Pasture Blends

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

Most forage seed companies offer a pasture blend. Some customize their blend to the customer’s situation, but others use a least-cost formulation to produce a more attractively priced blend. Ideally, the blend should contain grasses and legumes that grow well together, are well-adapted to the environment and soil type they will be seeded in, will tolerate grazing, and produce good animal performance. Seed companies often don’t have all the information they need to formulate these ideal blends. As one example, forage breeding plots are typically far too small to graze, so forage yield is evaluated using a plot harvester. This means that forage varieties are being selected for their ability to produce and recover from mechanical harvesting rather than grazing. Forage improvement programs that integrate the breeding, agronomics, and grazing management research programs to gather the data needed to develop effective pasture blends take a long time and are very costly.

To help address this issue, Continue reading

Growing forages for soil health: Webinar February 20

Producers are keen to promote soil health in their farmlands, but defining what that means and how to achieve it is not always easy. Join this webinar to learn more about what soil health means, the role of soil organic matter in advancing soil health, and the importance of perennial forage systems in improving health.

When
Tuesday, February 20 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.

Continue reading

Maintaining Momentum

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

Canada’s pasture and rangelands have drier, colder, and shorter growing seasons than many other beef producing areas in the world. The forage varieties that perform best in Canada are generally the ones that have been bred, selected and developed to germinate, grow, survive and thrive here. Forage varieties developed in foreign countries are sometimes marketed in Canada, but they weren’t developed under our climate and may not perform as well as home-grown varieties.

A total of 144 new perennial forage cultivars (grasses and legumes) were developed in Canada and registered between 1932 and 2017. Although private or not-for-profit companies often sell these seeds, these companies rarely did the actual breeding and development work. Nearly all (98%) of these 144 cultivars were developed by public (government and university) breeding programs. It is critically important that universities and governments continue these breeding programs, because when a program stops it takes years to rebuild its momentum.

Here are a few examples. Continue reading

Understanding and managing forage diseases: Webinar December 12

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

There are a number of pathogens that can result in diseases in forages which impact yield, quality, and profitability. This webinar will provide an overview of those pathogens as well as some management strategies to help prevent disease.

When
Tuesday, December 12 at 5:00 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 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 download the appropriate receiver. We recommend that you join the webinar 15 minutes early 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

3 Tips for Swath and Bale Grazing

We’ll soon see cattle out in fields cleaning up swaths or feeding on bales. If you’re planning to feed your cattle this way into the winter months, here are a few recommendations to consider from a recent BCRC webinar.

Extended grazing methods, including swath, stockpiled and bale grazing, have considerable economic benefits over traditional winter feeding systems, such as reduced labour, equipment, feed and manure handling costs.

The related webinar, held last fall, featured Vern Baron, PhD, a Research Scientist for Agriculture Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Lacombe, Alberta, and John Duynisveld, a Research Biologist for AAFC in Nappan, Nova Scotia.

They discussed both swath and bale grazing and offered tips for producers across the country, including: 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

Another Look at the Costs and Benefits of Swath Grazing

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

06_fdg_IMG_4292Well-managed swath grazing has well-known economic benefits for producers. But research results from a study funded by the Beef Science Cluster showed that it can have environmental benefits as well. Dr. Vern Baron and coworkers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lacombe Research Station recently published Swath grazing triticale and corn compared to barley and a traditional winter feeding method in central Alberta (Canadian Journal of Plant Science 94:1125-1137) and Effect of winter feeding systems on farm greenhouse gas emissions (Agricultural Systems 148:28-37).

What they did: A five-year winter feeding study was conducted in central Alberta (2008-09 through 2012-13). Angus x Hereford and Red Angus x Charolais cows were fed barley silage, barley grain, barley straw and hay in confinement, or swath-grazed on triticale or corn for 120 days. Confined cows were Continue reading

Drought Management Strategies

Due to the current drought conditions in several parts of the country, we’ve pulled this article from our archives. It was originally posted in July 2015.

For timely timely information on weather and climate relevant to the agricultural sector in Canada, visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Drought Watch webpage

Whether in the form of pasture, stored forage, or supplements, feed is the largest variable input cost in cow-calf operations. A big challenge is to feed the cow in a way that meets her current and future nutritional requirements for maintenance, lactation, maintaining a successful pregnancy, giving birth and getting rebred within 80-85 days of calving as cost effectively as possible. This challenge is obviously much greater during drought, when feed is scarce and expensive.

Aside from moisture, one thing that will help keep you and your cows from experiencing a wreck this summer is knowledge. We’ve pulled together a good list of resources that can help you and your herd get through the drought.

So pour yourself a coffee or an iced tea, and delve into the links below. After a few hours of reading, you’ll likely have a few new plans to keep your cows and grass in good shape, and to keep from shelling out more money for feed or vet bills than need be this year and down the road.

Let us know if the information you’re seeking isn’t here, or if we’re missing some valuable information you’ve found elsewhere so that we can add those links to Continue reading