Good records help guide efficient production and profitability say producers

Editor’s note: The following is the second in a two part series. See part one about the value of benchmarking and record keeping for all cattle operations. 

Keeping proper and useful beef herd production records is essential if you believe in the adage “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”. Records don’t have to be overly complicated, but do need to be thorough, say producers who rely on them for a lot of their management decisions.

Setting up a record keeping system properly will take a bit of time, but once the format is established keeping records current really isn’t that onerous — updating records is something that can even be done in front of the computer while having an early morning coffee, or taking a few minutes here and there during the month as new information comes along. Continue reading

Making farm decisions easier

Keep good records and refer to benchmarks to help successfully manage your cattle business

Editor’s note: The following is the first in a two part series on the value of record keeping and benchmarking. In part two, you’ll hear from producers on how and why they keep detailed records.

Keeping records and doing comparisons takes time and effort, and most of us prefer to be outside getting things done than being inside doing paperwork. Your time is limited so you want to be sure added paperwork has advantages and helps you focus on maintaining or improving the important things outside. Keeping detailed records and benchmarking does.

Producers who use benchmarking have higher production with an average of 60 more lbs of calf weaned per cow exposed (Manglai, 2016). That’s worth $9,600 for every 100 cows (based on 550 lb calf at the long-term average price of $160/cwt).

Producers who use benchmarking have higher production with an average of 60 more lbs of calf weaned per cow exposed (Manglai, 2016). Assuming a herd with 100 exposed cows, this is the equivalent to an additional 6,000 lbs weaned for the herd (+11%) valued at $13,200 per year in a high price environment (550 lb calf at $220/cwt), and $9,600 at long-term average prices ($160/cwt).

It has been noted by economists that a major challenge facing North American cow-calf producers is the development, understanding, and use of their own farm production cost and returns information. It is critical for producers to keep records and use their ‘own farm facts’ in making knowledgeable business management decisions. Continue reading

BCRC progress and activity in 2017

This annual report highlights the BCRC’s core activities during the past year.

On average nationally, the BCRC receives approximately 18% of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off, and plays a key role in leveraging additional funding for beef cattle research. Recognizing this, the Council works to ensure the highest return on investment possible for industry contributions to research through ongoing consultation with other provincial and national funding organizations.

Investments in beef research have several benefits, including an improved ability to meet increasing global food demand and supporting responsible production efficiencies and profitability of Canadian beef cattle producers. Advancements in the Continue reading

Top 10 blog posts of 2017

This past year we published 70 blog posts that offered production tips and decision tools, provided a science-based perspective on issues in the media, highlighted new beef, cattle and forage research projects and results, and announced other exciting initiatives. Of those, these were the top 10 most popular:

10) The Canadian beef industry’s water footprint is shrinking

New research funded by the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster found that producing 1 kg of Canadian beef in 2011 used 17% less water than it did in 1981. Continued improvements in production practices and advancements in technologies improves productivity and efficiency while reducing environmental footprint.

9) Based on 2017 calf prices, how much did last summer’s cows in ideal condition earn? Continue reading

Attention researchers: Manitoba Agriculture funding available

Manitoba Agriculture has announced that the application and terms and conditions for the Research and Innovation stream of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) are now available on their website.

DESCRIPTION: Grant funding for industry-led projects that contribute to the development of agricultural knowledge and skills and improve the competitiveness and sustainability of Manitoba’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-product sectors.

Projects can fall under one of two streams of funding:

  • basic and applied research and development
  • strategic investments that build capacity in agricultural research

APPLICATION DEADLINE: The first full proposal and application deadline for 2018/19 fiscal year is Monday, January 8, 2018.

For more information and to apply, visit their website:

Attention Western cow-calf producers: opportunity to compare production levels

Do you wonder how your cow-calf operation compares with others in your region, province or herd size range on matters like conception rate and weaning weight? A joint effort representing the cow-calf industry from BC to Manitoba is helping Western Canadian cattle producers do just that.

By participating in the second Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey, producers can choose to receive a complementary report that allows them to compare their own operation with benchmarks (average numbers from a region).

The survey takes about 45-60 minutes to complete and asks questions related to the 2016 breeding season all the way through to weaning of 2017 calf crop, as well as typical management practices. Many of the questions are the quick check-box style. Any question a producer is unable to answer can be left blank.

To thank you for the time you take to complete the survey, you will receive up to $50 in gift cards, in addition to the complementary report.

The complementary report will help producers see the aspects of their operation that they’re doing exceptionally well in, and the areas that have the greatest room for improvement. For example, the report will show a producer whether the conception rates of his cows in 2016 was higher or lower than nearby herds and herds of a similar size. That way, he or she will know whether to work with their veterinarian, nutritionist and/or regional extension specialist to have fewer of their cows come home from pasture open, or if other production goals are a higher priority for them to focus on to improve their productivity and profitability.

This survey is being conducted for a number of reasons: to Continue reading

Attention Atlantic cow-calf producers

The Maritime Beef Council in cooperation with the Provincial Beef Associations and Perennia are conducting the Atlantic Cow-Calf Survey.

The purpose of the overall study project is to gain a better understanding of the management practices, economics, and disease rates on Maritime cow-calf farms and determine how well Maritime producers compete in a global economy. This survey will obtain basic information on production practices, management choices, disease rates, and rate of technology adaptation in the provinces.

The survey is maximum 79 questions in length and should take approximately 40 minutes to complete. The last day to participate in this survey is December 31, 2017.

Complete the survey online: or request a paper copy by calling 1-902-969-1632. Continue reading

The BCRC is asking for more money from cattle producers. Here’s why.

Editor’s note: The following article is by Bryan Thiessen, Chair of the Beef Cattle Research Council. Bryan manages Namaka Farms near Strathmore, Alberta and represents 11 more council members who farm and ranch across Canada.

Bryan Thiessen, Chair of the Beef Cattle Research Council and manager of Namaka Farms near Strathmore, AB.

As cattle producers, you and I have been helping to fund Canadian beef research since 2002 by paying check-off every time we sell an animal. The work that’s been done with that money has benefited the industry as a whole and at the individual farm level because of the information and innovations that come as a result.  Now we’re being asked to contribute more of our dollars.

To explain why, I need to back up and give you some background. Continue reading