Putting Your Check-off Dollars to Work through Research

This article was written jointly by the Canadian Beef Check-Off Agency and the Beef Cattle Research Council. 

The Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off

If you sell cattle in Canada, you pay check-off.  Your beef check-off funds beef market development, promotion and research.

The Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off is deducted on every head of beef cattle marketed in Canada. While the provincial check-off or service fee can vary by province, the national portion of the check-off, most commonly referred to as the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off or national check-off, is $2.50 per head in all provinces with the exception of Ontario, currently at $1.00 per head.

The Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off is allocated to marketing, research, and public and stakeholder engagement by the provincial cattle associations that remit the check-off. Since each province has unique needs and priorities, each province designates a chosen percentage of the national portion of the check-off from their province that they wish to allocate to each of the three functions (marketing, research, and public and stakeholder engagement). Continue reading

New $2.35-M USask research chair targets improved health and productivity in beef herds



Saskatoon, SK – With $2.35 million from the federal government and the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), University of Saskatchewan (USask) veterinary researcher Dr. Cheryl Waldner will undertake a major five-year research program to advance beef cattle health and productivity, helping to sustain the profitability and competitiveness of Canada’s $17-billion-a-year beef industry.


USask veterinary researcher Dr. Cheryl Waldner is the new NSERC/BCRC Industrial Research Chair in One Health and Production-Limiting Diseases. Photo: Amanda Waldner

“This timely and cutting-edge research builds on our university’s strengths in agriculture and ‘One Health’ to help advance the livestock industry’s economic contributions to the country and ensure continued consumer confidence in the safety and quality of Canadian beef,” said USask President Peter Stoicheff in announcing the new chair Jan. 30.

The $750,000 award from the federal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) is matched by $750,000 in producer check-off funding from the BCRC. USask is contributing $850,000. Continue reading

2019 Highlights and Deliverables



The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is Canada’s industry-led funding agency for beef, cattle and forage research. Our mandate is to

  • determine and communicate the Canadian beef cattle industry’s research and development priorities, and
  • administer the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funds that have been assigned by producers to research.

The BCRC invites and funds projects and initiatives that have the greatest potential to benefit the sustainability and competitiveness of Canada’s beef industry. The BCRC is led by a committee of beef producers who proportionally represent each province’s research allocation of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off.

2018 was a transition year for the BCRC in terms of both funding and program administration. An increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off from $1 to $2.50 per head in most provinces and revised allocations to research has grown the BCRC’s research budget from approximately 15 cents to approximately 75 cents per head, allowing for continued advancements and expanded programming in 2019. More information on the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off can be found at www.cdnbeefcheckoff.ca/. Continue reading

Beef Farmers of Ontario Call for Research Proposals



Beef Farmers of Ontario has announced a call for Letters of Intent (LOI) for research projects that will enhance the sustainability of the beef industry in Ontario. BFO is committing $200,000 per year for each of the next three years. Following review of LOIs, selected initiatives will be asked for a full proposal. Please note that projects must be completed by December 31, 2022.

The overarching goal of the BFO Beef Research Program is to increase the development, adaptation, assessment, and easy adoption of on-farm technologies that help beef producers respond to changing demands, and to quantify and investigate emerging issues of importance to the Ontario and broader Canadian beef industry.

The BFO Research Committee recently considered both opportunities and problems facing the industry as well as current BFO, OMAFRA and BCRC research priorities. While we are open to all ideas, and encourage creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, the committee did identify the following topics, listed in no particular order, as being of particular interest: Continue reading

Attn Researchers And Extension Agents: BCRC Opens Two Calls For Letters Of Intent



The Beef Cattle Research Council and Alberta Beef Producers invites letters of intent (LOIs) for research projects as well as LOIs for technology transfer and production economics projects. The application deadline for these separate but concurrent calls is August 9, 2019 at 11:59 PM MT.

The purpose of these two targeted calls is to achieve specific objectives in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and the National Beef Strategy. These  calls for research and technology transfer LOIs, expected to occur annually for research and bi-annually for technology transfer and production economics, are made possible by the recent increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in most provinces.

Approved projects, funded by Canadian cattle producers through the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off, will be required to use the industry funding to leverage additional funds from government or other funding organizations to fulfill project budgets.

Through extensive consultation with research teams and industry stakeholders to identify critical needs and key areas where the BCRC and ABP can have the greatest impact, target outcomes have been clearly defined for both calls. Please refer to the target objectives listed within the documents linked below before deciding whether to submit a LOI. Continue reading

Top findings about adoption of beneficial practices on Canadian cow-calf operations



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.

Continue reading

Isn’t Beef Canada’s Ultimate Plant Based Protein?

Editor’s note: this article is also available in French. Download the translated version here. 

The profile of plant-based proteins has grown exponentially over the past decade. Food companies are investing heavily in the development of new vegetarian and vegan products like new meatless burgers made from peas, which are quickly going mainstream. The spotlight is extra bright on Earth Day.

As plant-based protein options become more abundant, people can’t help but wonder how they compare to meat. Is producing plant-based proteins better for the environment than livestock? Are meatless options healthier? Should I replace beef burgers with plant-based patties?

Environmentally, agriculturally and nutritionally speaking, Canadians need legumes and meat. There’s no good reason to choose one over the other – it’s best to choose both. In fact, beef production provides unique environmental and human health benefits, so it’s important to keep beef in the mix. Continue reading

Reminder: Mentorship program applications due May 1st!

Applications for the 2019-20 term of the BCRC Beef Researcher Mentorship Program are now being accepted.  The deadline to apply is May 1, 2019.

Four researchers were selected to participate in the program this past year. Each was paired with two mentors – an innovative producer and another industry expert – for a one year term (ending July 31, 2019). Each of the researchers have reported very successful and valuable experiences through the opportunities provided, including:

    • Establishing partnerships with industry and other researchers to further their research programs
    • Meeting several producers and industry leaders with whom they ask questions and have meaningful discussions about cattle production, beef quality and safety, and the Canadian beef value chain
    • Attending industry events and touring farms and ranches to better understand the impacts, practicalities and economics of adopting research results

The BCRC is excited to continue the program and invite applications from upcoming and new applied researchers in Canada whose studies are of value to the beef industry, such as cattle health and welfare, beef quality, food safety, genetics, feed efficiency, or forages. A new group of participants will begin their mentorships on August 1st.

The Beef Researcher Mentorship Program launched in August 2014 to facilitate greater engagement of upcoming and new applied researchers with Canada’s beef industry.

Learn more about the program and **download an application form at: http://www.beefresearch.ca/about/mentorship-program.cfm**

Continue reading

Exceptional Forages for Marginal Lands

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


Side Oats Gramma photo courtesy of Agriculture Agri-Food Canada

Tame forages often outperform native species in head-to-head comparisons under optimal growing conditions. This may not be the case on “marginal land,” with its tougher environments, poorer soil, rougher topography, harsher climates, and precipitation extremes. Beef production is expected to rely more and more on marginal land, at least while returns from cash crops exceed those from cow-calf production.

Beef Cluster research led by Mike Schellenberg (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Swift Current), Eric Lamb (University of Saskatchewan) and a team of graduate students has been examining Western Canadian native plants since 2009. Some results from this study were published in 2018 (“Mixtures of native perennial forage species produce higher yields than monocultures in a long-term study”; Canadian Journal of Plant Science 98:633-647).

Continue reading