Protecting Your Investment: Bull Management

Dr. Colin Palmer is the Associate Director of the University of Saskatchewan, Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He and his family also own and operate their own herd of Red Angus cattle near Dundurn, Saskatchewan. Dr. Palmer is a theriogenologist (specialist in animal reproduction) practicing in western Canada for many years, but also has strong roots in eastern Canada.

“No producer wants to buy a fat bull but just try to sell him a skinny one.”


Fat deposits in the neck (top) of the scrotum can negatively impact sperm production. Photo credit Dr. Colin Palmer.

The investment in a herd sire is often a large purchase for any cow-calf operation. To ensure this investment will remain in the herd, breeding bulls must be properly maintained during and between breeding seasons.

Whether you are a commercial cattle producer looking to purchase a new herd sire or are a purebred operator who is developing bulls for sale, over-feeding is one of the biggest issues when it comes to young bull management, says Dr. Colin Palmer.

Pushing young bulls for large daily gains can lead to issues such as joint effusion (swelling), laminitis, acidosis, inflammation of the seminal vesicles, and over conditioning or simply becoming too fat. Continue reading

We have questions. You have the answers.

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

This column usually tells you about a research project that the Beef Cattle Research
Council (BCRC) has supported using Canadian Beef Cattle Check- Off funds paid by
producers like yourself. Sometimes you may ask yourself “why on earth did they fund
that?” ,“why don’t they do research on this?” or “do they ask producers what they
need?” Well, read on. Here’s your chance to tell us what you need.

The 13 cattle producers from across Canada who sit on the council aren’t the only ones
who decide how checkoff research funds are allocated. You fund us, so we’re asking you what you want Canada’s forage, cattle and beef researchers to work on over the next five years.

It’s easy to provide a general answer to this question — most of us would likely identify
long-term profitability, environmental sustainability, and public and consumer
confidence as important challenges facing Canada’s beef industry. But what are the
specific long-term profitability, environmental sustainability, and public and consumer
confidence challenges you face? It depends on who you are, where you are and what
sector of the industry you operate in. Continue reading

News Release: Canadian Beef Producers Make $2.9 Million Investment in Research and Technology Transfer

Calgary, AB – More than $2.9 million dollars will be invested by beef producers into new research and technology transfer projects in 2021 through the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off.  Proposals for twenty-nine more projects have been approved for funding by the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) to advance Canada’s beef sector.

Matt Bowman, BCRC Chair and a producer from Thornloe, Ontario, said the new projects add to the Council’s portfolio of research investments.

“We are supporting more work focused on achieving specific priority outcomes in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy related to animal health and welfare, feed production and utilization, food safety and environmental stewardship,” said Bowman. “For example, new studies to quantify soil carbon sequestration through different grazing and intercropping systems, and others looking into causes and prevention of issues like scours and itchy cattle.”

BCRC Vice-Chair Craig Lehr, a producer from Medicine Hat, Alberta, said knowledge translation and technology transfer is also a priority for the Council.

“As provincial governments continue to cut valuable extension services, we do what we can to help fill the gaps,” he said. “The BCRC doesn’t have the capacity to provide the needed one-on-one consultation for beef producers, but we can support or lead projects that make meaningful science-based information freely available on beefresearch.ca in numerous formats that are helpful in making informed decisions.”

Newly funded technology transfer projects include an expansion of the Forage U-Pick tool to include Eastern Canada, and creation of additional resources on beefresearch.ca applicable to producers in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Another project will collaborate with practicing veterinarians across Canada to develop decision making tools for their beef clients that help improve herd health and profitability. There is no cost to subscribe to be notified by email of new research results or seasonal, science-based production information and decision-making tools.

The recent increase in Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in most provinces enabled annual competitive calls for proposals for research and technology transfer projects to address critically underfunded priorities. The increase also resulted in the launch of a new BCRC program that funds short-term proof of concept and validation trials. Researchers are required to procure matching funds that leverage BCRC funding on a 1:2 or higher basis. Industry investment through check-off sends a clear message to governments about priorities and helps to procure investment by governments to multiply the impacts of producer dollars.

The BCRC is Canada’s industry-led funding agency for beef, cattle and forage research. It is funded through a portion of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off as well as government and industry funding and is directed by a committee of beef producers from across the country. This announcement adds to the 86 projects co-funded by the BCRC that are currently underway at 30 Canadian institutions.

