Hormone Hearsay

When it comes to the use of hormones in beef cattle, sometimes there are more questions than answers. Reynold Bergen, PhD, with the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), breaks down why hormones are used and how they work in a recent BCRC webinar.

He tackles the question that is at the top of everyone’s mind – is the use of hormone implants safe?  (Spoiler alert — yes!).

Although there has been sound scientific research to back up the decades-old practice of using hormonal growth implants, one can find many headlines to falsely suggest otherwise. It’s important to take a critical look at the source of such information. Is it credible? Do the studies reflect the science, real world conditions or practices? Who are the authors of the article and who performed the study? 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

Planting corn this spring for your cattle to graze later? Here are 10 corn planting tips

It will soon be time to start thinking about next year’s winter feed. If you plan to graze your cows on corn next fall or winter, consider these recommendations on planting corn for grazing purposes from Breeanna Kelln, a PhD student at the Western Beef Development Centre (WBDC) who also ranches near Duval, SK, and Dr. Bart Lardner, Senior Research Scientist at the WBDC:

1. First time? Start small
Corn is a high input crop. It requires more time and inputs at the beginning of the growing season than cereals used for grazing. Kelln says there is a learning curve for both the producer and the cattle, especially for cattle who have never been exposed to extended grazing. Lardner recommends 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

Different approaches/same goal for winter management of heifers

Recognizing replacement and first calf heifers need extra management, producers take different paths to get to the same destination.

Beef producers like Darren Bevans in Alberta, Tyler Fulton in Manitoba and Murray Shaw in southwest Ontario know that replacement and first calf heifers need some extra attention, especially heading into and over winter — the heifers are not only pregnant and about to produce calves, but these young females are still growing themselves.

The “extra attention” doesn’t require over the top management, but just paying attention to feed and weather conditions to ensure heifers maintain a proper body condition to meet the nutritional requirements of the unborn calf as well as to support their own body growth.

In their respective operations, with extended fall and winter grazing programs, Bevans and Fulton manage heifers separate from their main cowherds so that Continue reading

Refining corn grazing recommendations: Webinar October 12

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

Thinking about turning your cattle out on corn? Want to be sure you are up to date with the latest corn grazing recommendations? Join us to learn more about this extended grazing practice with advice on maintaining good profitability and animal performance.

When
Thursday, October 12 at 7:00 pm MT

  • 6:00pm in BC
  • 7:00pm in AB and SK
  • 8:00pm in 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 Continue reading

Registration open for 2017-18 BCRC webinars

This year’s BCRC webinar topics include winter feeding, results of the latest National Beef Quality Audit, managing forages and other production practices.

View and register for our upcoming webinars below. To register for all of them at once, register for any one of them and select the option to be automatically registered for all remaining 2017-18 beef webinars.

We recommend registering for all webinars that you’re interested in regardless of whether you can attend during the date/time listed. By registering, you’ll receive reminders to attend the live event plus receive a link that allows you to watch the recording at any time. It’s no problem if you register and miss the live event, however joining live is recommended as it gives you the opportunity to interact and ask questions.

BCRC webinars are available and free of charge thanks to guest speakers who volunteer their time and expertise to support advancements in the Canadian beef industry, and through the Knowledge Dissemination and Technology Transfer project funded by the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster.

Recordings of all of our past webinars can be found on our webinars page.

2017-18 BCRC Webinars:

Refining corn grazing recommendations – October 12, 2017, 7:00pm MT
Speaker: Bart Lardner, PhD, Senior Research Scientist at the Western Beef Development Centre 

Thinking about turning your cattle out on corn? Want to be sure you are up to date with the latest corn grazing recommendations? Join us to Continue reading

Take in the BCRC Presentation August 17th in Calgary

beef extension presentationEvery time a beef producer in Canada markets an animal, he or she invests in research – through a portion of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off. Those producer dollars help fund scientific studies and innovative developments that are advancing Canadian beef production and impacting farms and ranches across the country.

What does that mean …for you, your herd and your industry?

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is excited to invite you to an upcoming presentation to get a clearer picture of beef research in Canada.

Join us Thursday, August 17 at the BMO Centre in Calgary, Alberta. The BCRC presentation will be held in the Palomino Room A-C from 1:30 – 4:30pm.

You’ll hear recent examples of progress made, discuss the objectives to be tackled next, meet the individuals leading the way, and take home new ideas to help keep your operation ahead of the herd. Top researchers will be in attendance to discuss Continue reading

Making Dollars out of Sense

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

14_cwcv_IMG_2758_cAside from price insurance (in provinces where it is available), cow-calf producers can’t do much to control the price they receive for their calves, so managing input costs is often the biggest opportunity to improve profitability. The Western Beef Development Center has found that annual production costs differ by at least $100 per cow between the 25% lowest cost producers and the average producer. A 2015 Quebec report found a $79 per cow per year difference between a group of cow-calf operations with the highest margin and the average. In PEI, annual cost of production between the 10% highest and lowest cost operations differed by $660 per cow.

During BSE, drastic times called for drastic measures, and input costs were often cut as much as possible. But this may not be the best strategy for today’s more normal conditions. If it’s not done carefully, reducing inputs can harm profitability.

Feed is responsible for the biggest costs, including land, fuel, seed, and fertilizer to establish, grow, manage and graze or harvest pasture or winter feed. Investments to increase forage and feed yield and/or quality, through Continue reading

Stepping up to Wheat-Based Finishing Diets

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

08_fdl_IMG_5573Grain-based diets improve feed efficiency, but increase the risk of rumen acidosis. Rumen acidosis occurs when rumen pH drops below 5.6 for more than 3 consecutive hours. Severe or chronic acidosis is an animal welfare concern due to rumen damage, liver abscesses, lameness, and an economic cost due to compromised feed conversion and growth performance. Consequently, feedlot operators manage their feed bunks and feeding programs very carefully, particularly as cattle transition from forage-based backgrounding to grain-based finishing diets. The risk of acidosis is influenced by grain type (wheat being a higher risk than corn, with barley being intermediate), the extent of grain processing, feeding frequency and bunk management. Group size and pen density are also factors, so research trials using individually fed animals may produce Continue reading