians and have developed sophisticated software to support animal health protocols and recording of animal health treatments. But antibiotic use at the cow-calf level is also important. For example, calves may not respond as well to antibiotics at the feedlot if they have been exposed to a related antibiotic before leaving home.

The most recent reports on antibiotic use in cow-calf operations in Eastern Canada (Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research 72:109) and Western Canada (Preventive Veterinary Medicine 90:55) are nearly 10 years old. The Western Canadian Cow-Calf Surveillance Network (WCCCSN) initiative supported under the 2013-18 Beef Science Cluster provided an opportunity to gather updated information regarding antibiotic use on cow-calf operations.

What they did: Dr. Cheryl Waldner and co-workers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine surveyed 100 cow-calf operations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba about Continue reading

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

Editors note: This post was originally published February 1, 2018. A French version of the 2-page handout has been added and minor revisions to the article below have been made to reflect current information.

If you haven’t done so already, develop a relationship with a beef veterinarian.

Starting December 1, 2018, Health Canada is introducing a couple of important changes affecting the way animal antibiotic products can be accessed by producers across Canada. And having an established Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) will be an important part of a smooth transition. (see sidebar below)

Click image 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. (version française)

The key point is, starting Dec. 1, 2018, all livestock producers in Canada 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 (and really all sectors of animal agriculture including beef, dairy, hogs, sheep, horses, fish and even bees). The new policy doesn’t just apply to injectable products, but also includes some boluses and calf scour treatments, and Component and Compudose implants. At the same time, the new policy does not apply to certain antimicrobials such as the ionophores, which are not considered to be medically important in managing disease in humans. 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.

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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

Pain, Pain, Go Away

Beef producers are busy in the spring and summer months processing cattle, performing common procedures such as castration and dehorning. Producers may also brand their cattle as a form of identification. These practices are commonplace on beef farms across Canada, and in many cases are necessary for the long-term health and welfare of the animals, however they cause pain. Reports show that producers and veterinarians who incorporate pain control measures during painful procedures often describe ease of use and potential improved gains in their herds.

Pain control is becoming a priority among producers and scientists as anesthetics and analgesics, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are more readily available.

How can producers mitigate pain in beef cattle effectively? Are there practical ways to manage pain in real life conditions? What is a Continue reading