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For further information, contact:

Tracy Herbert

Extension and Communications Director

Beef Cattle Research Council

C: 306-850-5026 | herbertt@beefresearch.ca

Attn Researchers And Extension Agents: BCRC Opens Two Calls For Expressions Of Interest



The Beef Cattle Research Council invites expressions of interest (EOIs) for research projects as well as for technology transfer and production economics projects. The application deadline for these separate but concurrent calls is February 26, 2021 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 EOIs 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 can have the greatest impact, target outcomes have been clearly defined for both calls. Please refer to the problem statements listed within the documents linked below before deciding whether to submit an EOI. Continue reading

Attention Extension Specialists and Production Economists: Upcoming Meeting about Two Extension Challenges



The current BCRC Call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) related to technology transfer and production economics is focused on initiatives that will increase the efficacy of vaccination programs and utilization of feed test results by beef producers across Canada.

Join us on Thursday, February 11th to discuss opportunities, barriers and potential extension strategies to employ in these areas, as well as an overview of the funding application process and guidelines for EOI submissions.

In preparation for the online meeting, visit our website for complete information about the Call and to view the forms and downloads.

The virtual meeting will be held on Thursday, February 11, 10:00-11:00 am MT
9:00am in BC
10:00am in AB
11:00am in SK and MB
12:00pm in ON and QC
1:00pm in NS, NB, PE and NL

To join the Zoom meeting, you must register in advance.

Continue reading

Breeding Goals: Practical Genetics for Beef Production – Webinar February 17th



No two beef operations in Canada are exactly the same. Factors such as climate, terrain, forage production, management style and marketing schemes will dictate the type of cattle that will perform best in your system. This webinar will discuss breeding goals and how management changes or genetics can help achieve these goals.



Registering on your smartphone? After you click ‘I am not a robot’, scroll up until you find the task to complete. Continue reading

Dealing with Dehydrated Calves – When and How to Use Electrolytes

The following is the final articles in a series of three posts featuring calving management practices and intervention strategies to help producers optimize newborn calf health and well-being. Read part one to learn about resuscitation techniques and part two about colostrum.

Supplementing young calves with electrolytes is sometimes necessary. Electrolytes are given to calves showing signs of dehydration, usually due to scours. In the case of calf scours, most calves that die from scours don’t actually succumb to the virus or bacteria causing the symptoms, but rather die from dehydration. Adequately rehydrating calves when they are sick is key for calf survival. Here are a few things to remember when rehydrating calves: Continue reading

The Key to Setting up a Healthy Calf for Life? Colostrum

The following is part two of a series of three posts featuring calving management practices and intervention strategies to help producers optimize newborn calf health and well-being. Read part one to learn about resuscitation techniques and part three to learn about when and how to use electrolytes.

Newborn calves are born with virtually no immunity of their own. Unlike other mammals, a cow’s placenta does not allow antibodies to pass from the mother to the calf during pregnancy, which means the calf must receive its initial immunity from the antibody-rich colostrum, or first milk, of the cow. This initial immunity is essential because it provides protective antibodies against many of the diseases that affect newborn calves, such as calf scours, navel abscesses, arthritis and pneumonia. If the calf is at risk of not having adequate colostrum, such as if it had a difficult birth, is a twin, is delivered via c-section, has a weak suckle reflex, or hasn’t sucked in the first few hours of life, supplementation is recommended. If a calf requires colostrum supplementation, here are a few things to consider. Continue reading

Calf 911 – New Video Demonstrates Effective Calf Resuscitation Strategies

The following is part one of a series of three posts on calving that include newborn calf management practices and intervention strategies to help producers create positive calving outcomes. Read part two for tips and tricks on colostrum and part three to learn about when and how to use electrolytes.

Calving is a natural process and most cows give birth to a healthy calf and everything goes as planned. However, there are times when things go wrong. Perhaps there is a malpresentation, such as a backwards arrival, or the calf’s foot is back. In some cases, perhaps calves do not take their first breath after a difficult labour. Here are a few tips to consider to get a calf up and going as soon as possible: Continue reading

Get ‘em out, get ‘em up, get ‘em fed, write ‘em down… Rawhide!

A version of this article, written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the January 2021 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

It’s called calving difficulty for a reason. They’re difficult to deliver, it’s difficult for the calf to survive, it’s difficult to watch it die, and it’s difficult to lose the $1,250 the calf could have sold for in fall. The Beef Cattle Research Council’s 2019 Adoption Rates of Recommended Practices by Cow-Calf Operators in Canada report indicated that around half of all preweaning death losses occur within 24 hours after birth, with a significant proportion of those attributed to calving difficulties. How you help a calf in the first few hours after a difficult birth is critical to determining whether it will survive to weaning or not.

It’s well known that providing timely calving assistance, effective calf resuscitation and colostrum are critical. But how you do these things is just as important as what you do. These calves have already been through a lot – providing the wrong kind of help can make it harder for them to survive. Sometimes doing the wrong thing is also harder for you. Continue reading